“As a specimen, yes, I’m intimidating!…As you see, I’ve got biceps to spare!…I’m especially good at expectorating!…And every last inch of me’s covered in hair.” – Gaston, Beauty and the Beast

Me, me, me – me too.

I’m trying to figure out where on the continuum between healthy ego to pathological grandiosity I sit. I’ve never thought of myself as being narcissistic, but you see the term batted about a bit on the Internet especially at us selfie* taking, 1st person blogger types. But true pathological narcissism is rare and apparently only affects about 1% of the population.

A quick Google search and I found this questionnaire.

You like to be the center of attention – sometimes
You have a habit of giving (unsolicited) advice – yep
You detest waiting in line – absolutely!
Your ambition knows no bounds – I’m a legend in my own mind (not really)
You know how to turn on the charm – oh yeah baby.
You are the competitive type – no
You’re famous for holding grudges – nope, most things fall off me like water off a duck’s back.
It’s never your fault – more than likely it is.
You take advantage of people – not my style.
You have an addiction – hmmm, possibly!

Looks like I’m batting about 50% on this survey.

Luckily the experts say a little narcissism is good for you.

Narcissism is a trait each of us exhibits to a greater or lesser degree. As it has become trait non grata, though, it’s become necessary to add the qualifier “healthy” to specify the socially acceptable type of narcissism. “It is the capacity to see ourselves and others through rose-colored glasses,” says psychologist Craig Malkin, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and the author of Rethinking Narcissism. That can be beneficial, because it’s helpful for all of us to feel a bit special. It fuels the confidence that allows us to take risks, like seeking a promotion or asking out an attractive stranger. But feeling too special can cause problems. – The Real Narcissists

Well at least I’m no Narcissistic Cannibal:


*Can you believe it, I have 1,254 selfies on my phone!

At least that’s how I was raised. My mom didn’t care if I tried and failed, but she we go mad if I gave up and quit. There were lots of things I did when I was younger that I absolutely hated and probably would have been better off to quit and use my time doing something else instead of wasting my time doing something that I hated or just wasn’t for me.  But I soldiered on because mom said, “Never quit!”

The army picked up where my mom left off. The army trained me to never quit. Do or die, but never quit!. I even carried this picture around with me to remind me to never quit.

nevergiveup

While that is a great attitude, it has consequences.

Not knowing when to quit is sometimes worse than quitting. The trouble is we don’t have a clear set of criteria to help us make the decision to quit or not.

Here’s a simple model you can use:

If it’s important to you, do it. If you don’t know how to do it, get help. There’s plenty of it out there.

If it’s not important to you, stop doing it. Why waste another precious moment doing something that’s not important to you.

The real wisdom, of course, resides in knowing what is important to you and what is not. For that, you’ll need to rely on your values. If you’re not clear on what your values are then start there first.  Try Bill George’s True North Questionnaire to get you started or scan this list of values to see which resonate with you.


Resources:

True North Questionnaire

Core values list

For alternative take on values and the one I’ve used the most in the past is Martin Seligman‘s Authentic Happiness.  He talks about playing to your signature strengths which are derived from what the Greek’s called Virtues.

“Rejoice young man in your youth…”

I remember reading that quote on the big screen as the music fired up at the start of Oliver Stone’s, Platoon. I was cadet candidate for West Point at the time. On one side of me sat my buddy Sean, a short blonde kid from Pennsylvania. On the other side of me was Bill, a tall dark haired boy from somewhere I can’t recall. We all wanted to be infantry officers. Going to see Platoon was suppose to be a motivational hoorah hoorah thing, but by the end of the film we were speechless. What had we gotten ourselves into? War is a nasty business.

The rest of that quote says “…and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgement for all these things.”

I’m in a foul mood this evening. Work has been slow. The rental property people have been squabbling over a few pennies. And now God, it seems, has it in for me for things I did in my youth.

I’m suppose to be writing about wonder, an emotion that some say is one of our most important emotions. Others, of course, say, wonder is a childish emotion that we outgrow. Adam Smith, the 18th century moral philosopher, defined wonder as ‘when something quite new and singular is presented… [and] memory cannot, from all its stores, cast up any image that nearly resembles this strange appearance — that staring, and sometimes that rolling of the eyes, that suspension of the breath, and that swelling of the heart’.

I’m trying to recall when the last time I gazed upon something in wonderment in the way that Adam Smith describes. Probably the last time was in Snowdonia National Park. Even though I’ve been there numerous times, I still find something in the Welsh mountains that causes me to stop and say wow!

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But holding strictly to Smith’s definition, I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen something so different that I could not recall from my memory stores something that resembled what I was seeing. Am I just getting old? Or can it be that I’ve seen too much. My cup is full.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 1:9

The truth is, I’ve grown too comfortable. Age has nothing to do with. I’ve let myself get distracted by the mundane and the endless task of making a buck. The daily grind is a beast. And if I’m not careful, it’ll grind me to dust.

That has to end here and now.

If I follow Smith’s example, I have three ways I can re-engage my sense of wonder. I can engage the sensory, like the assault on my nose from the hot-sauce on these wings the barman just slid on table. Or I can engage the cognitive like marvelling at the technology involved in making driver-less cars. Or, I can look to the spiritual and know ( or at least take on faith) that life is so much bigger than me. My problems are not as big as I imagine them to be.

I wanted to say one other thing and that’s about curiosity. I believe curiosity and wonder go hand in hand. Curiosity is all about noticing and being drawn to things you find interesting, and in that, finding novelty and meaning in experiences, even in things that are familiar. When you are curious you see things differently.

So there it is, my mission over the next coming weeks, to regain my sense of wonder through engaging my curiosity and see things with new eyes. That’s my plan.