January 1, 2020

I've denied being a contrarian (which seems like a joke, since isn't that what a contrarian would do?)...

... but I must say that when I saw this list, which someone had posted on Facebook...
12 THINGS TO ALWAYS REMEMBER:
1. The past cannot be changed.
2. Opinions don’t define your reality.
3. Everyone’s journey is different.
4. Things always get better with time.
5. Judgements are a confession of character.
6. Overthinking will lead to sadness.
7. Happiness is found within.
8. Positive thoughts create positive things.
9. Smiles are contagious.
10. Kindness is free.
11. You only fail if you quit.
12. What goes around, comes around.
... my instinct was to rewrite each one and reverse the meaning. Including the title! It's ridiculous to always be remembering 12 things. How nudge-y this list is! And yet, it's Facebook, so what a terrible mistake to allow yourself to be baited into disagreeing with what was obviously put up with cheerful good intentions. You look like there's something wrong with you if your contrarian instinct shows on Facebook. Can't you see that the people there want to be nice and supportive? Yeah, I can, and therefore I need to retreat to my blog to tell you that we are changing the past all the time, etc. etc.

75 comments:

rhhardin said...

Overthanking will lead to sadness.

rhhardin said...

You only fail if you quip.

Kevin said...

I couldn’t get past the first item either.

If you can’t see the past is constantly being changed, I don’t think we inhabit the same universe.

stevew said...

Successful people are by nature contrarian in the sense that they question assumptions, look for pot holes and traps along their path, expect that their competitors (in such situations) are competent and skilled, and assess their own competency and skill critically and accurately.

That FB list is nice, and warm, and welcoming, and bordering on civility bullshit.

rastajenk said...

I haven't posted to Facebook in over two years, to protect myself from the reputation of being a contrarian curmudgeon; because those are the only moments when I feel like a comment is called for. I don't "like" posts or shared items when I agree with them, or find them harmless. I have some "friends" who badly need to be called out for being wrong all the time, but I persist in passing the chance.

gilbar said...

1. The past cannot be changed. But, it can be learned from
2. Opinions don’t define your reality. But, they DO define your observation of it
3. Everyone’s journey is different. But, This is in DIRECT CONTRADICTION of #2
4. Things always get better with time. Wishful Thinking; Directly Contradicts Global Warmingism
5. Judgements are a confession of character. ???? What does this Even MEAN
6. Overthinking will lead to sadness. If Things get better with time, how can thinking hurt?
7. Happiness is found within. SO?
8. Positive thoughts create positive things. But, i thought Thinking leads to sadness?
9. Smiles are contagious. But, so are STD's
10. Kindness is free. But, Anger is free TOO!
11. You only fail if you quit. Lucky Thing President Trump won't Quit, then?
12. What goes around, comes around. Assumes Facts not in evidence

tim maguire said...

It’s more like an instruction sheet for positive thinking than a series of factual statements. Typical Facebook pablum. The text version of a Thomas Kinkade painting.

jaydub said...

My favorite short list of truisms:

1. Life is sexually transmitted.

2. Good health is simply the slowest rate at which one can die.

3. Health nuts are going to feel ridiculous some day lying in a hospital bed and dying of nothing.

4. All of us could take a lesson from the weather; it pays no attention to criticism.

5. Don't worry about old age. I doesn't last that long.

Wilbur said...

Overthinking will lead to sadness ... when trying to hit a golf ball.

Steve said...

7. Happiness is found within.
Hm......then why can't the insane and depressed heal themselves?

Steve

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Sounds like she (I assume a female wrote this drivel) went to Hobby Lobby** and bought a bunch of random 'motivational' signs and put them in a random list.

**nothing wrong with Hobby Lobby. I like the store and they have some nice arts and crafts supplies. But the smarmy signs!!! Woah.

Fernandistein said...

7. Happiness is found within.

Like the dog that ate rocks and had to go to the vet. Buddhist dog, BTW.

Fernandistein said...

Overthinking will lead to sadness ... when trying to hit a golf ball.

The golf ball might react better to kindness than to hitting.

Cogs said...

My opinions often mirror yours.

I was once called a contrarian in the pages of the Milwaukee Journal.

Conclude from that what you will.

Fernandistein said...

