Staying sane

Someone asked if I could post some words of wisdom on how to stay sane.

Well, the first question you have to ask is whether I am sane. Sadly I think I am, at least for the most part. At least I think I am rational.

That said, I lack a lot of tact and have wondered if I have slight psychopathic tendencies. i.e. I tend to look at things more on a rational basis than on an empathy basis, which is very much a psychopathic trait as far as I know. But clearly I have had plenty of cases of empathy, so perhaps I am normal apart from being just tactless :-) Even so I try to consider some social cases by using logic, which is always a bad idea.

So assuming I am sane, how do I stay sane.

Well, it is an odd mix. I try to stick to important principles, and do so even when that is not the best balance of cost/reward. I have a strong sense of fairness and justice. Does that work? Well, my concern is that as soon as you make exceptions you start a slippery slope, even if only with your own conscience. I am happy with rules as long as they are applied so that people know where they stand. Let one thing go because it is small and insignificant and you may as well let a larger thing go, and so on. I also feel that some times there are too many people that ignore the smaller transgressions and as a whole someone has to stand up and draw a line. So I try to draw a line and stick to it no matter what. That said, I am open to rational argument that says the line I have drawn is in the wrong place. Moving the line on what is fair or right is not a bad thing really as long as there is still a clear line, and not random transgressions. OK do I sound crazy saying that.

Having said that, as I get older, I realise there are some battles I cannot win. It is very hard to let such things drop. This is where things like the blog come in - by documenting the intractable issues I encounter, small or large, I can "park" them and try to move on. Mostly.

It is also worth looking at the big picture - even laws you do not like can ultimately be challenged and changed. When we are young we assume there is a framework of rules one must follow, but as you get older you realise that framework is made by men (and women), and worse, made by politicians, and is flawed in many ways. It is worth trying to change things some times - I have managed to do that on occasion - making laws more sane. But even laws can be challenged.

The idea of sticking to principle is not that bad I feel, and "doing the right thing" (even if understanding what is the "right thing" can be up for debate) is important. But I try to be rational and reasonable on what the right thing is, which is a mix of things like "what the law says", and what is "fair" to those concerned. Some times my ideas are at odds with other people's - that happens.

I would say one thing to do to stay sane is be prepared to change though. To accept a sound argument for why things need to be different and if so, then change your view. This is hard. It is always hard to change your views at any level.

Oh, and whisky helps.


  1. >> Let one thing go because it is small and insignificant and you may as well let a larger thing go, and so on. I also feel that some times there are too many people that ignore the smaller transgressions and as a whole someone has to stand up and draw a line. So I try to draw a line and stick to it no matter what.

    That is the opposite of what would help me stay sane. I enjoy this blog because you think in a remarkably literal way. It is entertaining and challenging to read views based on
    a presumption that words are intended to be taken at face value. I expect most readers have at least some admiration of the fact that you say things as they should be (as written) rather than are (as experienced).

    It is courageous and I'm glad it helps you stay sane.

  2. Many years ago, I dined at a restaurant with a number of my young colleagues, each of us charging our expenses to a different organisation. The waiter, upon being asked for a separate receipt for each diner, threw up his hands and handed us his receipt book, whereupon some colleagues started filling in receipts for the maximum recoverable expenditure. The book came to me, and I said that while each has to make his/her own decision, I had to nail my colours to the mast and claim for what I had actually spent. There were sighs of relief to my left, as the peer-pressure was removed from those yet to fill in their receipts.
    I still sometimes wonder what has become of those who succumbed to temptation on that occasion and perhaps subsequently. Cynicism? Self-loathing? Blackmail? Promotion to high office?? Who knows.

    RevK, thank you for your principles. Long may you set the moral direction of your company and inspire those who come after you.

  3. Sadly, it's not just an academic question.

    A college friend I've known for many decades had an intelligent and successful wife, two children, a beautiful house, and he owned his own profitable business that he'd built from scratch. He was a fun person, a slightly larger than life entrepreneur, but was taken over by a strange religious /political cult after he'd become a regular listener to an oddball American preacher's radio programmes.

    Now he's lost everything he ever achieved. He's deserted his wife because the cult made him live abroad, the business has been sold by the administrators, his children are both estranged and owed large amounts of money. He can't come home because he's been sentenced to jail for contempt of the High Court. He keeps sending weird threatening letters to judges and officialdom, copying them them to many world leaders.

    He's virtually uncontactable and there seems little that anyone can do. It's desperately sad: we'll probably never see him again, and I hate to think what will happen when his health and / or savings run out.

    1. I would hope I would never fall for a cult, especially a religious one. Sad story.


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