There’s no need to be mean to yourself

Abstract water color painting in reds.

I just started reading book 4000 Weeks, a book that is “basically Oliver Burkeman yelling ‘You have to accept that life is finite!’ for 225 pages with different combinations of different words”, and it’s fantastic because this is maybe the hardest thing any of us will ever learn. Saying it repeatedly is necessary.

One year ago today to the day, I shared a post that included, among other things, a video interview from Bruce Lee that is on my rewatch/reread list, as well as an article from Oliver Burkeman, talking about 4000 Weeks (and which contained the quote above).

The crux of the book and the article (and in some ways Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach) is that we shouldn’t be trying to find ways to be doing more, better, faster, and we certainly shouldn’t be mean to ourselves when we (inevitably) can’t reach a perfect life balance. Rather, “what you have to (gently) remind yourself is that there is, in fact, no secret ingenious alternative to just walking the uncertain and sometimes uncomfortable path forwards.”

“Maybe you can’t keep your current job while also seeing enough of your children; maybe making sufficient time in the week for your creative calling means you’ll never have an especially tidy home, or get quite as much exercise as you should, and so on. Instead, in an attempt to avoid these unpleasant truths, we deploy the strategy that dominates most conventional advice on how to deal with busyness: we tell ourselves we’ll just have to find a way to do more”

But we’ve forgotten to be amazed that things are in the first place – that ‘a world is worlding all around us’, as Heidegger puts it. This fact – the fact that there is being, to begin with – is ‘the brute reality on which all of us ought to be constantly stubbing our toes’, in the splendid phrase of the writer Sarah Bakewell.”

3 responses

  1. Great minds read alike!

  2. I’m reading the same book now and enjoying it.

Comments welcome!

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