All What I Yam

I yam what I yam . . .

I am a perfectionist. I am afraid of big dogs.

. . . and that’s all what I yam.
– Popeye

I am inclined to beak off. I am impatient.

I am 41 years old
is a very different statement than
I am a vegan.

The “am” that we think of as permanent identity
might actually be a choice, repeated again and again.
– Seth Godin, The imprecision of “am”

What? Who does Seth think that he am? I am literal-minded. I am judgmental. These are not choices I repeatedly make.

Or are they?

Martin Seligman, he of Positive Psychology fame, might agree with Seth.

One of the two clearest findings of one hundred years of therapy is that satisfactory answers to the great “why” questions [Ed’s note: Why we are the way we are.] are not easily found; maybe in fifty years things will be different; maybe never. . . . The other clearest finding of the whole therapeutic endeavour, however, is that change is within our grasp, almost routine, throughout adult life [Ed’s note: emphasis added]. So even if why we are what we are is a mystery, how to change ourselves is not. . . .
Mind the pattern. A pattern of mistakes is a call to change your life. The rest of the tapestry is not determined by what has been woven before. The weaver herself, blessed with knowledge and freedom, can change ““ if not the material she must work with ““ the design of what comes next.
– Seligman, Learned Optimism

Well, I am dagnabbed. I don’t suppose that I’ll ever be good at spatial stuff: Some things really aren’t choices but, rather, the material I have to work with. But some things are choices, and maybe more than I think.

The past is not all what I yam: I am also the rest of the tapestry that I choose to weave.


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10 Responses to All What I Yam

  1. barbara says:

    Hell, make it abstract.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    Yam I allowed to think this yam just a touch esoteric?

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    Some will consider this subject a hot potato; I think it’s a sweet potato. Yes I do think it’s possible for leopards to change their spots. What we are (or yam) is to a large extent the logical extension of our habits. The more we eat meat, the more we become carnivores. The more we carp about others, the more critical we become. The more I become patient with my wife’s inevitable failings, the more patient I become. Most of these are tiny choices, but they accumulate, until we don’t realize how we have become what we always were, but more so (as someone once defined gerontology).

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Yes, I think this is in part what Seligman is on about: changing our patterns a bit at a time.

  4. Barry says:

    “The more I become patient with my wife’s inevitable failings,” the longer I am likely to live.

  5. Lorna P Shapiro says:

    This is such a wonderful message… thanks for passing it on Isabel.

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