Enjoy the Art of Being In Touch With the World

mystical forest

Human organisms are motivated by psychological drives. A psychological drive is “an innate, biologically determined urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need” (Oxford). If you are hungry, for example, wanting to eliminate or reduce the unpleasant state of hunger is what drives you.

The psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) theorized that we have two drives: a drive toward life—includes instinctual impulses to have sex, eat, drink and need for fun (see: Pleasure Principle)—and a drive toward death—includes anti-social behaviour, anger, aggression, hate and violence (good times).

I hate everyone

From these drives Freud theorized that personality is a system of three interconnected parts: Id (instinctual part: “Give me now”), Ego (realistic part: “No, I don’t think so”) and Superego (moral conscience part: “You should be ashamed!”).

Id, Ego and Superego are a translation of Es (it), Ich (I) and Ueber-Ich (Over-I). Id is like a horse. Ego is the rider and Superego lambastes Ego for trespassing. As your “ideal” self, Superego conforms to society and prohibits unethical behaviour (Simply Psychology).

id ego super ego

Freud saw ego as a good thing. Ego negotiates between human impulses and social standards. There are, however, other ways to look at it.

Cue music: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “Man On Fire”.

As a ‘me’ ‘mine’ and ‘for myself,’ we consider ourselves distinct from the world, but if you look closely, you realize: it isn’t true.

If you want inner peace, break free of what Freud says.

Garry Shandling
Garry in high school. “It’s not the hair on your head that matters. It’s the kind of hair you have inside.”

Garry Shandling (1949-2016)—a comedian who made loneliness and self-hate funny before turning it into love for the world—said before he died (obviously):

All my journey is to be authentically who I am. Not trying to be somebody else under all circumstances. The whole world is confused because they’re trying to be somebody else. To be your true self it takes enormous work…. Ego drives the world. Ego drives the problems. So you have to work in an ego-less way. Egolessness, which, is the key to being authentic, is a battle” (The Green Room).

In spiritual circles ego is seen as an enemy and a synonym for “selfishness.”

Psychological drives operate on a feedback control system similar to a thermostat. When a need is satisfied, the drive is reduced. We relax. Eliminate a drive completely and a state of mental balance or psychological equilibrium is obtained

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When we’re calm and comfortable, that’s room temperature. When our emotional temperature changes, we feel tension and an instinctive response to potential conflict.

Some people perpetuate unpleasant states for purposes of enjoyment. They eat when not hungry, drink when not thirsty and enjoy death defying activities like skydiving and the thrill of almost dying (source).

Some people have a drive for lots of money, power, fame or whatever. Such people will experience an unpleasant state of dissatisfaction when they realize that externals don’t matter.

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This is hungry ghost territory. This is, as Gabor Maté, M.D., said, “where we seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment. The aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances, objects or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need. We don’t know what we need, and so long as we stay in the hungry ghost mode, we’ll never know. We haunt our lives without being fully present” (Hungry Ghosts).

But, don’t worry. It’s normal.

As one seeks to survive in a culture of consumption and comparison in the midst of mass advertising, it’s only natural to want more than is possible. If you get hungry ghost-liketake a deep breath and ask yourself: “Do I have what I need?”

The psychiatrist Shoma Morita (1874-1938) proposed two other drives: a drive to live fully and a drive for comfort and security. Sometimes these drives are at odds.

drive

With eyes on a need yet achieved, there is anxiety and self-doubt. Such feelings cannot be avoided.  Emotions are messages.

Avoid or suppress feelings and you disrupt your ability to function. For example, if you are anxious in social situations, the inclination is to avoid them, but avoidance perpetuates a lack of confidence and the very anxiety one is trying to escape. Self-confidence comes with experience. Understand a feeling and take action if need be (source).

Some of us have drives that are difficult to satisfy. Sometimes a drive takes over and we are driven.

The question is: Where are we going?

charlie brown where are we going

Many humans—many, many humans probably (in fact)—experience a constant dissatisfaction with life. Their minds have made a judgment: Life is not the way it should be.

But why?

It could be that we experience dissatisfaction with life “as it is” because in comparison to life imagined, the life we live falls short of expectations. We try to make life match our ideal by noticing what’s wrong and making changes, but when we achieve what we want, we imagine how life could be even better. We think that once we fix what’s wrong, we’ll be satisfied, but when the “future” arrives, it’s just another dissatisfying moment.

al franken just remember you are good enough

It’s rare for people to feel a deep satisfaction with the way things are. We live as if the present moment is a barrier to the life we’d rather be living. The future we dream of never arrives and herein is the human conundrum.

Most of us live in a world of make-believe—even though we know life isn’t a fairy story. Most of us live a mundane existence in stark contrast to our make-believe world, but take heed: Reality does exist and it’s better than make-believe.

Reality is a world of opportunity, happiness and peace of mind. You might be content within a comfort zone of normal life—happy to take out the garbage, do laundry or whatever (all good stuff)—but there are degrees of happiness.

You could be only scratching the surface. Pay attention to what it feels like or sounds like to be here and now. Do this and you are taken from make-believe to a direct experience of reality. You start seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and tasting the present in a way that you haven’t done since you were a kid.

Like Boston (the band, not the city) said, “People livin’ in competition. All I want is to have my peace of mind, yeah, whoa” (“Peace of Mind“).

Yeah. Whoa. That’s it precisely.

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The Essence of This

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“The Essence Of Life” by Christopher Pollari

There’s a phrase found on knickknacks in gift shops that goes, “I’m a human being, not a human doing.” The implication being, that a “human doing,” is not what you want to be.

Better to be than to doso the song goes. Human doings identify with action but doers (those who do) get so caught up in doing they don’t see the beauty in just being a being being (see also: “Moonshadow”).

Then again, devaluing doing could be a sweet rationalization for inactivity.

funny-lazy-quote-men-s-t-shirt

“I’m a human being, not a human doing,” is attributed to at least two writers: Kurt Vonnegut Jr (1922-2007), “So it goes,” and Wayne W. Dyer (1940-2015), “Our intention creates reality.”

kurtvonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut in his natural habitat. “Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why” (Slaughterhouse Five, pp. 76-77).

“To be is to do – Socrates.
To do is to be – Sartre.
Do Be Do Be Do – Sinatra.” (Vonnegut).

As Dyer said, “Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t… you aren’t.” Or said the other way around, “If you do what you are, then when you aren’t….you don’t.”

Funny.

To simply enjoy being relates to a line in Slaughterhouse Five (the book, not location): “How nice—to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive” (p. 105), or, better yet, “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt” (p. 122).

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In Your Erroneous Zones (the book, not location) Dyer explains how negative thinking leads to negative emotions (e.g. worry, guilt, anger) which leads to painful consequences via erroneous (read: wrong) actions (see also: “Where do the children play?”).

dyer wishers fulfilled
“Remember those three magic words: You are God.” (Dyer).

Dyer’s path to happiness is based on commitment to oneself. He thought that humans have the potential to live happily, but not everyone does because external influences form erroneous (wrong) zones in your personality that block personal fulfillment.

The idea of individuality is discussed in the movie Harold and Maude (1971).

The question is, “What flower would you like to be?”

Dyer moved from behaviorist psychology—Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy—to a philosophy where positive thinking cures disease, solves problems, and manifests goodness by aligning thoughts with divine intention to create miracles (Psychology Today).

So it goes.

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The crux of the matter is this: Let’s say you’re trying to do something on a computer, but no matter how determined you are or how much you want a result to happen, no matter how frustrated and emotional you get, the computer will only respond to your actions. Only when you do what needs to be done, will results be satisfactory.

The same holds true for life.

Water-Droplet

The world is like a computer that responds to your behaviour. The world doesn’t feel your feelings. Feelings come and go as they will.

As David K. Reynolds put it in Playing Ball On Running Water (1996), Reality doesn’t respond to my will or my wishes or emotions. To believe that positive thinking changes the world directly is childlike naiveté. To be sure, my thoughts and feelings may influence what I do (my behavior), and that action, in turn, may influence reality. But it is what I do that affects my world. And it is the same for you” (p. 16). 

shoma morita
“Life flows from being natural” (A River to Live By, pg 39).

Insight isn’t enough. You need to do, so as to be.

As the Japanese psychiatrist Shoma Morita (1874-1938) put it, “Give up on yourself. Begin taking action now, while being neurotic or imperfect, or a procrastinator, or unhealthy, or lazy, or any other label by which you inaccurately describe yourself. Go ahead and be the best imperfect person you can be and get started on those things you want to accomplish before you die.”

Morita taught that energy comes from everywhere—things, people, words, feelings, nature, places—and as individuals we have the choice to live in positive or negative energy (source).

The question is: positive or negative?

What is your essence?

essence of human nature

By knowing your essence, you know who you are, what to do, and how to do it. But essences are tricky. They’re abstract. They exist in thought and not as physical things.

Your essence is your “intrinsic nature” (as in, essential). It is your “indispensable quality” (as in, “absolutely necessary”). Your essence belongs naturally to you. It is essential but what is it? Is it self-awareness?

antennaeExistentialists assert that a human being is “thrown into” a universe that cannot be “thought away.” This means that being in the world comes before consciousness and that being in the world is the ultimate reality.

The essence of you is the meaning you ascribe to yourself or, as Sartre put it, “At first [Man] is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be.”

thought and emotion

And so you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself, “How did I get here?”

You win a lottery! Bam! you’re happy! A loved one dies, Slam! you’re sad. Emotions are natural reactions. It’s natural to feel highs and lows and stress. That’s the ride. Stress motivates. Emotions are your natural response to a given circumstance.

You can’t help yourself from hating people sometimes, but you can stop yourself from killing them. Truth is built upon life experience. Your self is a flow of attention. The real trick is to enjoy reality.

Go from there.

That’s the heart of it.

THIS IS HERE! (or are you disappearing?)

disappearingThis is about “How to disappear completely” (in a good way).

Some people get the wrong idea about “disappearing.” As Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) saw it, reducing self interest leads to the “calm and confident serenity afforded by the virtuous disposition and a good conscience…” (Nineteenth Century Philosophy, p. 120).

Moreover, says Schopenhauer, “The egoist feels himself surrounded by strange and hostile phenomena and all his hope rests on his own well-being…”

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“The good person lives in a world of friendly phenomena… the knowledge that every living thing is just as much our own inner being-in-itself as is our own person, extends our interest to all that lives; and in this way the heart is enlarged” (p. 120).

enlarged heart

“Therefore, although the knowledge of the lot of man generally does not make his disposition a cheerful one,” writes Schopenhauer, “the permanent knowledge of his own inner nature in everything that lives nevertheless gives him a certain uniformity and even serenity of disposition” (p. 120).

And, as we all know, serenity is so enjoyable.

virtuous life
See the Virtuous life of Nick Otterman.

Serenity is freedom and tranquillity is lovely. It is time once again for all good philosophers to enjoy the lighter side of being.

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Existential Comics “Schopenhauer’s Mom”.

According to science, perceptions of time and motion depend upon the observer’s position. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, quantum mechanics, chaos theory and complexity theory all point to things being relative.

relative_failure_080514_1704If you’re a relativist, it’s not that things aren’t true one way over another, it’s just that, what’s true for you might depend upon context, laws of physics and your personal and cultural beliefs.

But for now, for the sake of something profundus—that’s Latin for “deep, boundless, and not bounded”—we set relativism and all other isms aside.

Imagine you are a marble trapped inside a three-dimensional box. 

You hover around inside this box. You see six walls and eight corners. If you move in any of the familiar dimensionsup/down, left/right and front/backyou hit a wall.

There is no escape.

marble in a cube

Now imagine your marble body “lifting” into the fourth dimension of time (as shown in ghostly red in the illustration). In this “lifting” your position remains unchanged. You don’t come near the walls. You simply elevate to a new three dimensional layer of the four dimensional space.

As you “lift” into the fourth dimension, you see your storied existence as if from a distance. You see the universe interconnecting.

This isn’t a shift to selflessnessthat is to say, you give of yourself and still see separation. This is the freedom to rest your face completely (even if it makes you look angry).

resting faceThis is a shift from first personI am living my life! We do things our way”and second personYou wait here”—to third personhe, she, it, they—with one’s self observed and observing.

From this perspective, everything is you. A child kills herselfthat’s you. Ducks in the parkthat’s you.

