Book Notes: Me, Myself, and Us

Me, Myself, and Us:  The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-being, by Brian R. Little

[Disclaimer:  This is not meant to be a book summary or book review. This is just stuff in the book that I found personally valuable or interesting at the time of reading. Most of these “notes” are actually highlights, i.e. directly copied lines from the book, but some notes are personal adaptations or added personal insights.]

How you construe others reveals as much about you as it does about them. And we will find that your personal construing has important consequences for your well-being and how you feel and act in your daily life.

The way you construe others has consequences for your well -being. Generally speaking, the more numerous the lenses or frames through which you can make sense of the world, the more adaptive it is.

– Although we might believe that our impressions of others are cool, rational readings of the objects of our construal, personal constructs are frequently hot, emotional expressions of something far deeper.

The more limited one’s repertoire of personal constructs, the greater the anxiety and the fewer the degrees of freedom one has in anticipating and acting upon events in your daily life.

– Consider what happens if an event, such as getting a failing grade on an academic examination, challenges the ‘intelligence’ construct. To the extent that this information disconfirms a person’s core construct of being intelligent, it is likely to be threatening indeed because it isn’t just a single invalidation but rather a challenge to the whole construct system through which that person is navigating life.

For a person whose construct of “intelligent– not intelligent” is only loosely linked to other constructs, a failing grade, though disappointing and unpleasant, would not be particularly threatening.

– If the person with a failing grade had been able to invoke other constructs— perhaps a “committed student,” “hardworking,”“a devoted son”— that would give him an alternative way of seeing himself and his value in the world.  Invoking other constructs is seeing a negative outcome through different lenses and tapping into other obvious positive constructs.

– When we assess individuals’ personalities and their well-being we need to take into account information about not only how they are like some other people but also how they are like no other person.

– It may be that being too agreeable or too disagreeable are both associated with poorer performance and that an optimal, middle-level degree of agreeableness exists.

– The central core of neuroticism is sensitivity to negative cues in the environment.

– Those who score high on the neuroticism scale are more prone to anxiety, depression, self-consciousness, and emotional vulnerability. In contrast, of course, those at the other end of the scale—“stable” individuals— are more robust and less vulnerable to the vicissitudes of everyday lives.

– In everyday interactions introverts may avoid highly stimulating settings because they realize, perhaps only tacitly, that their performance is often compromised in such environments

– It’s not necessarily that the introvert doesn’t enjoy the stimulating environment, rather they may just unconsciously doubt their ability to perform or ‘be normal’ relative to the stimulating circumstances.

Ambiverts are chronically close to the optimal level, in between introverts and extraverts.

I am resolutely opposed to putting people in pigeon holes as either introverts or extraverts, traits set like plaster, as William James put it. I am convinced that we have the capacity to adapt our personalities to the demands of the day and to enact our social selves in ways that advance the things we care about.

– There are times when many of us engage in behavior that leads others to infer, incorrectly, certain “fixed” or stable traits of our personality. Technically, psychologists refer to this as counter-dispositional behavior.

– There are relatively “fixed” personality traits, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate that behavioral traits or emotional states be fixed along with them.

The average level of trait expression does indeed differ from situation to situation. But the rank order stability of trait expression— where you stand relative to other people on a particular trait in a given situation— is impressively stable.

– The class clown in grade school will have downgraded her mischievousness thirty years later, just as most of her classmates have also lowered their level of extraversion. But at the class reunion she is still a clown relative to her classmates— a classier one, a more measured and mature mischief maker, to be sure, but still an over-the-top extravert.

– Although everyone, even you, will tilt in the direction of extraversion at a party, the true extravert is more likely to be exceptionally outgoing, overly garrulous, and, perhaps, from an introvert’s perspective, borderline obnoxious.

– In addition to ambiverts there are also such people who are extraverted introverts or introverted extroverts.

We can think of our everyday behavior as expressions of three different motivational sources that energize it:  biogenic, sociogenic, and idiogenic.

Biogenic influences: its roots are hereditary, and its influence arises from brain structures and processes that the rapidly emerging field of personality neuroscience is studying.  These are genetic, essentially, in which the traits are inherently activated upon birth.

– Each of the Big Five dimensions of personality (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism) can be assessed in terms of its biogenic roots.  These are generally “rooted” dimensions of our character.

