Food for Thought: Love and Respect

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been pretty busy delving deep into the abyss that is business ethics. It has me curious at to who is reading publications such as The Journal of Business Ethics: businessmen or philosophers? My money is on the latter. And oh look I’m off topic already and I’ve barely started…

A N Y W A Y S . . .

I’m a big fan of Immanuel Kant. I’m not going to pretend that his ideas are the be all and end all of moral philosophy but they certainly do provide an excellent framework for determining how you should treat others. Whenever something has thrown me for a loop (ethically speaking), going back and reading Kant reminds me of how the world should be (providing it were all sunshine and daisies and everyone was required to study moral philosophy).  For those that are not familiar with Kant, allow me to introduce you to the Categorical Imperative. There are three formulations, but I just want to go over the first two. Ok now…

“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.”

In simplespeak this means don’t do things unless you think it should be ok for everyone to do it.

“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”

In simplespeak this means don’t use people.

The idea of treating others as ends rather than means has many implications in everyday life, but for Kant it is not enough to simply not treat one as a means. It is a twofold process. To be indifferent to someone means that you are not treating them as a means, but you are also not treating them as an end. For Kant we are morally responsibly for treating ALL people as ends. What this means is that we should find ways to promote the positive and negative freedom of individuals and be concerned for their physical and moral well being.

I am currently in the process of doing research for a paper applying Kantian ethics to corporate employee relations (fun right… I think so). So far a lot of what I have read relies heavily on this second formulation of the categorical imperative, and there was a citation from an article by Ornora O’Neill that really caught my eye in regards to how it relates to everyday life. Simply put O’Neill said that benevolence (and in turn-morality) creates a tension between love and respect. We are morally compelled to care about the well-being and happiness of others (love), but we should not go so far as to assume we know what is best for them and force our ideas of happiness upon them. Rather, we should allow them the autonomy and independence to seek out their own happiness (respect) (providing they are acting as moral agents).

I bring all this up because I feel that I see a lot of “you should do this” “you shouldn’t do that” “I think that’s wrong so you are wrong” in today’s society. In a country so deeply divided on every. single. issue. this doesn’t come as a surprise. I think that part of the problem is that we have had the “love” part drilled into our brains so much that it has stymied the “respect”. We are so self-interested and concerned with our own way of life that we fail to see the merit in ways that differ. This is not to say that we should tolerate morally reprehensible behavior in the vein of respect for individual autonomy, but we should recognize that we are all of different paths with varying experiences, purposes, capital, beliefs, etc. And to assume that there is only one way to properly live life is…for lack of a better word (and for minimal shock value) arrogant. What we should strive for as rational, moral people is a minimal level of physical and moral welfare for EVERYONE regardless of any differences among us.

In an effort to practice what I preach I will say that I am not telling you that you NEED to do this, I am merely opening your eyes to a different way of moral thinking. Take it or leave it.

 

*If you are interested, this is the citation for the article I was reading today…*

Bowie, N. E. (1998). A Kantian Theory of Meaningful Work. Journal Of Business Ethics17(9/10), 1083-1092.

The Perks of Planning

As I embark on my last semester of undergraduate scholarly pursuits (queue droves of people applauding for me actually finishing… and then slowly stopping as they realize it means I have to pay back my mountain of debt… the scene fades as they weep… holding each other…. in despair) I’ve started to look back on why it took me so long finish. Sure, the fact that I kept changing my major didn’t help, but a large part of it was also that I got burnt out. I stopped caring. I had no desire to do my school work and the more I had to do the more I pushed against it. In more recent semesters I’ve gotten my act together and started to care a little more about my grades. In order to get through my last few classes I had to change my approach; I had to figure out a way to balance school, my social life, and a strong desire to lay on the couch and watch teen melodramas.

So I started planning out my school week.

