A downside to being analytical, ambitious, driven, and learning about a lot --
You see problems where others do not.
Because, what is "potential" except a set of things that aren't right already?
Because of that, it's easy to get restless, not happy with the status quo, to feel like you're falling short of all you know it's possible.
The funny part, seeing that potential, seeing how things could be... it means you actually get to live a much more rich and full life. You just maybe don't appreciate it as much, because you see all the other things you could be doing better.
I find it crucially important to balance this. Without keeping this in check by appreciating the way things are in each moment, I fear that I might lose the ability to find contentment. It's not that I choose to dwell there very often, but I believe that it's very important to be able to get to a state of contentment when necessary. Always know your exits, right?
Well said!!! I just had a huge fight with a senior developer and it really boils down to the fact that I can see how everything can be so much better.
It is true. I just finished reading A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (Tynan recommended it! and I saw it on Derek Siver's book list) and it relates directly to this issue. The stoics used a technique of negative visualization, contemplating the loss of all things that they value (relationships, possesions, etc). They used this technique to attempt to create desires within for things they already had and appreciate the status quo, rather than endlessly pursuing more. Interesting concept.
A few days ago, I wrote an open letter to a good friend of mine - "I Think Greatness is Something You Are, Not Something You Do" - I said to him, I'm not a great man, just a normal man working on great things. Greatness is something you do, not something you are.
To give you some background, my friend Brendon is just one of the most amazingly good people in the world. He takes care of everyone around him, his mind, body, and spirit are sharp. He's a black belt, an excellent programmer, a philosopher, a Shodan in Go (actually, even stronger than that - he's a Shodan under the Asian rankings, so probably even higher in America), a hard worker, extremely loyal, a clear and free thinker, widely read and knowledgeable, and again - an amazingly good guy. I've learned a lot from him (notably, he taught me how to play Go, sysadmin Linux, understand basketball at a very high level, improve at martial arts, improve my fitness, and other good stuff - we'd usually go drink green tea and play Go at Samurai Restaurant in Boston, go fight in the park, talk philosophy out at nightclubs, do stuff like that).
He wrote back to me about greatness and humility. I think this is a really beautiful piece, so I asked him if I could gently edit it and put it up. He graciously agreed. It's long, but go ahead and just start it and give it whatever time you have - there's a lot of amazing insight in here.
A Quick Favor Request - if you learn from this or it helps you, please send Brendon a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org - he was actually a little gun-shy about having such a personal piece put up with such raw power in it. He only agreed when I told him how many people it could help - so please, drop him a short line to say thanks if this teaches you as much as it did me.
Without further ado...
I feel like I have nothing to say.. yet so many things to say at the same time. I got the chance to visit you again today. I know it's been a long time. A part of me was scared to visit you because I couldn't find the courage to see you the way you are now. I guess I was still in denial. Seeing you today made it all the more real.. and it hurt. I feel like I don't have the right to be hurting because we weren't that close in high school, but we were close in middle school and you are still my friend even though we drifted apart. Up to now, I'm angry that this happened to you and your family. You are a wonderful, wonderful human being and seeing you like this is hard. You are too young to be in so much pain.
I can't even imagine how strong you, your mom, and your entire family must be. You are such a warrior for fighting and for being so courageous and for not giving up. Your mom is such a strong woman because she's fighting with you with all of her strength. I am so amazed.
I can't even begin to understand how difficult this must be for your mom. I just want her to know that she is a hero and also an inspiration because despite all of this, she's staying strong even though she has the right to break down. She is just so brave for keeping her head up. She's an amazing woman for carrying all of this weight and not falling down.
Christian, it was nice seeing you today even though you only opened your eyes for a moment. Your courage and your perseverance is inspiring to everyone. Thank you for staying strong for all of us. Thank you for not giving up. Your fight, is our fight. Hang in there. Get the rest that you need. Don't give up because none of us are giving up on you. We are all here for you. You are always in our thoughts and our hearts.