– There is growing evidence that hormonal levels indicative of personality distinctions  can be assessed at birth and likely determine some extent of fixed personality traits.

It seems reasonable to say that biogenic extraverts and unpleasant people are being natural when they express their extraversion or their unpleasantness in their behavior. But this is not the only way in which we can act “naturally.”

Sociogenic influences arise through the course of socialization and the learning of cultural codes, norms, and expectations.

– Behavior with a strong sociogenic source may flow relatively effortlessly because it has been reinforced throughout a person’s life as being the appropriate thing to do in various circumstances.

– Introversion and extroversion as styles of behavior have a strong sociogenic aspect to them as well as a biogenic aspect. Different cultures place differential emphasis on the importance and acceptability of extraverted behavior.

– In contrast with the American extraverted ideal, other cultures place a higher premium on introversion. For example, the norms of some Asian countries encourage children not to stick out unduly from the rest of the group but rather to quietly blend in.  Such sociogenic norms have major consequences for intercultural communication.

In important ways such sociogenic aspects of our conduct are as “natural” as our biogenic tendencies. The influence of culture is profound and pervasive. There are rewards for adhering to cultural scripts and costs for failing to show fidelity to social conventions.

– Our first (bio) and second (socio) natures may be in conflict.  The less they are in conflict, the better for well-being, but a source conflict doesn’t guarantee lower well-being.

Idogenic influences represent the plans, aspirations, commitments, and personal projects that we pursue in the course of daily life. Their origin is individualistic and singular.

By invoking biogenic causes we can explain a person’s behavior as the natural playing out of traits. By invoking sociogenic causes we can explain the same behavior as the natural consequence of social norms. But by invoking idiogenic causes we seek the reasons why a person is engaged in a particular pattern of behavior.

– To answer why people would go against their biogenic or sociogenic natures, we need to understand some more about personal projects, and we need to introduce the notion of “free traits.”

Personal projects are the stuff of everyday life. They can range from the very trivial pursuits of a typical day morning (e.g., “put out the dog”) to the overriding aspirations of our lives (e.g., “liberate my people”).

Personal projects play a direct role in frustrating or enhancing our well-being.

– Being engaged in personal projects can lead us to act in ways that surprise others and sometimes ourselves.

– Individually motivated behavior that differs from a biogenic or sociogenic nature is enacting a free trait, in contrast with relatively fixed traits.

– A pseudo-extravert could be someone who is adopting a sociogenic script to promote a personal project that mattered deeply to him, despite his biogenic introversion.

– Actions based on our biogenic dispositions are clearly natural in the sense that they directly reflect our biological needs and stable preferences.

– So when I use the phrase “acting out of character” it means two different but equally powerful ways of explaining a pattern of behavior:  It simultaneously means people are acting inconsistently with what we have come to expect, and that they are doing it because of something in their character, because of personal values they wish to express.

– So the position I take stresses three potentially conflicting forms of fidelity— fidelity to one’s biological propensities, to one’s cultural prescriptions, and to one’s core personal projects.

Each of these is natural in its own compelling way, and the way they are artistically choreographed in your life has important implications for your health and well-being.

– It is important, as you reflect on your life, to ask three questions: What do you gain by pursuing personal projects and enacting free traits? What are the dynamics of acting out of character? And what might be the costs?

The great benefit of adopting free traits is that they can advance the personal projects that bring a sense of meaning to your life.

– Sometimes life throws out challenges that require each of us to shift our orientations, to defy our biogenically fixed traits and adopt free traits.  Other times our expression of free traits must be limited due to the challenges of life that require us to engage our biogenic or sociogenic fixed traits.

Protractedly acting out of character through free traits can extract both psychological and physical costs.

The situations and settings of our everyday lives play an important role in the quality of our lives. The better the “fit” between a person’s biogenic traits and the characteristics of the environment, the better the consequences for well-being The implication here is that it’s not always sound advice to just “be free” and do what you want (engage personal projects with free traits).  Total commitment to free traits and total denial or extended disengagement of fixed traits can create significantly negative effects on well-being.

– It is possible, however, to be selective of free traits and “change our style” to varying degrees.  This level of control can allow us to engage a different set of free traits that are more in balance with fixed biogenic or sociogenic traits.