The way my online classes are set up I am aware from day one (more or less) what I will need to do each week and when large papers and projects need to be turned in. Each week I divide up that week’s tasks so that I don’t have to do too much each day. I do the same with papers. I haven’t written a paper in one day since 2007 when I spent 12 straight hours on a Saturday writing a 14 page paper relating the developmental theory of criminology to serial killers (awesome stuff). Rather, I’ll start research and writing early enough on a paper that I usually don’t have to write more than 300 words a day. I mean, I’ll write more if I’m on a roll, but I tend to get writer’s block quickly (go ahead… ask me how my book is coming. I’d throw the manuscript at you but it doesn’t exist… consider yourself lucky). The whole point of it is to not overwhelm myself. I get a decent amount of work done, but then I also get to watch Gossip Girl. It’s win win.

As I mentioned in a previous video , I have also come to enjoy planning my meals for the week. If you didn’t heed my advice the first time, I’ll say it again. Try it. It’s especially helpful if you have trouble with cravings or if you are a stickler for macronutrients. By planning everything out in advance you will be able to see if you need to make any changes to ensure you get enough protein, don’t eat too many carbs, or whatever it is you are watching carefully. It also makes the day itself easier. No longer will you stand with the refrigerator door open staring blankly as you are trying to figure out what you want for lunch… you decided already. And since you are taking the time to plan, you allow yourself to make better food choices rather than grabbing the first easy to make sodium laden thing you find in the convenience store. I have some friends that go so far as to pre cook veggies and proteins for the week. This is an excellent idea if you work crazy hours and don’t have time to cook everyday.

Planning itself can sometimes be a tedious task, but it makes the rest of your life so much easier that it’s really worth it. I’m not always the most organized person, ask anyone who ever entered my adolescent bedroom. But we’re adults now and I can’t just shove things under our bunk beds and pretend we’re solving a problem. Planning things makes my life easier. I make to-do lists for everything. EVERYTHING. I even divide cleaning tasks into the days of the week so I don’t have to spend an entire day cleaning the entire house because I’d rather do a little bit of everything everyday (INCLUDING sitting around and doing nothing) than spend any day devoted to one task and not be able to have any free time.

Ok… I might be rambling now..apologies.

What ways can planning make your life easier?

Practice Makes Perfect: The Art of Patience

If I were asked to name the one thing my semi-eventful life has taught me I would say patience. Yet, if I were asked what quality I needed to learn the most, I would again say patience. Despite any leaps and bounds I know I’ve made in my ability to not get angry about “the way things are” as compared to “the way I think they should be” I see myself struggling almost daily due to an apparent lack of patience and compassion.

The thing about patience is, you can never have too much of it. That’s not to say you should allow yourself to be walked on by others and call it being “patient” with them. That’s not patience; that’s being a doormat. What I mean by that is that it seems, to me at least, no matter how patient a person you think you are, there is always room for improvement (naturally the same goes for many, if not all other aspects of life… but let’s limit the scope of this blog so I don’t ramble on forever, shall we?).

Accepting that you can not control the entire world

Try as you might, there are only a finite number of things you have control over: inanimate objects (at least most of the time) and yourself. And to a certain degree you only have so much control over yourself because you can not will your body to do things it’s not biologically capable of doing. All you can do is be mindful of your body and your surroundings and nudge yourself in the proper direction.

Accept that there is work to be done

You will never really know how much patience you have until it is tested. The key is to recognize when your patience is being tested, and do your best to find ways to help yourself, rather than putting up a hissy fit. Being a passive observer of one’s life is no good (and certainly no fun) but there is something to be said for the person that can easily realize that they have little if any control over what happens. I have sort of adopted this philosophy that things happen for a reason, and they happen when they are suppose to happen… and not a second sooner. Some call it God’s plan. Some don’t. I call it life…. I don’t really give a shit what you call it, but do your best to accept it. When you find yourself in trying times, it’s important to remember that it is going to get better, and that eventually, if you were paying attention, you will have learned something about yourself, or someone, or the world, or monkeys, or whatever. You wouldn’t be who you are today if not for your past, so don’t regret a bit of it. Be patient with your life’s path and what you have to learn. Learning takes time. You can’t try to skip to the end where you have it all figured out without that long part in the middle where you are trying to figure it all out…. hence the patience thing. So embrace patience, and allow the world to work with you.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

So it seems I took an accidental hiatus from blogging. It also seems that I took an accidental hiatus from watching what I eat. I did very little to limit the food going into my mouth over the holiday weekend; but these are the sort of things that happen when family comes to visit, the french bakery you walk into has fresh baguettes and macaroons and and the fish mongers at Pike Place are handing out samples of smoked salmon. I can say without  a doubt though, that everything I ate was delicious, and I had a blast.

