November 4, 2013

Cleaning Up My Thoughts

Category: Contemplative — Cranky @

As I grow older I’m becoming much more zen in my thinking. Like anybody, for instance, I experience moments of subdued road rage, and all my life it’s been habitual for me to sum up the entirety of a person in a few thoughts, and instantly label them. The guy who cut me off is just an idiot who shouldn’t be driving. The woman stopped at a light in front of me who suddenly turns on her signal, delaying me, is a pinhead.

No more. When I get a thought like that I stomp it down now. All I can say about those people is that in that one moment they made a mistake. That’s all. They could be brain surgeons, philanthropists, civic leaders… everybody has an off moment. They might, in fact, be jackasses too – but I don’t have enough information to make the call.

I’ve realized that when I have those labeling moments, it’s me who suffers. It’s the quality of my thought that is poor, and that’s much more corrosive to my existence than anything somebody might do to anger me in traffic.

In much the same way I’ve actively guided my thoughts about women. As a perfectly normal male, I appreciate appearance and sexuality, but I do my best not to basely objectify. I can’t hold myself accountable for thoughts I have when presented with clear outliers, like stripped-down girls in night clubs, but I can clean up my thoughts day to day. A pretty girl can be simply appreciated as a pretty girl. I don’t have to mentally disassemble her into her lady parts – it’s disrespectful, even if it’s just occurring in my own mind.

I work with some very smart women who also happen to be attractive. I respect them for their abilities and their contributions, which are plentiful. When I was younger I would have appreciated the beauty first – now when that happens, I consciously direct myself to consider their character and talent.

I have to live in my brain all the time. I prefer it to be a place of calm observation, and respecting others in my thoughts helps keep it that way.


1 Comment »

  1. Good post. Thanks! You might like this talk by Sam Harris

    Comment by Anon — March 14, 2014 @

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