Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Day 89: I am still a fan of word clouds

What went well? 

  1. Went to the gym. I don't know why the internal debate still goes on, 3 years into a regular exercise routine, but I suspect it's something to do with the Tuesday slump. Seriously, Tuesdays are consistently my worst days in terms of energy and mood - possibly because I don't have anything scheduled and because Mondays are so intense? Anyhow, the gym-going side of my brain came out on top and I did get some exercise done.
  2. Wrote another 600 or so words on the etymology of mindfulness. 
  3. Got invited to a Passover Seder (it's a Jewish celebration) next week. It should be a really interesting experience.
  4. This happened yesterday, but I'm still grateful for it. Something else that was a relief during office hours with my intro Buddhism professor was that he said that he doesn't mind if it's not a "clean paper" for my last section with the implications - the "so what?" of my findings. He just wants to see me think and struggle. I think that's such a cool attitude for a professor to take. It's a relief to not be expected to come up with precise "answers" for some of these big questions.

What did I learn? 

  • Arianna Huffington's been getting a lot of press lately about her new book, "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder". After an accident caused by overwork & chronic sleep deprivation, she had to reevaluate her life and redefined success as more than just money & power. I find this to be very interesting, from  a discourse-of-wellbeing/happiness standpoint. I mean, it doesn't seem that radical or new of an idea to think that success should be defined by more than just money and power. Philosophers have contemplated what makes a good life for centuries, and this is exactly what positive psychologists and positive organisational scholars study too. We would call it an overemphasis on the "A" (accomplishment) of PERMA. And another key idea is that wellbeing supports success. But, despite all this philosophising and research, I wonder if what is required for real cultural change and the popularisation of an idea is for a person with high status and influence to rearticulate the idea.
  • I find it interesting that in its earliest uses in English, it was highly associated with gratitude (mindfulness as remembering the good in your life and the good that others have done), being a considerate and kind person, important for being a good Christian (having a habitual mindfulness of God), and overall being seen as a virtuous quality. Quite a bit more than mere attention/memory - even if that is what it literally means, the implications are more nuanced. Here are a couple of word clouds of quotes that include the word "mindfulness" in the (early) Western and Buddhist senses, respectively (I'll add the "secular/psychlogised" mindfulness word cloud once I make it):

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