Monday, March 25, 2013

C Is For Cookie

Or, character. Character is one of those nebulous words. It's kind of a catch-all phrase that can be used in so many ways. You'll hear people say "well that says something about his/her character", or "it builds character"  - which is substantially better than "it puts hair on your chest", but certainly (maybe thankfully) less descriptive.

And yet, character is such an important and integral part of a person's makeup. Essentially, it's who they are. It encompasses their values, their morals, their actions, the way they treat others. It's also something we tend to judge in others, and base our opinions of them on what we believe to be the quality of their character.

So today, I have a few questions to pique some thought on this topic. 
  • How would you honestly describe your personal character? 
  • Are you happy with that description? 
  • If so, is there anything you'd like to be part of that description that isn't - something you want to work on?
  • If you are not happy with it, why? 
  • Are you being too hard on yourself? i.e. If you were describing someone else's character this way, would you feel it was positive overall, yet you aren't happy when it describes your own?
  • Do you feel others view your character the same way you do? Why or why not?
I realize this last question might get me some flack. I ask it for two reasons. One, how many of us are our own worst critic? I know I am. I've heard people describe me (both to myself and others, when I wasn't supposed to know) and thought "wow, they really think that highly of me? I never knew!".  However, we can also learn a lot from others. Let me say up front, it's important to know who to take to heart and who to discount. Some people say negative things not to help you, but to put you down for whatever reason - often to make themselves feel better. Others, however, may genuinely tell you things in an effort to help you grow and be happier in the long run. I've had one particular very trusted friend tell me things that he and others saw in me that I never knew - and they weren't particularly positive. I took them to heart, though, and I've worked really hard on them. We've since discussed this, and we both feel I've come a long way. I'm grateful he was able to honestly discuss my character with me. 

How do you feel about the questions above? Were they easy or difficult to answer? Did they cause you to take a good look at not only your own character, but also that of others? I know they did for me. They forced me to look a little deeper not only at my judgements of myself, but that of others as well. 

But life can't be all serious. So while you're thinking about the character questions above, enjoy this picture of a Cookie monster cake from my niece and nephew's 2nd birthday party. 


  1. Your question about character is an interesting one in that it goes back at least as far as Aristotle and his predecessors. When acting, they did not ask so much "is this right or wrong" as, "if I do this, what does it say about me as a person." They did not really distinguish between public and private persona, (but then they did not have Freud to hide behind ), so your actions were who you were - no excuses. That's one concept of character, anyway. That may sound old-fashioned, but Sartre said the same thing in "No Exit" so, maybe not.

    1. I love this information. I'm doing an audio course on the philosophy of emotions and it mentions something similar. I

      think that, to be honest, the difference between "right and wrong" and "what does it say about me as a person" is the implication of a judgmental being/system. If you think of how you'd be evaluated in a court of law, it brings in right and wrong. While "doing things to look good to others" isn't ideal, I actually think using our character as a guide, instead of a judgmental system, can actually be for the positive. For instance, it's legally "wrong" to drink a beer in the US if you're under the age of 21, but not legally wrong to just be a jerk to people, assuming it doesn't involve a legal crime. But really, I'd probably rather spend time with the nice 20-year- old drinking a beer than the jerk. This is an example, of course - I'm not condoning underage drinking. :-)