Begin perspective shift and self expansion (and we don’t mean a pig-out on Cheesies).

You are like a disembodied narrator describing. You can’t see through a character’s eyes, but you can imagine.

This awareness of your self as subjective and objective interconnected, pops the bubble of how you see the world.

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This is the realization that other people are as water-balloons floating in water. “I am who I am,” as someone once said. It’s a sentiment we have when we look in a mirror and think of Popeye.

This is the freedom to be what you are and will be.

Read the following instructions and then do them:

  1. Look around.
  2. Go for a walk without swinging your arms.
  3. Look at everything from the side of your eyes.
  4. Listen as if you hear something.
  5. Walk and look at the ground as if you’re 30,000 feet up above in an air-plane.
  6. Think to yourself, “This is me. This is me seeing. I see this. This, is what I see. I can see myself seeing.”

Shazam.

You shift from outside world and inside self separated to a world of here and now as perceived by the one perceiving. It is all of a thing. From a third person self-included perspective, you shift to a decentralized position. You see yourself and others as funny (in a nice way). What you see is seen and seeing

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Just as Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) shifted from Earth as centre to sun followed by NASA shifting from sun as centre to a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A-star! so too can you shift from yourself as centre in space and time to a decentralized position in an imagined fourth dimension. This shift is revolutionary and quite possibly could save the world (and probably will).

Like Mike Milligan said (Mike Milligan is a character in season 2 of Fargo), “Now, ironically, in astronomy, the word “revolution” means “a celestial object coming full circle. Did you know that? Which, if you think about it, is pretty funny, considering here on earth it means “change.”

This shift is an epiphany. From a first person perspective your life began and will end. All you really know is, “I am here,” but there are two ways to look at “I am here.”

The first way is to say that an individual person is located in a place called “here.” In this, you, as a self, experience the world as separate from your body.

The second way to look at it goes in the opposite direction. The statement, “I am here,” is a statement of fact. It means what it says. It means that “I am here,” Literally. It is to see yourself in what you’re seeing. “Here” is not just a location, but everything and you’re in and of it.

I am here,” is like saying, “I am Jimmy,” or “I am bored.”… I am here.

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This is the third person perspective. You switch from a world of “things” ‘out there’—positive shapes against a negative background from a single vantage point, that being, your body—to seeing the space between not as empty but as connecting. With this shift in awareness, you see yourself as the place you are seen in.

To loosen a knot one must trace a string’s path and slowly loosen things up. To loosen the knots of a befuddlement one must first be self-aware. Self-ignorance is a leading cause of unhappiness, insecurity and self-injury. (But no more.)

Today, with the resting-face of true freedom, we accept our lot in this life with humour and love for this story that we tell and are told has an ending.

References:

Nineteenth Century Philosophy

This Time (and space-time) to Enjoy

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A dream (cue dreamy music):

“I was walking down a path in a misty forest and I came to a gate. A man at the gate said, ‘Correct, go in. Incorrect, stay out.’ I nodded agreement and the man said, ‘What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, the poor have it, the rich need it and if you eat it, you’ll die?’

I didn’t know. I said nothing. 

And the man said, ‘What is between Earth and moon?’

‘Nothing?’ I said—as if it were a question.

And the man said, ‘In our universe even a dark void of empty space absent of particles is still something,’ and in a blink, ten years passed—which seemed long (as far as blinks go).

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And the man said, ‘All matter is made of atoms and sub-atomic particles ruled by probability—not certainty. You consist of particlesParticles hover in a state of uncertainty, but you don’t. You remain solid. Why is that?’

‘Your experience of the world is constructed by sensory and cognitive capacities. Your understanding of reality is a mental representation—not reality itself—but you can experience reality directly and enjoy it immensely with a shift in perspective.’

‘Instead of thinking of yourself as a being in a world ‘out there’—as in, ‘me in a world outside me’—assume a more universal less egocentric perspective. Let your feeling of self extend.’

(The man was clearly insane.)

you've got advanced stage humans

‘The universe is defined as, “the totality of existing things…. everybody, all people, the whole world… all together, all in one, whole, entire, relating to all… turned into one…. One.”

And the man gave instructions for cosmic reflection:

‘Step One: let your senses fall victim to being here and now as it is. Be here as here being here. Feel the feeling of here. Be here like any other creature self-aware.’

Step Two: look at the space between things as connective. An invisible nothing connects everything into one big thing. We are as nothing—like spirits here and gone but we have one thing the universe needs to exist: Conscious awareness. Without conscious awareness, there is no reality. Reality rests on whether or not there are eyes open.’

And suddenly reality is the dream and the dream is reality.

And the man said, ‘You might wonder what’s going on in someone’s mind, but what is mind?’

And I said, ‘Your brain is a physical substance. It contains billions of neurons relaying electrical signals. Your mind is a product of signals fed by energy from the sun consumed in the form of plants and animals (aka food). Everything is entangled. Like Oliver Swofford said, “Glibby gloop gloopy. Nibby Nabby Noopy, La La La Lo Lo.”‘

And the man said, ‘How do you define a shoreline? Is it water or sand?’

It is both. (Duh.) 

And the man ignored my belligerence and said, ‘The inner workings of your mind wash over the shore as you shape and mix yourself with the world.’

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‘Our experience of self interconnects with the world. One’s inner world is relational to the outer world. We think of our mind as a brain inside a skull like a peanut in a shell. We all feel alone. Sometimes we might even think we don’t belong, but peanuts cannot be separated from the immediate world. Likewise, if you see your mind and the world as relational, there’s a shift in a sense of belonging.’

law of closure

‘Subjective worlds interact with objectivity. It’s difficult to disentangle a subjective view of the world from its interaction.’

‘Your mind is not simply the perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves.’

To sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists, our minds are extended by the effects we have on others and others on ourselves.

Thoughts are ethereal. Cloud-like. Invisible. Spiritual? Thoughts are gaseous abstractions floating. We are alone in conscious awareness but our minds are not just brain activity. Perceiving your mind as a product of brain functioning can make a person feel all alone but to appreciate the benefits of interrelations with the world, all one has to do is open one’s mind to receive it “as is” without ambition or critique.

Einstein perceived space and time as interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. In space-time events occurring at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another (source).

