Procuring Pain

Dear Rich, why am I a masochist?

Well dear reader, you seek out pain in its various forms because it’s an easy way to feel alive. So not only are you a masochist, but you’re lazy. You use fear to make even the mundane seem thrilling, you use frustration to make your blood boil in every endeavor, you actively suppress your own enjoyment of life, and you use hurt to sour every experience.

You and I both know you can do better. First, let’s accept that you’ve been purposefully torturing yourself for lo these many years. Cheap thrills, I get it. But that kind of fun doesn’t last forever, you need something more meaningful. And that “something” is already inside of you waiting to come out, yet you’ve been preventing its development.

Second: if you want to stop the pain, stop hitting yourself. The pain you’ve been feeling is self-inflicted. Third: when you cease seeking the cheap thrills produced by pain, a more meaningful path through life appears to you. From there, you do you. THAT’S the person you were meant to be, the one that surfaces when you stop your stupid hobby of humiliation.

And the best part, my dear lazy reader, is that you simply need to stop your pain-producing efforts. That’s right, you need to become even lazier! Just sit there and watch for now. Observe what you’re doing to yourself — then the absurdity of the act will cause you to stop. Once you see the torment happening in real-time, your own sense of decency will kick in.

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Masochism Maelstrom

Note: in this context, masochist means someone that seeks out pain on purpose.

You might be a masochist if…

You constantly provide yourself with content to complain about e.g. reading the news, browsing an infuriating website, communicating with certain acquaintances, watching shows that make you feel bad, etc.

In your mind, you dredge up unpleasant scenes from your past or you imagine an unpleasant future.

You keep performing an activity despite poor performance, all while maintaining a losing-mindset, causing you to fail at aspects you would normally succeed at.

You avoid things that might actually be fun for you.

You insist on doing things the hard way.

You intensely focus on minor aches/pains and other discomforts, allowing them to influence your life and daily routine.

Is masochism just a personal preference that should be honored?

No, it’s a low-quality way to spend your time. It’s like eating junk-food instead of consuming something nutritious. In the long run, you don’t feel satisfied by the pain, you feel empty and incomplete.

So how does one stop being a masochist?

You’ll need to replace it with something better, something more nourishing. The first step is to recognize that you’re a masochist and that you’re done with the pain-loving lifestyle. Next, you’re gonna wanna take some time to think about the painful and frustrating life that YOU have been putting yourself through. You sadistic sicko. Next, you’ll need to seek out new ways to spend your time. Since you won’t be torturing yourself any longer, you’ll need some new hobbies.

This will take some effort, but you can do it. There’s creative pursuits, pleasant activities, lighthearted entertainment, loving something, connecting with others, celebrating stuff, being helpful — whatever incites delight. And during this exploration and experimentation time, you’ll need to recognize those moments when you’re absentmindedly seeking out pain — when you see it, shut it down. Luckily you can use the feeling of pain as an alarm to indicate that you’re doing something masochistic again. In brief: feel pain, stop doing what you’re doing, do something better instead.

Making the Switch – Part 2

A part of the Overcoming Negativity series.

First, make sure you’ve completed the task from the previous post: Making the Switch.

Now, I want you to counter your own description. Poke holes in it, make it feel untrue to you. If you need any assistance, I’m here to help. Here was my example, which I will then counter-attack:

The world is a giant rock hurtling around a massive fireball upon which I was randomly born via natural selection. Daily life is about struggling to survive within a harsh environment that cares for no one. I guess I’m one of the so-called lucky ones that gets to exist for at least a brief period of time. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do here, but I’m certain that my vigilance keeps me alive. From this world, I expect stress and pain and an ongoing dissatisfaction that continually crushes my spirit. Once in a while something good happens, but even a broken analog-clock is right twice per day.

And to counter it:

It’s possible that the world I know exists solely as a computer-simulation. Perhaps nothing is physical. Or maybe it’s simply the dream of an ethereal being. And the neat thing is, whatever contains this world might be far beyond my comprehension. Just like the game Minecraft is only a minimalist re-creation of our current world, the world I’m within right now might be a minimalist representation of some greater world. Maybe this life is simply a game I chose to play, just a thing I did for fun.

And if I think about it, I really haven’t struggled all that much. I’m several decades old and the primary obstacle in my life has been my own bad attitude. I felt so certain that life was out to get me, but if the world was truly as wild and wicked as I’ve imagined, I’d be dead by now. It seems like my own thoughts have been the source of the stress and pain and dissatisfaction I’ve been experiencing. Maybe a better attitude is the only thing I’ve been missing.

Making the Switch

A part of the Overcoming Negativity series.

I’ve held two opposing perspectives of the world — one was a negative interpretation and the other was positive. In the first, I believed that I was an insignificant creature struggling for survival amidst a cruel yet random world. In the second, I perceived myself as an invited guest to the greatest party ever thrown. As someone that’s tried both perspectives, I can confidently tell you that a positive interpretation of the world is by far the most satisfying option. Whereas if you crave high-intensity, go with a negative outlook in which literally everything is out to get you.

Now, if you find yourself not enjoying life because it feels like the intensity is too high, then it’s likely that you mistakenly developed a negative outlook. The good news is that it’s not too late to change. I had this problem, and although it took me a few years, I finally switched to a positive outlook and life is a lot easier now. Whew! What was I thinking!? Why did I believe I could handle that kind of intensity!? I don’t know, but I’m glad it’s over.

