Sunday, March 6, 2011

Philosophies of Life

There are four competing attitudes to life that people can have (often without stating them in these very words):

A. I'm bad and the world is bad.
B. I'm bad but the world is good.
C. I'm good but the world is bad.
D. I'm good and the world is good.

In dealing with people, I find it very useful to figure out which of these attitudes informs their views on life. Many things become very clear, and people's actions and reactions are a lot easier to predict.

Which one is the closest to your view on life?

P.S. If the words "good" and "bad" make you uncomfortable, substitute them with "scary", "dangerous," "evil", "problematic," "tragic," "desperate," "wonderful," "hopeful," "joyous," "fantastic," "amazing," "exciting," etc.

25 comments:

Tim said...

Yeah, that makes sense. Especially because Good/Bad is such a coherent and proven concept -.-

Why is it important for you to be able to predict people's actions and reactions ?

Anyway, its A for me.

Something is wrong with your server -.- This is my 3rd try posting this and everytime until now I got a 503 Error.

Clarissa said...

I'm autistic, Tim. This means I can't read people's facial impressions, body language, or any hints that are not verbalized directly and loudly. A person might hate my guts but I'll be convinced they adore me until somebody tells me directly.

Thank you for persevering in posting the comment in view of the Blogger's malfunctioning. I've been having trouble with it too today.

el said...

What if I think the world is both amazing and horrible at the same time?

profacero said...

B. I'd go for D but I've been taught it's inappropriate so I only indulge in that attitude when I'm in foreign countries / in places where nobody knows me.

A reason I miss my lost cat is that he was such a strong and shameless proponent of view D.

Clarissa said...

Funny. :-)

I still hope that the cat comes back.

Pagan Topologist said...

I am somewhere around the midpoint between B and C. By temperament, I am optimistic. Nevertheless, things like the recent union bashing, the drug companies conning people (MD's and others) into buying and using drugs that do more harm than good, higher education's being turned into shortsighted job-training, etc., make me despair sometimes. The despair usually does not last long, making many of my friends accuse me of being Pollyannaish and naive.

Clarissa said...

PT: I know the feeling. :-) I'm always told that I'm naive, childish and immature.

Jeffrey said...

So once you figure out what category someone is in, how does that help? Do you then interact with them in a way that reinforces their opinion, so that they find you agreeable? Or do you sometimes try to change their mind about things, which could be risky (either you'll fail and they may think you are a disagreeable proselytizer, or perhaps you'll succeed and they'll see you as a wise mentor)?

Clarissa said...

These basic philosophies of life are formed in such early childhood that either challenging them or reinforcing them in adulthood is not possible.

I find knowing these things useful though because, just to give one example, asking for career advice a person with a tragic worldview is useless. Getting into a romantic or friendly relationship with them is also a waste of time. Unless, of course, you share the tragic vision of life.

Jonathan said...

I thought 90% of people believed C, with 9% A and the rest divided between B and D.

Clarissa said...

Yes, I think that C is the prevalent attitude. The conscience of a victim is very popular. :-)

Tim said...

Well you could divide this into two questions:

1: Is the world good or bad ?

2: Am I good or bad ?


Nr 1 is a no-brainer for me. I mean look a little further than your immediate surroundings and you will discover crime, abuse, torture, murder, war, mutilation, fraud, fabrification being carried out by persons, groups, parties, agencies or governments.

The reason why some of us are able to live parts of our live in blissful happiness is not because the world is a pony farm, but because they managed to negotiate a temporary truce.


As for Nr 2... Well truth is, I feel sanctimonious calling myself good. I mean I don't mean harm to any person crossing my path and I don't roam the streets snatching puppies from little children.

But am I a truly, completely good and nice and kind person ? No, I am not.

Melissa said...

I'm D. Which is not to say I believe the world is perfect all the time ('cause that's ridiculous), and it's certainly not to say that I'm perfect all the time (also ridiculous). Yes, people fail, and yes, horrible things happen, but I believe that when all is said and done, 90% of people at least have their hearts in the right place. For the most part, people mean well and they try to be better. And for me, that's enough to count the world as basically good. (And, for perspective, this is coming from a rape victim with clinical depression.)

profacero said...

If C is the more prevalent, that explains a lot.

So, is that what is meant by the term "victim consciousness" - that attitude?

David said...

I know there are only 4 options, but I'm going to go with E.) : It is whatever it is depending upon your standards. If you set your expectations appropriately, the world is a wonderful place or an awful prison.

But before recently, I would have gone with D.) , or C.)

Now, I would say that D.) makes a person sound naive, C.) makes a person sound like a dick, B.) is either painfully honest or extremely self denigrating, and A.) is too cynical.

A-Typical Thinker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A-Typical Thinker said...

I'm A. All the way. You are right in that it all starts from childhood. I however was not naturally like this, but environmental factors from my childhood influenced my world view. I did however have inclinations toward B though. However I discovered that I was surrounded by hypocrites so obviously the world is not as good as it seems.

profacero said...

I'm not reading "good" here as "virtuous" or anything like that -- more like interesting, ripe with possibilities, exciting, etc.

I think the world is very interesting. This attitude challenged the family view of things (which is A), so I was scary / dangerous because of it. So, B. But trying to fit into B is very hard - people can PUSH me into it easily, but I have trouble pushing myself to it, or that is to say, it takes a lot of energy to do that. I think I'll just come out with my secret view, D.

Note the P.S. in this game, everybody.

Hm. My family thinks life is drudgery and pain, with brief flashes of pleasure. If you don't share those views, you are immature. This mindset leads to a whole different set of actions than what I'd do.

profacero said...

P.S. I am told that 30-40 years ago, the more prevalent attitude was B rather than C. D, I am told, is considered the healthy attitude.

Clarissa said...

As the religion loses its relevance, more people will move away from B.

Clarissa said...

Melissa: I admire you greatly.

profacero said...

I'm still fascinated by this. If the majority really are C, where they are good and the world is bad, it explains why so much common advice just doesn't apply to me.

Like, all the exhortations to consider that the way you do things may not be perfect. I never imagined it was and I never understood why people kept saying this to each other so urgently, and so often. But if they are C, they do in fact need to learn this.
Fascinating.

Clarissa said...

C is a very comfortable worldview because whatever happens, it's never your fault. The bad, mean world out there is always to blame.

KT said...

I'm E: "I don't know whether the world is good or bad, but I'd be good while I try to figure it out."

What are you?

Clarissa said...

Finally somebody thought to ask. :-) I'm D who sometimes has to struggle against the C tendencies. :-) But then again, who doesn't like to feel like a victim?