next station is …

I was surprised to realize that my feelings changed dramatically from the start to end of today’s daily hour-long commute to work while I was reading a news magazine. I’m just using it as a gateway to things that I’ve been thinking about recently. I guess it’s also time to write my book report on social intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

I first read the feature article, an interview.
Magazine interviews are always written in the same way. Interviewees start with the past, then go into lessons learnt from the past, then their success today (or else why would they have been interviewed), and finally their views of the future. When an interviewee talk about the past, he always admits to mistakes made. As a reader, it is easy to say and believe that you can do better than that because it is much easier for an outsider to objectively look at the situation. It’s a bit like playing basketball and looking at people play basketball. When you’re off the court, you always see who is wide open for a nice shot or space for a layup. But when you’re playing, your field of vision shrinks to just the almost hundred or so degrees of effective vision. Similarly, it’s hard to understand the mistake in the context of the situation where it was made. When we’re far way, of course our brains are good at abstracting and rationalizing things.

I guess this ties back to Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, on its analysis of how we make decisions based on our prediction of our future happiness, which is never accurate. We can never “know” our future state just by imagining about it. I think magazines, blogs, twitter or history in general represent human’s desire for foresight. We believe that just by getting more information we can learn all the lessons we need to know before we take a single step. But i’m getting more and more accustomed to the idea that we won’t. This lesson is not learnt from reading someone else’s work. It’s from observing myself, reading my blog posts from three years ago and realize that I still talk about the same things and that they always contradict each other.
I guess life is always a cycle between, yes, no, why am i arguing with myself?

The last article of the magazine was a column on new academic insights into Chang Kei Shek’s personality. This is the way I look at it. The whole magazine contained stories about policies that were implemented, news that happened, and how people always say should’ve would’ve could’ve. If even the most objective, most analytical study, most “hindsight is twenty twenty” of human behavior, History, realizes that it makes interpretation mistakes, how are we to say that we will never make those same mistakes everyone else has committed before?
More and more I’m getting accustomed to the idea of living a life on focusing on making meaningful relationships with people.Who cares about flying high and far?
Social Intelligence, the book, says human beings benefit from deep,meaningful relationships. and part of that comes from just the length of it, of knowing someone so long and tracking his journey through life so that you’re also living his life.
the three properties of any relationship, amorous or not, are attachment, caregiving, sex. the sex part is a bit hard to realize for most relationships but i mean attachment and caregiving can come be shown and done with anyone.
Part of that comes from social intelligence. social intelligence is not just about social etiquette. a bigger part of that is attuning to someone’s emotional frequency. I think that’s related to, what I was saying previously, about listening to very little, maybe an interview, but being able to imagine that person’s emotional situation. It’s also a skill, a talent that some people have and others don’t. They say women are better at that at women and I realize a personal deficiency in this area.I will try better.

But the good news is prefrontal cortex keeps on developing until your early twenties. I agree that most of me is formed, but I can still change a bit.


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