Virtual Excitement

Imagine you’re playing a game, it’s a virtual world filled with little characters running around. They all wake up at sunrise, gather food, eat, gather more food, eat, then go to sleep at sunset. There’s nothing more to the game. Everything goes according to plan and everything is in perfect harmony. Is it a fun game? Of course not, it’s a boring waste of time.

Now imagine a similar game, a virtual world filled with little characters running around. But here, calamity often strikes, resource shortages occur, and characters quarrel. Little goes according to plan and harmony is a sought-after but never achieved state. Is it a fun game? Yeah, imbalance is the foundation of most games.

If life wasn’t a game, a smoothing balance would occur over time. Yet as it is, turbulence of shifting varieties keeps the boat rockin’. Life will never reach a balanced state, and we wouldn’t want it to. Do we desire boredom? No, never, it’s literally the worst feeling ever. We’d rather suffer the harshest pains than submit to boredom. We’ll scare ourselves silly rather than be bored.

I could ignore everything that goes on around me, letting circumstances sail-by like water off a duck’s back, never absorbing — but I don’t. Instead I intently watch, waiting to be triggered. THERE!!! Aha! Now I’m scared! Now I’m angry! Frustrated in fact!! Good! Goooood! I’m energized by these little dramas that keep coming into view!

And that’s it. That’s life in a nutshell. Now you understand why things are the way they are. But games are not only meant to be engaging, but fun — if you’re not enjoying yourself then you’re taking it too seriously, perhaps too personally — lighten up. If flickering pixels make you cry then step back a bit and find another part to focus on.

In a way, you’re at a buffet. Select the stuff you want, and stop getting the stuff that grosses you out. Don’t even look at it, just stick to the stuff that delights your palate. Develop an appreciation for the nicer things in life or you’ll be stuck with the worst stuff possible. Fear and frustration are the easiest ways to get your heart racing, but they’re low-quality options that should be avoided.

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Particular Politics

I have a penchant for history. But I like to maintain a certain distance from it or else the subject-matter can get a bit too nasty for my tastes. It’s like a sausage: appetizing unless you analyze every bit of the process to do with its construction. But if you receive just the final product, history can certainly fill you with entertaining tales of old.

I suppose the same is true for politics. It’s war but with words. One side versus another both fighting for public opinion. And similar to history, you gotta maintain a certain distance or else it’ll get gross, fast. It is most certainly a sporting event with fans cheering on either side rooting for the star-player-of-the-moment.

But aren’t politics the way in which things get done? If any seat of government disappeared tomorrow as if it never existed, what would change? In the short-term nothing. In the long-term…? Who knows. But if such a question can’t be readily answered, what exactly is government getting done? How crucial can it be?

And if it was crucial, wouldn’t society be sending its brightest minds to do these tasks? Let me ask you this, are politicians the best minds society has to offer? So my advice to myself, and anyone else who needs it. Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Politics is for the politicians, those mischievous hucksters that argue for sport.

Lost to Thought

I enjoy getting lost in thought and often seek to do so. But I used to follow any stimulating idea that crossed my mind — I’d go down gloomy labyrinths fraught with thoughts of doom. And that was a mistake of course, as it led me down too many dank alleyways awash with sewer that stuck even upon exit. You don’t eat something just because it’s on your plate do you? No, rotten food should be discarded — and it’s the same with rotten ideas.

Rotten thoughts are those that poison the mind — not only are they initially unpleasant but their effects linger long after the introduction. When they knock, it’s our job not to invite them in — no matter how persistent they may be. It’s a skill to block thought though — but it’s an ability we can practice and improve upon. For instance, we have to regularly poll our emotional state: How am I feeling? Good? Good. How am I feeling? Sad.. scared.. seething..? ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!

Sir! We have a situation. All indications are that we’re currently experiencing emotional distress.

All stations CODE RED! I repeat, all stations CODE RED! Shut this down immediately! DO IT! GO! GO! GO! This must be contained, or it could blow at any minute!

Sir! We’ve successfully ceased all physical and mental activity, we’ve gone into meditative mode and we’re quietly waiting out the shockwave.

Sir! I’m proud to report that there have only been minor leaks to the outside — nothing unmanageable. Residual aftershocks are being dealt with as they roll in and the initial cause for upsetness has been defused through a reset in perspective.

How am I feeling? Good? Good.

Eventually, the process of recognizing and rebuffing unconstructive thoughts becomes more automatic. And instead of periodic polling, we can use the heightened emotions themselves to trigger a recognition response, effortlessly setting the whole deactivation sequence in motion.

So it’s rare that I get completely lost within my thoughts anymore. I’ll certainly wander without knowing where I’m going, but my sense of direction is better, I can tell where home is, and I’m more street-savvy, knowing which avenues to avoid.

Spiritual Sport

We’re just toying with ourselves, “a cosmic game of hide-and-seek”. We act like we don’t want to be found, then lament when we’re not, so we pretend we want to get caught, but coyly retract when getting too close. But that makes sense of course, because why should we want to wake up from our dream?

So to keep ourselves constantly engaged we imagine the worst stuff, frightening and angering ourselves just to go deeper into the dream. We hide behind fear and outrage because it’s easy. Where else would a non-material being hide from itself? But utilizing fear and anger is an act of laziness, a lack of creativity. The most primitive means to achieve compliance in behavior is to instill fear through rage.

