If I had my time again I’d {insert here}

Finding your project

Finding my project

visibility | behaviour | trust

It took me quite some mental rebuilding before I was able to look this question in the eye. Not a day goes by now that I am not reminded of my answer. My answer from asking the right version of myself. It has become my means of innate motivation, intention, direction, and goal. It is how I have defined my project.

For me this is the visibility I needed. To what I direct my behaviours. What gives me a regained trust in myself. From which I have built critical controls to both enable and protect my project goal. From which I now proceed, mindful of external influence, and internal need.

What does this question mean to you?

Projects | within projects

Be nice – be happy

International day of Happiness

Be nice – put the ‘phone away

I started today with an apology. Having spent much of Saturday afternoon in moderately civil debate on twitter, I went to bed sad and irritated. I woke up in much the same mood, but forced myself to examine why that was. I found a path to a little happiness as a result.

I am currently writing an essay that has me facing some self-doubt. It is all the harder for having to be just 500 words and aimed at a general-public audience. I am neither succinct, nor easily able to perceive that dividing line. So I hatched an ill-thought out, ethically suspect, and hubris-laden plan. Why don’t I engage with an audience on twitter and see if I can stand? Not my finest moment. I did actually learn a few things, but I made no friends. Indeed I rather arrogantly walked a mile or two with idle curiosity at what others fight hard to make their way through. The apology this morning was heart-felt but probably too late.

So I do feel a little happier, having acknowledged blame. More settled and socially normal again. I seek out social cohesion, so caustic debate is draining – and it rarely ends well. The apology was an important step for me. Strangers bickering in blindness would perhaps be easier to just walk away from. But that would linger still. For them and for me.

Genuine apology. An attempt to put right a wrong. The tiniest of kindness to bridge a divide. A gap where respect should have been. I am reminded that kindness is psychologically the better way. And that this is almost always true. Professor Abigail Marsh shows altruism is beneficial to mood, in all but a tiny psychopathic minority. Psychologist Jo Cutler suggests we are quite calculating with kindness, but argues it still has positive results. To which Evolutionary Behaviourist, Nichola Raihani adds that this “social instinct” is a fundamental to the human condition. Check out this BBC podcast for a summary of those truths.

So how will I be happy today? Maybe a little kindness to myself too. A good start point will be to stay away from my ‘phone and social media today. Allowing hubris to melt; and for respect to return. Respect for other opinions that may have less textbook clarity but more life-living experience attached. Respect for the dialogue. And respect for myself.

There. I am feeling a tiny bit happier already…


Further reading – www.dayofhappiness.net/report

This is great website to visit on International day of happiness.

What follows are notes I will return to, with some quick find observations to help me return here soon.

In regards to social media this paper, Chapter 4 of the 2022 Happiness Report, caught my eye as I prepared to write this blog. The paper confirms that studies seeking out emotional trends in a population could be conducted via social media analytics. The correlation of social media and survey emotions used as a comparisons, shown to most closely aligned in negative emotions of sadness and anxiety – see page 80 figure 4.2 for a more limited correlation for happy emotions. Even when reporting we are happy on social media, we may not be.

The paper also outlined a relationship between social media and survey emotion measures becoming most visible in times of large variations of emotions, such as during the COVID-19 outbreak (pp81). Key limitations noted as representative nature of samples so best limited to within-sample comparison as opposed to representing a wider population (pp96). Reporting bias is also inevitable given the lack of anonymity inherent in social media posting (pp97).

I also noted that the adjustments for gender were made as absolutes with no account for differences that may arise within samples due to heightened interest or topic. The 60% male gender bias not considered against more nuanced variations over time. I also consider the particular interest in gender difference but no other categorisation to be as much a reflection of bias in assuming emotional variance is most acute across gender difference. Something psychologists such as Gina Rippon are fighting hard to call out and change. Also, the subject of my current essay which I am finding so hard to land.

men are more visible on Twitter (pp81 citing Nilizadeh 2016)

tweets posted by male users account for ore than 60% of tweets with gender detected in our sample (pp81)

Happiness Report subsection regarding social media measures. My question: is gender actually the key category of interest here?

This particular paper was ultimately more interesting to me as an exploration of the validity (and limitations) of social media as a passive measuring tool for emotional trends. Passive because it was based solely on language and tone of all posts, not seeking direct questions as the survey comparisons had done. It concluded there was validity, most strongly in detection of negative moods. Although, that is no surprise given the tendency toward negativity expected during the Covid19 ordeal.

Daily meds

A daytime moon. My unblue moon

A blog to present a glimpse of 12 minutes of my day.

A metta[1] start to the day for me. 

I performed this practice “eyes open”. I now know this to be a less unusual practice than I had thought (see this article). But this morning was my first attempt. Prompted by the moon. It was pitched in my vantage point and it seemed a waste to deny its call.

Seeking to extend loving kindness was a pleasure against this view

A morning view, but many perspectives

As I finished I took this picture. I am reminded of how different one’s perceptions are in mind, compared to the static picture. All I had in my view was a brightly shining moon. Yet, it is but a spec in this photo. What also caught my eye were planes that crossed the sky, and a steady stream of birds all heading the same way. Both do make a showing in this picture, but each will take some effort to find.

There are many perspectives one could take from just this one picture. Was this a full moon? No. It was 97.65% visible. A waning gibbous. Sitting 405,483.58 km away. None of that was known until just now. Details here.

As I prepared to begin my practice it was not the distance of the moon that my mind was bringing into view. Instead my metta practice was overcoming my inner critic that wanted to flag some jobs. In response, I was first to receive some loving kindness – this always starts at home.

Hose not away
Birds need a feed
Late Nov – parasol now an insect hidey-hole

Each of these critical views in perspective, my metta continued with Second – directed towards my closest other. Third – directed toward a neutral other. Fourth – a friend or loved one with reasoned opposition in view. An enemy (if one has any). Fifth – the reach to others as far as one may go. This last was the real change – now without eyes wide shut.

Moon (L) – in plane sight (R)

I typically have friends, acquaintances, remembered strangers and places in mind from far away for my fifth level of directed metta. New Zealand and Australia. USA and Canada. Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil. Turkey, Jordan, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa. Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan. And many places in between. My carbon footprint has much to explain. Today however, my fifth were the ones sat in aeroplanes. Strangers passing across my moon.

To whom my loving kindness was aimed perhaps matters little, but technology offers a retrospective helping hand.

Welcome from Miami
Okay from JFK
Or leaning in from Pisa

And then what of those high flying birds? What were they and where were they going? Crows, magpies, jays, wood pigeons, buzzards could be claimed as normal fly-by guests. Woodpeckers, gulls, sparrow hawks less often but regular too. I assumed them to be crows, but this picture suggests a smudge of something passing through.

This is the spec in the top left, which I thought to be dirt upon the window but zooming in is perhaps a migrant on the move.

If the continent is cold we may see Waxwings. That seems unlikely on this temperature review. More likely something arriving from the north, but I have no real clue.

I really only touch upon the photo surface with this perspectival ebb and flow. But hopefully the point is made well enough, that it is from changing context that perspectives can be remade. These are insights to be taken into everyday practical use. This is training, not escape. In time the brain connects these perspectives with stronger firing neurones. Pathways that build. What fires together, wires together. And therein each mind can grow.

May you be safe, happy and healthy. May your mind be at ease.

[1] Per mindworks.org, “Metta” comes to us from an ancient Indian language called Pali, and it translates as loving kindness.  From my novice perspective it is my means to bring my mind to attention of my place in the world, and extend an empathy and benevolence as far as I can reach.


About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: