Author Topic: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?  (Read 566 times)

Melisande

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Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« on: March 09, 2017, 04:12:08 PM »
One reason I was drawn to the UU "church" in which I am currently very active was that they are non-credal. You can't believe absolutely anything you want to, but it's pretty close. They have 7 principles, but they are very broad and all about inclusiveness and open-mindedness.

As I've gotten to know people there, though,  I'm beginning to realize that a certain subset of the congregation is actively striving to live according to these principles - to become better people -- more loving, giving, activist, etc.

I don't want to write a humongously long post about this. So, let's just say that I am happy to live and let live and to not be a too egregious version of myself. At the same time I sometimes wonder if there is something morally wrong with me -- some deep-seated narcissism or something that is making me not care about bettering myself in this way. Then, I forget about this feeling and go about my mainly happy life,

How do you live? Do you actively strive to be a "better" person (in non-financial ways -- I'm assuming most people here want to be more mustachian). Are you OK with this choice? Or do you think you should be living differently?

jrhampt

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2017, 04:26:54 PM »
I'd like to be a better person.  I'd like to love people more.  It's most recently a side-effect of this recent election, though.  The thing is, I don't have to care.  I have enough money that it wouldn't have to matter to me, and it's so easy to just ignore it all, and I do that sometimes.  But I think that's part of the reason we got here, and I'm disgusted right now.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed and say, well, you can't save everyone, and think it's all futile.  But I look at my heroes, and I realize that even though you can't save everyone, it's not an excuse to not even try to help someone.

Poundwise

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 05:18:35 AM »
YES. For the past few years, every day I have been asking myself, "Did I make the world a better place?" 

If I just went about my daily business, taking care of family, etc.my answer to this question is "Probably not."  Because every day is a slide downward... we're polluting, crowding other people, competing for resources, etc.  Just eating the pie, not growing the pie.

But on days that I have volunteered, or donated, or comforted or cheered another person, or even just supported my spouse and kids while they have made contributions to society or breakthroughs in personal growth, I can say to myself, "Yes! The world is a better place for my existence." And I go to sleep happy.

Strangely,  this question did not start me on the road to volunteering or giving, but actually was a consequence of an unusually long period of volunteering which I just fell into.  I realized how good it felt when I was being a maker and a giver, rather than a consumer and a taker... and I wanted to continue this feeling.  Especially in times like these, when there is so much to worry about in the world, it helps me to do something, and feel like I can be a minute but bright speck in the darkness.

Cezilous

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2017, 05:53:17 AM »
Yes.  I decided a few years ago that I needed to become a better person, for me and the world.  I wanted to be what I wanted to see in the world, to be the change I wanted to see, etc.  I wasnít an asshole or anything, I was just living in my own bubble.  I was severely depressed for as long as I can remember in my life, very unhappy, dissatisfied, and couldnít really see a way out except for one choice that, if successful, I couldnít return from and would break many peopleís hearts. :(

I made the choice to change because I couldnít keep going on with that perspective Ė it was destroying me.  Every day I try to remember kindness, compassion, joy; to take deep breaths, appreciate the sunshine and the leaves on the trees and the sound of the birds.  I try to make eye contact and smile at others wherever I go, and say hi, because Iíve been incredibly lonely, and I know how much it hurts to feel invisible to the world when surrounded by others.  I remember how much pain I felt (and what I still feel, and carry with me) and I know that Iím not the only one.  I want to help make the world a better place, and some of those are my small ways that I think I contribute.

I know not everyone feels this way, and thatís okay.  I think itís just how I feel like I click with the world.  I donít force anything with anyone, just let others do their thing and Iíll do my own; I just want to be an overall positive presence.  Yes, it's still a struggle, but I think I am better for it.  :)

Freedomin5

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2017, 06:34:02 AM »
No, because "trying to be better" implicitly implies that I'm not good enough now. I try to fully accept myself with all my faults and quirks.

At the same time, I do try to ask myself whether or not I have contributed positively to at least one person's life each day. I don't do it because I want to be a better person. I do it because I am already the person I want to be, and I am acting based on who I am.

golden1

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2017, 08:10:01 AM »
Quote
Yes.  I decided a few years ago that I needed to become a better person, for me and the world.  I wanted to be what I wanted to see in the world, to be the change I wanted to see, etc.  I wasnít an asshole or anything, I was just living in my own bubble.  I was severely depressed for as long as I can remember in my life, very unhappy, dissatisfied, and couldnít really see a way out except for one choice that, if successful, I couldnít return from and would break many peopleís hearts. :(

I made the choice to change because I couldnít keep going on with that perspective Ė it was destroying me.  Every day I try to remember kindness, compassion, joy; to take deep breaths, appreciate the sunshine and the leaves on the trees and the sound of the birds.  I try to make eye contact and smile at others wherever I go, and say hi, because Iíve been incredibly lonely, and I know how much it hurts to feel invisible to the world when surrounded by others.  I remember how much pain I felt (and what I still feel, and carry with me) and I know that Iím not the only one.  I want to help make the world a better place, and some of those are my small ways that I think I contribute.

