Five outta Five

The other day, I was watching a prominent gaming YouTuber insist on rating everything LESS than “5 out of 5” — because there’s always room for improvement. But, is assuming a less-than-best experience, the ideal strategy for the game of life? I would say no, it’s actually a recipe for dissatisfaction.

I’ve tried both sides of the coin — and no matter which side you choose, you’re essentially convincing yourself that it’s true. It literally could’ve been the best burger in the world, you really don’t know — BUT, you’re going to give it a less-than-best rating “just in-case”. That’s erring on the side of negativity — it assumes you never get the best.

Whereas if you say: “THAT is a five-out-of-five burger!” You’ve lost nothing. In fact, you’ve gained a great experience. “WHAT!? I just ate a perfect burger!? Wow! What a lucky person I am.” Suddenly you go from a mediocre existence in which nothing can ever truly satisfy, to having the best life ever.

And if something utterly fails, and simply cannot be considered 5 outta 5, then find an aspect that IS 5 outta 5. It’s not hard. Are the fries good? The atmosphere good? Are you with good company? Plenty of napkins? Find something and appreciate it. Maybe it was the BEST worst-experience you ever had! Always find the 5 outta 5.


Checking Boxes

The game-of-life has several categories we must attend to. If any are neglected, we’ll feel a lack of satisfaction — as if we’re not living a “full life”. But the way in which we attend to each category is highly subjective — only our personal character can determine the specifics. In other words, activities performed must be meaningful to the individual.

Body. You must engage in activity that utilizes the body in a way that feels significant to you. This activity does not have to be strenuous in any way, it’s simply taking your body out for a spin and enjoying it. To some, that might be running a marathon, but to others it might be a walk in the park — or it could be more artistic endeavors such as playing the piano or folding some paper (origami).

Busywork. You must engage in activity that fills-up time and accomplishes something you’re proud of. It could be an actual career or it could be a hobby like woodworking. It could be cooking or daily fitness training. Whatever it is, at the end of the day you should feel as though you accomplished something.

Relationship. You must engage in a relationship with some other entity. Whether it be romantic or parental or fraternal or friendship or a partnership — you have to significantly bond with another being. It should be a connection that makes you feel like you’re not alone OR that you’re a vital part of their existence.

Diet. You must find a way of eating that works for you. This is a personal selection of food that fits only your palate. It should make you feel well-nourished and never lacking. Diets change throughout time and culture, there’s nothing set in stone — so you’ll need to discover and experiment, finding the foods that leave you feeling satisfied.

Impact. You must feel as though you’ve influenced your world in some way. Whether it’s simply your immediate surroundings, your family, or even society itself — you’ll need to feel like you left some footprints. This might include having children, or passing on a legacy of some sort, or simply winning “Yard of the Month” and helping your neighborhood look nice.

Appreciation. You must develop an appreciation for life. You must constantly strive to find the good in the gifts you’ve been given. This is the very opposite of complaining about everything. Instead of picking out what’s wrong in the world, you must pick out what’s right.

Home. You must feel as though you’ve found a place in the world, a home. Somewhere, somehow, you fit like a puzzle piece into this world. Find that spot. For some this means a move, but for others it means recognizing the home they’ve already got. Hint: you might be in the correct physical location, but require an attitude adjustment.

Understanding. You must develop a comforting understanding of existence. You don’t have to figure everything out, you just need to develop a perspective that allows you to feel comfortable in the world. This could take the form of a religious or spiritual belief or some other form of philosophical interpretation. At the end of the day, you have to feel good about what’s going on here.

Role. You must feel as though you’re performing your role. You have a particular character with a certain set of preferences and abilities. Experiment, see what your strengths are and what activities you enjoy. This role might tie into your relationships, or how you influence your surroundings, or even your physical activity.

Adventure. You must feel as though you’re wandering through an exciting realm of wonder. Some aspect of life should cause you to feel like you’re discovering a whole new world. If your attention isn’t captured by something, you’re likely barking up the wrong tree — try another path.

Depending on one’s age, many of these items will be incomplete. THAT’S THE POINT. These boxes start out unchecked and you have an entire lifetime to work on them. And it’s not likely you’ll do them all at once — that’s ludicrous.

Also specific to the individual, is the priority we place on each category. For example, some people might spend hours everyday training their body whereas others barely use theirs. Or one person might spend years cultivating a deep personal relationship with a life-partner whereas another person might have a guinea-pig he cares for — both perfectly satisfied.

These categories simply serve as a guideline to the question: What am I supposed to do here on Earth? If you’re not sure, there you go. Work on fulfilling these categories — they’re the roadmap to what’s going on here — you’ll want to visit each of them in some way. Good luck, Earthling!

