Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Discomfort Can Be God For You

A little tidbit that's been on my mind, triggered by this tweet.

Cries of "Don't judge!" and the body-positive movement that criticizes fat-shaming always bother me. Without discomfort, there's not much motivation to change, to stop bad habits. That's certainly true in my case. My bad habits keep rolling along in the absence of the motivation of shame or criticism. For example, I listen to Christian music and read Christian books to encourage me to be better, not to reassure me that I'm perfect just the way I am. I'm not perfect just the way I am and I don't want to stop working to improve.

Matthew Kelly is a Catholic speaker whose primary theme is becoming the best version of yourself. It's kind of hard to work on that continuous progression is you feel totally comfortable with who and what you are.


Foxfier said...

I'm kind of on the fence with this theory-- mostly because, in practice, the observed result is that folks try to make others feel uncomfortable about being broken in a different way than the dis-comforter.

Urging the exact same thing but with a focus on something like "your preaching should give people things to reach for" has the same meaning, but tends to get people focused on flaws that they share. Important because that avoids the annoying failure to understand issues that would come from, oh, me attempting emotional reasoning against one-night stands. (Logical arguments, I can do-- even counter-the-bad-reasons arguments, but emotional? I don't have the desire, so I can't really argue it effectively.)

There's a definite risk of either hypocrisy, or "I am so screwed there isn't even a hope of improving, much less getting pretty good, may as well go for broke."

tim eisele said...

I think that the issue is that there are different things that one might want from a moral philosophy and code of ethics. And I'm suddenly going to use bicycling as an analogy, because why not.

A serious cyclist will always be pushing the limits. Their bicycle is always the best they can afford, but they are always working to improve it, getting better parts and tuning them to flawless function. And they practice and exercise, and ride whenever they can. They are always aware of their flaws as a competitor. And they train to overcome their flaws, knowing that they can never achieve perfection, but always striving for it. And that is fine, because it is important to them to be the best.

And then there are cyclists like me. My bicycle is a tool. The components are not top-of-the-line, but they are good enough. To the extent that it is optimized for anything, it is optimized for reliability, and for being comfortable enough that I'm not wrecked physically by riding it. I am using it to commute to work and generally get around town, and I don't need it to be perfect. I just need it to *work*. And I don't need to be trained to the peak of physical perfection, I just need to be able to push the pedals and get where I'm going. And this is fine, because the bicycling is not an end in itself in this case. It is just a means to an end.

So in the first case, you've got a finely tuned system that is capable of incredible performance, but at the cost of being prone to catastrophic failures and never really achieving their goals. The person doing it may well give up on it once it becomes clear that they are never going to be as good as they wanted. Meanwhile, in the second case, the overall performance isn't so good, and there are some things that just won't be achieved. But the investment is much less, and the person doing it is much more likely to keep it up because it is a tool for accomplishing whatever it is they really want to do.