Tag Archives: Philosophical Musings

It’s not so much what you do or say…

“It’s not so much what you do or say, but how you make others feel.”

I came across this quote on a Facebook update a few days ago, and it triggered some sort of emotional response within me. I don’t know how philosophical the update was intended to be, but I just kept thinking about it, trying to interpret what the true meaning is. Naturally, I Googled the phrase and I was surprised how obscure the saying turned out to be. I was convinced it was an oft-used phrase. There were just 3 results in total, all originating from the same source. I don’t know if this is also the source for the Facebook update, but the full quote is in this case is (you can find the entire article here):

Winners recognize the truth of the saying: “It’s not so much what you do or say, but how you make others feel.”

I kind of, sort of, maybe understand what is meant with this quote, but I feel wholly uncomfortable with the wording. It was too reminiscent of my own private thoughts, too closely connected to my own anxieties. It sounded too much like something my dark side repeated to me over and over again during the past few weeks, even as I tried my best to ignore it: “In the end, how hard I try, what I do, or say will not make a difference. Because I am not able, never will be able, to make that other person feel special.” I know, I know… the contexts and the meanings are probably completely different, but the quote just doesn’t work for me. Even if I now set aside my own fears for a minute; is how you make others feel the barometer of your worth? Feelings are often inconsistent, little more than an illusion; they are often a poor reflection of reality. Surely, what you actually do or say is in many cases more important than how you make others feel? Logically speaking, you can justify any terrible deed then, as long as you can make other people feel good about it. And on the other extreme, if you do a good deed for someone who perhaps doesn’t appreciate or even notice it, does that mean then that the deed has no meaningful value at all. I choose to believe otherwise, at least during my better moments. If you truly care about someone, how that person feels about you is of secondary importance.

Interestingly, the quote in the article that preceded this quote works much better for me: “A winner is someone who tries as hard as they can, without sacrificing their values, their integrity, or time with their family.” To me, the two quotes are incompatible with each other. You shouldn’t sacrifice your beliefs, your integrity, no matter how others feel about it.

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Difficulties of Writing a Personal Blog

There are some difficulties when writing a personal blog such as this one, which came very much in play regarding my previous post. The most obvious one is how much of myself I am willing to divulge to the public. Most writers (and wannabe writers), I believe, have both an exhibitionistic as well as a secretive tendency within them, and they need to constantly balance them against one another. This is the paradox of the writer. 90% of the stuff I’m writing here are things I will never mention to another single human being otherwise, and yet, I am putting it online for everyone to see.

This struggle was evident last night, when I published my previous post, just to take it offline an hour later before I went to bed. This morning however, I put it back online again, and since then I’ve contemplated about taking it down yet again, although I’m going to stick with my decision this time. One of the reasons why I was never really satisfied with my previous blog was because I still held back a lot. The result was that it felt mundane and superficial at times, even though I was writing very much about me. And during those sparse moments when I did try to bare my soul, it just felt awkward and strangely detached from myself somehow. I’m convinced that I have become a better writer in the last couple of months. Sure, part of it comes through mere practice, as I am writing now much more than I used to, but part of it is also because I’m censoring myself much less than before.

Another difficulty I only fully realized recently was that it matters when I am doing my writing. To take my previous post as an example again; if I had written it during the weekend, it would have had a more fearful tone, about the hopelessness and panic I felt. Had I written it a few days earlier however, it would have been much more about how proud I am of the way I was dealing with the situation, while prattling on and on about how much self-improvement I managed to achieve during the last few years or even throughout my lifetime. And had I written it last Monday? It would have taken on a decidedly more frustrated tone, and I would rant about the injustice of it all, not understanding why all this was happening. As it stands now, I believe I was able to take a more nuanced and balanced stance of the situation, but who can say whether this last viewpoint is any truer than the others? For all we know, it may yet turn out to be the biggest illusion of them all.

I started thinking about this topic a few weeks ago, when someone mentioned to me why she should write at all, when she always disagreed with what she wrote if she read it later. It was a good question, but as I thought more about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is precisely the reason why we should write. Looking at the above examples, it is evident that none of those viewpoints represented the Truth, but someone who read it might interpret it as the Truth. But it is essential to acknowledge that it does represent a truth, a specific truth within a specific me which existed during a specific moment in time. As such, they are all equally important, because they all represent a window to a previous self. Just as a historian needs to consider all the sources to be able to form a complete picture of the past, so I need to consider all these specific truths to be able to form a complete picture of my past. Consider again my previous post. Imagine that I hadn’t written down my fears when they occurred more than a week ago. Then I wouldn’t have read them again yesterday. Then I would have formed a different picture of the situation, which most definitely would have been further away from the Truth than my current version.

It’s a pity I haven’t kept any of my writings from the past. I wonder what I had written then, and what they would have told me about myself. I am especially curious about what I wrote when I was a child. I remember writing a lot about superheroes and GI Joes and stuff like that, but I wonder about what plots I had invented, what evils my imaginary heroes had to battle against. And I suddenly remember: I always wanted to write an encyclopedia when I was a child; for some reason they were endlessly fascinating to me. It was as if they existed within their own universe, a place where knowledge and structure prevailed, a place where everything made sense. But I digress. What I wanted to mention is that I am now writing much more, and I am also keeping my writings. My notebooks are full of unedited writing that I will never allow others to read, but they provide a reference of myself, and in the end, I hope I will gain a better understanding of myself.

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