If life is a full-bodied movie involving five senses, memories are flashbacks and time itself is but an emotional fourth dimension you can move around in with some imagination.

(Or not.)

Just enjoy it.

 

Resources:

Quantum Theory – Full Documentary

This

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Quick. There isn’t much time. Canadian researchers say human attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015—note: goldfish have 9 (source).

Cue happy music: George Harrison “What is life?”.

The point is… everyone—including you—is a character in a story. Your story has settings, plots and themes (the big ideas). You narrate your story to yourself. Your story begins and ends but of that ending you don’t know. According to science, when this is over you won’t know you don’t know (see scientific analysis: “What is life? Is death real?”).

From a first-person perspective this is itRight here and now—that’s all she wrote. But what if this first person perspective is not all there is?

If we are organic machines who seek meaning and/or diversion, does that make us each a one-man band self-contained like a water-balloon with big ideas in a world of sharp objects?

(Probably.)onemanband.gifYou can look at someone and see their story. You can tell what a person is thinking, feeling and intending. Science says it’s because we have mirror neurons in the brain, but in our hearts we know it’s because we “Walk the Line”.

penguinOn the one hand we have a strong sense of freedom—we believe we have free will—but on the other hand, we have a funny feeling that we could be mistaken.

Byron Reese, author of The Fourth Age, says it’s hard to account for free will given our two sets of natural laws: Newtonian physics—every cause has an effect—and Quantum theory—certain things are truly random (video source).

A scene in No Country for Old Men with a coin toss, a gas station clerk and a killer named Chigurh illustrates the paradox between random chance and a universe built on cause and effect.

Chigurh took a twenty-five cent piece from his pocket and flipped it spinning into the bluish glare of the fluorescent lights over head… Call it. Call it? Yes. For what? Just call it….I didn’t put nothin’ up. Yes you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life. You just didn’t know it” (p. 56).

That’s what this is about.

The coin toss could symbolize fate—there’s a deeper meaning—or it could symbolize chance—there is no meaning. We think we have free will but isn’t every event the result of previous events and circumstances together with the laws of nature?

dilbert-free-will

Reality could be nothing but chance and circumstance or it could be following a path determined by previous events. The occurrence of things depends upon choices and actions but choices and actions could be determined just like everything else.

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Right here and now is what this is about. Relationships, responsibilities, stresses, distractions, habits and such like are fantastic—they make us who we are—but a first person perspective like you’d find in a novel or a movie separates us into a head-game that removes us from a happy feeling where there are no divisions.

sunflower

But with a click you can shift perspective from your self as the centre experiencing here, to here as the centre experiencing you.

You can see your story and yourself in it. You are the writer, actor and director. You are like a disembodied voice looking and seeing all that is there to be seen and seen in. And with this awareness comes a wonderful feeling of oneness—“Hapa he-eia”!

(See also “Step Into Enjoyment (take one)“.)

An explanation.

mindblownThe heart is made of heart cells. Heart cells on their own don’t have the property of pumping blood. Heart pumping is an emergent property of the whole heart. So too with consciousness.

It’s the sum of neurons that generates complex emotions. No single neuron holds complex information like self-awareness. It’s the sum of everything that makes the world. Like the keynote speaker in Fargo (season 2) said, “Try it. Try simply being.”  

think or be

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. You are the world aware. Now is experiencing you. Claiming that an individual heart cell can pump blood because the heart can or that a single neuron in the nervous system generates self-awareness is a fallacy of division.

As scholar Beth Dempster said, “process is interactive: “causes” generate behaviours, behaviours generate “causes”” (Smith 1993, p. 21) (source). Everything looks like it’s outside your body but things interconnect like a fourth dimension of space-time.

Figure 3.1 Human psyche as self-organizing system

If everyone is a story, you are a story but what happens when you see your story as a story? What happens when you interrupt the narration?

When you see everything as interconnected and experience the world with your senses without story-telling and ambition you can feel the ultimate enjoyment of oneness and simply enjoy “being.” That’s when you see humour and feel happy as a lark without fear.

You can tell by a person’s conduct whether or not that person has shifted perspective but it really comes down to feeling love for everything. That’s when you know your perspective has shifted. When you love everything, that’s when you say, “Wow! This really is quite awesome, thank you.”

That’s what this is about.

(Groovy.)

A Way of Seeing (Part 2)

truth2

Must we discuss heavy topics such as truth, reality and the best way to live? Isn’t it enough to spend time doing interesting and pleasant things? Shouldn’t we be like young children, free of heavy thoughts and therefore lighthearted?

Isn’t it better to not know certain things? Like, isn’t it better to not know the feeling of cancer?

When we’re young,  death is something that happens to others—the old and infirm and/or unlucky—but then, one day (if it hasn’t happened already), a simple truth suddenly hits: Death happens to everyone—including you.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

cheat deathAs hard as it is to imagine, one day, there won’t be another. One day, nothing will happen and you won’t know what happened. You will be gone like those who have gone before you.

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You will join the non-existent and leave only remains but this reality need not cause anguish. There’s nothing you can do. Fuhgeddaboudit. Some people see death as an opportunity to “live every moment.” To them we say, “What! Are you crazy!”

“Just look!
Even the blossoms that are destined to fall tomorrow
Are blooming now in their life’s glory.” ~Takeko Kujo

bloomingtrees
“Where does your face go after death? I do not know. Only the peach blossoms blow in the spring wind, This year just as last” ~ an  āgama sutra.

Maybe when you die it will be like before your parents were born. Maybe there’s a trick to this death truth.

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The difference between reality and truth is: “Reality has been existent ever since the beginning of the universe. On the other hand truth is something that you have proved ” (source). Reality is multidimensional. Things appear as they do to you based upon from ‘where’ you are looking. 

The “world” is a felt experience but like Wittgenstein said, “The world of the happy man is a different one from that of the unhappy man” (Tractatus Logico-philosophicus).

In answer to “What is the meaning of life?” Eckhart von Hochheim—aka Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)— said, “Whoever were to ask life for a thousand years: ‘Why do you live?’—if life could answer, it would say nothing but: ‘I live in order that I live’” (source).

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Caspar David Friedrich, Moonrise Over the Sea, 1822.