If you’re ready to make the switch, then perhaps I can help. First, you’re gonna need to prove you’re serious about overcoming negativity. Let’s begin by you writing down your fundamental interpretation of the world. In other words, what IS this world, what’s your place within it, and what do you expect from it? And to demonstrate that you truly considered your answer, the description must be under 200 words (in your own words). Here’s an example:

The world is a giant rock hurtling around a massive fireball upon which I was randomly born via natural selection. Daily life is about struggling to survive within a harsh environment that cares for no one. I guess I’m one of the so-called lucky ones that gets to exist for at least a brief period of time. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do here, but I’m certain that my vigilance keeps me alive. From this world, I expect stress and pain and an ongoing dissatisfaction that continually crushes my spirit. Once in a while something good happens, but even a broken analog-clock is right twice per day.
(This is slightly over 100 words)

Negativity Quiz 01

Okay, let’s see how well have you’ve been paying attention. To demonstrate mastery of the material, answers should be no longer than a single sentence or phrase.

Quiz on Overcoming Negativity:

1. What is the fundamental nature of reality?

2. What is your position within the universe?

3. How do things get done / why do things happen?

4. What is the primary cause of unhappiness?

5. What is the happiest state of mind?

6. What role should logic play in life?

7. True or False: I’m a fragile creature struggling for survival amidst a cruel and careless world.

8. True or False: Death can come at anytime.

9. True or False: Random-chance is an uncontrollable force that fouls-up life.

10. What is your primary function here?

————————
Answers:

1. Reality is dreamlike.
2. I am the dreamer.
3. Things get done via narratives and expectations.
4. Unhappiness is the result of the thinking-mind’s incessant chatter and desire to criticize.
5. A quiet mind is a happy mind.
6. None, logic is a pathway to loser-ville.
7. False, life is a benevolent experience.
8. False, we die whenever we feel our story’s over.
9. False, it’s a playful-lie used by the thinking-mind to make the mundane seem more exciting.
10. I exist in order to extract enjoyment from existence.

Doorway Sales

I tried for DECADES to make that natural-model-of-the-universe stuff fly. I was a dedicated advocate and active proselytizer. But in the end, I just couldn’t do it. Eventually, beaten and broken, I had to say fuck-it and move on. Yet being the natural-born zealot I am, I can’t not advocate for something. So nowadays I promote the enjoyment of existence — I’m a salesman for the good-life. My father was a salesman by the way, he sold doors.

But me, I sell virtual doors, gateways to the wondrous world you never knew existed. A magical realm fueled by dreams and wishes. Rich Reality Services — that’s the name of my business (“reality”, not “realty” like you’d expect. Ha! Get it!?). It’s a service for those that want to trade-in their distressing perspective for something better. And boy do I have something better for you! You’re gonna think I’m offering some pie-in-the-sky nonsensical notion — but no, this is the real deal.

Imagine the life you’re living now, but without fear and with plenty of fulfillment. No more worry, just you living life as you were meant to, enjoying yourself the entire time. What a concept! Regularly smiling, appreciating your surroundings, maintaining a sense of satisfaction, having fun — these things could be yours. And that reality exists right now if you’re willing to accept it. I’m simply here if you need a little nudge in the right direction.

And like many instructors, I’m merely a couple pages ahead in the lesson-book — I’m finding my way on the path same as you. But think of me as the scout that intrepidly treks ahead. I’m first to fall off the cliff, yet first to see the rising sun. Either way, you get a heads-up about what’s coming, with time to react based on the insight provided. My character just happens to be good at not falling off cliffs, which is why I’ve taken the point position.

So if that sounds about right to you, stick around and read along — or hit me up with any questions or comments. My name’s Rich if you didn’t catch it earlier, and I’m at your service.

Lighten Up

A part of the Overcoming Negativity series.

Lest you think this is a new or unique problem, far from it. It’s been a central theme of existence since the beginning. The message of Jesus is basically this: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” i.e. “Give-up your bad-attitude because paradise is right here and now, enjoy it!” If you read the book of Matthew, you’ll see a guy that’s increasingly frustrated by the negativity and stubbornness surrounding him. So much so, that he eventually rage-quits the game in the form of suicide-by-cop.

The take-away from the plight of Jesus should be this: Don’t be a passionate pessimist like those that surrounded him — the world God created isn’t a shit-hole that’s made to frighten inhabitants. It’s a wonderland meant to be enjoyed. And you’re being a total dick by constantly criticizing it and not even trying to have fun. Those people took life way too seriously, and Jesus essentially told them to lighten up — now, we can do what they refused to do, we can choose to lighten up.

Jesus simply walked up to the sick and said: “Hey, cut it out. Stop already, you’re going to be okay. Existence is a great experience that you should be celebrating, not lamenting.” And you know what? Those people that could only imagine their bodies as sources of pain-and-suffering wised-up and went along their merry way. But so few listened, they were so sure of themselves and their pessimistic perspective: “Life sucks, and then you die!”

It’s such a simple message too: lighten up. Stop interpreting everything in such a dark and dire way. What divine being would create a nightmare-world designed to torture inhabitants? Spoiler Alert: None, because that’d be dumb. Yet for whatever reason, inhabitants insist on imagining the worst. And being that God is giving, those inhabitants always find what they seek. But what a mockery we make of our wondrous world if that’s what we ask for. So lighten up for Christ’s sake!