Realist Fantasy

So you want to live in the “real” world huh? Okay, let’s take a quick look at the “real” world then. In the real-world, you could die at any minute of the day due to accident, natural disaster, disease, organ failure, homicide, etc. But thanks to your knowledge and cunning, you’ve managed to survive on a daily basis despite the many dangers that surround. Congratulations, you are amazingly adept at survival. Unfortunately, the moment you let your guard down, you’re dead — and because of random-chance, there’s actually no way to protect against most of the situations that’ll kill you. Hopefully you’re feeling lucky.

That world is a recipe for anxiety. I know because I tried living in it for a few decades. It sucked. I was obviously living a lie too. The world is not a big-scary place in which you must fend for yourself or-else. In terms of life-skills, I’m ignorant as well as incompetent. I couldn’t fight my way out of a wet paper bag. I don’t have any survival skills — if pushed, I crumple. Yet here I am. Everything I believed about the “real” world is completely wrong. Not a little wrong, COMPLETELY wrong. It’s clear that I’ve been carried through life all this time — because if it were up to my own ability, I’d be long gone by now.

My advice to you is this: give up those dumb ideas about the “real” world. Save yourself the trouble of having to deal with anxiety for decades until you finally figure it out. This thing you’re experiencing is not an absolute reality, it’s more like a dream. You’ll be okay. And you know you’ll be okay because you’re here, despite your inability. A natural world demands the fittest specimens, quick reflexes, split-second death-defying decision-making, and constant vigilance — whereas this world… not so much. We’re all inexperienced novices to some extent.

Yes, it’s exciting to think you have to “struggle” and “survive” to make it through this world. But there are so many counter-examples to prove this isn’t true — it’s a silly thought. Think of life like a lazy-river in which you’re gently floating downstream. If you simply allow life to maintain your buoyancy, and you remain calm without struggling, you’ll easily drift with the current. Whereas if you fight the flow and thrash around like a madman, then yes, it will seem like you’re drowning. That’s not life’s doing, that’s your doing. If you refrain from freaking out, then things will go a lot smoother. From there, you can finally perceive actual reality and enjoy the ride.

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Swiping Thoughts

I’m a loser. There’s just no doubt about it. I’m short, I have bad teeth and terrible social skills, I’m rude and self-centered, pompous and patronizing, I have no career, I have to ask my mom for money, I’ve got nothing going for me, I’m just existing because it’s easier than not existing. I’m such a weak character, it’s so embarrassing to be me. If I compete at something, there’s a better than average chance I’ll lose — I’m clearly a failure.

The above paragraph represents a thought. What do I notice while having the thought? I notice that I feel pretty bad. Based on my reaction, I can tell it’s a negative thought. Negative thoughts MUST be managed. Thoughts are not real, they’re mere mental-suggestions. It’s like a buddy throwing out ideas: “we could split a pizza, we could eat our own feces, we could order some chinese-food, we could insult ourself until we cry, we could go to the movies…”

But this buddy has no filter and is kinda psycho. You have to think of him more like a five-year old just spitballing ideas. He’s not leadership material. His suggestions should never be taken without proper evaluation. Whereas if you take what he says with a grain-of-salt, then he’s kinda fun in a wacky way. Again, the way in which to evaluate his ideas is by noticing how they make you feel. If it feels bad, it is bad — don’t accept the suggestion.

If he’s persistent, then you be persistent. Don’t entertain that nonsense. Whenever you hear “You’re a loser, you suck!”, don’t take the bait, don’t play that game. It’s a trick to engage your attention, a way to thrill you through the feeling of pain. There’s other ways to alleviate boredom, just keep rejecting the unpleasant suggestions until a more pleasant option pops up. The great thing about thoughts is that there’s millions more in the pipeline, you’ll never run out, just keep swiping for the next one.

Hellish Nightmare

Within this world, a devil does exist, a tempter. And the temptation he presents you, is to think negatively about life. And if you follow this temptation, you in effect create a hell-on-earth for yourself. But the good news is this: if you unwittingly succumb to the temptation, salvation exists in this world as well. Salvation comes in the form of a positive belief about life — you must develop and maintain the idea that this is a benevolent world. In other words, heaven is at hand if you simply reach for it.

Every time you think of the world as a dark and scary place, you create it — the vision forms before you. You’ll interpret every scene and situation as an opportunity to suffer abuse. Every random noise is doom stepping closer. Every smell is the stink of decay. Every person is a predator that sees you as prey. In this way, you find the hell you seek and the devil wins another soul.

But this nightmare need not happen. You can resist the temptation to disparage the world. It’s easy to hate and ridicule and cause calamity — it’s an effortless path to take. Imagine showing up at a party and ripping on the host for throwing such a lame soiree, you taste and spit-out every one of the hors d’oeuvres — claiming them not fit for consumption, you taunt the guests for dressing like peasants, you break some vases and urinate in the pool. You definitely create some excitement, but is it worth it?