People have versions of reality that conceal certain aspects but to make the world a better place, it takes acceptance of all of reality and not just the bits we accept.

How a person responds to ethical principles determines that person’s character. For billions of people life means surviving. Life means eating, sleeping and eventually dying.

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The problem seems to be one of money: how to get, spend and save. It’s economics—oil prices, real estate, stocks, debt, GDP, jobs etc.. The purpose of life for billions of people is to get money.

materialism cartoon

Then again, some people don’t care too much for money.

Some people see being creative as their life purpose but regardless of what you think your purpose is (if you have one), you probably don’t mind feeling happy.

As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in A Man Without a Country, “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”
are-you-happy.jpg

Positive psychologists Seligman and Royzman (2003) identified three types of theories of happiness: Hedonism, Desire, Objective List and Authentic Happiness. Which theory you subscribe to (knowingly or not) has implications for how you live your life.

hedonism
Hedonism theory mantra: “Go for it! What the hell!”

Hedonism theory is about maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. It’s a popular theory. It’s all the rage. Seligman and Royzman (2003) object to it however. They say it can’t handle someone like philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who lived in misery but died saying, “Tell them it was wonderful!” (source).

Desire theory counters Hedonism by saying that it isn’t about pleasure: it’s about the fulfilment of desire that makes us happy. But again Seligman and Royzman object, saying, if one’s desire is to collect dolls, no matter how satisfying it is to have a big little doll collection, it doesn’t add up to a happy life.

johnnydeppscollection
Desire theory mantra: “I want that!” Image: Celebrity collections.

Countering Hedonism and Desire theories is the Objective List theory. It focuses on “happiness outside of feeling and onto a list of “truly valuable” things in the real world” such as career, relationships, service to community etc., but again Seligman and Royzman object, saying, a happy life must take feelings and desires into account.

objective list
Oxford philosopher Derek Parfit’s “Objective List” Lecture

Seligman and Royzman point to Authentic Happiness theory saying, “there are three distinct kinds of happiness: the Pleasant Life (pleasures), the Good Life (engagement), and the Meaningful Life”  (Authentic Happiness). It’s positive psychology. It’s all the rage. But even if Authentic Happiness covers all bases theoretically, there’s a more deeply rooted problem.

Cross section of soil showing a tree with its roots.

Any quest for happiness through positive psychology is one-sided and self-centred. It’s essentially an unrewarding vision of a full human life because it’s still about another “me” feeling better.

Cue music: Primal Scream “Loaded”.

nietzscheBuddhaEpictetusplayingsorry.jpg
Sorry! And the Nature of Suffering,” Existential Comics.

Look at a candle burning. It gives light and heat as long as it burns wax. It lives on wax. It dies as wax wanes. Humans are like candles. We are chemicals. We die as our time wanes and each generation carries our species one step further in time.

how a person is like a candle
A person is like a candle.

sunflowerEach moment must pass away for us to live another. Death is a continuous process.

Living things die as they live but we prefer not to notice.

We’d rather not focus on those who die before us but on the days and nights left to us (see: The Light of Enjoyment and/or Death Clock). But then, maybe being greedy for the pleasure of living isn’t good either.

In Human Minds Margaret Donaldson writes of a man who could put one hundred rattlesnakes into a bag in twenty-eight seconds. The act illustrates something fundamental about humans: We form unique purposes that we pursue with tenacity. If strong feelings are attached, we’ll even die or kill or perhaps maim in pursuit of our purpose.

We share with other animals certain urges—hunger, sexual desire and musicality—but as Margaret Donaldson writes in Human Minds, “it is characteristic of us that we are capable of transcending these urges, though not easily” (p. 8).

calvinandhobbesonselfindulgence

When something that was interesting suddenly isn’t, people get bored. People get angry and argue with others and themselves. The trouble with arguments of self-wanting is that, not only are they self-centred, they’re self-sustaining.

Donaldson says that coming up with a purpose for our lives is easy “because we have brains that are good at thinking of possible future states,” (p. 9) but it is in self-focused single-mindedness that we’re apt to misinterpret reality.

fatalflaw

We feel satisfied when we dispel an illusion but if the illusion serves a purpose, we don’t  want it dispelled. Consider the world of Walter White in the TV show Breaking Bad.

walterwhitesaymyname.gifAt the prospect of death Walter corrupts his morals for money. He thinks ‘ends justify means,’ and finds himself enjoying money and power. Money and power become his purpose.

He becomes poster child for materialism and ego. The Double Whammo. “Say my name.”

Materialism is either a preoccupation with the material world—as opposed to intellectual and/or spiritual—or it’s the theory that everything in the universe is matter. We’re surrounded by matter so it seems only natural that we should be distracted from spiritual and/or intellectual pursuits, but what if problems are caused by materialism and/or ego?

What then?

 

A Way of Seeing To Enjoy (Part 1)

Knowing is equated with seeing. If you see the light, it could mean that you see a light blinking on a radio tower or it could mean that you know something that makes you see everything different. It could mean both.

Philosophy is equated with thinking. Religion is equated with feeling. Today, like the physicist David Bohm, “we hold several points of view, in a sort of active suspension” (Dialogue). Like poet William Blake, (“To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower“) and philosophers Søren Kierkegaard—we see the ‘eternal in the temporal’—and Ludwig Wittgenstein we say, “how extraordinary that anything should exist” (Lecture on Ethics).

wittgenstein and russell
Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein; from Logicomix (2008) by Apostolos Doxiadis, illustrated by Alecos Papadatos

Today we feel stoic acceptance of what the world throws at us. We say like Wittgenstein, “I am safe, nothing can injure me whatever happens” (Lecture on Ethics). With a “Click!” we connect to an awareness that leaves us feeling strangely lighthearted—for no apparent reason.

This feeling could best be described as “Self Actualization” (à la psychologist Abraham Maslow) or as an “oceanic feeling” of limitlessness and oneness with the entire human race and universe (à la mystic Romain Rolland) or it could be just one of those things. “What’s for supper?”

Today we go from a narrow self-centred perspective to a wider view of the world in its totality. We are ‘disturbed by joy’ like William Wordsworth a few miles above Tintern Abbey:

“…I have felt a presence that disturbs me with joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of suns,
and the round ocean and the living air,
and the blue sky, and in the mind of man:…” (source)

TinternAbbey
1804. Tintern Abbey by William Havell (source).

