There’s a battle going on. It happens in your brain. Do not be alarmed. It only affects every decision you’ve ever made and will ever make. It only affects your health, wealth and opinion and how you think and behave. No biggie.
The battle goes on beneath the surface of consciousness. That’s why you sometimes say, “Why did I do that? Did I say that? That wasn’t me.” Like everybody, you’re under a misconception. You think you know what influences you and how those influences affect you.
Freud (1915) described the conscious mind as the tip of the iceberg because a lot goes on beneath the surface (source). We can like or dislike something instantly without knowing why.
It goes like this (cue music: Ulf Söderberg “Tide” part 1).
First you have a feeling, then you make up something to explain that feeling. The explanation becomes a label. The label is declared true. It influences you. You become a self-fulfilling prophecy primed by what you do.
Think badly and badly you become.
You’re framed by spin.
In You Are Not So Smart (2011) David McRaney wrote, “You move through life forming opinions and cobbling together a story about who you are… taken as a whole it seems real” (p. xi).
But it isn’t.
It’s how you look at it. Out of the randomness of life you try to make sense and create meaning for yourself (McRaney, 2011). It’s what humans do. We interpret reality. We look at stars and see constellations. We see patterns in bullet holes on country signs.
With facial suggestions, we are “uniquely wired” to see faces in breakfast (source).
We connect the dots of what goes on by combining expectations (what we think will happen) with mental models (how we think something works) and five senses (source: Myth or Science?).
With confidence you see your history like a movie with characters, plots, themes and settings. You see yourself as a protagonist, but it’s a beautiful confabulation. The truth is: You make yourself up as you go. You’re a work in progress and like Buck Owens and a Buckaroo think, “All I gotta do is act naturally.”
You are the tale you tell. It’s “The Story of Me!” as told by you. Memories are daydreams: part true, part fantasy, but you believe them completely.
Look at your surroundings. Set your mind “Open!” Realize that what matters most is to enjoy the significance of existence by loving the life you are given and giving the life you are living.
There’s nothing you must do. There’s no mountain you must climb. Success and failure don’t matter. Just contentment. Contentment is not death! Contentment is bliss! In dictionaries contentment and happiness are interchangeable.
It’s all in how you frame it. What’s your spin on things? How do you see yourself? Is life bliss-filled or disasterous? You decide. You choose. It’s simple really. Nothing to it. Live a pleasant life by living wisely, justly and well (Epicurus). And yet, living a pleasant life can be difficult when you’re with a species hell-bent on making the earth a landfill.
How is it that humans are such brilliant numbskulls (or is it boneheads)?
In 1982 when Alice Cooper (aka Vinnie Furnier) sang, “We’re all clones. All are one and one are all” (“Clones”) he anticipated a people without individuality singsonging, “No more problems on the way!”
It’s not a new idea. People have always cloned around. In 1802 Willy Wordsworth put it this way:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; –
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
Why have humans declared war on nature? Is it because we construct reality and meaning within our minds? Is it because we have a bias towards confirming ourselves? Is it because we have a bias towards the present? What is it? The news is not good.
Is it any wonder so many want a new drug like Huey Lewis did?
Here we come to the crux of the matter. The trick to enjoying in the midst of humanity’s idiocy is in framing, priming and transcending.
Framing is a bias towards a given choice depending how it’s presented. It’s how the cover of a book influences your judgement. Framing moves you to react in certain ways based on how your brain makes comparisons between loss/gain, good/bad, half-full/half-empty. In framing you decide what’s important.
Framing is how you find patterns in chaos to survive and create meaning out of meaninglessness. The way you choose to frame things determines how you see.
Priming happens when subtle triggers influence your behavior without your awareness (Gladwell, 2006). Almost everything you perceive with your senses can blitz you with associations in your mind and cause you to act in certain ways without your awareness.
For example, if asked to name a fruit and you see the word “RED,” you’re more likely to think “apple” than “banana.” The word “RED” is priming the word “apple” into your brain.
René Magritte painted a self-portrait with his face behind a green apple and said, “Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see” (source). Maybe that’s why we don’t see what’s in front of us. We’re looking for something hidden.
Priming works best when not over thinking. You know you’re priming when time disappears. The trick is to let human bumbling cruelty prime you for transcendence by framing it differently. Frame it: They don’t know what they’re doing! They’re doing the best they can. Frame yourself freedom and then see beauty in a dump.
“Transcend” comes from Latin trans-, meaning “beyond,” and scandare, meaning “to climb” (source). It’s simple: to transcend is to climb beyond your usual physical needs and realities.
Prime yourself aware! Create meaning! Climb beyond ordinary feeling. Transcend transcendence by enjoying.
Glandwell, M. (2006). Blink. Little Brown & Company.
McRaney, D. (2011). You Are Not So Smart. Gotham Books.