Keep it up then. Or not.

How’s that working out for you?

Movie dialogue can be a useful source of insights: think life, business, love, communication, and, well, everything. It turns out that “useful” is le mot juste to keep in mind on this last day of the year, according to Seth:

It’s not possible for anyone to actually see the world as it is.
But there’s a significant opportunity we can work toward:
To experience the world in a useful way.
Not correctly, but usefully.

If the methods you’ve used . . .
have been helping you get exactly what you seek,

For the rest of us, there’s a chance to work
on our filters, our habits and our instincts.

Or, in the somewhat pithier, cheekier persona that Brad Pitt embodies as Tyler Durden in Fight Club:

Tyler Durden: How’s that working out for you?
Narrator: What?
Tyler Durden: Being clever.
Narrator, shrugging: Great.
Tyler Durden: Keep it up then.

Nature and nurture handed me a package I didn’t choose. Part of that was/is a tendency to conflate correct and useful. “Correct” matters for many activities in the physical world: solving calculus problems, launching rockets, diagnosing ailments, even choosing how long to bake cookies. “Useful” matters more in many human interactions: nurturing children, managing teams, living happily with other people, and interacting with slightly fuzzy seniors (including interacting with myself).

I can’t change what I’ve done with my tendencies thus far. But even at an age where I’m playing with house money, I don’t need to keep it up unless I choose to. As Seth says:

Today’s a perfect day to begin a whole new pattern.

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6 Responses to Keep it up then. Or not.

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Perhaps it’s the case that the first day of a new year gives us the opportunity to do what Seth says.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Interesting, isn’t it, that we are more likely to do the retrospective/prospective thing at some annual milestone: the actual new year, our birthdays, the start/end of the school year. It’s not like we couldn’t do it at any time, but we seem to need the nudge.

  2. Such an important distinction to make! At this late stage, it is tempting to blame other people for their controlling tendencies, whereas it would be more useful (ahem) to admit that I have far too great a tendency to conform, accommodate, and appease. At least, a priorities re-set is possible.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – 🙂 Yes, our interpersonal challenges are rarely *completely* one-sided, darn it. And you’re right, too, in that we don’t need to perfect ourselves tomorrow (nor can we), but we can adjust our course and see what happens.

  3. Alison says:

    I can’t help but reflect on “milestone” days. I find them helpful. I like the idea of a clean slate, although I guess living “a day at a time” would allow that every day? I do believe that no matter WHEN we start it’s good to not just live up to our reputations. I’ve been described as “controlling” , “anxious”, and ” a worrier” (amongst other things!) Not GREAT attributes, and a legacy I’d rather not have. So, it’s nice to think of a new start to make changes – and, like a boat adjusting course, it takes a while to see the change in direction. But, let’s keep trying!!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – Wow. Those aren’t descriptors-of-you that come to my mind. Maybe more like “carer” and “realist” and “preparer/planner.” But for sure we have choices to make every day. I do like the “how’s that working out for you” question. I think I often forget to ask myself!

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