Religious belief and the lack thereof could be understood not as rival theories but as different ways of seeing. If a believer and an atheist look at a picture and one says it’s hideous and the other says it’s lovely, who’s right? who’s wrong?

wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

Wittgenstein saw religion not as theoretical but as a ‘collection of pictures’ reinforcing rules of life in the form of morality and a way of living that is itself what is eternal (Culture and Value, 1980). If someone taps into that eternal by living it’s ideal, one is living and being the eternal for a time like a leaf on a tree that is seasonal.

The world is factual. Facts are identifiable by science but facts can’t answer why you are here.

Like Wittgenstein said, “We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched” (Lecture on Ethics).

The philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte concluded in The Transcendence of the Ego that, “The World has not created the me: the me has not created the World” (p.105) but these two things are connected in a consciousness that is spontaneous. Sarte wrote, “Consciousness is always ‘of something‘, and therefore defined in relation to something else. It has no nature beyond this and is thus completely translucent” (source).

eggman2

Some people picture a soul as translucent—as a kind of a ‘thing’—but not Wittgenstein. He said that if you look at soul language in religion, soul is not pictured as a thing but as integrity (which is equally invisible). So if someone says, “He sold his soul for money” or “He sold his soul to the devil” it really means that he’s become materialistic. He has no deep moral sense and moral sense, as we know, is not visible and immaterial.

A man may have everything but feel horribly afraid of what’s coming. A good man, however, enjoying a good way—tried, true and eternal through himself and those who live after—why, he has nothing to fear. Ever.

No matter what.

He can be light as a feather. He is not chained by anything material. He can never be judged as having lived a futile life even if he dies poor and unknown and didn’t do very much. After all, what does a sparrow do? What are flamingos for?

flamingo

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a person can’t get to the highest level of “self-actualization” without making it by lower level needs such as food, sex and security.

Please note: some people can blast up to their highest potential without need of basics, but they are rare like hen’s teeth.  

To be self-actualized is to be unafraid of the unknown, untroubled by ambiguity and triviality, Self-aware, Accepting weaknesses while developing strengths, living a “meaningful life” by having a purpose that goes above and beyond one’s self to a greater good (see: Self Actual).

maslow-pyramid

If you were asked, “Do you understand the difference between thinking and being?” what would you say?

Understanding the difference between thinking and being is like when police catch someone in the act of a crime and say, “What do you think you’re doing!” which is another way of saying, “How stupid are you?

This is the exact moment when the cop and the criminal give their collective heads a shake. Most people (most of the time) see the world from inside a self-enclosed bubble of preoccupied thoughts that shape how the world is perceived. But this way of seeing is limiting because it sees a world perceived through language and opinion.

When a person with soul (and a clear conscience, if possible) wakes up, looks around and says full of happiness, “This is a miracle!” he isn’t just describing an event. It’s really his reaction to something significant that he is being, enjoying and becoming.

The Point of Enjoyment

humanity_hands_by_luuqas

As John Steinbeck said in The Winter of Our Discontent, “You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.” Good one John.

So true.

We might not appreciate advice but we’re free to give it. It’s like everyone is saying, “I want what I want! Is that so wrong?” but the world says, “Sorry. You can’t have that—but… you-can-have-this.” 

And we make do (or we make don’t).

mistakes

Contrary to what we might think, “If you want to avoid repeating history, it’s best not to try to learn from it” (Science Behind Repeating Mistakes).

When a mistake happens, say, “Forget about it” like Donnie Brasco. Sing “Walk On By” with Dionne Warwick and move on. Like the weeping philosopher Heraclitus said in 469 BC, “Everything flows.” Nothing lasts. We’re all a little disappointed.

We all dance a tango with the world. In moments of dissatisfaction and/or lamentation it’s not surprising that we ask, “What’s the point?” and find the point lacking and/or nonexistent.

figure 1 figure 2The psychologist Tim Carey wrote, “It’s a funny thing about the point… we rarely think about the point except in those situations when we question if there is one. Most people… meander through their days… getting on with the business of living by making their lives be the way they want them to be” (What’s the Point?…).

Carey concludes: “We have no objective, irrefutable, immutable point that drives us all except, perhaps, the point of keeping our worlds in the states we are satisfied with” (…life is the point).

birth and in between stuff

Cue music: Les Baxter “Blue Tango” (1952).

The propensity to keep one’s self satisfied reinforces the Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) which states, “Behaviour is the control of perception,” which means: “we do things to get what we want” (PCT).

Seems like a no-brainer.

coffee

As it says on the PCT website, “When things are working normally, the person gets to experience what they want to experience. It is just right—like the perfect cup of coffee or tea… the person compares a ‘standard’—what they want—with what they are experiencing right now—their perception” (PCT).

Our brains measure the difference between what we want—a beautiful day—with what we get—mud slides.

just right2The bigger the discrepancy between what we want and what we get, the more effort we put into reducing that discrepancy.

Rather than change our behaviour, we vary our behaviour to control sensory inputs. We do this to feel what we want to feel. We adjust our behaviour until everything is just right.

We think we should be able to control our careers, relationships, health, finances and so on. It’s a surprise when we’re told we can’t.

Effort does not guarantee success. Understand the difference between thinking and being.

jim carrey.gif

It’s like you’re driving a car. Your purpose is to get where you’re going so you avoid potholes. It’s a negative feedback loop. You turn your steering wheel to cancel the negative effects of potholes to your purpose.

You want things “just right.” If the music is too loud or in some way not just right, you change the music, turn it off, suffer or seek escape.

Carey asks, “What is the point of saying “Good morning”? What is the point of a butterfly bursting from its constricting cocoon and fluttering off to find a flower? What is the point of going to school, of turning up to work on time, of going on holidays, of being kind, of asking for skim instead of full cream milk...” What’s the point of anything, really?

kicks

The point is there is no point, but that is the point! Everything has a point but if you don’t see it, it is indeed pointless.

bird and pointing

The point is what you make because you’re the one pointing!

We are meaning makers and pointers. We see patterns and make connections. It’s apophenia: the “universal human tendency to attribute meaning to perceived connections or patterns and to seek patterns in random information” (source).

