There’s always something to howl about

Unchained melody: Cultivating indifference with Cage the Elephant.

Man Alive! is six months old this week. A video I made on Monday celebrates the book’s demi-anniversary by eviscerating two mutually-contradictory theories of human free will.

Meanwhile, I’m in the early stages of writing a new book on moral philosophy, this one concerned with moving your self rightward on the number line discussed in Chapter 7 of Man Alive!

Cathleen and I were talking about a piece of this pie last night, the idea I call Cultivating Indifference. She asked me if I am really unhurt by other people’s (sometimes virulent) criticism of me. I am, although I understand why people might find this hard to believe. But here is how my thinking runs:

If you say something about me, it is either true or it isn’t. If it’s true, I am improved by your observation, however it comes packaged. My goal is to do better in everything I do, so if someone points out that I have been in error, I am glad to know it.

And if the claim is not true, I am unmoved. I keep my own counsel in everything I do, and I never change anything in my thinking or my behavior without a good reason.

If the criticism is offered in good faith, I will explain my thinking. And if it is simply malice, a verbal spear intended to wound me, I will know that the person throwing that spear is not to be trusted, and my life will be improved by that bit of new knowledge.

In all cases, I am concerned with nothing but my self, so other people’s behavior toward me is only interesting to the extent that it offers me opportunities to improve my own mind and conduct.

To my mind, this is completely rational. I like it when folks I admire return my admiration, but I don’t give a rat’s ass if unlikeable people don’t like me. It would be a red flag for me if they did!

Anyway, here’s a rockin’ tune from Cage the Elephant that expresses my attitude on this subject perfectly:


2 Comments so far

  1. Dylan Darling October 12th, 2012 9:06 am

    “I like it when folks I admire return my admiration, but I don’t give a rat’s ass if unlikeable people don’t like me”. This reminded me of a great quote by the man himself, Bill Cosby. “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”

    Too many people are trying to please everyone. In real estate, you aim at pleasing your buyers or sellers, which can be tough if you are working with buyers or sellers that aren’t what you see as “good people”. But every business runs across it’s Debbie Downers, Mr. Know It Alls, and down right rude people. It’s how we choose to deal with them. I’ve recently decided it’s not worth my time to work with some of these people, while others I can deal with. I’ll choose to spend my time working with buyers and sellers who see me as an expert, and trustworthy Realtor. I’ve spent some time thining of this Cosby quote and I think it’s spot on. If you don’t piss some people off along the way, you’re probably not going to be successful (whatever your definition of successful is). While I never try to piss anybody off on purpose, in order for me to gain success, some people aren’t going to like me for how I got there. Screw em, I know that I’ve done right.

  2. Ahmed Amin October 12th, 2012 8:11 pm

    i loved reading this