What is the way forward?
I was perusing Stephen R. Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.
Surely there’s Something Deeperism at play here!
The book argues that the principle-based life is the only way to go, but concludes with the author’s personal note that he believes the correct principles spring from God, as does our conscience, and that to the degree “we align ourselves with correct principles, divine endowments will be released within our nature in enabling us to fulfill the measure of our creation.” And then, he has: “I personally struggle with much of what I have shared in this book. But the struggle is worthwhile and fulfilling. It gives meaning to my life and enables me to love, to serve, and to try again.” This is Something Deeperism: the constant search to better and better understand and follow our inborn Knowledge that it matters what we say and do, that we are all in this together and should treat ourselves and others with kindness and respect, and that we should strive to become more and more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, selfless, compassionate, actually-helpful, and joyfully together. Something Deeperism attempts to maintain the middle-ground between putting dogmatic legalism and nihilistic skepticism: everything–including faith and skepticism–are helpful insofar as they meaningfully relate us to the Light within that alone knows what is going on and what should be done. Too much emphasis on a too literal faith and we get so caught up in ideas and feelings about why we are meaningful that we lose traction in that inner process of organizing ourselves better and better around the Light within–a process that cannot be reduced to dogmatic ideas because the Light is wider and deeper than human ideas and feelings. However, if we don’t accept at least bare-bones intellectual/emotional-sketches of our inner sense of the Light (things like, “it actually does matter how I treat myself and other people”), we flounder hopelessly about, because we need ideas and feelings to help us steer through this human experience, and if we always say, “but of course, I don’t really have any clue one way or the other”, we slide aimlessly about for two reasons: (1) the statement itself is a no-starter & (2) deep within we know we are lying to ourselves about our level of insight–it isn’t that we have no clue whatsoever about what is True and should be done, just that the ability of our ideas and feelings to perceive, understand, and interpret/embody the Light is imperfect and very liable to corruption from hopes, fears, gimmes, and so on. And so Something Deeperism: accept some basic principles like “we should think and act aware, clear, honest, compassionate, selfless, kind, respectful, and joyfully together–because we are all in this together and are equal in this ineffable Light about which it goes too far to say, ‘we are clueless’ and too far to say, ‘we got it all figured out'”; and then keep working to gain more and more whole-being (ideas, feelings, interior and exterior actions, and the Light within all working together) understanding that and in what way those basic principles are True (and thus becoming more and more led by the Light, and less and less by the random hoots and hollers of our animal hopes, fears, lusts, angers, shames, prides, and so on).
There’s nothing new under the sun.
Having failed to do anything meaningful about the crisis of American Democracy in the age of Trump or to formulate a meaningful response to the background of confusion and corruption in the body media/money/politic, and consistently acting without sufficient wisdom in my day-to-day, I’ve begun to keenly feel the limits of my own Something Deeperism. And so a book like “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” presents itself to my battered, wayward, self-indulgent/-bored thinking as a life boat. Maybe I could work through such a book and find a more practical Something Deeperism. After all: the whole point of Something Deeperism is that it is a livable philosophy, as opposed to a system of fancy ideas that don’t ultimately mean anything to human beings and thus could never be worn/used by human beings to better understanding what is going on and what should be done. Indeed, for me Something Deeperism started with a rejection of radical skepticism based on this thought: “If I doubt everything, including my inner sense that I can and should get better at understanding what is actually going on and what should actually be done; then my thinking self-defeats: to the degree I can honestly adopt such a doubt, I cannot believe in, understand, or even care about any of my own thoughts; therefore, I cannot coherently doubt the meaningfulness of my own thought; from this it doesn’t follow that my thought is meaningful, but rather that I must find a way to better and better understand that and how such undoubtable principles (“I can and should get better at understanding what is actually going on …” , etc) are True (and not just opinions, conjectures, ultimately-meaningless-logical-structures, or anything else shrug-off-able).
So how to proceed? Ah, but it is 7AM, so now I must proceed towards work.
That was Thursday. This is Saturday.
What are the seven habits? And how do they compare with the universal values that Something Deeperism suggests is the necessary minimal dogmatism? And how do metaphysical positions like, “There is a God” or “There is a Truth” fit into each system?
The habits are broken into two categories: independence and interdependence. Independence is considered necessary for interdependence, so independence is step one; but interdependence is more in keeping with the way life is, so it is the ultimate goal.
Habits necessary for “Private Victory”: Be proactive; Begin with the goal in mind; Put first things first.
Habits necessary for “Public Victory”: Think win/win; Seek first to understand, then to be understood; Synergize.
“Sharpening the saw”, the seventh habit, is to be constantly applied: “it surrounds the other habits on the Seven Habits paradigm because it is the habit that makes the others possible.”
After reading the introductory chapter, I mostly just skimmed this book; but now let me read this final chapter and then get back to this essay.
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Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
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