Tis Better

An excerpt from the fictional tales: Defender of the Christmas Faith

It’s often touted that it’s better to give than receive. Yet to become a giver there must be a receiver — therefore we should not place judgement upon either party lest we involve ourself in a game of spiritual hot-potato, always trying to give away what lands in our lap. We must graciously and appreciatively receive, lest we insult the giver.

In fact, Christmas is very much about receiving. For God so loveth the world, that he hath given his only begotten Son. Who are we, mere mortals, to give anything? We have nothing but what the Creator provides, we’re simply swapping the things we don’t own amongst ourselves. Truly, the only thing we can give is our thanks.

Believe not the naysayers proclaiming that some must lose for others to win. We’ve all already won. Don’t listen to lackers that believe in the finite, peddling their nonsense of limitless limitation. Doomsayers have plagued every era, yet the good times have kept on rolling. Why should we presume the fun will stop in our generation?

Christmas is a time for miracles, a time for receiving gifts we don’t deserve. When I fill out my Christmas Wish List, it’s full of items that stir delight. When I think of Christmas, I imagine thrilled hearts rapaciously tearing apart wrapping paper — I hear squeals of glee as long sought toys are finally in hand. What we’re experiencing through receiving, is joy.

Therefore, let us not shun this merriment, but embrace it. Let us lift our cups high in celebration of the season, a celebration of life itself, displaying our wholehearted appreciation for the gifts we receive. Let us wish the best for others and hope they receive their heart’s desire, but let us not forget our own enjoyment as we are part of the all.

As it is said, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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Stimulating Life

Life introduces all sorts of intrusions that activate our senses — and it is in our best interest to find favorable interpretations. It is undeniable that a pleasant perspective of events creates more enjoyable moods. If we focus our thoughts on what we prefer, and adjust our attitudes toward the positive, we feel better.

But maybe it’s more than that. Perhaps life provides a stimulus and our reaction determines actual outcomes. Under this theory, life regularly introduces random stimuli and our thoughts determine what physically occurs. For instance, is it a simple pain in our side or something more sinister? Under this theory, we decide. But this is not typically a conscious decision because it tends to be made for us by preexisting beliefs.

But what if we were able to make it a conscious decision by using mental discipline to alter our beliefs and select the option we prefer. We already know about the power of placebos and nocebos, so part of the theory has already been proven to a point. But where exactly is that line of demarcation? Is there a real dividing line or is it simply a matter of belief? How much can thought influence outcome?

Perhaps life is like a computer simulation, and inhabitants actually program their lives in real-time based on expectations. If we alter our expectations, we may receive different results. Why do outcomes vary so wildly between individuals despite following similar paths? But even if this theory isn’t true, there’s a benefit to believing it.

If we truly believe that our expectations influence life’s outcomes, then we’ll make sure to monitor our minds, actively pruning out the negativity. We dare not think dour thoughts lest they come true. If we keep ourselves from pessimism, we’re cheerier. With this practice, we’re using anxiety as a means to maintain lighthearted moods — fear facilitating felicity.

Thought Swirl

Think about the world we’re in. What thoughts come to mind? Something pleasant? If so, great. If not, why not? Death, disease, decay, disaster? Why entertain thoughts that don’t evoke pleasurable feelings? Through practice, unpleasant thoughts can be ignored. Through repeated use of imagination, pleasant thoughts can infuse the mind with joy.

For some this prescription is not intuitive. For some it takes constant distress until finally seeking out the source. Trying this and that until realizing that the source of misery is thought itself. Sabotage. An inside job. Whoops. These thoughts blamed everything around them, but it was the very act of blame that caused the problem. Blame solves nothing, it invokes sadness.

The world we perceive is formed from a constant swirling of thought. Flawed senses do not relay truth, reality is only known through interpreted thought. That’s a good thing. This allows the conscious mind to act as gatekeeper, controlling what spends time in the mind. Once this power is known, the unpleasant can be kicked-out, the pleasant invited in.

And so the consciousness can watch, waiting for a sour mood. Caught you! Now, what thoughts were streaming by? Ah-ha! Now for the punishment: think of something pleasant. And beyond merely waiting for the sour to strike, enjoyable thoughts should be regularly summoned. With knowledge of the source and the possibility to control it, why contemplate the worst aspects of life when the best aspects are simply waiting for attention.

Contrasted Happiness

Because we’re so susceptible to contrast comparisons, our highs cannot exist without lows. It’s not just wishful thinking to believe adversity is a necessary component of life — hardship literally makes us happier. Good times will be perceived better if we’ve experienced discomfort. A perfect life necessarily includes contrasts.

But of course we don’t stop at evaluating our own lives, we also compare ourselves to others. Our happiness is related to the happiness of others. When we idealize the lives of others on social-media, we often feel less happy. But the opposite is also true, when we see the misfortune of others, we enjoy our own situation that much more. Because suffering exists, we’re happier.

It’s not that we enjoy the misery of others, but the contrast allows us to appreciate our own lives that much more. We don’t even know the entirety of their situation, we’re just guessing based on the limited data we can discern. Our happiness therefore, is derived from what we imagine, from our flawed perception of what surrounds us.

Because happiness is based on contrasting elements evaluated within our mind, we can manipulate it without involving the external world. In other words, we don’t need to change our lives to be happy, we need to change our minds. We can alter how and what we compare. Our standard of judgement is arbitrary, if it’s no longer in our favor, make it so.

Lighthearted Resolution

Am I perfect? Of course not, or else you wouldn’t smell so much.

Maintenance and repair are common concepts — but what should we maintain and what should we repair? Who knows. Who knows what consequences something will have on something else. Should I fix this particular thing? Maybe, if you’re inclined to do so. But if you’re not so inclined, then probably not.

You have to do something while you’re here, so sure, try and maintain or even change things. Just don’t take it too seriously. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, great. Don’t let life make you cry — or do — it’s up to you. Life is a clever story designed to make you feel — ride it out, or detach when it’s too intense.

Life’s ultimate purpose is already fulfilled by your presence. There’s nothing in particular to accomplish, no rush to complete an important task — just a narrative to observe.

Wonderful Life

Isn’t life wonderful? Well from the perspective I was born into, no. I knew people that suffered from panic attacks, depression, attempted suicide, committed suicide, killed, got killed, stole, had rage issues, abused, endured abuse of varying types, dealt with life through drugs, wasted away with disease, and suffered through old age — and this is not theoretical, I saw these people — this was my family.

The world I was introduced to was a horrible place full of fear. So to paint it into something full of fun and sunshine seems dishonest. But what else can you do? Complaining doesn’t seem to help, it’s just focusing on the unpleasantness, making you feel worse. We’re stuck here and we can’t change the fundamental nature of life — so we’re left with trying to make the best of it. Yes, we’re deluding ourselves — but the more delusion, the merrier.

And who knows, maybe life is actually fantastic, maybe we’re just being pessimistic jerks, gloomy downers, and ungrateful complainers. And if you can’t find anything at all to smile at, then just laugh at how tragically absurd this is. Life goes a bit over the top at times, it’s not a good idea to take things seriously. It’s been said: if surrounded by darkness, should you not seek a light?

Painted Life

You’re going to paint a picture of life. At some point you may become aware of how the picture differs from your experiences. You may attempt to touch-up the picture to better reflect your experiences. But your picture will always be inaccurate, you’ll never capture life in a tiny static image.

Wanting life to reflect your picture brings dissatisfaction. A picture is not a means to predict or control life, it’s just a description. But this description can be made more palatable. So paint your picture, but make it amusing, be creative, and be content.