I feel the world is closing in on me. I have less than two weeks until I am back at work after having taken the year off. There is the usual reflections on what I have achieved during the year (answer: a lot less than I had hoped), and how to keep those achievements going, i.e. new habits (such as writing this email).
Teaching is such a stupid profession if you want a work/life balance. And yet, as I am at the start of each year, I am optimistic this year will be different. And it will be. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to teach and how to minimise the stress.
One of the new habits is the Odd Spot of Writing, the opportunity of creating a very short creative piece based off a prompt in the local paper. I am pleased to say that I am 20 pieces in and really enjoying the low stakes writing. I can feel something changing in the way I write. I can't share the url as I have broken my website. Well, not entirely broken, but it'll be up and running by tomorrow.
Onto this weeks newsletter.
A guitarist can easily tune their instrument using a cheap electronic tuner. It enables them to find the right note with no someone to keep playing the desired key on a piano. Very useful when you don't have someone on a piano handing. These tuners are a lot easier to store in a pocket than a piano. In How Emotions Are Made Lisa Feldman Barrett writes about "emotional granularity." Think of this as an additional level in the world of emotional intelligence. Just as the musician can tell a B from a B Flat, we need to get better at recognising our own emotions. Interior decorators know the difference between Indian Red, Spanish Carmine, Persian Red, Turkey Red and Japanese Carmine. Whereas for the layperson, all four are simply reds. Yale University has a great app called the Mood Meter.
I think there needs to be a more granular level to these basic emotions. For example, there could be the Indian Happiness, like the Indian Summer, the feeling of happiness lasting longer than expected, like an ice-cream on a walk home. There is also a happiness from remembering yesterday's ice-cream. Then a happiness from expecting today's ice-cream. And a happiness that ice-cream simply exists. Subtle differences worth paying attention to.
To understand the nuances of what we're feeling, it also pays to understand the patterns beneath our emotions. According to Sigmund Freud, it is the 'drive' that underpins all our emotions. The negative emotions come from a frustration that we aren't satisfying our drive. If we could give our emotions this granularity, we'd also come to understand what was the root cause of those emotions. To understand that my feeling of anger, because someone didn't respond to my email or text, comes from my desire for validation, and does not mean that I should transfer that feeling to anyone else.
I've been training my 1-year-old puppy, and she is a quick learner. The hardest part is isolating the anger I feel when she runs off chasing kangaroos and won't heed my calls. When she finally comes back, I need to reward her and not give her a sense of any frustration, as she doesn't understand the context that my anger can linger. For her, there is only the now.
I have been learning a lot about human psychology from watching Ceaser Milan.
Global Peace Index
I did not know that such a thing existed. But it does, and it is fascinating. The Global Peace Index was created by Australian technology entrepreneur Steve Killelea and aggregates ten indicators. If a country has low crime, terrorism or internal displacements, it's a peaceful country.
Scanning the list provides some surprises, such as "I've never heard of that country," to, wow, "I'm taking you off my bucket list."
The top ten is:
Canada comes in at 12th, whilst they sandwiched the USA between Saudi Arabia and Armenia in the 117th position.
I have been away in the van and made it my mission to cross the South Australia border. For so long it had been closed, with military ensuring only freight crossed. I found a place called Brown Bay, and this was the sunrise.
Till next week.