Thinking Out Loud No. 5
On changing seasons, battling perfectionism and climate grief
I hope you enjoyed the last week of September. Here in London, as the days are quickly getting shorter, I’m reminded that each winter I always get caught out by the impact that reduced daylight has on my energy levels and mood.
If you experience this too then I encourage you to get outside as much as you can during the day and remember that if things tend to seem a little worse during winter, it might just be that you need more light.
In this week’s newsletter I talk about:
a technique I’m using to improve my writing without letting perfectionism get in my way
a new article on the blog about using awe to explore who we are, and
I start to touch on the topic of climate grief, which I’ll be digging into a lot more in the future.
I hope you enjoy and, as ever, please let me know if anything resonates.
Aim for quantity over quality
In this post James Clear describes how a professor split his photography class in two. Half of the students were told that they would be graded solely on the number of photos they took, while the other half would be graded solely on the quality of one photo.
Which group do you think produced higher quality photos at the end of term?
It turns out it was the group that was being graded on quantity of photos, who in theory didn’t need to care about quality at all. They were taking so many photos that they couldn’t help but learn by doing, while the other group took far fewer photos while trying harder to attain perfection.
Quantity is the approach I’ve decided to take towards my writing. I’ve said before that one article and one newsletter per week is very stretching for me, but I’m coming to realise that this says more about my mindset than anything else.
I have perfectionist tendencies, which means I’m prone to overpolishing something beyond the point where it’s valuable to keep polishing. But I realise that I’m so early in my writing journey that taking an extra week or two to make an article ‘perfect’ would detract from the learning I get by publishing something new every week. My skills are not yet developed enough to make any extra time spent polishing worth it.
So for now, quantity is the game, and I’ll trust that my writing will improve on the way.
I invite you to consider how this principle might apply to your life and work. Doing is far more important than thinking about doing.
Exploring who we are through awe. I’m beginning to see how this newsletter is acting like a sandbox for content will later find its way onto my website. This article is a good example of that. Last week I spoke about my experience of awe. This week I expanded on it to explore the value of peak experiences like awe in helping us explore what matters to us.
I’m also starting to make connections between disparate subjects like tackling climate change and the exploration of subjective awareness, which is exciting.
I hope you enjoy.
In a brief moment of awe – as the walls between the isolated ‘me in my head' and the ‘universe out there’ come crashing down – it’s all just one thing. I am that. And in that moment the universe is awestruck by its own majesty, seen through my eyes.
That perspective moves me. It guides my belief that advancing human progress across vast timescales is worthwhile. It means we should seek to grow through existential threats like climate change. It means we should one day explore beyond our solar system. And it means we should be curious about the nature of our own subjective awareness. Our continued growth is after all how the universe will get to know itself even better.
Best of the web
I’m becoming increasingly interested in what’s variously known as eco anxiety, climate grief or ‘solastalgia’. It’s the discomfort we feel when confronted with the notion that we’re destroying our environment.
I came across an essay called what is climate grief? It’s a great discussion of this concept and explores the ways we manage it under different models of grieving. It’s well worth a read if you’re interested in how we respond to issues of such magnitude as the climate crisis.
Grief is a form of love: we grieve the loss of what made us feel most deeply connected. With climate grief, it may be loss of the dream of a future for your grandchildren free of the challenges that are currently emerging.
The widespread denial of climate change losses prevents our emotional pain from being socially acknowledged and validated. Those touched by this grief may be viewed as overly sensitive, as exaggerating the issue, or even as emotionally unbalanced.
Media of the week
The last couple of weeks have seen millions join climate protests around the world, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s school strike for the climate. I think this mobilisation of people, particularly of younger people, shows the value that anger plays as part of climate grief.
Young people traditionally have very little power to influence change, but boy are they angry. They’re angry that the world they’re going to inherit is committed, in the best case scenario, to two feet of sea level rise by 2100, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Put in more human language, that means that within 80 years every beach you have ever visited will be underwater, along with vital coastal ecosystems and many major cities.
I sincerely hope that this anger will translate into meaningful action from businesses, governments and individuals alike.
Until next week,
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