Greg Morris

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Other Peoples Lives

As much as I share my own, I generally don’t have any interest in other people’s lives. This appears to be strange in modern life, as many others consume other lives as entertainment, either on TV or social media. I typically have enough to worry about on my own without looking at anyone else’s. I look upon it in the same terms as the phrase used in relation to prison sentences of “doing your own time” and not letting the people around you affect your life too much.

I do take note of the world around me though, and often find the little snippets of conversation overheard fascinating. It offers a little peek into what other people are experiencing, although I am sure one that is completely out of context. When sat in a coffee shop, or waiting in line, I frequently catch little glimpses into other people’s thoughts and I enjoy taking in other view points on things. Finding out what others experience or are talking about is important to understand where your thoughts are.

It is easy in these instances to make judgements about people. To overhear their worries and fears, and regularly their arguments, and then make decisions about them as a person. To become judgemental and look down on them or view them as wrong. You overhear discussions and arguments that often affect your opinion on people that you haven’t even met. Viewing your life as better. On the other side, if you believe social media, everyone’s life looks better than ours because we are comparing insides to outsides.

What glimpsing into other lives does to me is make me thankful of the life I have. Grateful that I do not have to go through other people’s experiences, and be appreciative of the things I have. As Lucy Lord said, “If we could all put our problems into one big pile, we’d take our own problems back every single time”. It’s easy to view others through a lens or in a snapshot and decide on our own lives, but when we take a step back and see the reality of our world, we realise how lucky we are.

Not A Task List, A Done List

My son and I spend a not insignificant amount of time at Ninja Warrior assault courses. After our first exploration to the one in Sheffield, we found one in Leicester we really like and go fairly regularly for an hour or two to challenge ourselves. This is our fun time together. On our last visit, James was very disheartened that he couldn’t “beat the wall” on the adult course.

“I still can’t get up there dad” he said whilst we grabbed a drink. Making him think twice about trying again. I could tell him that it’s a long way up, he’s only small still, and all sorts of comforting things. However, I said the only thing that should be said in this situation and that is, don’t look at what you can’t do yet, look at how far you’ve come.

When we first went, neither of us were anywhere near getting through half of the obstacles, never mind about beating the wall. Only a few months later, he’s swinging from things, darting up cargo nets and has improved his balance and co-ordination no end. That’s not enough for us humans, though, our negativity bias focuses on the wrong things. Fixated on what we are still yet to do, instead of what’s already been done.

There is no better example of this than my task list at work. It’s constantly filled with things I need to do. Like the heads of a hydra, and as soon as I check one off, there is at least another to take its place. Which is fine, until a certain point where you realise you’re on a treadmill with no escape. It starts to feel a bit overwhelming and often leads to a lack of motivation. Pretty quickly, life could become untenable.

So let’s flip the thinking here. Instead of looking at the outstanding tasks, let’s look at the ones already checked off. Focus on a done list rather than a to-do list. Any time I feel a bit overwhelmed by what’s on my plate, not only do I remember there will always be more work, but also flip through my Bullet Journal and look at all the crossed off items.

From there, it’s pretty easy to frame this into a remarkable achievement, rather than a stressful nightmare.

The Simplest Path

I have a running joke with JFM about him having about 3 thousand different blogs. It is very much tongue in cheek because it works for him, but the thought of worrying about where a post goes is not something I want to deal with. I’ve written about the freeing feeling of having one blog before, but this path of the least resistance seems to be a universal law to help with almost everything.

There is something to be said about intentional barriers in the way of actions you would like to reduce, but for everything else, the easiest path is the way. As Ryder Carol, the inventor of the bullet journal, put it, “the more apps, the more gaps”. James Clear, writer of Atomic Habits, also defaults to one place to store everything. Otherwise, your system falls down due to the need to remember where you saved it in the first place. Defeating the whole point.

It doesn’t matter where that place is, but having things spread into multiple areas, or constantly moving them, is just a waste of time and effort. When I think about the amount of time I wasted looking at new note-taking, writing and task management apps, I shudder a little. My, and numerous others I see, constant need to look for something ‘better’ costs us dearly.

If truth be told, I could never find one digital place that ticked all my boxes. Instead of remembering the information, I had to remember where I put it. So to cut out all the wasted energy overcoming the resistance in my system, I reverted to perhaps the oldest tool known to man – a writing instrument, and somewhere to use it.

All the resistance is now gone because the only answer is in my notebook. Not only am I not worrying where to put things, but I also know where everything is, I can flick through my notebook and find the note I made with relative ease. My concern over previously being able to search digital notes has dissipated because I remember more of them anyway. The act of writing everything down and being able to read through them at any point means my recall is much higher.

