Cosmic Accident

Dear Rich, are humans a cosmic accident?

Well dear reader, if you want a thrill-filled and ultimately miserable experience, then yes. But if you want to enjoy your time here, then no. I’ve held both positions at different times in my life, and I can tell you that option-one produces a lot of angst whereas option-two produces a much higher degree of comfort and satisfaction overall.

Option-one, that humans ARE a cosmic accident, entails a belief in a perpetual struggle for survival. It means my ancestors fought and clawed their way into modernity and I am the result of that competitive exertion. And I too must continue this endeavor lest I fall prey to those forces that are stronger than I. And to that end, I am prone to worry so that I’m not caught with my guard down.

Option-two, that humans are NOT a cosmic accident, entails a belief in a world created to take-care of its inhabitants. A cozier idea don’t you think? It takes all the pressure off. I can feel myself relaxing as I contemplate the concept. And guess what? I’m still alive, even thriving, despite the fact that I’ve completely let my guard down. I don’t worry about anything anymore and life chugs-along just fine.

And believe me dear reader, I was a stalwart adherent of option-one. I was so committed in-fact, that I eventually broke under the strain. I became a believer in option-two not because it appealed to me, but because I was beaten into submission by my belief in a cold cruel world. I couldn’t handle it anymore and finally dumped the idea. What filled the void was option-two.

And once I adopted option-two, the obviousness of it was everywhere. I had only imagined the necessity of struggle, when in actuality, none was needed. Sure, I felt like a big dummy for scaring myself silly with a fearful fantasy throughout all those years, but I got over it. Life in general got a lot easier when I stopped imagining the worst. Nowadays, I simply trust that my existence isn’t an accident and it’s made all the difference.

Life is a LOT more enjoyable when you no longer believe in a harsh and uncaring world where vigilance is the only thing keeping you alive. Give up that idea dear reader, and you’ll see a vast improvement in your experience of existence.

Good Day

Not long ago, I noticed that I was having a great day. Things were going really well, I even found a few things I thought I lost. But do you know what people with horribly unappreciative and pessimistic attitudes do with such a feeling? “Uh-oh, I’m gonna have to pay for this great day with a horrible day, downs always follow ups, something bad is SURE to happen now!”

I had that thought during my day and I dismissed it whenever it appeared. The next day was a decent one, not great but overall it was okay. And the next-next day? It was a rough morning. I was dropping things, speaking harshly, and things weren’t going my way. It was obvious that my mind was in a frenetic state. It was jumpy, going from one topic to the next as fast as it could.

After breakfast, I sat at my desk and noticed how I kept jumping from one brief activity to the next. “Ah-ha! I see what you’re doing! You’re all over the place! Time to shut down….” And with that realization, I ceased all activity and stopped engaging with incoming thoughts. I simply sat in a meditative state until my mind reset. It finally calmed down after a few minutes and I proceeded from there.

The day went well after that. So the lesson here is this: When things sour, stop. Notice the calamity the mind is causing when allowed to run wild — reset yourself by taking the reins and quieting the mind. When my mind ran rampant, the external world I experienced was unpleasant — but it completely turned around once I became present and noticed what was going on.

Incremental Improvement

Dear Rich, why can’t I improve my life instantly? In other words, why can’t I have a single enlightening realization and be done with it? Instead, it’s year after year of trying to get better bit by bit. How about an aha-moment that sticks?

Well dear reader, as you know, life is improved through the cessation of negativity. But the problem is this: the consciousness that is focusing on negativity is the SAME mechanism that’s in charge of managing focus. For example: in a business, what if an embezzling manager is the same guy in charge of policing embezzlement at his company? Basically, you have the classic case of the fox guarding the hen-house.

On one hand, your consciousness is running rampant and grabbing every negative thing it can. But on the other hand, your consciousness DOES recognize that it’s having a bad time. The problem SHOULD fix itself once the consciousness realizes that its focus-on-negativity is the EXACT reason it’s having such an unpleasant experience. But unfortunately, your consciousness insists that external events are to blame.

On one level, your consciousness can’t fathom blaming itself, so you’re stuck in this ongoing cycle of trying to convince it otherwise. It’s a strange situation right? But if you’re caught in such a silly trap, what does that tell you about the nature of reality? Perhaps the ongoings of this world aren’t as serious as you imagined them to be?

This silly game continues year after year simply because you’re engaging in it. You’re so enthralled by the idea that you’re a physical being living a life on planet Earth. You COULD take a step back, but you don’t want to. YOU are the creator of the game AND the player. You’re pretending to trap yourself AND you’re pretending to be caught.

THAT is the ultimate answer to your question dear reader: you could end your frivolous game at any moment, but you don’t want to. You apparently enjoy stress-testing your character. But if you truly want an improved experience, simply cut-out ALL negativity. This is just a dreamworld after-all, it’s malleable, so shape it in the most enjoyable form you can imagine — play THAT game instead.

