Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Summary 1/14/11-1/20/11

Yet another good week. After spending so much time not being able to do anything, I'm doing a very good job getting my weekly goals finished. This week I studied chapter twenty in Good Calories, Bad Calories (completing ten conceptual exercises), read six chapters in Capitalism Unbound, read up to page 100 in Becoming a Chef, read two articles in The Objective Standard, constructed those two blog posts I promised on moral perfection and rubberducking, edited that significant essay, did my breathing exercises for ten minutes everyday, wrote down everything I ate (with one or two exceptions), established a list of categories for my moral perfection and started tracking them in my notepad, fasted on dairy products except for butter, made plans to save up for a restock of my chocolate review supplies, and listened to my recorded rubberducking conversations. Most significant is that I got all this done even with a few surprises being thrown my way, such as an article being published prematurely (thereby encouraging me to write another to replace it) and happenings at work setting me up for an additional shift. Surely this demonstrates I'm capable of much more than I'm aspiring to, as I think I could have still gotten a lot more done. While I'm doing well to reestablish my concentration, I still haven't recaptured that enthusiasm I once had in my productive efforts. My goals were well taken care off, but I'd still like to have a little leftover momentum for side-endeavors to demonstrate my true productive capacity.

On the worst side, I think the breathing exercises and writing down everything I ate are hardly useful practices. The breathing did make me feel good in the morning, particularly if anxiety had caused me to do shallow breathing, but I don't think it contributed anything to my efforts; I might maintain it just for health reasons. As for the food writing, it did nothing whatsoever for my thought processes and was an annoying burden to maintain so meticulously. All it did was make me acknowledge the food items on paper; nothing more, nothing less. It might be beneficial to try and see if a full-out food diary would be a much better practice, tasting descriptions and all, but I will be dropping this particular practice. Obscenely annoying!

The rubberducking, I think, had a subtle effect on my psychology. It's making me much more aware of my speaking habits and is perhaps assisting me in altering them, and I do notice I'm getting more and more comfortable listening to myself speak about uncomfortable subjects. At first I would grimace at a disturbing thought or word, but now I can assess myself with complete coolness. I am starting to doubt whether this will help me be a better listener in the presence of other, sensitive associates, but for now I am seeing value in this practice. It will help my speaking habits, at the very bare minimum. I'll continue recording myself as I drive to get a better picture of the long-term benefits, if there be any.

I love the categories I have chosen to include in my pursuit of perfection. It's made me so much more aware of all my habits, not in deliberate consciousness, but as a sort of omniscient subconscious sensitivity. The slash marks may be excessive right now, particularly in the concentration category, but day by day I feel like I'm becoming a better and better person. I could easily imagine this becoming a lifelong habit; it isn't as bothersome to rewrite the categories daily at all as I thought. Already the slash marks are reducing in their quantity, and never do I forget what I am striving for. The exertion category has absolutely been the most help, as I noticed I've been pushing much harder this week, thanks in part to my stopwatch. Benjamin Franklin was really onto something.

Nothing happened in regards to my Project this week. I'm still waiting. Patience.

The only thing I wish I could change about this week is my lack of enthusiasm. It almost seems paradoxical how my productivity could be increasing and increasing while I'm at the same time I'm feeling more and more dissatisfied. While I feel proud of my efforts in retrospect, my outlook feels somewhat -- bleak. On an emotional level, it feels like there's no reward to all this effort, and that there might actually be punishment. In a way, I am partially justified: To some extent and some forms, my virtue to better myself has been met with disruption, contempt, and dismissal. The Circumstance itself is somewhat of an undeserved punishment, and dealing with it for so long makes it feel as if punishment were somehow woven into the metaphysical fabric of reality itself. Until the Circumstance is vanquished, such will remain to be the appearance. But while I may feel a sense of punishment, I do know better: Things can be otherwise. With work, reward can become the constant. It's just, such things are a long way off . . . What to do until then?

Aside from the massive benefit the Project itself has to offer, another thing I'm looking forward to after its completion is the ability to be much much much more open on this blog. Because the way things are set up in my life, it's necessary I use vague terms such as Project and Circumstance, otherwise things would become more difficult. It is a very strong desire of mine to publish my much deeper and more personal thoughts -- though there's still plenty leftover for privacy, certainly -- but they all get caught in the web of the Project and Circumstance even if they aren't directly associated with them, so I have to keep quiet on those matters too except to severely delimited individuals. I'd be writing a heck of a lot more if it weren't for those artificial restrictions, and I think it'd be more satisfying as well. But oh well: again, patience.

Perhaps now that a significant portion of my ability to concentrate has been restored I might be able to recapture my enthusiasm this week with further practice of my habits. Given time, practices increase in their natural intensity. Besides, there are still some rewards in my life to negate whatever unjust punishments there are: a storage box full of chocolate, new ice creams and fish in the freezer to try, a slightly higher income, and plenty of valuable associates. These are the things that should dominate my list of good things: That's what matters in life. So, what shall I aspire to this week? Let's make it rough and demanding.

Study-wise, I'd like complete three chapters of GCBC, complete in total Capitalism Unbound before Tuesday (it's due then), read up to page 200 in Becoming a Chef (unless I can't renew it), read four articles in TOS, construct a guest post for another blog, and try to publish that significant essay. Oh, and let us not forget that I intend to maintain the blogging pace here as well. I also anticipate new books from the library, so I'll work to establish a reading guide and pace for them as well. My brain can give a lot more than I've been asking of it lately.

I'm currently drawing a blank on what self-improvement goals I could dedicate myself to other than my general practices, like my list of good things and moral perfection categories, but as always I tend to add goals mid-week, so again don't be surprised if I mention achieving goals you haven't heard of. Things are not to be left static to this study summary.

Things are going good, but why settle for that when things could be exemplary? Perhaps my general theme this week should be that of productivity. I like this quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson: "Determine never to be idle...It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing."

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