Word War II

I dunno man, you’re trying to convince me that the world is benevolent, but I’m seeing something very different. If it’s truly a friendly place, then shouldn’t it be obvious? Show, don’t tell. Why present all these “logical arguments” when the proof should be in the pudding.

If you’re projecting a nefarious nature onto everything, how can you be shown the truth? To you, everything looks as if it has evil intentions. Cats are ready to scratch, dogs are waiting to bite, food is filled with toxins, air is potential poison, people are always plotting — your dire predictions are all the evidence you need to condemn the world. You’ve convinced yourself that the world wants you dead.

Yet you ignore the inconvenient fact that you’re still alive!! Not only are you alive, but you’re doing well DESPITE a lack of effort on your part. You’ve done NOTHING to ensure your own continuing existence, yet here you are. How is that possible UNLESS the world is actively ensuring your well-being? You can’t hide from the world, no matter where you go you’re in it.

Well maybe I hide because I don’t like what’s out there. I’ve tried to participate — but every time I do, it sucks. Perhaps this world is just a poor implementation — not everything can be great, right? Or maybe it’s not the right fit for me.

That’s not true. There have been times in which you’ve enjoyed yourself here. And if someone with such a bad attitude can find enjoyment, how great a place must this be? Yet instead of savoring any enjoyment, you grow suspicious of it. You see it as cheese in a mouse-trap lulling you into a false sense of security as the trap gets ready to spring.

I’ve seen things happen to others and I don’t want those things happening to me. It’s truly a brutal world.

Instead of seeing the world for what it is, you’re trying to convince yourself that your imagined ideas are right. You developed an initial opinion when you arrived here, and you’ve clung to it for no good reason. You’re in a prison of your own design. If you step out into the sun, you might enjoy yourself.

I’d rather not step out into the sun, it causes sunburns and cancer.

If that were true, everyone would be roasted and/or dead. Could it be that your expectations about the world actually come true to some extent? If you expect something to evoke pain, perhaps it will? Maybe you’re not so much a victim, but a perpetrator? Might you be at the root of your own suffering?

Why would I want to hurt myself? That’s stupid. Now you’re trying to convince me that I’m the bad-guy in all this?

If you’re the one projecting evil onto everything you see in the world, how is that not bad? You’re like a vandal spraying grey and gloomy graffiti on every surface you pass. It’s laziness: destroy what’s there instead of creating something new. How fun for you to smash and break and tear things to bits. Wow, look how powerful you are. Impressive. But of course, that’s an immature form of fun. Destruction is the basest form of entertainment. It takes effort and care to create, a maturity that perhaps you refuse to develop?

I have ideas. I want to do things. The world refuses to give me what I want.

But you have opposing ideas. On one hand, you see a goal. On the other hand, you see a hundred reasons why it should never come to pass. Perhaps the world wants to give you everything you want, but YOU refuse it. You’re not battling the world, you’re battling your own contradictions. You’re saying: “give me five dollars!” but then you say “Eh, I guess I don’t deserve five dollars. And even if I get five dollars, I wouldn’t trust it — there’s bound to be strings attached. Five dollars is worthless anyway, I’d need at least twenty. Forget the five dollars, it’s too much trouble to deal with!” Does that sound familiar?

Well what am I supposed to do!? Why am I like this? I didn’t choose to be this way.

But now that it’s been pointed out to you, you can choose not to be this way. You’re aware of it, and with that awareness you can stop participating in the practice of pessimism. You can notice when your mood sours, when you paint with dour hues, when you’re doing something destructive instead of constructive. And from there, decide to follow a brighter path. You’ve been complicating things tremendously — it’s not that hard.

If it’s not that hard, then why haven’t I figured this stuff out on my own? I’m the smartest person I know!

Smart? No. You’re actually the most STUBBORN person you know. How can you be smart if you can’t do the simplest things? If you can’t even understand what’s happening right in front of you on a daily basis? If anything, you’re a special-needs case — and that’s okay. Your disability is that you think you know something.

If you actually knew something, the world would make sense. But because your intuition and imaginings are completely wrong, the world seems as though it’s messed up. It’s YOU that’s messed up — how could you be right, and the entire world wrong? Think about that. You’ve been believing all these juvenile notions about yourself and the world, and it’s gotten you nowhere.

Well you don’t have to be mean about it.

Isn’t that what you do? Don’t you go around criticizing? Disparaging EVERYTHING you happen across? Does that sound smart to you? You claim that you’re simply describing the reality around you, but it seems more like an editorial with an underlying tone of piss and vinegar. Your opinion is no more factual than a gossip-rag at the supermarket checkout-aisle. You’re no more than a shyster attempting to peddle your smut-filled fear-mongering nonsense to anyone that’ll listen. And you think you deserve sympathy?