Diet and Exercise

Imagine you tell me: Hey Rich, I really want to lose some weight and get into better shape. And I reply: That’s great, what’s your plan of attack? Then you say: I’m gonna keep doing what I normally do, which is eat whatever I want and sit around most of the day. And I reply: Cool, let me know how that works for you.

No offense, but you’d sound like a goofball, right? You want change, yet you’d do NOTHING different from what you usually do. You have to tweak SOMETHING right? Doing ANYTHING different would at least put you on the path to improvement. Now what if you tell me: Hey Rich, I really want a better life. My question is the same as before: what’s your plan of attack?

If you want to lose weight and get into better shape, you already know the answer: diet and exercise. If you want a better life, the prescription is the same: diet and exercise. But the particular diet you require, is a negativity-free diet — and the exercise you need, is to practice positivity. Remember: if you want improvement in anything, you have to do something different than what you’re already doing.

Just think about it: if you fill your body with junk, your body gets grotesque. Whether it’s in the form of food or negativity: junk-in equals junk-out. Therefore, if you have a grotesque life, that means you’ve been filling your mind with junk. To have a better life, you need to stop filling your mind with junk AND do activities you enjoy.

So if you really mean it, and you truly want a better life, make THIS change. Put away the pessimism, abstain from annoyance, discard the disgust, cut-out complaining — stop wallowing in the slop of negativity. And from there, find something delightful to do with your time — exercise your under-developed positivity by engaging with something enjoyable.

Negativity Free

I recently started a negativity-free diet. What’s negativity? Negativity is whatever makes for a poor experience. The breeding ground for negativity begins with the thoughts I focus on. If allowed to grow unchecked, those negativity-weeds will flourish and infiltrate my everyday life. Therefore I must pluck them whenever found. To aid in the identification of such weeds, I’ve compiled a list of what to look-out for (negativity comes in many forms):

Pessimism, expecting the worst.
Ex: Whatever I’m about to experience is going to be horrible.

Skepticism, doubtfulness.
Ex: That awesome outcome you’re describing is impossible! Don’t waste your time! Give up now!

Complaining, criticism, disgust.
Ex: Ugh! What a horrible day! Ew, that’s nasty! Gah, this is gross!

Mockery, making fun of individuals or life itself.
Ex: Ha, you’re actually trying! Life is so lame, don’t bother!

Bad-mouthing others.
Ex: He is SO dumb! Did you SEE what she was wearing!? What’s with his weird face!?

Fear, worry, panic, hoplessness.
Ex: OMG! Something could go wrong at any moment! We’re all gonna die!

Anger, outrage, frustration, irritation, annoyance.
Ex: GAH! Screw you! This sucks! I hate everything! This doesn’t work! Hulk SMASH!

Resentment, offense, bitterness; feeling victimized, persecuted, or threatened.
Ex: I can’t believe what she did to me!! I’ll never forgive her! Why is everyone laughing at me!? Why is life out to get me!?

Lack & limitation.
Ex: I can’t have that. I’ll never be able to do that! Things will never improve.

Ex: Hmm, there’s nothing interesting to do. My life is SO boring!

Pain, captivated by ailments.
Ex: Ouch, my head hurts! (Proceeds to poke head) Yep! It still hurts! Ow, my elbow hurts! (Proceeds to bend elbow repeatedly) Ow!!

Existential dread, death fixation.
Ex: Nothing matters! I don’t matter! Whatever I do is futile! Life is meaningless! Oh no, I’m going die!

Problems of the world.
Ex: A global catastrophe is around the corner! The environment is collapsing! Economic crash! Pandemics! War!

Misunderstood, rejection, loneliness, unloved.
Ex: Psh, no one truly understands me. No one wants to be my friend. I am truly alone in this world.

Shyness, timidity, unworthiness.
Ex: Well, he’s probably busy and doesn’t have time for me. He probably wouldn’t want to talk to me anyway. I can just sit quietly and hope that I’m acknowledged eventually.

Distrust, suspicion.
Ex: That’s too good to be true! Oh, you’re gonna do something nice for me!? Yeah right!! I bet you will! Hm, what is that guy up to? NO WAY am I doing that! It’s a trap!

Comparison to others, covetousness, jealousy.
Ex: Psh, look at all that awesome stuff he has. If he’d only give me some! Ugh, he has intelligence, good-looks, and succeeds at EVERYTHING!

Ex: I messed up big-time! Now nobody’s gonna respect me. Why do I have to be so awkward!

Disappointed, dissatisfied, unappreciative.
Ex: Hm, could be better. Well THAT wasn’t what I expected! That was completely worthless!

Regret, second-guessing.
Ex: Why did I do THAT! I could’ve done better. I should’ve picked the other one! From that one wrong decision, EVERYTHING will go awry.

Gloominess, sadness, misery.
Ex: Dark forces are looming. I can sense bad things about to happen. Woe is me, for I was born in a dark and dreary world.