The pointillism of a day in the park might be to relax and enjoy, but if you don’t see the point, you won’t.

pointillism

We want things we don’t have. We don’t have things we want. When we have things we want, they don’t last. We have expectations and attachments that bind us to how we want things to be.

Like good old Siddhartha Gautama said, suffering is caused by our wish for things to be other than the way they are.

busters car

Nobody but you feels your “you” feeling (see Here’s the Thing). Scientific instruments can show brain activity, but it can’t point to your awareness of “you-ness” and say, “There it is!” Nor can you prove that you are conscious other than to say you are. Your brain may fire and wire together a sandcastle of self but your mind controls the firing lines.

As Dr. J. Schwartz said, “The brain puts out the call. The mind decides whether to listen” (see slide presentation)The brain is the only organ that you can change (rewire) with conscious attention.

the 4 steps

You decide what is and isn’t important. One person loves old cars, another doesn’t. What’s the point of old cars? Nothing. But to the one who enjoys them there is.

What’s the point of a flower? a tree? a you? Nothing.

stigma

The point of a flower is to flower. The point of a tree is to tree. The point of you is to you. There’s no point other than to be and do whatever it is and does.

Flowering is for reproduction but to sensory perceptions of a sensitive person there’s more to flowers than anatomy. There is beauty but not everybody gets it (if they did, they would).

Points are individual.

If swimming has a point, swim. If laughing has a point, laugh (if it doesn’t, don’t). We have expectations and preferences that we continually compare to the current state of our world. When they match, we’re content. When they don’t, we do something to make it “just right.”

 

Rayleigh-2016

Thoughts are like seeds. A seed (thought) contains a plant (new thought) which gives birth to more seeds containing more plants (thoughts) in a cycle. It’s all very useful but it can remove a person from the real world.

plant-cycle

What’s pulling your strings has been fashioned by memories, dreams and conditioning (see: “It’s Not Me…). You need an ego identity but the trouble with our big brain is that we put ourselves into psychological prisons. Reality is not what we think it is. Reality with a capital R is something else entirely.

sunset palm trees

Prove it to yourself. When you’re done reading, go outside and experience the world with your senses. It’s like cleaning a window of thought grime. Thoughts come and go as you enjoy a timeless dimension that’s always there but obscured by preoccupations.

dance-steps

Just dance.

Don’t overthink it.

All insides have outsides inside something else. Where does it begin? Where does it end? It doesn’t. It’s all you.

Wherever you go, there you are.

Enjoy A Good Laugh

Now, too, on melancholy’s idle dreams 
Musing, the lone spot with my soul agrees
(“Sweet Was the Walk” Wordsworth).

To understand humans, just watch them. See what they do. Fascinating creatures. Watch their facial expressions and actions. Listen to their words and intonations.

Watch a man drive aggressively. He tailgates. He cuts in and out. He races. He honks. He stops only when he must. Can you tell by his driving what he’s thinking? Probably.

angry driver

Hurry puts people in bad humour. Look at the face of an aggressive driver—narrowed eyes, angled eyebrows, gritted teeth—unless he’s a constipated criminal or Paul Anka singing, “Having my baby”, this is not the face of peace. This is the demon face of frustration and anger—not to mention arrogance and thrill-seeking behaviour.

Poor selfish lout, so stressed out. One might feel pity if he weren’t scary. Here is machine man surrounded by machine people who have become as gods to themselves. He might prefer to relax and enjoy a nice ride, but he’s too busy listening to reptilian brain chatter.

reptilebrain
Blocking My Reptile” by Stuart McMillen

We’ve all been there. The good old basal ganglia (aka reptilian or primal brain). It’s the part controlling automatic self-preserving behavior and the four Fs: Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing, and…. Reproduction (source). It’s the part that defends self, family and personal property and performs socially acceptable actions like handshakes and head nods.

The doer is revealed by the deed but it could be argued that everyone does the best they can—even if it is terrible (see  related post: “World Views, Weird Edges & Higher States of Consciousness”). If people could do better, they would, wouldn’t they? If we don’t pay attention, it is only in yesterday that we realize what happened.

As an individual, you live a life that no one else will live. Knowing yourself will only come from an intensely personal and passionate pursuit of what gives meaning to your life. Consider what brings you joy and focus on that.

Beyond the emptiness of perpetual pleasure-seeking and bad tidings of your disappearance in the wake of time and a society that’ll suck you dry…… there is another way.

society and individual

The trick is to become aware of your true self subjectively. This is the psychology of religion. To feel yourself as your true self is to have a profound feeling of yourself not in an egotistical sense—not in sadness, anger, fear, envy, jealousy, despair or some negative feeling—but by a silent awareness, a perception that, this is me. I am here. Look at this world. Isn’t it amazing? These people are like me.

put-that-away-your-moneys-no-good-here-danny-shanaha

If good old Aristotle with wine on breath, asked you point blank—BAM: “How should we live?” Dear reader: What is your answer?

Is the  focus on yourself or on society and its rules? As your mind races for words to answer Aristotle (how’d he get in here anyway?), you think about how life feels accidental. In flashes of memory you see your past and like a Talking Head ask, “Where does that highway go to? And you may ask yourself: Am I right?…Am I wrong? And you may say to yourself: My God!…What have I done?!” (“Once in a Lifetime”).

highway.gifLife stretches ahead as the past falls away (see: “Enjoy A Perfect World”). You enjoy yourself when you can and work hard as you must. You enjoy the cake you get and sing with defiance, “I will survive. Yeah, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll be alive” (“I Will Survive”).

“How should we live?” Good question. Decisions made thoughtfully when young feel arbitrary when old. We have pleasures and aversions and find love where we can. When young we sing, “I hope I die before I get old” (“My Generation“) and when old, we sing a different tune.

simpsons_yells_at_cloud.jpgThings happen. Like Sid Vicious, Sinatra and Elvis, we too sing, “Regrets, I’ve had a few;  but then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do. And saw it through without exemption” (“My Way”). We have reasons for what we’ve done but we might wonder at times, “Is it me, or is life meaningless? Where’s the fairness in this?”

albert camus the myth of sisyphus.jpg

One person has a fantastic life and another is subjected to misery. Why is that? If God is randomness, then you are a believer.