So the mature approach is to move beyond anxiety and anger as a means to captivate ourselves. Think of a movie complex showing several different movies. The most engrossing movie is going to be the horror that makes us literally jump out of our seat as it implants ideas that haunt our imagination long after the initial viewing. It takes maturity to appreciate more subtle themes.

Because, if we’re not perpetually distracted, we’ll begin considering the unreality of existence — and this can be uncomfortable. So we take the quick and dirty route of scaring ourselves. We perceive a world filled with constant calamity, always on the precipice of doom. But the world is ever on the edge of disaster, yet still persists — a condition that only proves the artificiality of it all.

While it’s a bit uncomfortable to contemplate the illusionary nature of existence, the alternative is certainly not an improvement. To believe in a naturally evolving world ruled by randomness is a recipe for endless anxiousness. Fear and fury are ugly manifestations, they’re not worth it. We must cultivate higher means of captivating ourselves.

Not fear and fury, but fun and fellowship. Not decay and destruction, but design and development. Not lack and loss, but love and lightheartedness. A menu sits before us, the choice of how to hide is ours. So let’s put in the effort to develop a more refined palate, shall we? Let’s focus on the best of what life has to offer.

Inward Triggers

Life is more than what our senses perceive. This is obvious yet we often fall back to a limited perspective. In other words, we default to shortsightedness. Therefore we must regularly remind ourselves that our viewpoint is flawed, relying on prompts to trigger our awareness. Such prompts might be anger or fear.

If we’re angry for instance, we must not unleash on the perceived source. The real source is life’s illusion. We must see anger itself as a trigger, urging us to look inward. Anger is an unproductive emotion that we don’t need. Our task is to let go of it as fast as we can, then proceed from a non-angry perspective.

Or if we’re scared, we must not shrink away from the perceived source. The real source is life’s illusion. We must see fear itself as a trigger, urging us to look inward. Fear is an unproductive emotion that we don’t need. Our task is to let go of it as fast as we can, then proceed from a non-fearful perspective.

Defusing unproductive emotions is a challenge that is worth the effort. We don’t win the game-of-life by lashing out in anger or by cowering in fear. No, we win by dismantling these unproductive emotional states, gaining more control of our player. What fun is had by players who rage the entire game or take such caution as to remain motionless?

It’s difficult to constantly observe and evaluate ourselves, unless we rely on these simple trigger mechanisms. When put in place, bad moods set off alarms and the consciousness comes to investigate. He sees trouble brewing and systematically clears the room, ushering out the trouble-makers. Not on my watch!

Stepping Back

A grain of sand on a glossy black surface is significant. That same grain of sand at a beach is insignificant. Focus increases significance. A widened perspective decreases significance. Don’t simply turn away, step back. Go far enough away until the irritation is lost within the sea of everything.

If one thing goes wrong, if five things go wrong, what about the thousands that have gone right? If stubbornness does not permit such recognition, back up even further. Picture the tiny blue ball rolling through space, dwarfed by the giant fire it encircles. Upon that planet thousands of years of history came and went.

Or perhaps that history was imagined, created by artists to entertain inhabitants of a fantasy realm. Either way, the significance of each passing day lessens when considering history’s span or veracity. Is a particular life important or unimportant? Pick whichever option is most appealing.

That inner feeling of agitation underlying action is a result of hyper-focus on the unpleasant. That horrible thing is trapped in time, release it. See all that was before and all that will follow. See the larger stage it’s set within. See yourself, years from now thinking back, observing your thoughts and actions. See a face too close, if only it would pull away and see the entirety of the situation.

Now realize it’s not too late. That face is your own, today. Step back, and keep going. Specifics become so tiny that they’re lost in an ocean of fading memories. Yesterday is floating away. Tomorrow will soon be drifting too. But today is here, a little boat with brightly colored sail. With sun shining and a comfortable breeze, travel to where you want to go.

Taking the Reins

If you’re fundamentally dissatisfied with life, it means autopilot isn’t working, therefore it’s time to take the wheel and start steering.

Step one: Realization. Realize and accept that you’ve been on autopilot this whole time. The life you’re living is being directed by your underdeveloped thoughts. Your dissatisfaction demonstrates that these immature ideas are a hindrance, and your course needs redirecting.

Immature thoughts are those that reject life, they’re usually based in fear or frustration, resulting in self-imposed limits which stall one’s progress through the world. Mature thoughts are those that help develop a satisfied outlook with life, these include such themes as appreciation and hopefulness. In a well-maintained mind, seeds of growth are planted while weeds of negativity are discarded.

Step two: Awareness. Maintain an awareness of the happenings within the mind. You can’t pluck the weeds if you never look for them. Meditation for instance, helps us observe the ongoings of the mind from a detached perspective. Once we’re mindful of our thoughts, we can evaluate their effects on our moods, separating the weeds from the seeds.

Step three: Positivity. As in, it’s time to plant positivity within your mind. The best way to maintain your mind-garden is to have overflowing crops of the variety you prefer. If you leave gaps, the weeds will grow, requiring constant upkeep. Begin by imagining the things you like, the ideal outcomes, think of the life that instills a sense of delight. When fear and doubt start to sprout, dismantle their ability to take root.

Step four: Fun. Gardening should be a lighthearted hobby. Part of the problem is an over-seriousness toward life. Just focus on your garden, the little patch in front of you. Regularly envision the harvest you dream of, placing no roof above, let it grow, unlimited. But stay detached, not overly involved, let roots strengthen and stems thicken as they naturally do. Appreciate the process while being ever hopeful in its bloom.