With all that being said, deviations from my normal routine have a tendency to derail me for what is longer than necessary. I dwell on every pound I think I’ve gained (still avoiding my scale as much as possible so I’m not too sure of a number… nor do I care to know); I dread not getting to go to the farmer’s market and eating an organic corn-dog simply because there are organic corn-dogs (it was awesome btw); a small piece of me dies every time I see an add for the local cupcake bakery; I could go on, but I won’t.. because I’m making myself hungry. The point is, not caring about every morsel that goes in your mouth is fun and delicious, and going back to calorie counting can be kind of a downer after a week of dining out and Godiva truffles.

It’s times like this that I ask myself “why do you stop watching what you eat if going back to your routine is such a drag?” The short answer is “because I love cupcakes and refuse to live a life they are not a part of”. And the long answer is “because this is a life” (it’s get’s longer.. gimmie a sec). As much as the allure of my potentially smokin’ hot bod compels me to eat better and exercise, I also know my limits. In order for my new found lifestyle to continue long-term I have to find ways for it to work for me… and if I couldn’t sit down to tea and a scone with my sister-in-law because I was too worried about how many calories were in that scone… this lifestyle would not work for me.

The truth is… not eating like a saint constantly will likely slow down my fitness progress, but the rest of that truth is that as long as I don’t go on a food bender on a regular basis, and as long as I get back to my regular routine and put in the hard work, any damage I might have done will be reversed and I will still be moving toward my goal.

So the same goes for you. Taking the day, the week, or the month off from your normal habits will only ruin your progress if you let it. Just get back into your food and workout regimen… kick some ass… and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy body and healthy mind… cupcakes included!

What Do You Live For?

Last week, fellow blogger at A La Modeand my best friend since sixth grade, Baille, attended a Shoot For Change  event in the DC Metro area. The theme for fundraiser was “What I Live For”, which allowed attendees to portray their life’s passions in professional photographs. In a participatory spirit, everyone brought something with them that represented their passion in life; the photos were put on display along with short essays about what each attendee’s passion meant for them.

Had I not been clear across the country trying to teach myself how to run, I would have loved to have the opportunity to attend such an event. Not only because proceeds went to a great cause, but I love to getting to know other people and what they are passionate about.

Passion is a powerful force that can will you to do things beyond what you thought was possible. When you find something that you brain finds so amazing that it lights a fire inside of you, it can lift you from the deepest of funks and pull you away from the brink complacency.

I could easily say that I am a human of many passions. I love cooking. I love dancing. I love music.I love getting to know people very well (I also love figuring them out before they think they’ve revealed themselves). I love movies. I love exploring new places. I love taking pictures. I love hugging people.I love being philosophical. I love watching shows on Discovery Health about rare genetic diseases and 200 pound tumors. I could go on for days. But really… as I have come to discover quite recently… all of these things stem from what is apparently my true passion: learning.

Who would have thought? The girl who has been dragging her feet through her undergrad years kicking and screaming and changing majors several times, as it turns out, loves learning (this actually could explain the numerous major changing). I can’t get enough of it. I love learning new things about people, places, things, life, myself, the old hippie that hangs out in Pike Place… everything. If I ever get to a point in my life where I feel as though I have nothing more to learn and no more growing to do.. I might as well end it right there.

And this is how I know that learning is my passion… because my longing to learn new and more awesome things prevents me from becoming complacent. It influences my actions without me even realizing it. It causes me to put my body and mind in new and interesting situations and I long to gather meaning from those experiences. I love finding new and different ways to view the world around me and everything that is in it. And I never want to stop.

