Personal responsibility and how to fulfill it

Most Sunday Reads are based around large concepts and take weeks and sometimes months to develop. Things swirl around the morass of my brain, tugging at my attention in small ways and I kinda keep my eyes open as instances, examples, research and arguments coalesce around them. So, in a sense, each Sunday Read is ready when it is.

This one is no exception. I personally struggle with the dichotomy of thought that has me on the one hand work as hard as possible to be irresponsible in the sense that I divest myself of anything that actively exerts pressure upon me, requires me to commit to a long-term plan and ‘traps me’ into behavior I feel I can’t control.

My decision to go into Chemical Engineering, for example, was driven by this. The fact that I travel a lot, have lived in more countries than most people and have spent some time on three of the seven continents of the planet are another aspect of this personal dysfunction. The fact that I have made it work for me by using to deliver value to my world makes it a little better to stomach.

The dichotomy comes from the fact that I know that personal responsibility requires commitment. It demands self-awareness and a daily calculation of the impact we each have on those around us and the planet. Responsibility requires us to say: “I am. I matter. Everything that I do matters. I am responsible for what I do.”

The Sniper Mind, for example is all about learning to be responsible for who we are in order to be responsible for who we become. And I personally advocate using all the tools at our disposal to learn to be responsible for ourselves and our development.

My journey, how I balance the freedom I want to feel I have with the sense of responsibility that I know I need to accept makes for a personal dynamic that I hope is not unique to me. Responsibility implies change and change suggests constant evolution and constant evolution requires the willingness to be comfortable with discomfort. Change, as Michael Jackson, implies has to start with the person staring back from the mirror.

As Aaron Tippin says, whatever choices you make you still need “to sleep with tonight”. It’s an implication that, as it happens, has a deeper neurobiological basis. When balance is lacking in our internal belief system or when our thoughts, values and actions are misaligned we experience a rise in cognitive dissonance that creates a sense of discomfort that is hard to ignore.

How we deal with that is where our sense of balance comes from. Balance was necessary for at least one of Plato’s four big ideas for a more fulfilled life. And balance was key to Aristotle’s argument for a more virtuous life.

We cannot be responsible all the time. Maybe. But we should be responsible some of the time. If we can manage that we then become better at balancing right and wrong, thought and action. Balance too is a dynamic process. We are all evolving all the time and our sense of responsibility ought to evolve with us.

I know you’re responsible enough to make sure your supply of coffee today is more than adequate. And I usually mention donuts and croissants, ice-cream and chocolate cake. Body of evidence is accumulating on the harm sugar does to us that is becoming harder and harder to ignore. I am responsible in what I advocate and the impact of my words on others. So, I will add here that perhaps some of your chocolate should be vegan and sugar-free and you should try for vegan cookies and organic coffee if you can. Your body and brain will thank you for it. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

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