Or, you can enter the party with an accepting attitude, willing to try new things. No, you won’t like every song or every bite to eat, but there’s no reason to go nuts over it — calm down, it’s a party. Others are there to have fun too, maybe it’s not all about you and what you want. Maybe the host tried as hard as she could — and there you are ready to jump down her throat for every perceived offense. Careful not to look in the mirror or the devil might be staring back.

But listen, you have an opportunity to rectify your earlier roguishness. Redemption is available. Think about this: when you show up to the party every morning, are you feeling timid and dreading what the day has in store? “Great things!!” is the only acceptable answer when wondering what’ll happen today. YOU specifically were invited to the greatest party ever — you’re a welcomed guest. If you’re not feeling loved and valued then you’re being willfully obstinate and downright rude. You should feel nothing but appreciation for this wondrous opportunity.

So if you’re feeling bad, then you know the devil’s got you. This means you’ve got a fight on your hands. But because the devil is your own negativity, this is actually a pretty easy fight to win. The way to win is simply this: STOP BEING NEGATIVE. You’re not denying reality by denying negativity. The world takes whatever form you imagine it to take and you can easily prove this to yourself by stopping your negativity for a few days. Your nightmare will end and you’ll never want to go back.

Global Alterations

In self-improvement circles, there’s a topic that’s often skirted-around, so I want to make this point crystal-clear.

When delving into self-improvement, you’ll naturally think that only YOUR life gets better while the nastiness around you remains the same. That’s not true. As you proceed down the self-improvement path, the nature of the reality you’re experiencing transforms. When you improve, the situations and circumstances of the world improve. When YOU get better, everything gets better.

“WHAT!!?? That’s ridiculous!!” Now you realize why people don’t usually talk about this topic directly. As someone that just stepped on the self-improvement path, you can’t readily fathom such a concept — it doesn’t make sense. You simply wanted to gain a little clarity over your life or lessen your anxiety — and now all of a sudden the world as you know it is going to change as well!?? Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying.

And I’m not simply talking perception-wise, I’m saying the construction of the world will be reformed. If you’re dedicated, you’ll see a dank-and-dark realm-of-misery transform into a sunshine-filled amusement-park. This might make more sense if you think of existence as a dream. When dreaming, the scenes tend to take the form of whatever mood you’re in. If you’re anxious, you’ll have worrisome dreams for example.

So when your outlook improves, your dream improves. You’ll be tuned into a whole new station of Earth-TV. It’s another plane of existence in which great things happen. If you’ve ever wondered why some people are having an awesome time despite all the nastiness you see, this is why. That nastiness doesn’t exist for them, it resides on an entirely different frequency. They could tune-in if they wanted, but that’d be dumb obviously.

That nastiness can’t be “fixed” by the way. It exists as it is for those that want to experience it. For a time, you wanted to experience it, but now you’re moving beyond that junk-food-level of existence — you’re done with using fear and frustration and pain as a source of amusement. You’re done with masochism. Now you’re on the self-improvement path. Sure it takes some discipline to get there and maintain it, but it’s worth it.

At first, the self-improvement path won’t seem worth it. From your current perspective, it’ll look like you have to climb to the top of a garbage pile. “So what! It probably smells worse at the top!” But no, that pile of garbage will transform as you climb it — it will become the hill of your dreams i.e. grassy fields filled with daisies underneath blue-skies dotted with puffy white clouds (or whatever). Note: if the world doesn’t transform before your very eyes, then you’re not applying enough discipline.

Horrible Choices

Dear Rich, all I see are horrible things, therefore the world must be a horrible place — how can it be otherwise?

It really is true that you’re seeing and experiencing horrible things. You’re right about that. Where you’re wrong, is in the assumption that those images and circumstances constitute the totality of reality. You’re assuming that reality is an absolute condition comprised only of the things you’ve personally experienced thus far — when in fact it’s a lot larger than that, plus it’s relative and subject to interpretation.

Cheesecake to some, is a delicious treat. Whereas cheesecake to me, is a disgusting abomination, a so-called “cake” not fit for the dessert-table. But the world is all things to all people, and cheesecake lovers deserve delight too. So if I’m at a buffet and I grab a big ol’ slice of cheesecake for myself, sit down and complain about it’s awful taste and texture, you’d think I was an idiot. You’d say: “Why do you keep selecting something you don’t like!!! Just grab a brownie for goodness sake!!”

And there we have it. You keep seeing and experiencing horrible things because you keep choosing them. Just stop it already! As hard as it is to believe, some people really do enjoy things that disgust you — that’s their choice. There are entire factories dedicated to the production of cheesecake for example — how gross is that!? But hey, that’s none of my business. Yet if I spent my days reveling in the revulsion of that fact, you’d think I was a sicko. You’d say, “Find a more enjoyable hobby, ya nut!!”