So what is your passion? What do you live for?

On Being Awesome

 

It might be true that Barney Stinson is a womanizing and absurd fictional character, but he has a point.

How often do you put yourself down? How often to you make yourself feel worthless for this, that and the other reason? A lot, right?

Well, stop it.

There’s something to be said where knowing where your faults lie. It can come in handy in all sorts of situations: from the workplace to the impending zombie apocalypse (“I’m not skilled in jamming an axe into a person’s head.. you do that …and maybe I should loot that HoHo factory instead.. win win”) It’s our tendency to dwell in those faults and shortcomings and can be the problem.

Why do we focus on the negative?

To be honest, I don’t have the answer to that question. The true answer to that probably differs slightly from person to person but I have a feeling it centers around the idea of unrealistic expectations for ourselves and inaccurate views of others. I’m willing to do bet everything I own that there is not a single person in this world that has it all figured out. I think the closest you can get to having it all figured out is realizing that you will never have it all figured out and accepting where you are at any given point in life. But rather than realizing this, we look at others and see something going well for them and instantly we think “this person… they know what they are doing.. their life must be perfect.. why can’t my life be perfect”. And in our endless pursuit of “the perfect life” we get some bumps and bruises (literally and figuratively). But when we try with all our might and we still can’t reach perfection… we blame ourselves.

Let’s be fair. There are instances where you should blame yourself for things…. like if you try to commit fraud and then get pissy because you end up in jail. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about when you feel like you are a waste of space because of whatever reason. I’m talking about when you feel like you don’t matter. I’m talking about when you feel like giving up because you aren’t perfect. I think we focus on these things because we don’t know what else to focus on. Our thought is that if we can’t blame someone else… we have to blame ourselves.

You don’t have to be perfect

The truth is… it’s silly to blame yourself for not being perfect. No one is perfectThe sooner you can accept the fact that you will never become some sort of outlandish example of perfection, the better off you will be.

Are you working towards bettering yourself? If you are, then good. You’re on the right path. If you’re not…. now seems like a great time to start. Because that is all we can do…. work each day to better ourselves both mentally and physically. So you might mess up from time to time. The world is not going to end because you screwed up. I promise you.. it won’t. All you have to do is pick yourself up and keep trying. And if you do that.. you are the closest thing that I can think of to being perfect: willing to acknowledge mistakes, learning from them, and working towards a better life.

Now… back to Barney Stinson

You might be asking yourself at this point: how can I possibly continue to pick myself up after each failure? after each humiliation? after each let down? The answer is because you are awesome… and awesome people don’t let the world stand in their way. So when something happens to you that is less than “perfect”… be awesome and allow yourself to move past it. It might take some time. It might be painful to keep going… but no one said being awesome was easy.

Dealing With Those Pesky Inner Demons: Fear

“fear kills everything. Your mind, your heart, your imagination.” 
― Cornelia FunkeInkheart

Fear is one of those things that is just always around. It lurks in corners in the form a spider. It towers above you in the form of the skyscraper you are afraid to enter. It smothers you until your can’t breathe. Everyone has different fears and everyone handles them differently. But the important thing to note is that everyone has something they are afraid of, whether they are willing to admit it or not.

Fears can come in two forms: rational and irrational. Our rational fears, such as the fear of bodily harm, are hardwired into us as a means for survival. The fight or flight response is the body’s response to rational fears. It protects us from things that could harm us both mentally and physically.

Irrational fears, clinically called phobias, are generally fears of objects or situations where the fear is disproportionate to the danger posed by them. Some of them can be entertaining to onlookers (stories about my fear of bugs to follow) while others can be completely debilitating to a person. However, sometimes our seemingly rational fears can get out of control we become sapped of our life force.