It doesn’t really matter where your place is, but by having one place, you are doing yourself a favour. Reducing your cognitive load and giving yourself the best chance at achieving your desired goal. It might be getting tasks checked off, it might be saving ideas, or it might just be the occasional scribble. Take the right path and choose one with the least resistance. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Why does it feel offensive?

A few weeks ago a read a post on Mastodon which in essence claimed you can’t do anything on a 256gb MacBook. Ha, I thought. I’m going to teach this person a lesson because I run the design department of my company on a 256gb MacBook Pro. Yet instead I just wrote about it in my journal and carried on with my life.

The truth is you don’t actually need a lot saved on your hard drive, especially in our modern world of Wi-Fi, and external storage options – but I digress.

My initial reaction was to dive in. Make a scene and put my point across. Which seems to be a typical human trait, believing that everyone needs to hear your perspective. We have a tendency to only appreciate the world from our angle. To frame everything with our life experience and give our option thusly. When in reality, no matter how much life experience we’ve had, we have very limited knowledge of the world.

Our ego leads us to believe that the way we see the world is correct. In fact, we need to also press that experience and opinion on everyone who has an opposing view. We suffer from what is referred to on social media as ’main character syndrome’. To believe that we have an over inflated self-importance in the world than we actually do.

To quote the title of the first epic novel by J. Truant “The Universe Doesn’t Give a Flying Fuck About You”. The reality is, neither should you. Let’s go all the way back to my example, I have no clue what the person making claims about MacBook HD sizes needs it to do. Maybe they can’t do anything with 256gb of space, but that doesn’t mean I have to tell them off.

Instead, I can just go on with my day and forget about it. The only reason wild generic statements like that feel offensive is because of you. Your ego is fooling you into thinking you need to prove them wrong. When your opinion doesn’t matter to anyone but yourself.

For The Enjoyment Of It

I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the things I do and understanding my motivations. I am uncertain if this is because I am nearing 40 and having some kind of crisis. Or that I have recently read 4,000 weeks, but I want to make sure I am getting the most out of the things that I do. Prioritising activities that I enjoy and being more intentional with my time.

Despite having two children to look after, a company to help run, and a whole range of relationships to manage, my life is packed full of activities. Both myself and my wife live out of our calendars whilst still maintaining time for our relationship. Enjoyment of our lives is at the centre of everything we do with our kids, so we like to think about the things I do, too.

I stated of course with writing because I do a great deal of it. Not just on my blog, but for my job, for my life and also just because I enjoy it. Either manual scribbling or typing on my keyboard, I love writing. The question always exists of “what is it for”. I scribbled it in my notebook a couple of weeks ago whilst musing other things and tried to come to some kind of resolution on why.

I am sure you will be saying in your head, “but Greg, you write because you enjoy writing”. Unfortunately, if you’ve read any of my previous posts, you may be able to already expect that a tautology is not good enough for me. I like to question things, and understand myself on deeper levels. When questions arise in my mind, I like to have some kind of reasoning to satisfy the curiosity I have about myself.

I make no money from writing. I don’t do it for clicks, although I do love the interaction it sometimes brings. Nor am I interested in any kind of sudo fame that some bloggers manage to achieve. Indeed, my motivation for writing is completely internal, if my intentions were to gain anything from it externally, then I would have put more effort into actually crafting the art and strengthening my skill by now.

Philosopher Kieran Setiya refers to atelic activity as one that its value is not derived from its ultimate aim (telos). This is a label that could, without doubt, be applied to my photography. I don’t go out with my camera to provide a result, I do it to see the world differently and enjoy the process. The photographs that are produced are a byproduct of the enjoyment I get from it. Although that hasn’t always been the case for me.

These thoughts gave me some reasoning around simply enjoying the process of writing instead of the result. I love writing out my thoughts and that is enough motivation to do it. Although enough of it takes place in private that hitting publish barely seems worth it at all, the process could be enough. However, much like the photos that make it to the end of my photography process, some enjoyment comes from ‘working in public’. Not for a kind of return, purely to share some of my enjoyment with others.

Dazné summed this up more succinctly than I. “I write foremost for myself. And when others find it useful, then that’s great too”. This whole post is me, coming to terms to with my mortality and wanting to understand myself better. If by doing this in public, with a typo ridden blog post, perhaps helps someone else than that’s great – but it’s not the motivation behind it.

This process has been helped along by what I read, both in books and online, and my reading list has a strange way of surfacing thoughts just when I need them. If my posts do that for someone else and help them understand the world or themselves, then all the better.