So the other day I was talking to a friend about gift giving. She described it as this inspired process that she looked forward to. It's an opportunity to spread well-being.
I explained to her how differently I experience the process -- since it's possible to do much more damage to a relationship than good (getting a bad present is way more bad than getting a good present is good), I figure I'm already behind. My decision making process in gift giving is about minimizing damage, not about maximizing positive-well-being.
Then I started applying this distinction to other areas of my life. Like, my social strategy is essentially the same thing -- I see how delicate the web of social relationships is, I see how powerful words can be, and I try to minimize the potential negative things I can say and do around people.
Anyways, it's been popping up in my mind as a metaphor for so many concepts I've thought about in the last few days. I talked to my dad about his relationship to me and my brother, and realized that he took the damage control perspective about parenting! He thought that the amount of harm that can be potentially be done to a child outweighed the amount of good that nurturing can produce, so he figured his best bet was to make the fewest mistakes.
It's profound how much an attitude can affect an experience -- if only I could approach all these things in life like my friend approaches gift giving.
And, the attitude itself makes it less likely to change your mentality. It's like a downward spiral of playing defense.
Anyone have any thoughts on the subject?