You CAN stop finding fault with everything. You CAN stop focusing on every bad thing you can think of. You CAN get smarter. You CAN appreciate the goodness that’s given to you. You CAN enjoy your time here on Earth. You CAN be happy and do constructive things. The choice is up to you though — a better life is an option you can select. You must exercise your free-will to attain it.

Well whatever, I guess I’m an idiot then. I guess it’s Shit-on-me Day today. More of the same.

Very good. You’re learning. You ARE an idiot and you WILL receive exactly what you expect to receive. Expect a bad experience, receive a bad experience. Now think about this: you’ve been arguing this entire time for the right to be miserable. Why would you want that? If you abandon your position, you can have a much better life. Stop defending a perspective that causes you to hate existence. Life loves you — why reject it? Accept, appreciate, engage, enjoy — it’s not so hard.

I dunno…

Of course you don’t know, that’s the point. You don’t know — so start there. Start at the position of unknowableness. Don’t be so sure of your pessimistic positions. Maybe everything you’ve been so certain about is wrong. And if you explore with an open-mind, perhaps you’ll discover a world that’s been waiting to embrace you. It didn’t dare before, you screamed with suspicion at anything you were given. Now accept the caress — let your guard down. Forget what you think you know and know the love of life.

I want to be loved.

You are loved.

Living As If

This is something I’ve been told, dunno if it’s real: if you put everything in place as if it’s true, life will simply follow through. In other words, “if you build it, they will come”.

A quick illustration: if you assemble a lemonade stand, put out signs, mix up some drink, stack the cups, and sit behind the counter, people will actually show up and patronize your business. In a natural world, there’s no reason anybody should ever show up. But in this world, the one we’re living in, customers come when you expect them.

Whereas if you do something half-assed and don’t expect much of it, you’ll see a return on that investment too i.e. nada mucho. If you don’t want customers or profits, don’t worry, they won’t come. That’s just how it is in this world: you find what you seek.

After decades of living here I suppose I can corroborate this theory. Although, I’d add that fulfillment oftentimes sneaks up when I least expect it. But because of my desire for delightful surprises, I guess life is correctly fulfilling my wishes by catching me off guard.

A word of warning: establishing a particular situation by whim-fully buying-on-credit can be a bit dicey. I’d reckon that borrowing is workable if there’s real collateral behind it, but it shouldn’t feel like gambling. Gambling is basically an expectation of loss — remember, you find what you seek.

I’ve been living as-if for the past eight months or so. For the most part, I’ve successfully eschewed thoughts of lack and worry. I’ve been earnestly enjoying myself. I find comfort and joy in my current surroundings. It hasn’t been perfect, but I wonder if I would’ve accepted it if it was.

In a natural world, I should’ve been using my time to establish a viable income to support my new lifestyle. But that’s not what I did. For whatever reason, I’ve been dedicated to establishing the best attitude I can muster. Now THAT hasn’t been easy and it certainly highlights how bad my attitude was.

But my feeling right now is that I can handle the next step. I also recognize that my old attitude could not have supported the lifestyle I want to live. When you have great things for example, sometimes you’re afraid of losing them or sometimes you feel unworthy of having them or sometimes you realize that “things” don’t satisfy like you thought they would.

I came into this world with a messed-up attitude, expecting the worst experience ever. I ignorantly perceived a nefarious nature underlying everything, disparaging all I saw. I was a straight-up hater and sower of negativity. I appreciate that fact now and apologize for it. I further recognize that this world is a paradise providing all that I need, it’s simply up to me to accept the gift I’ve been given. Thank you — and I, for one, welcome our new benevolent overlords.

Magical Morning

You talk a good game, and it sounds like you’re attempting to crawl out from beneath that crushing rock of negativity, but are you actually having fun?!

Okay, okay, fair question, well check it out. Today, I had a Magical Morning with Michelle. We went for a walk at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Just a walk, simply strolling around for the fun and fitness. It was the perfect weather too, blue-skies and temps in the mid-60s. Since we were pretty early, the parking was perfect — from our car we simply walked to the front gate and waltzed right through, no waiting anywhere. Yes there were crowds, yes some people were waiting, but not us — it was a smooth flow right through. That’s magic.

The sights, the sounds, the smells — it was a pretty day at the park. I could smell the buttered popcorn cooking. We wove through the throngs of bustling tourists, delighting in our aimless jaunt — no ride-lines to wait in, no reservations to keep, just out and about enjoying the atmosphere. It didn’t take us long to traverse the entire place, probably about an hour, we walked a couple of miles in total. We did stop to watch the Stormtroopers march at one point. And I’m glad they’re putting in the Galaxy’s Edge, Star Wars attraction, it should add a bit more space for walking.

