Thursday, July 21, 2016

Staying Out Of Trouble

I don’t understand people. That’s one of my quirks that I often put the most effort into keeping hidden. I try to understand. I’ve spent most of my life actively studying what makes people tick and how people think. Much of what I know about history, religion, philosophy, and related subjects - and I can state without an ounce of false modesty that my collection of knowledge in those fields is not small - is a direct result of that dedicated study. The more I know about how people can be expected to respond to various situations, the easier it is to make sure those situations don’t cause me any trouble. You’d be amazed how much of my life’s effort has been bent toward the single task of keeping me out of or away from trouble.

If you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Personality Test (and if you’re not, there is some fascinating information available that you might find interesting), you’ll understand when I say that my personality type by this test is INTJ. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the other fifteen types, but I can tell you this one is pretty much dead on. The descriptions of behaviors, likes, dislikes, motivations, and such are all me, all the way down to my boots. I shared the results with a friend recently, and my friend was laughing at how eerily accurate they were. If you read that and then read these pages, you’ll probably have a better understanding of why I have to try so much harder in some areas, and why I spend so much more time on others.

One of the things that struck me as amusing with this test was the nicknames. All of the personality types have cute little nicknames that quickly sum up that personality type, and one of the most common nicknames for INTJ is The Mastermind. According to many half-joking descriptions, we are the ones who are always plotting to take over the world. To be perfectly honest, I can’t really disagree with that description. Put in proper context, people like me are often convinced that no one else is trustworthy or dependable enough to run things, and we tend to be anti-authority, unless we are the authority. What they don’t tell you in these descriptions, though, is that we don’t plot to take over the world out of any desire to actually rule the world. Instead, what we’re looking for is some peace and quiet. The world is just too loud and too interfering with other people in charge. If I set the rules then I can make certain the rules don’t bother me. It makes perfect sense, see? I trust me, but I’m not so sure about you.

I would say that I’m not entirely serious, but I mostly am. Part of the way my brain is wired results in there being very few people in the world that I trust. I know this, though, so I actively focus on modulating it and not letting it turn into something dangerous or unhealthy. I see details in everything, so that part is actually a little bit easier than it might otherwise be. I can connect the dots and see, logically, that there is no cause for alarm with a given situation, so I don’t respond with alarm. When I am most likely to get in trouble about such things is when I forget that other people won’t necessarily respond in the same way. Like I said, I don’t understand people and I do have a tendency to forget and expect people to respond like I would, when my response type is anything but common.

On the other hand, though, I’m lazy. Taking over the world requires entirely too much work, and there are other things I’d rather be doing. From other people I’ve talked with, I get the impression that this is not unusual in my personality type. That might explain why none of us have ever actually tried to take over the world, outside of comic books and B science Fiction movies.

Contrary to what your mother probably told you, though, (sorry Mom) laziness is not inherently a bad thing. As Robert Heinlein pointed out in Time Enough for Love, “Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.” There are exceptions - there always are - but the things we already have are rarely improved by the Go Getters and A Types. Those people might be better at creating new things - and we need the new things, don’t get me wrong - but no one improves on something that already exists like the thinking lazy person who is tired of doing things the hard way. If you want an expert in efficiency who will improve every process you have in a short amount of time, find a lazy INTJ type and just leave him alone to do his thing. Stay out of his way and, soon enough, you’ll find him reading a book in a quiet corner because everything is done, done right, and done in half the time. I’m not even joking. It works.

The world is a crazy place, and sometimes it only seems to be getting crazier and crazier. Sometimes all you can do is make a joke - and, if it’s coming from me, it’s probably a sarcastic joke - and ride the wave. Try not to fall off, but get back up and try again if you do. There’s plenty of trouble out there, and I’m just trying to minimize how much of it I step in. I can’t actually take over the world. I can’t make people do things my way - and I’d be the first to tell you that I’m far too lazy to pull it off, even if I could - but I can tell people how I would do things, and then I can go read my book. Some people will listen, some won’t. That’s the way it goes. I can’t fix that, but I can do my best to not let it break me.

Passing on the things I know, the things that I have found to work, is part of how I do that. I do that whole find the most efficient way to do things, get things done, and then go read a book routine all the time. If I can teach more people to do the same then we have more people quietly reading books, and less trouble all around. If you don’t like to read, there’s always video games, hiking, fishing, anything that doesn’t involve bringing more trouble into a troubled world.

I want peace and quiet. That doesn’t mean that I won’t poke my head up and growl, or more, when it’s necessary, but the point is to get away from trouble. If a little trouble now prevents more trouble later, okay, I can do that math. Let’s get it over with, but let’s learn from the experience too, so that maybe we don’t have to do it again. I have a book to get to. Don’t you?

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