There is an intriguing research literature that raises some important warnings for individuals who protractedly engage in free traits through suppressing their biogenic traits. The central idea is that suppression causes arousal in the autonomic nervous system, and if such arousal becomes chronic, it can extract a health cost.

– Research shows that those who have opened up in expressing their biogenic traits are healthier, and this is in part due to enhanced immune system functioning from low autonomic arousal over long periods of time.

– A biogenically agreeable woman who is required by her law firm to suppress her pleasantness and act aggressively may experience signs of autonomic arousal— such as increased heart rate, sweating, muscle tension, and a stronger startle response. If the culture of the law firm is that you simply do not talk about such matters, that it would be unprofessional to vent, the costs will be particularly taxing.

– Is there anything we can do to reduce the potential costs of acting out of character? One thing we can do is to find ourselves a restorative niche, a place where we can obtain some respite from the physiological costs of free trait behavior and can indulge our biogenic “first natures.”

Don’t take your Big Five trait scores too seriously. Don’t let them cage you in or lead you out in one direction.  It could benefit you at times to be mindful of your Big Five, but don’t feel defined by your scores.

– High self-monitors (HSMs) are concerned about how others see them, and they behave so as to reflect the norms and expectations of the situations they enter. Low self-monitors (LSMs) are less concerned with how others view them and are guided in their behavior by their own traits and values rather than situational expectations.

– Self-monitoring scores provides us with rich material for reflection on personality and well-being. In their daily behavior LSMs are guided by their traits, whereas HSMs are guided by situations. Both traits and situations play roles in our daily pursuits, so it’s necessary to take an integrative approach rather than determine which method of self-monitoring is appropriate.

High self-monitors may have both the disposition and the ability to shift their self-expressions to fit the situation they are in. Low self-monitors may have neither the disposition nor the ability to make those shifts.

– But I believe it is important to remember that the LSM who appears to be uninterested in presenting a different self to different audiences may actually wish to do so but simply does not have the skill.

– I believe that the simple contrast between high and low self-monitors obscures the possibility that both of these modes of self-expression may be active in each of us and that we should look at flexible self-monitoring as the most effective stance to take when pursuing the projects and solving the tasks of our daily lives.

– Self-monitoring needs to be appraised in terms of how it facilitates or frustrates adaptive functioning. Either high or low self-monitoring can be adaptive if the situations and contexts require it.

Internal orientation (internal locus of control; high agency) has been shown across many studies to have a major positive impact on human well-being and accomplishment as opposed to external orientation (external locus of control; low agency).

– The length of lines experiment:  Internals may have been puzzled that other people saw the lines differently from how they did, but they did not hesitate to declare their own judgment. Externals, confronted with the same social pressure, were the most likely to yield to the majority decision.

The best predictor of successful achievement in American schools was not a factor that might have been anticipated, such as intelligence or socioeconomic status, but rather a short measure of internal locus of control.

– An internal locus of control positions adolescents for more positive trajectories both in education and in the workforce.

One reason that internals are better able to shape their lives in productive ways is that they are better able to delay gratification.

– In the Marshmallow Test:  those who utilized intentional delay strategies and self-distraction skills with ease were less likely to give into temptation.

An “agentic” orientation (the sense that I am in charge) helps advance our aspirations in life.

– Internals are more likely to resist unwanted influence, avoid undue risk, and make clear plans to achieve their valued goals. They are able to delay short-term rewards for larger, more distant rewards and are better able to deal with the stresses of everyday life as well as pay less of a cost for exposure to them.

Becoming more agentic (higher self-agency, internal locus of control):  take more personal responsibility for conditions and experiences, both good and bad; believe in your positive contributions to positive outcomes; understand your negative contributions to negative outcomes, accept responsibility, and believe in ability to change

– It is in the heat of project pursuit that illusions become adaptive . But this is only after we have done a realistic appraisal of our own abilities, convictions, and the extent to which our everyday ecology will facilitate or frustrate such pursuit.

Remember hope:  It is neither illusory nor constraining; it is both adaptive and contingent. It is something we need to incorporate into our reflections about how our lives have gone and how they will fare in the future.

Hardiness:  Hardiness comprises three key components: commitment, control, and challenge— the three Cs of hardy personalities.

