I can’t forget that 6 x 6 = 36. When I was in 3rd or 4th grade I drilled the times-tables for a few weeks until I had it down cold. That’s a problem. It’s a problem because I’ve been telling myself pessimistic stories for DECADES. How am I supposed to forget ideas that I’ve been relentlessly repeating for so many years!? Like a martial-artist, I’m trained to react on instinct with split-second responses — in my case, with 40 mega-tons of negativity. Therefore, I must change my defaults.
For instance, when I think of the human body, my default is to see it as an instrument of pain, fragile and forever susceptible to the whims of a wicked-world hellbent on inflicting endless damage in the form of tiny internal organisms all the way up to blunt-force trauma from huge external objects. It’s just a waiting game until someday something catches me. And even if my vigilance keeps me safe, my poor weak body will one day collapse in on itself, ravaged by old-age.
Wow, that’s bleak. So instead of repeating THAT story over and over to myself, I should pick a new more-pleasant default. For example, my body is the projected image I imagine it to be, like a vision in a dream. If I imagine it to be weak, it’s weak — whereas if I imagine it to be strong, it’s strong. Everything else in the world is also a projected image, therefore my body can interact with these images in whatever way I choose. And instead of an instrument of pain, my body is an instrument of pleasure, providing me with a wondrous view into an exciting dreamworld of endless enjoyment.
Hm, that’s a bit better. Now I just have to drill THAT into my head. Another example is how I feel about participation. My default is to see participation in life as a burden, basically a sentence handed down for crimes I didn’t commit, an injustice put upon me as punishment for existing. That’s pretty bleak too. So instead of a burden, I should see participation as an opportunity to play. Life notices me standing in the corner staring at the floor and comes over to offer me a way to engage. How kind of life to be so caring towards an ungrateful guest, yet life never gives up, always offering something new to do.
Essentially, I’ve seen myself as a poor forsaken creature trapped within a harsh and brutal environment against my will. With only my cunning to protect me, I must struggle to survive another day amidst a world trying its hardest to kill me. Okay, that does sound dumb — and obviously I can see that I’m not tough nor cunning. In a way, my default view of life is crumbling away because it just doesn’t make sense — it doesn’t align with my experiences.
I haven’t been subject to the whims and ways of a cruel world, I’ve just had a bad attitude. It’s like watching a scary-movie before bedtime, it influences your dreams in a bad way, typically resulting in nightmares. By being so pessimistic, I’ve painted a very negative picture of the world. With a bad attitude, I twist whatever I see into something nefarious. The opposite would likely be true too: a positive attitude would result in a world-of-wonder, a playground to enjoy, an experience in which delight is the default.
So to sum up and create a new equation:
NO: Life + Me = Pain
YES: Life + Me = Delight