Ex: I can’t do anything within this giant world. I’m merely a bug on a rock waiting to get squashed.

Mechanical malfunction.
Ex: This thing doesn’t work anymore, it’s dead — it had a limited lifespan anyway, it was bound to break sooner or later. I guess the service is down, maybe it’ll return one day.

Know thy enemy, and thy enemy is negativity. This is not an exhaustive list but it should provide a decent indicator of what shouldn’t be allowed to take root in the garden of the mind.

I’ve also noticed that the entertainment I consume greatly influences my thoughts. Therefore, I must be selective and cut-out all forms of entertainment that derive their allure from negativity. This includes scary stuff, anything too intense, the news, anything political, legal, or medical related, stuff that portrays life as fundamentally flawed, anything that makes a mockery of life, and basically anything that leaves a bitter aftertaste.

A diet by its nature is about restricting yourself from certain things in order to get into a better state of being. In this case, I’m restricting myself from engaging with negativity in the hopes of improving my overall experience of existence.

Unfolding Focus

When I witness a negative scene unfolding before me, what I’m seeing is a direct reflection of my attitude. It doesn’t matter if I’m a primary participant in the scene or merely a bystander — whatever I experience as life, is simply a projection of how I think and feel. Essentially, the external is a manifestation of the internal.

So whenever something bad happens, it demonstrates that I’m in a state susceptible to negativity. For example: if I ask my friend to go on a walk, and along the way she says something upsetting, I must’ve been in a sensitive mood. Even if I simply see something bad along the way, it means I must’ve been prone to pessimism — it shows that my attention is attracted to negativity.

Therefore, the root cause of any unpleasant experience, is a lack of mental discipline — it’s a failure to properly direct my attention. That’s convenient because it serves as a reminder to watch my thoughts and adjust my attitude. So I can’t blame anyone or anything for a disagreeable circumstance, I can only see it as an opportunity to improve my focus.

What this perspective provides is empowerment. It demolishes any sense of victimhood — I’m no longer a poor little leaf trapped in the wayward winds of the world. Instead, I am the wind, I am that which directs the world I experience. My control is so complete in fact, that my whims form before me. Consequently, my greatest responsibility is to manage the thoughts I invite into my mind.

Diet of 2020

I’m going on a negativity-free diet this year. That’s right, instead of cutting out carbs or corn-syrup, I’m cutting out negativity. It’s the junk-food of the mind. Negativity comes in many forms: there’s pessimism, skepticism, mockery, dissatisfaction, worry, fear, frustration, outrage, lack & limitation, and whatever else makes for a poor experience.

So whenever my mind serves up a plate of negativity-flavored thoughts, it’ll be a hard pass from me. Now that I’m several decades old, there are better ways to spend my time than knee-deep in negativity. And when I get bored from the lack of stimulation? Tough, I’ll simply sit there in silence with an empty mind. Something besides negativity is bound to enter eventually.

As part of this endeavor, I’ll have to cut out all forms of entertainment that derive their allure from negativity. Nothing scary or too intense, nothing political, legal, or medical, nothing that paints life as fundamentally flawed, nothing that mocks life, essentially nothing that leaves me with a bitter aftertaste. I’ve noticed too many times that the themes I consume as entertainment creep into my everyday life.

I’ll be monitoring what goes into my mind, what’s currently going on in my mind, and what comes out of my mind. At each point, I’ll be steering away from negativity while trying to offer-up positive alternatives OR I’ll simply insist on silence (i.e. If you can’t think anything nice, don’t think anything at all).

Another trick up my sleeve is this: physical punishment. But don’t worry, nothing severe, no flagellation required. This technique actually helped to get rid of my tendency to overreact when startled. I’d literally jump or yell or get upset whenever I was surprised. So whenever that happened, I simply exhaled as much as I could and held my breath until I couldn’t. It provided an annoying consequence for my automatic reaction, and I got startled less and less.

So whenever I notice negativity going in, negativity stewing on the inside, or negativity coming out — exhale and hold until uncomfortable. That’s it. And consider this: a traditional food-based diet coupled with physical exercise typically has denial and discomfort as an integral part of the regimen — so this type of reinforcement is nothing unusual.

Like the cravings of a traditional diet, I’ll likely miss those negative forms of entertainment because they’re the most exhilarating. By no longer allowing high-intensity (but low-quality) forms of enthrallment, my biggest challenge will be boredom. Like fasting, silence will have to fill in some of the gaps. I’m relying on my mind to eventually find wholesomely fun things to do.

So that’s it. The negativity-free diet started when I woke up this morning. I had a LOT less shows to choose from on Netflix though. Perhaps after the diet’s over, I can allow some “junk food” shows into the mix, in moderation — we’ll see. As a more wholesome way to spend my time today, I played the harmonica and went for a walk — both went well. As far as mind-monitoring went, I teased my friend a couple of times and atoned for it since mockery isn’t allowed (exhale and hold).