Commitment:  embodied by an attitude of being fully engaged in everyday events (especially those that have meaning or purpose) rather than feeling isolated or excluded from them (value/goal Alignment)

Control:  exerting influence over life events rather than being a passive recipient (applying Self-Efficacy)

Challenge:  an attitude toward change leading to view both positive and negative changes as opportunities for growth (accepting adversity as inevitable and not taking it too personally)

– Health is enhanced to the extent that commitment, control, and challenge are core aspects of a person’s personality.

– However, these characteristics can become harmful if they’re mis-implemented.  The core pathological/problematic feature underlying Type As who mis-implement the three C’s and create harm is hostility.

– It is important to know that it’s a deeper trait of hostility rather than the surface traits of hurry sickness or workaholism that poses health risks … Time urgency, a hectic pace of life, and the desire for control are not the pathogens; rather, it is the hostility that underlies them.

Hostility involves the extortion of validation for a construct that one believes may already be invalidated. (Always catch yourself in the midst of hostility and disengage it.)

– Hardy people employ a sense of control that is more flexible and calibrated than Type A’s.  Hardy individuals are self-aware and know when it’s appropriate to exert influence or when it’s best to adopt other strategies.

Hardy people approach the challenges in their lives without the grim earnestness of the Type A. They have the capacity to think of challenges as games, not in any trivial sense but rather in a fully engaged and enthusiastic, even playful fashion. And it is this non-hostile way of engaging with challenging events that serves as a health protective factor.

– The major difference between Type As and hardy individuals is one of perspective. Because hostility underlies much of what Type As experience, each of these otherwise adaptive orientations is carried to an extreme that can push the autonomic nervous system into overdrive and increase the likelihood of stress-related health decline.

– A sense of control in our lives provides clear benefits, but it also needs to be based on an accurate reading of actual control.

– The salutogenic process: examines the source and development of health. Central to salutogenesis was a person’s sense of coherence (SOC), defined as “the extent to which one has a pervasive, enduring though dynamic, feeling of confidence that one’s environment is predictable and that things will work out as well as can reasonably be expected.”

– During transitional periods are when differences in personality are most likely to be manifested.  During a transitional period extraverts are likely to be particularly extraverted, conscientious people are even more orderly and organized, and disagreeable people are especially unpleasant.

– The converging pattern that we see in highly creative individuals’ early influences and experiences is the encouragement of individuality, personal autonomy, and far greater degrees of freedom from the kinds of emotional and intellectual constraints that would be found in the lives of more conventional people.

– “Each person is in certain respects like all other people, like some other people, and like no other person.”

– We know that measurable aspects of personality and environmental dispositions predispose us to liking and flourishing in certain environments. Some seek out the chaotic, unexpected, noisy, messy, exuberant places that beckon in big cities; others prefer the serene beauty of silence, tranquility, and isolation.

– Informally we can think of personal projects as the things we are doing or planning on doing in our everyday lives. Personal projects can range from routine acts (e.g., “put out the cat”) to the overarching commitments of a lifetime (e.g., “liberate my people”). They may be solo pursuits or communal ventures, self-initiated or thrust upon us, deeply pleasurable or the bane of our existence. As our personal projects go, so does our sense of well-being.

– Personal projects typically extend beyond a momentary action; they are extended sets of action. They are also, importantly, action in context. This means that the interpretation of a personal project needs to take into account the contexts within which it is embedded.

– Take, for example, the personal project of “put out the cat.” This might be seen as a relatively trivial pursuit, an almost reflexive act. And so it is for most of us whose lives are happily shaped by the coercive claims of calculating cats. But consider this context: you have severe arthritis and use a walker. But your house has four steep steps to the back door. You can only put the cat out by abandoning your walker, holding on to the railing as well as the squirming Mr. Kippy, and carefully negotiating the stairs to the outside door. This is no trivial pursuit; this is a personal project that takes skill, strength, perseverance, and a good sense of humor. Context matters.

– In our research we have found that people typically report that they are pursuing about fifteen personal projects at any one time.

The way we phrase our pursuits has important consequences for how they will turn out as well as for our overall well-being. (Specific goals that are appropriately considered and positively framed are better than general intentions)

– What kinds of projects are most likely to be experienced in a positive fashion— as truly meaningful? People are especially likely to appraise positively both interpersonal and recreational pursuits: love and leisure are clearly rewarding pursuits. Academic work for students and occupational projects for working individuals are consistently rated as less enjoyable and more onerous.