So now it’s story time:

When I was in second grade I attended a Catholic school that my father taught music at. One day for gym class we were playing some sort of game where you throw a ball back and forth between two groups. I know it wasn’t dodgeball… but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. It’s irrelevant though.. all that matters is that it was one of those rubbery bouncy balls. Well, that might not even matter.  Anyway, I didn’t really participate too much; I was well on my way to becoming a young Daria Morgandorffer, but more on apathy later. It occurs to me now that there was a more than an aversion to ball games preventing me from making an effort. I was afraid. It’s not that I didn’t want to play, I just don’t really like embarrassing myself. I wasn’t good at sports. I played t-ball for exactly one season in which I continuously got yelled at because I’m left-handed and when I would let go of the bat to run I would accidently swing it so it slid down the third base line… which is apparently a bad thing. So if I had tried to catch the ball and missed, or gotten hit in the face I would have been mortified. It was just better to stand in the back corner of the playing court and feign interest. But then my moment came. The ball flew over the heads of all of my team mates and landed in a pile of folding chairs directly behind me. It was my chance to actually play whatever asinine game we were playing, and I knew it was my chance because I was the only one on my team anywhere near the pile of chairs. I eagerly trotted over the the pile and chairs and picked up the ball, but before I could even turn around the throw it a boy from my class, let’s call him Scott (because I have no clue what his name actually was), snatches it out of my hands and yells “Give me the ball, Catherine. I’m better than you!”

It’s not that I’m scarred for life by that story (or perhaps I am), but it sort of informs something that I struggle with on a daily basis: my biggest fear is that I will never be good enough. I have a tendency to correlate my self-worth with what people say and think about me. During high school I was dating an abusive guy, both mentally and physically. He constantly told me that I was ugly, fat, worthless, stupid, etc. I got so use to hearing it that I must have believed it to be true.

Now, for some reason, I assume that people have to be paying attention to me for me to matter. So if I haven’t talked to one of my friends for a while, or Husband doesn’t notice that I made my hair look nice, my brain automatically goes to “you don’t matter to them, and why would you?”

I feel like because of this, I had become my own Scott… telling myself I’m not good enough for anything. I’m not good enough to become a decent writer. I’m not cool enough to have friends. Im obviously the only one that things my personal style when it comes to home decor and dressing it neat. I’m not strong or determined enough to live the healthy lifestyle I want. I could go on forever.

You probably see a neat picture… I see roughly ten things I’m doing wrong

This fear stops me in my tracks when I think about doing something. From the time I stopped dancing four years ago until roughly 6 months ago, all I wanted to do was dance again. But I wouldn’t because I was afraid I wouldn’t be good at it anymore. It use to come so naturally, and things are different now. And I would rather not dance at all than try and fail. Or worse.. try and be average.

So rather than dealing with these emotions. I retreat so the world can’t hurt me. Even though deep down I know I’m only hurting myself.

 

 

 

Part of my journey to a healthy mind is to be mindful of my overwhelming fears, accept them for what they are, and find ways to over come them. All of this things will help achieve the inner peace I’ve be desperately seeking for years. I have a feeling I’ll struggle with the fear and not being good enough (as well as the fear of bugs) for years to come. But I’m working on it.

But fear isn’t all bad. Without fear there would be no courage. And courage….succinctly put… is awesome.

What are some of your fears? And how to they hold you back?

NFAQ 1

Sorry in advance.. I didn’t leave enough transition time for some of the questions so they might disappear before you can read them. Oops! The questions in the order they are shown can be seen below the video!

1. Why don’t they make mouse flavored cat food? Or cat flavored dog food?

2. Is it really true that you should wait 30 minutes after eating before swimming?

3. What would you do if money didn’t matter and you could do whatever you wanted each day?

4. If you could become famous, what would you want to be famous for and why?

5. Do you know anything about history?

6. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?

7. What do you think will become of the USA in the next 50 years?

8. Have you ever been on TV?

9. How do you calm yourself when life gets stressful?

10. Say a haiku… please?

11. What is your favorite healthy snack?

12. Does continuous exposure to a certain type of music is a store damage the psyche of employees?