Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Speculation City

Just playing around here…..albeit seriously!

Imagine you were in charge of a life. Well, I know you are in charge of one, but imagine you were in charge of a 'blank canvas' life, from the start and it was a life you cared about and you wanted it to be as good a life as you could muster up.

What would you not want for that life?

I suspect we might all have slightly different ideas about what we would not want for this life. Our perception of the 'danger' and 'risks' of various 'hazards' is bound to be different.

I will make a few guesses though……….(it won’t be comprehensive!)

• Failure to engage in or achieve learning at school?
• No support network – friends or family?
• No friendships?
• Poor participation in anything?
• Loneliness?
• Boredom?
• No self identity?
• A poor physical self-image
• Never reaching his/her potential?
• No ability to care for anyone else but themselves?
• Inability to manage emotions e.g. anger?
• Low self esteem?
• Prejudicial views?
• Engaging in extreme risk taking behaviours with no regard for self or others? e.g. dangerous driving?
• Poor metal health?
• Being a bully or target of bullying?
• Excessive alcohol intake?
• Sexual abuse?
• Smoking?
• Early sex?
• Debt?
• Obesity?
• Involvement in exploitative relationships?
• Instigating or being the victim of domestic violence?
• Living in poverty?
• Unemployment?
• Pregnant or fathering a child at a very young age?
• Sexually transmitted infections?
• A gambling addiction?
• Drug addiction?
• Involvement in violent crime?
• A prison sentence?
• Prostitution?
• Suicide?

As I wrote the list, I was wondering which of these we might perceive to be choices a person makes and which are just hazards a person can fall prey to. Again, I suspect people might have quite different views about which are which. The ‘Daily Mail Culture’ seems to portray a lot of these as choices. I guess believing someone has chosen these rather than believing life's testing circumstances took you there unintentionally means there is less room for compassion (DMC).

I don’t think anyone would actually choose to live in poverty and I can’t imagine many seven year olds saying, ‘when I grow up, I want to be a violent criminal.’

So then I ask, still speculating, what knowledge, skills and attitudes and values would this person need to avoid these things?

Well I could never write a complete list……but here’s a half-hearted attempt.

• Of opportunities
• Impact of various risk taking behaviours
• Knowledge of what keeps us healthy – including mental health
• Understanding of healthy relationships
• Knowing rights and responsibilities
• Literacy and numeracy
• Knowledge needed to do a job/enjoyable pastime/be engaged in activity
• To know when conforming is beneficial and when things need to be challenged
• Self awareness - including knowing your own strengths

• Good communication skills – assertiveness, negotiation, compromising, etc
• Emotional literacy - understanding and managing feelings
• Ability to learn from mistakes - and not be scared to make them
• 'crafts' ?! for fun? for a sense of achievement? for 'flow'
• Basic life skills like cooking, budget managing, washing etc
• Goal setting for motivation
• Ability to forgive, let go, move on, not let things fester
• Effective conflict resolution skills
• Ability to access help and support
• Informed decision making
• Ability to take responsibility for your own actions
• Minimising risk from harm
• Ability to empathise

Attitudes and values
• Aspirations
• Tolerance and acceptance towards others
• Self-worth (and confidence)
• A love of and receptiveness to learning
• Respect for others
• Celebrate diversity
• Self-forgiveness (we all make mistakes)
• A feeling of social responsibility
• Discerning eye for the messages we receive from the media
• An individual moral framework that will guide decisions, judgements and behaviours
• Respect for the right of others to hold opinions that differ from their own (as long as these views do not impact on the rights of anyone else) (e.g. racism).

And then if we were really, really in charge of this person, let's play almighty creator and ask what we would want nature to give him or her:

•Intelligence - loads of it, a fair bit, average, low?
•Attractiveness - stunning, a bit, average, not attractive, really not attractive?
•kinaesthetic abilities - loads? dexterity?
•Creativity - or can you learn that?
•An optimistic disposition?
•Extraversion or introversion?
•Be extremely laid back, or a little bit of a worrier?
•Natural resilience?
•Sensitivity? Insensitivity? - or is this a nature and nurture one? probably

I wonder what the luckiest thing to receive from nature might be.

Mmm. Over to you to do whatever you want with that....if anything!.......


  1. I loved this post Molly P.
    I don't think we can ever really appreciate the smooth without the rough or a few thorns. Other people's poor choices inevitably impact on us, but there's a good few choices from your list I wouldn't make given the choice...and choice is what it's all about. I find the more good choices you make, the more freedom you have...not the kind of freedom that imprisons, but real freedom to make more choices.

    I would opt for an open heart, intelligence (as opposed to knowledge), sensitivity and a sense of humour.

    The luckiest thing would be to have good parents, good friends and lots of options...enough to fulfil potential and be truly happy.

    Am I serious or am I serious?

  2. Hey Ken D - and I loved your comment. Yes what would a life be without ups and downs...it's all uppitees and downeroons. sometimes little blips, sometimes tidal waves.....but wouldn't it be dull if it was full of bland.

    Yes choice........I guess your skills, knowledge and attitudes effect your ability to make beneficial choices.

  3. Perceptive and thought provoking as always.

    I guess my addition would be to say that we need also a culture and society which suports and reinforces the positive values you propose. Writing a wish list of personal qualities is one thing ( a good one too) but without a social network / culture that recognises these things it is likely to remain only a wish list.

    On the positive side I think most people instinctively know that the qualities you list are good and desirable in the abstract. That said...

    On the negative (and somewhat depressing side) I think that when faced with the realities of life, huge numbers of people are swayed by the immediate, the shallow and the easy. And when we chose these options in preference to the longer lasting and more deeply satisfying qualities, it makes for a lesser life.

  4. Totally agree Mark! The human condition -so vast, so unpredictable, so varied.

    Society appears currently moulded on instant gratification and tabloid mentality - which does not appear to be doing anyone much good! There are individuals out their shunning it all....

    I think on a personal level, self awareness can go a long way.

  5. Goes away, thinks, comes back, that's what I love...the thought provocation.

    The formation of societal norms and culture is incredibly complex yes? lots of different bell curves on the shift in different directions? Capitalism must have been a driving force in the western world - thus instant gratification etc
    Will ponder...best go to work!

  6. All this even before you've gone to work?! Wow. I reflect on little more than the taste of my cup of tea...

    I would most want:

    Love (parents, partner, friends)
    A soulmate
    Simplicity (not getting caught up in the details and chaos of life)
    Lots and lots of happy moments and experiences
    A community I feel happy and 'right' to be in

    Of course achieving these is somewhat dependent on what knowledge, skills and attitudes I have, but I'm starting bottom up.

    Do I get three wishes? xxx

  7. Three wishes AS WELL? If you were the eighth dwarf, you'd be Snatchy.


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