Posts tagged ‘happiness’

2013-02-14

Second Anniversary

ContemplationSo I’ve been blogging for about two years, my first real post was February 2. In that time I have posted 35 times and I was wondering what my theme is. My most popular topics are around understanding, faith, passion and doing. My top three posts for the year were Faith, A Lesson Remembered, and Doing more by doing less. If I look at my two-year statistics, my most popular post was Causality followed by The Importance of Dialogue and Faith a close third. How odd. That is not what I thought this would be about.

My original intention was to use this blog to get input from others on things that would help me help those I worked with and develop my skills as a leader. I thought this would be a blog focused on technical matters and agile methodologies and practices. Within a few months it was less of that, more of what simply made me think. Sometimes it was work related and more often it was not and I am happy with this direction.

I think the following quote captures my thoughts well:

Each of us is it in the world for no very long time, and within the few years of his life has to acquire what ever he is to know of this strange planet and its place in the universe. To ignore our opportunities for knowledge, imperfect as they are, is like going to the theater and not listening to the play. The world is full of things that are tragic or comic, heroic or bizarre or surprising, and those who fail to be interested in the spectacle that it offers are foregoing that one of the privileges that life has to offer.

Bertrand RussellThe Conquest of Happiness.

Work is a great source of inspiration and happiness and the world holds so much more. I will continue to blog about what I am privileged in this life to see, whether it is work or some thing else.  Whether it is joy, tragedy or comic, I hope we all learn something about ourselves and the spectacle that is life. Cheers.

2012-11-03

Faith

In early January I found myself in the strange position of telling my father I had faith in his recovery and that he needed to have some too. Constantly faced with set backs due to infections that are inevitable when in the hospital for four months, he was weak in body and thus weak in mind. He would have let himself go at that point and as he told my brother, his heart was too strong to let him. So I found myself at his bedside after work telling him that I believed he would recover to the point that life would be worth living.

What is faith? Is it believing in capital g, God, or Allah, or the pantheon of the Norse? Is is choosing to believe that there is nothing beyond this life, that this mortal coil is all we have? Faith is any and all of those. Faith is believing in something and holding it as your very core. When you believe in something, it becomes your lamp post in the forest. From that place you can map out the world, and cling to it when the maelström surrounds you.

Life is chaotic. No matter how hard you try, life will always be unpredictable. You can make choices that swing the odds towards good things happening, and in the end all you have is your choices. So what do you do when bad things happen? You have to believe. That’s it, believe. You could believe that the world is out to get you, that it is never your fault and I don’t think that leads to a happy and fulfilling life. Believe in something positive and make that the foundation of your happiness.

When your faith is the foundation of your happiness, nothing can take it away from you. When you stripped naked before the world you can say, I believe, and I know I will be happy. It doesn’t mean you are always happy, it just means you know happiness is in you and you will be happy again. I think where people fail is they externalize their faith.

When you believe in a capital g God, you believe in an entity that is external to you. So you can attribute all actions, good and bad, to this external entity it leaves you foundering when things happen that make you unhappy. You can choose blind faith where you believe all their actions are good because, well, they’re God and that doesn’t tell you why so you will remain unhappy.

So what happens when you accept that you don’t know “WHY”? You are released from searching for answers that don’t exist and the unhappiness of a fruitless pursuit. And the only true why you can’t figure out is the big two, life and death. Pretty much everything else has some sort of answer and it is up to you to choose whether it is gods will, or because a butterfly flapped its wings. If you accept that life and death happen then you can stop asking why and start focusing on happiness.

I believe in me and I believe I will be happy, maybe not now but again soon if not now. I have faith. Do you?

2012-03-14

Positive Influences

A colleague blogged about National Women’s History Month and celebrates it by reflecting on the women whom have had a positive influence in her life. Celebrating the positive people in our life is something we should do on a regular basis, and if you are like me, something you don’t do enough.

So following on dorianns example, I want to celebrate the top three women in my world. For the record, I am ordering the list by the length of time these women have been in my life. I am not elevating any one of them over another. They are all important to me.

The first is my sister. While we were not particularly close as children, as adults she has helped and supported me whenever I needed it. One of my great pleasures in life is being able to spend time with her.

The second is my daughter. While she isn’t yet a woman, it isn’t that many years away. The joy that she has brought to my life is unbelievable and she has forced me to grow in ways I never expected. Every day my daughter delights and amuses me and I truly look forward to her growing into adulthood.

And third, not to be confused with last, is my partner Wendy. For the first half of your life you live with an idea of what your life partner will be like. For me, it was mostly about someone who loved me to the core. For all my faults and idiosyncrasies, they would be there for me to pick me up when I fall and celebrate my successes. I found that person in Wendy.

So that is my top three. There are so many others, both family and friends, that I have had the honour to share time with in this life. To my top three women and everyone else, male and female, that fill my life with happiness, thank you!

2012-03-07

Carpenter Programmer

So this is my third attempt at writing about being both a carpenter and a programmer. The first attempt started as a laundry list of attributes of carpenters and programmers and then a pitiful attempt to discuss them (sound of shredding paper). The second attempt started as a mind map of the skills and behaviours of each task then I attempted to write about the commonalities….(sound of shredding paper). This time there are no lists, just a stream of consciousness dumped to the editor for later manipulation. I have certainly thought about this enough, and hopefully managed to pull some coherency out of the pile that was.

If you follow the Software Craftmanship movement then this post is a no-brainer. Programming requires craftsmen as much as carpentry does so there is no need to contrast the two. And that would be a cop out and I rarely take the easy path.

Fundamentally, it is about the task and how it makes me feel. Whether I am writing a new function for a software package, or building a bookshelf for my daughter, it is the pleasure I get that counts. In the end whether it is a product of my mind or a product of my hands, I get to step back and admire my creation. I also get to identify the flaws and (hopefully) learn to do better next time.

I was fortunate to be born with a decent mind, spatial sense and dexterity. I also had some great role models. My father is a research scientist, author, carpenter, artist, botanist, musician and expert on historic building methods. His father was a medical doctor and war historian. I have an amazing collection of war histories and biographies on my bookshelves and a surprising amount of knowledge about the conflicts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries courtesy of him. My mother’s father was a mechanical genius and life long athlete. And the women were no slouches either and what I remember them most for is a love of reading, food and cooking. Oh, and impeccable table manners.

Where I am going with this is, when someone raises their eyebrows at carpenter and programmer, or a double major of computer  studies and philosophy, I am perplexed. My entire life I have been taught you can do anything you want and should definitely do the things you love. The only caveat I was ever given was that you should never pursue anything at the expense of others.

The same attributes that make me a good carpenter also make me a good programmer and they don’t make me a good vacuum salesman. And I also know that I don’t have to be good at something to love it because I am a poor singer and I still love doing it…usually alone so as not to irritate others.

In the end carpentry and programming make me happy, and being happy is good.

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