The spiffy slogans seem to be associated with the WTK Tantric WTF -

WTK (Witnessing Tantric Kerberous) system - Activate your greatness
By Alessio David Ricioppo
Parra

William said...

Everyone's journey ends in death. I might be the exception to that rule, but those are the statistics so far.....The past cannot be predicted. The Democrats, particularly JFK in his book Profile in Courage, used to take a harsh view of the Johnson impeachment. That's being revised.....Arthritis doesn't get better with time. It does encourage one to take and keep the weight off so I guess it's possible to think positive thoughts about arthritis. I'm unable to formulate any positive thoughts about death. What goes around comes around in the sense that we're all just circling the drain....I take more comfort in nihilism than in happy thoughts. In the end, it just doesn't matter so don't feel impelled to live your life to the fullest. Let no nap be left untaken.

Marcus said...

I have given up trying to have a different memory of my past. But I neither regret it nor will I shut the door on it. It has made me, for better or worse, what I am today.

THEOLDMAN

Ann Althouse said...

1. We are changing the past all the time.
2. Your reality is entirely a matter of opinion.
3. We're all on one mass pilgrimage through life.
4. The process is always, inescapably entropy.
5. Good character demands the exercise of judgment (including the judgment that there's no "e" after the "g" in "judgment").
6. Think things through deeply enough and you will find joy.
7. Happiness is found through connection to other people.
8. Putting a positive spin on things is no substitute for finding what is truly good.
9. Smile and people wonder what's he on.
10. Kindness is costly around spongers and users.
11. Some of the biggest successes come in the form of stopping what isn't working.
12. Only a fool trusts that everyone will get what he deserves in the end.

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sebastian said...

"I've denied being a contrarian"

Not sure I remember you saying that in the many years of reading this blog. But all of us here would vouch for your denial, since we all know you are eager to abide by feminist convention and to remain a loyal NYT and New Yorker reader. But, if I remember correctly, the Wisconsin Idea is that any minor deviation from prog gospel means heresy, so your occasional strayings from orthodoxy might be "contrarian" in lefty eyes.

You do fancy yourself an independent, rational thinker. Someone who picks "the best" person, who waits to "see what happens" before voting--and then votes for Obama and Hillary.

mockturtle said...

The list is actually spot on. The Althouse version, not so much. Even number one is wrong: We don't change the past. We merely change our perception of it.

Michael K said...

My mother-in-law had a rule:

"Be nice to those you meet climbing the ladder of success. You will meet them again on the way down."

She was in the movie business

Ann Althouse said...

"Not sure I remember you saying that in the many years of reading this blog."

It's in an old Bloggingheads with Glenn Loury. He called me a contrarian and I objected because I heard it as the idea that somebody has no serious values but just disagrees reflexively for trollish fun. I think there is a loftier idea of contrarianism. I've read the Christopher Hitchens book "Letters to a Young Contrarian."

Ann Althouse said...

Here's the blog post about that conversation with Loury.

narciso said...

that's the argument clinic, some seem to come here for abuse, I don't mind a contrary point of view, but I would rather it be interesting,

Ann Althouse said...

"Even number one is wrong: We don't change the past. We merely change our perception of it."

You're not thinking deeply enough about the past. What is "the past"? This is a subject you could write a book about. Were we ever in "the past"? Why do we say "He has a past" and not "He had a past"? The past is spoken of in the present tense: That is in the past. The past is a conception and conceptions always change. It's a curated and interpreted selection.

Most famous quote about the past: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

If you don't see the complexity and richness to this subject... you probably like Facebook more than I do.

Sebastian said...

"He called me a contrarian"

Oh, that's just Loury being a, you know --

Josephbleau said...

You only fail if you quit, but if you always fail and never quit you need an intervention.

The past is what didn’t go away when you stopped believing in it.

mockturtle said...

If you don't see the complexity and richness to this subject... you probably like Facebook more than I do.

Never been on FB but I do tend to see things physically rather than metaphysically. Are you implying that history never happened and that it is simply a figment of our imagination? The year 2019 is not now 'past'? Your 'deep thinking' smacks of magical thinking. Too much philosophy and not enough science.

gilbar said...

