The Guiding Principles of Social Pirate (and why you might care)
I am nearly about to set off on my Social Pirate adventure! I don’t much like to lose my way, so to prevent my doing so, I’ve laid out a brief list of the values I want to stay true to in every post I write on this blog. You may learn something too, but don’t hold me to that…
This is of key importance to me (as the site’s tagline might suggest), and in my opinion, really shouldn’t be trumped by anything else. However, happiness certainly can be elusive, so it’s a goal of mine for every post to lay out in concrete terms, in some form or another, how to become a happier person. I believe that happiness is a state of mind – it has almost nothing to do with one’s outer world – and so much of my advice will be focused on changing your thought patterns. How much gratitude we have for life is a huge factor in overall well-being, so if we learn to appreciate the people around us, our relationships with them will vastly improve.
I want any boost in happiness you get from following this blog to be permanent and meaningful. Visible change is what we’re aiming for here, so I won’t just be writing about little social tricks (although you can expect some of those). Becoming better with people may seem a bit vague, so I’ll break it down. Basically, it’s learning the skill of making people feel good. It’s nothing more complicated than that; and keep in mind that it’s a learnable skill. It takes time, but it’s completely doable, and the more you practise, the better you will get at it.
I was considering understanding as one of the core values, but then it struck me it would be almost impossible to actually attain; social dynamics are too complex to simply label, absent-mindedly say ‘I get it’ and move on. Instead, I’m going to practise being constantly aware of the social interactions I’m in, the people I speak to, and my inner reactions to what happens, and see what I can take away from the experiences. I’ll try to leave all my baggage, prejudices and preconceptions at the door, and be as objective as possible. Situations are often made of up different perspectives, so I’ll attempt to give each equal consideration, and not see what I want to see. There isn’t one right answer. To be properly aware, I’ll have to learn to really listen, which I know won’t be easy, but I’m certain it will benefit my relationships.
This is one quality that I greatly admire in others, but have had trouble practising myself. I do enjoy a bit of sarcasm and irony, but the people in my life don’t always appreciate it as much, sometimes getting confused and frustrated when I say the opposite of what I mean… One good general rule I’ve found is: never use sarcasm in an argument; say what you feel. Lack of sincerity can be a huge obstacle to fulfilling friendships. It puts an emotional barrier between you and whoever you’re speaking to. As I create this blog, I want to mean everything I say, and to become a person that people know they can depend on and trust. As it’s something I struggle with, I’ll be exploring it more in-depth on the topic in future, but if you want a brilliant example of earnestness in action, watch the film Being There.
I want the advice on this site to be consistent, so far as is possible. There will always be contradictions, but if I aim for what is accurate, the content on Social Pirate should have integrity. I also want to stick to these principles, at least at the current time of writing, and so I will frequently revisit this list to refresh my mind. I also want you, my valued reader, to keep your integrity. Though I will be advocating change (for the better), I want you to be ‘authentic’, to ‘be true to yourself’, to never lose sight of who you really are. Your conception of those terms will be different from mine, but I aim to facilitate your integrity through all I do here on this site.
I will strive to be honest with you, both intellectually and emotionally. I’m nervous about revealing my true feelings to the world, to put them in such a public space, but I know it will help me grow as a person. In doing so, I also hope to lead by example, and show readers of Social Pirate that freely sharing your emotions is beneficial to both yourself and the recipient. I appreciate transparency in the blogs that I read, so I will always be open about my plans for the site. I hope to earn the trust of my readers by always answering questions truthfully in emails and the comments section of posts.
This is a hugely important idea for me, so much so that it’s one of the core topics I’ve put in the footer of each page of Social Pirate, so needless to say it will be a recurring theme in the blog. I’m actually surprised that the concepts of presence, consciousness and mindfulness haven’t spread further by now, as they make so much logical and emotional sense to me, and the same goes for most people that come across them. I believe that if everyone learnt to live more in the present moment, focusing on their environment, the people around them, and themselves, the world would be a far far far far better place. A large part of being mindful is truly accepting the way things are, so that there’s no inner resistance to what is. Whenever anything bad happens, I try to remind myself of this simple piece of advice:
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” ~Eckhart Tolle
If you’ve not done this before, you’d be surprised how light and free your life becomes; try it now! And when I inevitably start having my doubts about myself and this project, I know that being mindful will help me through it.
I know this may sound a bit soppy, but I believe that if I write this blog without love for the people reading it, then I’m doomed to failure (or at least a crappy blog). The subject matter is far more personal than most other blogs out there, and so I think a personal approach is required. I also want to connect with you, and I know that won’t happen if my primary aims are self-serving. You know what my definition of love is? It’s this:
readily putting the happiness of others before yourself
People (including me) often forget that love is something you do rather than something you have, and this results in reciting empty I love yous instead of showing it. And I say ‘readily’ in my definition because it’s possible to grudgingly do something for somebody simply to guilt-trip them later on, and that certainly isn’t love. So, in summary, I will try my best to put your happiness before mine, and do it with a smile on my face. Like so
I plan on becoming some sort of expert on people skills through the process of researching, experimenting and writing for Social Pirate. By that, I mean I will be more knowledgeable on social dynamics, how people work, and hopefully, more adept at handling social interactions, in order to forge better relationships with the people in my life. HOWEVER… at no point in the process do I want my expertise to go to my head, and to start thinking I know best whenever it comes to understanding people. Every adult and child have years and years of experience of being around others, and as I mentioned above, there are always lots of conflicting perspectives. Whilst some may be more in tune with reality than others, they are all valid in some way, and shouldn’t be discounted. So this paragraph is really a reminder to myself to not get too big for my boots.
I’m a keen advocate of minimalism, but instead of going on at you I’ll let the master of simplicity say it better:
“Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” ~Steve Jobs
I really believe this is true, and so I vow to think deeply about all I include on this website, and cut out the fat and filler – to only include what’s valuable. At the same time, I know that what I think today will be different from what I think in 1, 5 and 10 years time, and so I’ll try to work toward only what helps people in the simplest, easiest way possible.
The ultimate goal of this blog, for me, is to make the world a better place – to actually help people. If I’m not helping people, then Social Pirate isn’t working. To do that, I need to do two things: firstly, to create a resource that people can use to improve their lives, whatever form that comes in. And secondly, to connect people with that resource. After all, what use would this site be if no one ever saw it?
Anyway, this post has really been more for me than for you, so I thank you for reading it this far. From now until my inevitable death, I’ll focus more on you