– “You are your personal projects.”

Personal projects (active pursuits) are the means by which we attempt to achieve, or at least make sense of, personal constructs (idealized versions or perceived representations, or forms).  Awareness of constructs and subsequent projects is the first step to determining the realistic and purposeful engagement of constructs and projects.

– We develop a sense of who we are by discovering how we are with intimate others.

– An important aspect of our personal projects: they reflect not only our basic needs and personalities, but also, both in their content and their appraisal, the places and the political contexts in which we live our lives.

Self-Efficacy:  the belief in one’s own capacity to produce an intended outcome or desired effect; the rating of personal progress and likelihood of success

The efficacy appraisal dimension is the best positive predictor of well-being, and the result holds across a broad array of samples and ages. [Remember this and genuinely try to maintain and increase self-efficacy]

– Research results are consistent with the considerable literature in cognitive behavior therapy showing that efficacy is a powerful determinant of an individual’s ability to cope with a diversity of problem behaviors.

– Whether or not personal projects are perceived as “accomplishable” is more likely to enhance well-being than projects perceived as meaningful.  However, well-being is best enhanced when both efficacy and meaning are experienced within the same projects.  So it greatly matters that our personal projects are both meaningful and manageable.

– A sense of control is adaptive to the extent that it is based on an accurate reading of ecosystem resources and constraints.

– Third component of well-being:  when projects are connected to others.  So well -being is enhanced if your projects are meaningful, manageable, and effectively connected with others.

– We have consistently found that well-being is strongly associated with the absence of stress and negative emotions experienced in project pursuit.

Whereas efficacy is the strongest positive predictor of well-being, stress is the strongest negative predictor and at about the same level of magnitude.

Let’s put this in perspective: simply knowing whether the personal projects a person is pursuing are stressful predicts differences in well-being well beyond knowing that person’s socioeconomic status, race, gender, and other key demographic factors.

– Depressed individuals are engaged in stressful projects that are low in efficacy.

Unlike factors we have treated earlier in the book, such as relatively fixed traits and constraining environments, personal projects are tractable— we can change them. Whereas traits are something we have, projects are something we do. Whereas contexts embed us, projects pull us forward into new possibilities. And one of those possibilities is a better life and a happier life.

Genuinely positive and permanent change requires that we understand the nature of core projects in our lives and how the sustainable pursuit of such projects is the key to our well-being.

– During our shift toward well-being, the changing of our personal projects may take us a step beyond the conventional, the warm, and the comfortable to something that makes us rather uncomfortable at first, even though it arises from our very selves. It means examining your deepest aspirations objectively, revising them appropriately, and then reincorporating them back into your core self, all while being courageous and vulnerable.

Plumbing and poetry – both have an important place.

One theme in particular should be highlighted: how the sustainable pursuit of core projects enhances our well-being. Examining sustainable pursuit helps us reflect on the way our lives have gone and provides a perspective on the viability of our possible selves and personal futures.

Core projects:  self-defining commitments of our lives that provide a deep sense of meaning

– For one person, writing a book may be a rather peripheral project.  For another person, however, writing a book may be a core project and intimately linked to all the other projects she is pursuing.  So “Write a Book” can be a very different personal project:  for one person it could be peripheral and optional, and for the other person it could be core and imperative.

How to enhance the sustainable pursuit of core projects:  3 themes:  adaptive reconstruing, self-change, and context monitoring.

Adaptive reconstruing [project reframing]:  going beyond first impressions and viewing the world from multiple “goggles” is adaptive construing – this allows us more degrees of freedom in which to shape our actions and engage in our environment; Re-construing involves reflection on a project and re-assessing the real value of the project with new perspectives

Self-change:  making our core projects more sustainable by changing the personal constructs through which we appraise them.

Fixed Role Therapy:  Assuming a self-created acting role to positively impact real character change, i.e. method acting. Fully assume a character, allow the positive character traits to generalize and become part of the real self.

– People experience more positive project pursuit when there is a “fit” between their personality traits and their personal projects.

– Happiness is greatest in those for whom there is a convergence between their traits— the kind of personal projects they are pursuing and the themes they invoke when providing life stories.

For example, we have found that individuals who have sociable traits are most happy if they are engaged in interpersonal projects and if their self-characterizations include themes of connection with others.

