Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Emotion - A Tool to bring Daily Behavior in congruence with Moral Goals

I am struggling here, at my desk at work. I am keenly aware that my daily behavior is not congruent with what I perceive as my highest moral goals, for the short-term and the long-term. I have a lot of excuses for it. My "best" excuse is that I will have some flash of insight, and then, for the rest of my life, I will effortlessly daily work in the direction of my highest moral goals. But I know that waiting for this flash of insight is a cop-out. There is no substitute for the daily grind of doing the best you can with your available resources, however meager you consider them to be, now.

Flower in High DesertImage by cobalt123 via Flickr

I have a friend who spoke of someday taking a few years off to meditate and really come to grips with his place in the universe, and how he would manage his future. And I felt so sad, because I know that these insights only come to people who at engaged in life and engaged with the real word and engaged with the daily grind. You get better insights when you subject yourself to the daily rigors of real world living. Any "truth" you discover in the wilderness will be hollow in comparison. But, if I know that to be true, are my actions consistent with that? Am I throwing myself into honest daily work? [I feel] I have to formalize immersing myself in the emotional feeling of what is at state when we are talking about fulfilling or not fulfilling my highest moral goals, for the short-term and the long-term. Because I am terrified of days slipping away. And I cannot count on those moments of terror alone to spur fruitful effective daily action, and correct priorities towards choices about action and choices about limited resources. Also, in the past I have used over-complicating a formal system as a way to have an excuse to not do it: either, I need time to make the system more rigorous, or, the system being so laborious, that I needed to be in a very resourceful state to be able to perform the system.

A man praying at a Japanese Shintō shrine.Image via Wikipedia

God, I pray: please help me to utilize emotion to bring my daily behavior in congruence with my highest moral goals, both in the short-term and the long term. So, along with the prayer, what is action I can take now to help myself? The task includes asking the questions that will identify highest moral goals in the short term and the long term - but not using the desire to be totally and rigorously comprehensive as a stalling technique. The task includes linking those goals to actions I can take now (even if that action is taking some analysis and consideration), and linking those goals to priorities towards choices about action, choices about time, choices about energy (including restorative meditation, etc.) and choices about limited resources. The priorities will suggest certain actions. The task includes identifying a list of actions to take place in the day or the next few hours. Better too few than too many, because this activity can be done several times a day, if necessary. The actions will also be in a specific order of completion. The task includes identifying a motivating emotional trigger to each action - positive towards the successful completion of the action, and negative towards failing to complete the action. Now, complete the actions in order. If, cannot, then write out the renunciation of that driving highest goal. If that does not spur on action, then consider restorative activities (first consider some exercise to get the blood pumping, before laying down. A few moments to meditate is consistent with high levels of productivity and effectiveness as well.)

Description unavailableImage by xiu×5 via Flickr

Collect these writings of goals, actions, motivating emotional triggers, and renunciations. If, over the course of weeks, the renunciation for a particular goal accumulate, then, at the least, that goal has to be discarded now. Leave aside the question of if the goal needs to be discarded permanently - it may need to be discarded several times, each at a point where an excess of capability and resources is accumulated first, and still judged to be lacking, before being discarded permanently. OK, looks good.
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