Overcoming regret

Regret is a double edged sword.


On the one hand it feels bad. On the other, it spurs us to action.  It turns out that the things we regret most are actually the things we have the most power to change.

According to research – summarized by Barking Up the Wrong Tree - http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/05/overcome-regret/ - the things we regret most are, not getting an education, our career choices, lost romances, parenting, self-improvement and not taking enough time for leisure.

You know what is great about this list?  They are all fixable.

Maybe you didn’t get the education you wanted. So, make an effort now, to get more education. There are online courses you can take from major universities Maybe you made some bad career choices in the past. Well, muster up the courage and make a change. Now.

I’m not sure there is much you can do about lost romances, but you can certainly learn to parent better.  And self-improvement?  That’s a lifelong endeavor for a Humanist.

For me – the most important thing is leisure. I am really bad at it.  I love what I do. I love writing and thinking and I literally have to schedule down time to be with my family or I would spend my life thinking things and writing them down.  But I know it’s important to keep me sane and happy and I don’t want to miss my son’s childhood. So I schedule time and stick to it.

The best bit of advice I ever got was that we don’t regret the things we do, we regret the things we don’t do. If you are living with regret, there is a cure. Go do that thing you regret not doing.  You don’t have to accept the status quo if you aren’t happy with it.  With the exception of failed romances.  I feel pretty strongly that if they failed, there’s a reason they failed and those are best left alone.  But everything else, go for it.

What do you regret the most and what are you going to do to fix it?

Raised without religion, and it shows

Replacing religious phrases with humanistic ones.

This comes up a lot.  For people who are not religious anymore, how can they express things like sympathy for someone who sneezes, but do so in a way that isn't religious.  And this is a problem because in America, the common thing to say when someone sneezes is bless you. Which is a religious phrase.  For humanists like me and other atheists, that’s a meaningless phrase. Kind of like calling your loved one a little onion, except religious.

I don’t have this problem, because I was raised without religion. No one in my family ever said, bless you when I sneezed, so I didn't learn to say it. When we sneezed, my dad would look horrified, move away from us and yell, “Don’t do that!”  As if anyone has the ability to not sneeze when your body needs to sneeze!  I always felt that while it was amusing, it wasn't very helpful either.

With my son, when he sneezes, I have to suppress the urge to yell, don’t do that because now I understand my dad’s response. It’s pretty gross when someone sneezes near or at you, like kids do with their parents.  They are spreading germs. So – don’t do that!  However, I have taught myself to say – Elbow! This is to remind my son that his next 2 sneezes, because sneezes come in threeses (#truism), should be directed towards his elbow so that he will not spread his horrid little germs to others, me included.

I realize my family’s approach to the whole, what do you say instead of bless you isn't very helpful. But when you think about it, there is nothing helpful you can say to someone who is sneezing.  You don’t know if it’s allergies or sickness. Perhaps it’s best to not say anything because  – I hope you feel better soon, in the meantime, please do your best to minimize the harm of germ spreading through sneezing as much as possible is a bit wordy and a little rude and again, not helpful.

Maybe my dad was on to something. By saying exactly that in an overtly humorous way – he made his point without being rude, sort of. My point is that if the best a 3rd generation freethinking family can do is yell, don’t do that!  We should probably stop worrying about whether people say bless you when someone else sneezes.

And yes, I do have to suppress the urge to yell, don’t do that, whenever a stranger sneezes near me. I was clearly raised without religion, and it shows. I actually envy the people whose instinct is to say bless you. They at least appear to be less selfish than our instinctual response really is.


Real Life and Minecraft

Humanist philosophy of life when considering how Minecraft is like real life?

My son is addicted to Minecraft. One day he asked me what would it be like if Minecraft were real. So we went to YouTube to find a video on real life and Minecraft.  This is what we found.

And it’s really profound.  Minecraft has no story – no purpose – just like real life.  You can do anything you want. The purpose of what you are trying to accomplish in Minecraft is whatever you decide to do.  My son uses it to build replicas of famous monuments and forts and farms and trading posts and temples and libraries. Right now he is obsessed with Alexandria so he’s working on a lighthouse and a library and some underwater structures.

Does any of this matter in real life? No. When he logs off or deletes his account, it will all be gone.  Just like in real life.  Whatever we do will have no effect on the ultimate outcome.  Except, what we do does impact the people we are playing this game of life with.

To paraphrase Nullitron - Life is a sandbox game. You can do whatever you want and eventually, you will die or quit the game.  While you are there, enjoy it. Don’t worry about the time when you won’t be playing it anymore. And remember, while you might not be playing it anymore, countless others will, after you are gone. So try to make it a game where everyone can have fun.


The meaning of life

To figure out the meaning of life, you first have to understand what life is.


Derek Sivers is a genius. I think so at least. He has a great article on the meaning of life over at: http://sivers.org/ml  He comes to the humanist conclusion that life doesn’t have any intrinsic meaning. You are free to project any meaning you want. In short, you are free to do with your life anything you want.

But it’s his analysis along the way that I think is so helpful.  He starts his article by asking – what is life?  And he tries out some answers.  Like life is time. Finite time, so perhaps you should strive to use it wisely. His advice on how to do this is to balance your future focused thinking with your present focused thinking.

  • Life is also about choice. So choose wisely.  How, again, the answer is balance. Sometimes let your gut decide, sometimes stop at good enough, set ethical limits for yourself and work on what is important, not necessarily urgent.
  • Life is about memories and reflection. If you don’t ever do anything, you won’t have anything worth remembering. On the other hand, reflection is important to. Once again, balance is key.
  • Life is also about learning. We all learn throughout our lives. Be of the mindset that you can always learn more and always improve. 

My take away from his article is that while life has no intrinsic meaning, we still need a purpose in life. And if we are seeking to be self-fulfilled, and who isn’t, perhaps what we should seek is balance. Because that seems to be the key to everything.

Making wise choices about how to spend your life requires balance.


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