Our Beloved Professor Althouse said, amusingly...
He called me a contrarian and I objected

Columbus: Are you one of these guys that tries to one-up everybody else's story?
Tallahassee: No. I knew a guy way worse at that than me.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

It's about time to bring in quote by a best selling author named Paul. He added a 13th chapter to his Epistle to One Corinthian. ( His epistle to Two Corinthians remembered by Trump comes later.)

"Love never fails...for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part; then I shall fully know, even as I am fully known."

DavidD said...

Althouse, I’m OK with 3-12 but not 1 and 2.

There is no your reality and my reality. There is only reality and it is what it is.

Tell me when anyone has ever changed the past—the reality of the past and not one’s perception of the past.

WA-mom said...

Your take has proven 6. Overthinking will lead to sadness.

Josephbleau said...

I learned about the past long ago from reading the great scientist R H Heinlien. He said the world exists in 4 dimensional space and each person is a tube starting at a point and extending on the time axis growing into the outline of an old person before stopping at death. If you construct a time slice perpendicular to the time axis you will obtain yourself as a 3 dimensional creature at an arbitrary point in your life. Therefore the past does exist as well as the future. QED. Doesn’t everyone know this?

gilbar said...

DavidD said...
Tell me when anyone has ever changed the past—the reality of the past and not one’s perception of the past.


In the Immortal Words of Homer Simpson: wishing won't make it so.
You gotta pull up your diaper, get out there and be the best damn Barney you can be

Howard said...

Overthinking leads to sadness when playing Trivial pursuit.

Howard said...

Be hear now

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Some of these I agree with...sortof. Others are just wrong, stupid or inane.

1. The past cannot be changed. True. The past has happened and unless we invent time travel with no paradox effect, the past is done. Our perceptions and opinions of it change. But Napoleon is still dead.

2. Opinions don’t define your reality. Of course they do.

3. Everyone’s journey is different. True

4. Things always get better with time. Not necessarily. They might get worse. They might get better. But one thing for sure. They will never be exactly the same.

5. Judgements are a confession of character. What?

6. Overthinking will lead to sadness. Sortof. Overthinking without any action might.

7. Happiness is found within. Or without, or both or maybe we have to MAKE our own happiness

8. Positive thoughts create positive things. Well. Can't hurt to be positive.

9. Smiles are contagious. No. People who smile too much make me nervous.

10. Kindness is free. Maybe. But the consequences of being kind are not always good. Try taking into your home, a homeless alcoholic, drug user out of kindness and see how free that action is.

11. You only fail if you quit. OH BALONEY. Sometimes know when to quit is success. Continuing on can be failure. Lost Cost Fallacy.

12. What goes around, comes around. .. That's wishful thinking.

Amexpat said...

Were we ever in "the past?

Well, your past can catch up to you,in the sense that you can reap the consequences of things you did before. In that sense, your past is not an abstract concept but things you really did or experienced before.

Saving money is an example. You can forego certain things in the present to provide better for yourself in the future. And in the future, you can thank your past for providing for your secure finances in the present.

D 2 said...

Overthinking vs overreacting = the dilemma of doing nothing vs doing the wrong thing out of a stupid/wilful/momentary blindness. Best to stick to the middle of the road and neither freeze up nor rush in blindly, for that leads to tragedy. See, as example if you will, the quarterback hesitate to throw (D Jones) or throw with abandon. (Min vs NO this weekend ... Favre memories)

As for the past: it's there in your consciousness all the time, you can change your perception or your attitude towards it, but that won't mean it's real anymore. It was, and now it's gone.

"Think first, fight afterwards, the soldiers art.
One taste of the old times sets all to rights"
(Browning)

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain that we could sit simply in that room again
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that
(Dylan)

Ah, screw it, I'm just gonna throw it hard.
(Favre)

Francisco D said...

Overthinking means that the wrong synapses are firing. You need to reboot your brain.

When you step away from a NYT crossword puzzle and come back later, you look at the clues with a different perspective, at least for those edited by Will Shortz.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Were we ever in "the past?

I was in the past just a few moments ago when I was pouring milk into my bowl of cereal.

In the present (which will be past in just a few seconds) I realized that I put too much milk in the bowl. Unfortunately, that moment is past and I can't go back and change it. Too much milk. Oh well. At least it wasn't a nuclear bomb.

mockturtle said...