So understanding where you stand on some of the more stable traits of personality, besides being important in its own right, also helps you understand which projects you can pursue with the greatest likelihood of success and sustainability.

– Why would people concerned about “improving” themselves be given to depression? One reason is a tendency for such projects to become ruminative concerns, but another reason is that self-projects are also typically rated as low on efficacy —we doubt they will be successfully completed.

– Depression and overwhelm are mitigated by an internal motivation rather than external.  When we internally decide to make “self-improvement” a core project, then we can consciously engage it as a sustainable pursuit and allow that to invigorate our well-being.

– Internal, self-generated projects are more sustainable and provide greater benefits for emotional and physical well-being than do those that are external and controlling.

– When changing or challenging the self is regarded as a personal initiative rather than an external imposition, it is likely to be more meaningful, manageable, and sustainable.

Context monitoring:  not focusing only on your singular self and paying attention to the environments within which you engage; the environmental contexts of our lives: the situations, places, cities, and social ecologies in which we pursue our core projects.

A sense of control is generally a positive thing, but we concluded that it was adaptive only if based on an accurate reading of the actual environmental contingencies within which our lives are embedded.

– In project pursuit, if we do not scan for updates, we run the risk of engaging in projects that may fit well with our initial aspirations but are unsustainable because the social ecology has changed.  In short, accurate scanning increases the vigor and viability of project pursuit.

– Remember restorative niches:  places to find solace from acting out of character; the value of finding a restorative niche is that it can reclaim biogenic natures

Flanagan’s dance is a pas de deux (dance for two [a close relationship]) between the internal you [consciousness] and the enacted self [the ego] that you have constructed and nourished and occasionally fought with throughout your life. It is both a reconciliation and an evocative account of how we might look back on a life well lived.  Remember the metaphor of the dance as you reconcile consciousness and ego.

[END NOTE TO SELF, regarding the dance of life:  The “internal me”, the real me, is essentially consciousness. The external created-self, the ego, is not the real me but is still important to consider in terms of practical “real-world” well-being. Consciousness should be the leader in the dance and the ego the follower, not the other way around. I should close the gap as much as possible between intentionally engaging consciousness, allowing it to consistently guide my life, and intentionally disengaging my ego, allowing it to exist but never to guide me. The purpose of consciously accepting the ego is that it is a social construct that people identify with thus it is a vessel for me to share expression, good or bad, and whether I like it or not. I can alter the ego, but to demolish the ego completely in one fell swoop would not only be extremely difficult (perhaps impossible) but also is probably not the most effective method, and it could very well be counterproductive to well-being. The ideal is to engage and embody consciousness as much as possible and gently disengage and disembody the ego strategically and gradually. The underlying point of ego-acceptance is non-resistance.  Ego acceptance is not ego embracing and certainly not ego promotion; it is simply non-denial and non-resistance of our innate self-centeredness and perceived social relativity.  Although the ego is fleeting and a false sense of self, it still is. When we resist the ego we create tension.  However if we accept the ego and in some cases allow it to consciously manifest in a regulated manner, then we are not actively focused on a state of resistance. The keys are awareness and management: become more aware of when the ego is at play and manage its effects. The way to manage the ego’s effects are to practice making the appropriate gentle adjustments – keep gently shifting attention and engagement back to consciousness. It’s really as simple as playing down the ego and playing up consciousness as much possible over time – accepting (not-resisting) the ego and managing it so that it’s never in control, and fully embracing and embodying consciousness.

Genuine Fun: when the ego is consciously at play but is not at odds with consciousness. Allowing the ego to manifest can be appropriate and effective for fun only when it doesn’t harm others, when it doesn’t conflict with healthy pursuits, when it doesn’t perpetuate self-indulgence or self-grandeur, and when we can disengage it at will and re-engage consciousness with ease.  But be careful to make sure the ego is not taking the lead.  When it does inevitably take the lead from time to time, gently let consciousness take it back – the lead is always there for the taking.]

For our lives to be meaningful we need to commit to core projects and pursue them passionately. But such pursuits need to be counterbalanced with a touch of lightness and whimsy, or else the whole venture can flounder.  Just be sure you’re honest with yourself about what you know to be the appropriate balance. Play with the balance, but maintain the balance.