Mindful Scrooge


One of the things I’m working on is to try and be more ‘intentional’ — more conscious about my behaviors, decisions, responses, etc. What it amounts to is trying to catch myself in that moment before I do or say something, and ask myself whether this is what I would intentionally do or say if I put some thought into it instead of just reacting. Am I acting out of motives that I would respect when not in this moment? Am I speaking out of frustration or the desire to be seen as ‘right’?

I’ve put this together through a variety of conversations, readings, and thinks. I have labeled the concept in my head as ‘mindfulness’ or ‘being intentional’. Pseudo-research [i.e. cursory Googling] shows some similarities to the thought in my head and someone else’s definition for mindfulness, and someone else’s definition of being intentional.

I’ll not go into how successful or unsuccessful I have been in doing this; suffice it to say that the mental activity does actually occur sometimes.


Monday was the last work day of the year. We had three contractors whose contracts ended that day (although one of those contracts got extended unexpectedly).

One of the contractors had a shitty Sunday night. A transformer in his front yard croaked and a crew spent the night noisily ripping it out and installing a new one. He said he might have gotten three hours of sleep.

This guy almost never consumes caffeine, but he decided to have a cup of coffee that day. He was amazed at the feeling it induced, saying something like, “It doesn’t make you more awake, it makes you less tired,” and marveled that people can actually get quality work done in such a state.


My normal reaction to this would be to joke around about it and let it pass. The part of my head that wants people to place their health and well being above work wants him to go back home and get some rest. The part of my head that is a fiscally responsible manager wants to tell him if he’s unable to work effectively, he should go home, get some rest, and not charge hours. I just watched A Christmas Carol at the ACT theater yesterday, so that last guy sounds like Scrooge to me.

I chose my normal reaction, but I wasn’t sure if it was because (1) I wanted to seem like a nice, sociable guy, or (2) I didn’t want to seem like a heartless Scrooge, or (3) I thought all he needs to do today is wrap things up and transfer knowledge; peak efficiency is unnecessary, or (4) I was to lazy to drag myself out of my normal habits, or (5) something else.

The idea behind the “mindfulness” thing for me is to do the right things for the right reasons instead of whatever I happen to do for no particular reason. But a large part of the result seems be exposing my actions to self-judgment that wouldn’t occur otherwise. I guess that’s not entirely true — sometimes that self-judgment would occur, but just after the fact (“Why did I do or say that?”). Another part of it is going through these experiences with a surreal sense of…not detachment, although there is a sense of observing myself as a third party [what would I advise myself to do in this situation?]…but, some kind of doubt or uncertainty about my motives. I recognize the reasons that I consciously choose one path versus another, but I doubt whether I’m being genuine in my reasoning, or rationalizing.


Posted by snaotheus

1 comment

I applaud your efforts toward a new approach (and I noticed it while I was there; I just didn’t know it was conscious effort on your part)! Mindfulness has been a big part of my mental health regimen for a couple of years. One thing to remember: There’s a reason they call it “mindfulness practice.” Because you never really get there (unless maybe you’re a hermit on a mountainside and that’s all you do). Another thing to add and to extend to yourself: self-compassion. No need to judge yourself harshly when you make a mistake or slip into old habits; you’re practicing. Extend to yourself the same kindness you would to someone else. I see this is included briefly in your Other Person’s definition of intentional living. There’s a lot of interesting reading on both topics, and that whole brain-rewiring course I took involves a lot of both.

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