Saturday, March 15, 2008

Imperfect Masterpieces

"One must not always think that feeling is everything. Art is nothing without form."

* Gustave Flaubert-1846

Say that we were to continue this metaphor briefly to apply it to the "feeling" and "thinking" preferences of Myers Briggs. So, feelings are the art, thoughts are the form. Maybe some would take issue with this, but I find it helpful. I've thought a lot lately about how we make our decisions, and within the how, why? Remember that this letter preference symbolizes not how much of feeling or thinking you do, but which guides you most often when you make decisions... from everything from what you'll be eating for lunch, what you'll be doing with your tax rebate, what job you choose, to who you marry.

According to my favorite MB site, "When someone makes a decision that is based on logic and reason, they are operating in Thinking mode. When someone makes a decision that is based on their value system, or what they believe to be right, they are operating in Feeling mode." We can make decisions using just one preference or the other, but most decisions involved a combination of both. Decisions that are harder are likely because we are conflicted between our T and F sides, and in these cases, our dominant preference usually wins. Decisions made without much conflict are usually a result of being in sync with both sides.

Regardless of whether we are Ts or Fs, I believe we make our best decisions when we take all the facts into consideration, and also our knowledge of ourselves as well..."will I be okay with this choice in a month? In a year?" The more you know yourself, as well as know what your goals are personally, the easier it is to make small daily choices (should I buy this shirt or should I save my money) as well as larger scale choice.

When I was 4, my mom considered home-schooling me instead of sending me to kindergarten and then grade school. She thought about the effort it would take to coordinate it, with getting the appropriate curriculum and accountability check-ins and all, along with already having a 3 year old and one on the way. I think she did some research on effectiveness and whether it had a social impact on children who homeschooled early on. She put a lot of objective & logical Thinking into the decision. But as I recall her saying, in the end, she decided to start my education at home because it felt right. She looked at me and just felt that I would flourish in that environment and learn to love learning. And I did. She did a great job for those first couple years before I started public school, and I have benefited from it ever since, I believe.

So if our lives were painted landscapes, created as we go, they would turn out best with proportional amounts of both artistic creativity and form. What would Van Gogh's Starry Night have been without his knowledge of color and diligence in pattern? On the other hand, paint-by-numbers art is fun for children, teaching them shape and form, but there isn't as much variety and beauty in art that doesn't have the freedom of expression. Also, we are allowed mistakes; art is often more valuable when you can see the imperfections.

Our feelings aren't our only and best guide; they can be fleeting or selfish, and neither are our thoughts, as they can be based on inaccurate information or inconsiderate. We all default to one preference more often, but wisely using both and then proceeding with choices you know to be best for you and others is how we make a true work of art from our lives.


Anna Quinlan said...

Great post! Your thoughtfulness on issues like this is not only an insightful benefit to your friends and blog fans, but will certainly serve you well as you continue your journey into "adulthood."

Patricia said...

Very nice! Really good, thoughtful essay....I could see this being published. As Anna said, your insight is a benefit to the rest of us. Thanks!

Lisa said...

I really like this Corinne, listening to you on anything MB is a great joy. I think I know something about MB, but many times you have helped me see it from a different and more correct perspective. The Thinking Feeling type category is the one I most naturally think about in my day to day life as well so I appreciated this post. I hope you get to use your knowledge professionally some day and get paid for your growing expertise.

*corinne said...

What nice things to say, friends. I'm humbled and grateful.