Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Discontinuity of Life

So recently I've been thinking about the world and how most people seem to portion it out into little chunks and think of them as discrete units. This is in contrast to my understanding of the world as an interacting system. In my opinion this leads to issues which are largely systemic problems being treated as isolated incidents. Don't get me wrong I'm all for mental compartmentalisation but when it comes to external factors, understanding the system-wide implications of actions can go a long way to helping deal with life. For me one of the biggest examples of this is money.

Most people tend to view money as a thing, an object, something having intrinsic value in of itself. The truth, in my opinion, is that money is actually just a piece of a larger system. Money is a method of transferring goods and services, so in some sense it is actually more of a social contract than an object. It doesn't have an intrinsic value without the system that it operates within. By thinking of money as a discrete, we allow ourselves to become caught up in the pursuit of it. It becomes the end goal, rather than the facilitator. It leads to money becoming a status symbol, because of our possession of it. Me personally, I like to think of money as part of a system. If the money is flowing correctly through the system, I don't require to think about it or have it burden me. When I check my bank account to see if I have enough money to pay for something, I'm not thinking about how much money I have, I'm looking at the state of a system in flux. I understand that the aquiscion of money is only determined by my circumstances surrounding it. For instance, if I work so much that I cannot spend the money, then I have no real benefit from it. All the status or possessions in the world won't change the fact that I'm not better off for my inflated bank balance. What that bank balance actually represents in that state is a blockage in the system, a bottleneck. I think many things can be understood in this way.

So how do you deal with this mentally. How can you compartmentalise without trying to understood the world around you through a discrete lens. Well take for example the following:

I pick up a JIRA ticket at work and write some code. While I'm writing that code I'm focused and blocking some things out, I'm allowing myself to be in the pocket of the moment. When I'm finished I check that code in for code review. At this point I don't sit monitoring what has happened to that piece of code, I let it sit for a period while the reviewer goes over it. During this time I look into some other work, I research what I'm going to do next. My understanding is that my work isn't a discrete unit of work, its part of a larger system. That system is now handling the next step of the process. Most things we do have an effect, some influence on the system around them. Allowing the system to work and not focusing on the possession can go a long way to helping us act more effectively within the wider system.

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