How’s that for fun, huh? It’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea, but it sure is mine. Walt Disney World was my childhood happy-place and it’s good to be back. I tried living here a decade ago but I just couldn’t accept it — my pessimistic, lack-minded, masochistic tendencies flared up and I had to leave. But now that I’m relinquishing pessimism, abandoning lack-mindedness, and discarding masochism — I’m feeling a real sense of enjoyment here. It was even my idea to go today, it just seemed like an enjoyable way to spend the morning.

And all it took was several decades of self-inflicted suffering to finally get to this point! Not bad! Imagine being so stubborn that you refused to see the world in any other way than a harsh and brutal landscape hell-bent on your destruction. I was convinced that life meant pain and hardship, that random-chance was the only determiner of outcomes, that all this was a futile experience not worth having. Oops. But I suppose that’s just my story-arc, the typical Scrooge-like character that couldn’t see the goodness that surrounded him. I’m finally waking up to a new and glorious day in which I see the glistening greatness of this world.

Fountain of You

You’ll notice that we’re all different in particular ways. Our individual preferences vary quite a bit. For example, I despise the so-called dessert known as “cheesecake” — it’s gross. Our character has a dossier full of attributes that make it relatively unique. To play our character correctly then, is to honor those preferences and attributes.

If you’re playing Street Fighter II for example, you don’t play Guile the same way you play Chun Li — that’ll get you KO’d pretty quickly. You have to learn the abilities of your character and exploit those to the fullest. Special moves and abilities are there to be used, not ignored. You don’t want to play your character like it’s generic — that’s dumb.

That’s why striving to be “normal” is dumb. There is no normal, EVERYONE has an individualized dossier of attributes and abilities. And these abilities MUST be expressed by the character in order to fulfill that role. If you don’t express your individuality, it’s like holding in a poop — your bowels will ache and strain — you will suffer until you let “you” flow out.

How do you know what your character’s preferences and abilities are? Experiment! In Street Fighter II for example, you’ll find that keeping Guile in a low defensive position while utilizing leg-sweeps will prove devastating to many opponents. In other words, you won’t know what you can do until you do it — so do an assortment of things until you find what you’re good at.

Guile is a defensive character, he’s good when you wait for a chance to attack — if you play him aggressively you’ll likely get KO’d. In other words, there really are limitations on your character and you have to play according to his abilities. But that’s the fun part — all games impose limits — it’s a puzzle to solve, it’s attempting to accomplish something within a limited set of parameters.

And the best part is: the game-of-life wants you to win. The game is rigged in your favor. IF you play the character correctly, you WILL win. Whereas if you sabotage the character, trying to make him into something he’s not, you WILL suffer — you will get KO’d. In short, discover who your character is (explore and experiment), then play to his strengths. Result: “YOU WIN!”

Simple and Efficient

I enjoy cheat-codes. Back in the day, I utilized the famous “Konami Code” to receive extra-lives on Contra for the original NES. It was something like: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, Start, Start. If you look it up now, it’s slightly different, but that’s what I entered and it worked. I learned it from a kid in my class — he was a video-game expert. He’d read about video-games in magazines or something. He also helped me to find all the hidden stuff in the Legend of Zelda for NES.

In other words, I’m not a stranger to taking the “easy route”. I guess that’s why magic and wishing pique my interest. I’m a slave to efficiency — and what’s more efficient than cheat-codes, magic, wishes, etc.? I suppose I like the feeling of taking shortcuts because I love efficiency so much. In fact, the more effort I put into something, the less I appreciate it. The end-product seems too convoluted to be worth all the trouble. For me, simple is best.

But usually, I use cheat-codes when I literally couldn’t have done it any other way. I couldn’t have beaten Contra with a measly 3 lives, I’m not that good of a video-game player — I don’t care enough to dedicate the time nor are my reflexes fast enough. So boom!, there I am with all those extra-lives, reaching the end. From feeling frustrated at my inability, to complete domination of the game itself — how’s that for a self-esteem boost!?

Perhaps it’s part of my character, but I don’t feel like I’m cheating myself. Because I value simplicity and efficiency, the easier and quicker route feels correct to me. So if the game-of-life, for whatever reason, hands me millions of dollars — I’d say “oh, well it’s about time! But thanks, I appreciate this. I was struggling quite a bit with the gameplay, but this will provide the boost I need.” I’m not particularly good at games, but my persistence and willingness to utilize shortcuts typically pays off in the end.

P.S. I serve as a beacon of hope to pessimistic slackers ONLY. I am NOT a type-A hard-charging go-getter. I understand that some people really do get a sense of satisfaction from effort and “hard work” — and that’s great. But it’s also great that variety exists. There’s a path for everyone in this world and some of us have fun taking the accelerated routes.