11. You only fail if you quit. OH BALONEY. Sometimes know when to quit is success. Continuing on can be failure. Lost Cost Fallacy.

True that, DBQ. You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run...

JAORE said...

#13: Lighten up Francis.

Temujin said...

I have to agree with Mockturtle on this one. I thought the list was spot on. Not that I'll ever read it again, or even think about it after this post. The past does not change. Our perception of it may change. But A is A. A thing is what it is and wishing or calling it something else does not change what it is. Some day I may think back on this moment and consider that what I wrote was profound and stunning. But the reality is that this is a nothing burger post. No memory can change that.

Ann Althouse said...

"Too much philosophy and not enough science."

There's no science involved in saying what "the past" is. It's not a scientific topic.

Ann Althouse said...

You probably think of your own past in a series of spotlights or snapshots or vague sections. Why those and not something else? Do you have mistakes that are highlighted? You could widen the frame around them and see good things that haven't fixated you. Go to a therapist and examine your past: It will change.

Ann Althouse said...

"There's no science involved in saying what "the past" is. It's not a scientific topic."

To disagree with my own statement: I think psychotherapy is something of a science and that it does change the past, the past being what lives in a person's mind.

mockturtle said...

You probably think of your own past in a series of spotlights or snapshots or vague sections.

My past is made of of my past, not what I remember of it or how I perceive it. There is a reality that exists independently from anyone's perceptions. Just as a tree falling in the forest makes sound waves whether or not anyone's sensory organs perceive them. Sometimes I think the naked emperor's new clothes would have you impressed with their resplendence.

rcocean said...

You only fail when you quit. Should be "You can never succeed if you quit". Because you can definitely fail when you don't quit. Ask Hillary.

rcocean said...

Things get better with time. Huh? See John Goodman clip.

rcocean said...

How you think about the past can be changed. But yep, dwelling on past errors and bad luck gets you nowhere except Depressionville.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You probably think of your own past in a series of spotlights or snapshots or vague sections

That would be remembering my personal past. Sometimes there are gaps and sometimes the memory is imperfect. My memory of the past is changeable and subject to emotion.

The reality of the past and events...even IF I don't remember is immutable.

Nevertheless, until we invent time travel, the past is something that occurred milliseconds ago. The past is real and unchangeable. No matter how much I wish that I had chosen a different path or taken a different choice in the past...there is no way to change it. Don't look back

Live with it. Accept it. Change what I do in the future. Yes. But not the past.

D 2 said...

Your perception of the past isn't the past. That way lies madness.

DBQ poured 2L of milk into her cereal an hour ago. She though it too much 30min ago. Perhaps - in the future - she will think back and say to herself: actually, 2L of milk on 17 cheerios is the right amount. Her perspective may change but the 2L amount doesn't change.

I say madness because - in all honesty - this type of thinking about time might lead (I aver) to the Christine Blasey Fords of the world telling us about some party at some unknown place at some unknown time in the 80s, with people who all deny it so, and people who know better suggesting, "well, she wouldn't say it, if some part wasn't true...". WTF??!?

If DBQ wants to change her mind and say "No, I was wrong to say it was too much milk. 2L is great!" That's one thing. But we aren't going to all nod politely if she says it wasn't milk in the bowl, it was whiskey."

rcocean said...

Althouse is not a contrarian - which is a good thing, because i hate contrarians. And that included Hitchens. Who was a safe, globalist, liberal establishment contrarian.

traditionalguy said...

Depression is self directed anger over a loss. Solution is to redirect it. See, Baker Mayfield .

Nichevo said...

You could widen the frame around them and see good things that haven't fixated you. Go to a therapist and examine your past: It will change.

When, where, and to whom did you lose your virginity? What was your answer in 1975?

Caligula said...

This platitudinous list isn't really all that bad, but it does contain a few big clinkers:

"4. Things always get better with time" Unless they don't. Metastatic cancer, for example. And even those that do get better often get far worse before they start getting better. (This one is right up their with Nietzche's "that which doesn't kill me makes me stronger.")

"8. Positive thoughts create positive things." But excessively positive thinking (relative to external reality) discourages contingency planning. "Why have a concession speech ready when you know you're sure to win?", said Hillary Clinton. (Just assume the stock price will recover. Just assume that violent weather will clear before you need to land the plane.)