Maybe philosopher Albert Camus (1913-1960) was onto something when he said that existence is absurd.

Man stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world” (The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays).

camus car
In 1960 Albert Camus (aged 46) died when the Facel Vega he was riding in crashed.

How should we live? Why should? Who says should? Is this about ethical living? In the dictionary should is a verb indicating “obligation, duty or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.”

looking under the hoodWe know we should give more weight to promoting social welfare than to achieving personal gain but what’s more important, you or society? Here we come to the crux of the matter. A body with a brain is a person, but is there more to a self?

The trick is to enjoy yourself without causing harm in this perfect life that is all your own. Think of a person trying to decide whether to play video games, watch TV, go to work or go for a walk. The different “yous”—aspects of your personality—are conflicting, but the conflict itself is part of what makes you you.

Old wise Epicurus (341-270 BC) said in a letter, “It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honorably without living pleasantly.” Dance to your song and let the wheels of time turn as they will anyway.

Enjoy.

Magical Thinking, Enjoyment and the 8 Ball

make a wish
“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. All dreams and desires would ride along side. Worries and troubles would fall off behind…” (Sweeny Todd).

It’s safe to say that most people don’t enjoy unpleasant surprises. Unpleasant surprises are so… unpleasant. Most people enjoy feeling in control. Control feels sane somehow. Even those who enjoy losing control on drugs, alcohol and/or pimentos may want to return to control—at least, on occasion.

There is comfort in control (less messy too). For most people feeling in control is better than feeling like a victim of chance and circumstance. Most people would probably agree with the guy in those commercials who says, “Control suits me.”

Incidentally, the guy in those commercials is actor Patrick Warburton. He played David Puddy on the show Seinfeld. In the reverse peephole episode he gets a new jacket and says, “Check it out. 8 Ball. You got a question, you ask the 8 Ball!” (Puddy’s 8 Ball Jacket).

8ball

People enjoy assurances. That could explain why billions of perfectly normal people obsess over zodiac signs, consult 8 Balls, crystal balls, Ouija boards and tarot cards—not to mention religion, superstition, voodoo and the honesty of politicians. To the scientifically-minded it can seem crazy what perfectly normal people will believe.

It’s common for people to think that nothing in life is truly coincidental. People might try to be intellectual, clinical and cynical like in the “Logical Song”, but irrational beliefs at an unconscious level seem hardwired into our psyches (“Why Everyone Believes in Magic…)”.

If you put a picture of a baby on the wall and tell people to throw darts at it, why is it that people feel uncomfortable at a gut-level? Maybe it’s because gut-level intuition is when you understand something immediately and people equate images with reality.

lucky charms

Faulty causality is when people assume that because one thing follows another, it was caused by the other (Common Fallacies…). Faulty causality, hasty and sweeping generalizations, confirmation bias (interpreting information that confirms preexisting beliefs), illusory correlation (perceiving a relationship between something when no relationship exists) along with faulty assumptions, comparisons and so on can cause problems (6 Mental Traps That Ruin Your Life).

false cause

The National Science Foundation found that 58% of 18-24-year-old Americans believe astrology is scientific (source) and it’s fashionable to blame “Mercury in Retrograde.” As Taylor Swift explained, “When Mercury is in retrograde, basically that means everything is going to be completely wrong, messed up and miscommunicated… so you can’t blame yourself” (source).

And therein is a key to enjoyment: It isn’t always your fault.

All planets rotate around the sun in the same direction, but our position relative to Mercury and observed movement gives the illusion of planets (not just Mercury) changing direction (source) but that doesn’t matter. It’s not that a rock 48 million miles away is causing miscommunication, it’s Mercury, the god of communication in Roman mythology, who is to blame!

fortunaBlaming forces beyond one’s control is comforting. We’re off the hook. In Roman times, if you had good fortune or misfortune, it wasn’t you who did it, it was the goddess Fortuna—the personification of luck—who smiled or frowned upon you. People enjoy feeling connected to the cosmos, to nature or to something beyond one’s self.

We are meaning-makers (see also: Enjoy Happiness from the Periphery). Our brains look for patterns even when none exist to give us a sense of self-control—think: “Knock on wood” (Big Think). Habits of mind that lead us to think that luck and supernatural forces are real, that we have souls and a destiny is not necessarily a bad thing. Magical thinking might be a subtle obstacle to making good decisions, but it can make for happier people.

The two most common mental disorders are depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. These disorders impact the mood of people. In 2015 the Who (not the band but the World Health Organization) said that about 300 million people in the world have a depressive disorder and about the same number have an anxiety disorder (source). One in ten Americans is affected by depression and that number grows by 20% per year (source).

overthinking2

Thinking is a double-edged sword. Thoughts of past events that repeat can leave a person depressed and repetitive thoughts about what lies ahead can leave a person paralyzed and anxious. When your brain’s limited capacity for attention is compromised by overthinking, mental well-being is compromised and when that happens, it’s hard to enjoy the life you’re in.

When something terrible almost happens or does happen (but could have been worse), we have an emotional experience. This experience draws us to magical-meaning making. We see causality in coincidence. Our subjective reality is created by perceptions that can be distorted by emotions. Even skeptics and atheists who think new age thinking, religious belief and superstition is stupid can have a predisposition to magical thinking.

Psychologist Ellen Langer calls the tendency of people to overestimate their ability to control events the “illusion of control.” It’s one of the positive illusions that also includes: “illusory superiority”—when you overestimate your qualities and abilities compared to others—and “optimism bias”—when you think you have less chance of experiencing something negative compared to others (source).

everything you look for

Cognitive bias—when you think in a way that deviates from a standard of rationality—can lead to illogical inferences that distort perceptions but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You might think having accurate perceptions of yourself and the future are essential to mental health, but research shows otherwise.

Overly positive self-evaluations, exaggerated perceptions of control and unrealistic optimism helps people to feel more contentment and happiness; moreover, distorting information in a positive direction and isolating negative information as nonthreatening helps people to be more caring of others, creative and productive (“Illusion and Well-Being…”).

There’s nothing a little music can’t help. Lighten up and follow your gut. Enjoy a happy new year all year but watch out for seagulls.

Cheers!