I know not everyone feels this way, and thatís okay.  I think itís just how I feel like I click with the world.  I donít force anything with anyone, just let others do their thing and Iíll do my own; I just want to be an overall positive presence.  Yes, it's still a struggle, but I think I am better for it.  :)

Well said.  I also feel similarly.  I really think the human species is not built to be entirely selfish, and we thrive when we are engaged with others.  Our society currently does not encourage this leading to this collective narcissism that seems to be taking over. 

The happiest people I know are those who are actively helping others. 

MightyAl

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2017, 08:55:38 AM »
There is a UU church near me that just caught my eye.  Found it online and haven't been by to check it out but I am interested in finding out more. 

I always remember Gilbert Grape when he is asked what he wants and he replies "I just want to be a good person."  That has rung so true for me for so long and something I struggle with on some days.  I strive every day to do something good and let others negativity be their problem and not mine.  There is too much for me to be happy about to be pulled down into others BS and perceived problems.

zoltani

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2017, 02:51:19 PM »
I highly recommend this talk: How to get out of your own way, by Alan Watts (he calls it mind over mind)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4jBd4fArfQ

"The reason why you want to be better is the reason why you are not."

To answer your question, I attempt to understand myself better, to watch the watcher. As I understand myself better I act in ways that are more beneficial to my well being. Is that being better? I am not sure, but it is working for me.

I see that many consider being better as helping others. Can I ask how that makes you a better person? Who is doing the judging of what is better? How do you know what is better for you or others?

ďKindly let me help you or you will drown,Ē said the monkey putting the fish safely up a tree.




ďThe hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. Itís so easy to make it complex. Whatís important is leading an examined life.Ē

Yvon Chouinard

Melisande

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2017, 05:08:50 AM »
Thanks for all the responses.

@zoltani: I tend to agree with you re: helping others. That's one of the (many) reasons why I never really made it as a professor. I would assign homework and think: But how do I really know that's what is right for this person at this time in their life? It might really be best if they didn't do my HW this week! Definitely worse with required courses or when students came by with various excuses.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2017, 05:15:44 AM »
I do honestly try to be a better person because I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and I own those mistakes. I have personally experienced the results when people are cruel to each other as well as what can happen when people show a little decency and kindness instead. I want to be the sort of person who lifts people up instead of cutting them down. That may seem strange to some, but I used to live a life where I allowed myself to be a victim. Now I want to be a hero.

GuitarStv

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2017, 06:08:58 AM »
Nope.

I'm an Epicurean hedonist.  My actions are selected based on an expectation for long term reward/pleasure/fulfillment.  Drive to do anything that comes from this source is honest and sustainable.

I might hear a very complex piece of music and then spend two years working it out, learning it, increasing my speed and ability on the guitar to play it . . . but I don't spend that time because it will make me a better person.  I do it because it will make me happy.

Similarly, I might work very hard to be friendly to my neighbours and help out around my community.  I do this because I hope to reap the social benefits of living in a place where I have friends, am well regarded, and because I receive a sense of personal satisfaction from helping others.

I expect to always be improving.  I don't expect to ever have to try to improve.

Dee

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2017, 06:51:15 AM »
What a good thread. Zoltani, I want to watch the piece you linked to but don't have time right now.
I've been in this mind-space lately where I had been noticing messages to be "better" and implicitly reading them as "not good enough as you are." Including all sorts of MMM messages about being more mustachian. Everytime I heard the message that something was a "shared responsibility" I was taking that as an admonishment that I wasn't doing my share. There was a conference for my profession last summer called "Building a better [engineer/accountant/doctor/insert your profession here]" and again I took that to mean that I wasn't already a good enough professional. And I was watching a colleague I admire be a kinder person than I am, all the time (doing the types of things that have been mentioned here, like smiling at people, taking an interest in their lives, building community, doing favours, giving of her time, mentoring, etc.) and feeling like I wanted to be more like and her and falling short. This all culminated in me feeling like shit. Of course, there was a lot more going on but these were like exterior cues prompting a subconscious dialogue telling myself that I wasn't good enough as is, and I needed to be better to deserve to keep being alive. Clearly, not a constructive way to live!

So I've been able to address a lot of that with just a few sessions with a good therapist (I don't know if I lucked out on getting a really good therapist of if most trained therapists could have perceived these issues in the way I was presenting myself but certainly I didn't go in describing my problem in these terms. All I could say on a conscious level was that I felt like shit and I didn't know why.)

And the result for the time being is to eschew any notion of wanting to be "better" than I am. Probably in time I will adopt a different approach, perhaps more similar to GuitarStv's, and wind up doing the things that I think "better" people do but for different reasons than feeling on some deep level that that's what I need to do to "earn" my right to having been born. (Sorry if that sounds overly dramatic or horribly depressing. I'm feeling much better now and was feeling something dark in my subconscious before but it's hard to put into words and may not have been as dire as the previous sentence may make it seem.)

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Do you actively try to be a "better" person?
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2017, 07:17:09 AM »
I do and it stresses me out.  Maybe I should stop and I'd be a better person because I'd be happy and relaxed.