"10. Kindness is free." But free kindness is often worth just what it cost. Or less. "Have a great day!" said the robot.

"11. You only fail if you quit." Otherwise known as the Sunk Cost fallacy. Sometimes "Ya gotta know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em." seems better advice.

"my instinct was to rewrite each one and reverse the meaning." Because the early worm gets the bird? New Years is for platitudes!

Freeman Hunt said...

"Things always get better with time."

Except melanoma!

I mostly keep my contrarianess off of Facebook, but I do screenshot things and send them with contrarian comments to my mother.

tcrosse said...

"Things always get better with time."

Except Alzheimers!

alanc709 said...

I hate 2 mottoes in life: 1). They call it common sense because it's common not to have any, and 2). Never underestimate the power of stupidity.

Michael K said...

crosse said...
"Things always get better with time."

Except Alzheimers!


Interesting example of why Science is not always honest.

It is an interesting comparison to climate "Science."

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

things to eschew this New Year:

1) lists
2) irony

mockturtle said...

things to eschew this New Year:

I can hardly eschew anything with these braces on my teeth. :-(

ExplainMeMore said...

I am someone who takes pride in being different but never for the sake of just being different because I also find joy in finding common ground with people.

Sebastian said...

"The past is real and unchangeable."

Is it still real if no one pays attention to it?

Sebastian said...

"the past being what lives in a person's mind"

So the past is what a person currently thinks?

Ann Althouse said...

Where is the past?

No one ever lived in the past. They always lived in the present. The past is a mental concept.

mockturtle said...

The past is a mental concept.

Right. Last year didn't happen. Hey, good news for the Progs--Trump didn't really win the Presidency because 2016 didn't happen, either! It's all in our imagination. Yikes! Surely you don't really mean what you are saying.

mockturtle said...

And gender is a 'mental concept', too, of course. What rubbish!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

No one ever lived in the past. They always lived in the present. The past is a mental concept.

Well, of course we "live" in the present because that is the moment that we are in and....ooops it is past now.

The past is what has happened. Yesterday may be in the past, but the actions that occurred, the breezes that blew, the cat's that meowed, speeches that were made, the people shot in a church in Texas....they all are facts that existed in the present and are now a part of the past.

We can't access the past other than in our memories, writings, films that were taken, art that was created. We can try to document the past. We try to remember the past. In that sense the past is a mental concept in that we can't experience the past. But it doesn't mean that it is only a mental concept in the fact that it was real. And in many senses still IS real. We just can't BE there anymore.

We also can't access the future either. And...oopps... I just did access the future, but now it also is past. Just like this post is now history with this click of my mouse..........

tcrosse said...

Time was invented by physicists to explain motion.

eddie willers said...

Buddhist dog

"Make me one with everything"

Rimshot!

Terry Ott said...

12 THINGS TO ALWAYS REMEMBER:
1. The past cannot be changed.
>>> The past exists only in one’s mind, and I change my recollections as often as my socks
2. Opinions don’t define your reality
>>> They do if they come from the right person.
3. Everyone’s journey is different.
>>> This one was swept aside by GPS
4. Things always get better with time.
>>> Unless the “thing” is your body from 30 years ago
5. Judgements are a confession of character.
>>> Huhhhh? Run that by me again with some explanatory footnotes, please.
6. Overthinking will lead to sadness.
>>> More importantly, Underthinking brigns trouble; e.g., the coach calling for a flea flicker with 4th and goal on the 2 yard line
7. Happiness is found within.
>>> I’ve been wondering “within what?”; only thing for sure is it’s not a bottle
8. Positive thoughts create positive things.
>>> So, Oregon had more positive thoughts about the Rose Bowl?
9. Smiles are contagious.
>>> Actually, I think this one has merit.
10. Kindness is free.
>>> Until the guy on the street asks you for bus fare (again)
11. You only fail if you quit.
>>> Thanks for the encouragement; I’ll try again tomorrow to button the pants that are 3 inches smaller than my waistline
12. What goes around, comes around.
>>> So says Mayor Barrett about his 2 mile trolley in downtown Milwaukee, though you might walk faster.