Think of the world like it’s YouTube. You can find plenty of nasty videos on there that’ll ruin your day. But you can also find stuff that’ll delight you, make you laugh, and uplift your spirit. Either type will captivate and alleviate boredom — but it’s up to you to evaluate how the flashing-scenes make you feel and then select accordingly. If it’s not obvious yet, you’ll want to watch the scenes that make you feel good, not the ones that make you feel bad.

In this way, the world becomes what you make of it. Reality is relative, remember. “Bad stuff” is going to happen whether you watch it or not. And you’re only going to contribute negativity to the world if you spend all your time judging and condemning the stuff you don’t like. For instance, as of today there are over 200 Cheesecake Factory restaurants around the world, and I’m fine with that. I’ve even eaten at one — I selected Linda’s Fudge Cake for dessert and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Peek-a-boo

Dear Rich, why would you base your worldview on a late-90s action movie? That sounds kinda dumb.

Perhaps that’s backwards thinking. Perhaps The Matrix was designed as a subtle introduction to the underlying nature of reality for those that could only imagine in the images of action-movies. Even Neo had a hard time accepting the true nature of reality when he left the matrix. How can you explain to someone that grew up in the 80s and 90s that they’re living within a simulated world? Morpheus said regular people would typically fight against the truth while desperately clinging to the only reality they knew.

Therefore, you create a movie based in the modern-day using modern-day iconography and explanations. Those who see it, see it. And those that don’t want to see it, simply perceive a sci-fi movie. No harm, no foul. It’s a not-so-subtle clue for those seeking answers. And the movie’s theme is dank and dark because that’s the only way to draw in pessimists who will say: “I knew it!!! The world really IS a post-apocalyptic hell-scape filled with sheeple!!”.

But eventually, if you really take some time to think about it: what doesn’t work in The Matrix, what fails to be adequately explained, is the nefarious nature of the matrix. The enslavement of humanity doesn’t make sense and causes all sorts of debates. The so-called sequels don’t make sense either by the way. And that’s because life is NOT a nefarious affair. The Matrix itself demonstrates this, by failing to create a convincing villain.

And again, The Matrix was simply an introduction, it wasn’t meant to explain everything. It drew-in certain people that couldn’t be drawn-in by other means. God and spirituality and all that stuff makes no sense to pessimistic realists — so the only option to reach them was through sci-fi action flicks. Ultimately, the world wants its players to have a good time — but in order to have a good time, a player needs the right balance between fact and fiction.

A player must be invested enough to care about in-game outcomes, but not overly invested to the point of perpetual worry. If you only believe in a harsh and brutal world ruled by random-chance, then you’re going to have a bad time. You need some perspective, some distance, you need to see yourself as a player engaged in an enjoyable adventure. But when you’re too lost within the game, you can’t comprehend this. And so clues are provided, alarm clocks — The Matrix simply serves as one of the ways to help you wake up.

Simulated Lifestyle

So imagine this world is just a computer simulation. What do you do now? How do you live life?

Hm. I suppose I’d wonder what my limitations are. Although, I’d have to be careful about identifying limitations because they might not be well-defined or might change over time depending on conditions. I’d also wonder what resources are available to me. Will they replenish? I’d also wonder about my character’s skills and abilities. And I’d wonder whether I should wait for developer updates to fix some of the “bugs”, inconsistencies, and poor game-mechanics I’ve found (although most likely, a lot of that stuff is just user-error on my part).

I’ve been playing a couple of pretty-involved video-games recently: Minecraft and War Robots, and I can characterize my general game-play in those games, and use that as a guide.

For Minecraft, my efforts typically tend towards building a shelter, adding stuff to it, expanding, decorating. Whether I’m in survival-mode or creative-mode, my shelter scales accordingly — but either way, most of my time is spent enhancing my home. So in this world, I’d likely do something similar, which is: get a nice home and keep enhancing it. And sometimes after a bit of exploring, I’ll move to a nicer place in a nicer area. I’d collect rarities and trinkets I stumble upon and I’d upgrade my tools whenever I find something better.

Whereas in War Robots, which isn’t as immersive because it’s just a battle-simulator, I spend a lot of time upgrading my bots and their weapons. Some people tend to deride the consumer-lifestyle, but I find that’s precisely what I’m drawn to in video-games. Yeah it’s a constant upgrade-cycle — but what’s wrong with that? Perhaps it’s a problem if you start to look at people as products. I don’t think we should look toward upgrading the people in our lives. Improving relationships is fine, but trying to find “better” people tends to push the problem down the line (the problems we have with people usually begin within).

In both games, I enjoy innovation — when the developers come out with new stuff that expands the known universe. As a player, that kinda stuff seems beyond my control though. The Internet was certainly a major update when it came out, for example. I’m excited about innovations in transportation too — I like the idea of getting places with less fuss. And, I like ever-expanding options for entertainment. Shopping has gotten a lot easier too.

So just to sum up and answer the question directly: what would I do in a simulated world such as this? I’d find a great home, enhance it, explore a bit, collect stuff, upgrade tools, and improve relationships with my companions. I’d also keep an eye out for innovations in the game and try them out when they’re released.