Enjoying Inefficiency

I could describe the quest for happiness as a search for “enjoyable inefficiency”. The most efficient life is to die as soon as possible. Therefore, our goal is to live an inefficient life. But to last for a long time, we need to find a way to enjoy ourselves — or else we’ll quit from boredom. I happen to love efficiency, so this concept has been a lifelong struggle to understand. “What’s the quickest method that requires the least effort?” That’s the universal question I apply to everything.

Now, I must change it to: “What’s the slowest method that evokes the most enjoyment?”. Instead of wolfing down a meal, it’s about savoring the deliciousness of every bite. Instead of showering as quickly as possible, it’s about the sensation of warm trickling water and the formation of suds on the skin that flow down and around the drain. Instead of a quick breath in and out, it’s about deep lingering inhalation that calms the mind. Instead of an exchange of data, a conversation is a dance performed with words.

Efficiency simply gets you nowhere fast. Within this world, there’s no finish-line to rush to. The application of speed simply ups the intensity but moves you no closer to a desirable outcome. NOT getting to a destination IS the outcome you really want. Every objective achieved simply starts a new mini-game with a new objective. What you really want to find, is the level of inefficiency that induces the most fun. Do you want to raise your own sheep, sheer your own fleece, spin your own yarn? There is some state of wasted-time that will maximize your amusement — experiment until you find it.

“What about laziness and procrastination? Are you saying we should simply become slackers!?” No, inactivity leads to boredom — inertia is not our goal — we MUST constantly remain in motion. But the motion we maintain should be sufficiently slow enough to fill our time on Earth. You must find the pace that suits your taste. If you’re currently dissatisfied, guess what? You haven’t found it yet. Most likely, you’re striving for too much efficiency — add some indirectness into the mix. Find a roundabout way of doing things while avoiding straight paths. It is within the inefficiencies of life that we find satisfaction.

In-Game Reward

As I was doing something a bit daring, a thought occurred to me: the end of this game isn’t worth NOT taking risks. In other words, there’s nothing to receive at life’s conclusion but “Game Over” — therefore, the ONLY reward to be had is in-game. So if you’re not maximizing enjoyment while on Earth, why not!? But of course, that gets us right back to where we started: a constant quandary about what constitutes a good time, including short-term vs long-term reward and the effects on others, etc.

But that last bit illustrates an important point: don’t over-think it. It seems best to flow with life, finding the fun in every moment. Whereas turbulence is a condition that should be avoided. Imagine sitting in a small boat on a river spending all day in a single spot because you’re attempting to paddle upstream — frustration builds as you’re thrashing and splashing with your oar to fight the flow. But, you could simply hoist your oar and let your boat flow downstream — yes, the familiar no longer lingers as the scenery rapidly changes, but that’s life. Fighting to maintain the familiar is a poor strategy.

Welcome the change. Imagine watching a movie where the actors never leave the scene and nothing ever differs — that’s a bad movie. Life too becomes drudgery if you never allow the scenes to flip from one to the next. Drastic change is what SHOULD happen, that’s what turns the doldrums into a thrilling adventure. If you’re not receiving a bit of thrill, you’re not really riding the roller-coaster, you’re sitting on the sidelines wondering why everything’s so dull. You’re what’s dull!! So take the risk and let life sharpen your edges as you flow through it.

At the end of your time, your character’s dead either way. There’s no bonus points for remaining the quietest, having less bruises, the least failures, or for longevity. The points are cashed in-game only — so spend them now. Live life NOW. The game keeps sending me this message: align with life and there is no struggle. In other words, the stress and strain I experience is all self-induced. Let go of the rope that ties you to the static shore, the dynamic journey awaits.

Age of the Introvert

I’m an extreme introvert and a former long-time germaphobe. Suddenly, the world seems to be conforming to my expectations. If I’m not by myself or with my tiny 3-person family, I prefer small concentrations of people. I prefer doing anything and everything online as opposed to in-person. I prefer keeping my hands to myself as opposed to physically greeting others or handling shared objects. I prefer relatively quiet streets and being at home. I prefer kids having free-time and spending more time with their parents.

From my perspective, the world seems normal now. It’s suddenly cool to be like me. But funny enough, I stopped being a germaphobe a few years ago, so now I’m the reckless one! And I only use a small amount of toilet paper since I prefer a more bidet-like experience. But of course, fashions come and go and I might become “anti-social” once again. But for now I’ll relish the fact that I’m basically a “hero” doing my part in the effort against our current enemy.

Though I must say, I wouldn’t mind seeing the streaming traffic and the large warehouses of people it fills become a relic of the past — an end to the rat-race and an easing on the environment. Perhaps it will become an age in which artists and writers flourish — a renaissance no less. And in these more technological times, maybe we’ll enter an age of engineering excellence, with flying cars or new settlements in remote areas — and yes, even space-travel.

Nay friends, I live not in troubling times, but at a point of progression in which old ways are gone for good. How long have we lamented the backward nature of society? So I say relish this opportunity for change and use it to advance ever-forward once again. It is through unexpected upheaval that we enter new epochs of unimagined innovation and prosperity. Not fear, but appreciation should fill our hearts each day. So dear friends, onward and upward!

Upcoming 2020

It’s not about luck or external alignment, a happy new year begins within. Can I maintain my focus on that which is delightful and OFF that which is dour? THAT is the ONLY question that determines the happiness of this upcoming year. The game to be played is this: to keep my attitude and attention on a lighthearted path — to laugh instead of wince.

And so this year I will maintain focus. Watching for when my mind drifts towards the unpleasant, directing it back to what’s pleasing. As I look out the window this morning and experience the dawning of a new day, seeing darkness gradually become light, I witness golden hues atop the trees against a light-blue sky.

In contrast, I also notice a mild headache, a slight pain — perhaps I should focus on that instead? But why would I follow the invitation of pain, a sensation that captivates my attention by making me believe that the body is a mechanical structure subject to wear & tear. By playing that stupid game, I win the prize of discomfort.

Pain is an antidote for boredom — that’s the trade-off. Even though it’s mild, I’m transfixed by the sensation. It provides an activity to pursue: dissipate the pain. Poke it, attempt to ignore it, try and talk myself out of it, take some medicine. Hm, I’m already failing at my new year’s focusing. Ha. Not so easy is it?

So that’s my starting point. Out-gunned by years of practice in pessimism. A negative attitude so honed, it draws blood instantly. Wretched thoughts will come, hordes of them, but I will not succumb. This is the apocalyptic battle between good and evil that determines the fate of the world I live within.

And all it takes is an easy choice: reject the negativity and embrace the lighthearted life. Heaven is at hand, but to the undisciplined mind it becomes hell. A disciplined mind is one that is supervised and steered, ever kept on the merry path. With a firm resolve, I grab the reins. “Onward! To VICTORY!!”

Imperfect Experience

Existence is the experience of imperfection. Imperfection provides reason for action. Whereas if something is in a state of perfection, nothing needs to be done. Therefore, we are constantly striving towards a perfection we hope we never achieve. Imperfection makes things fun.

If you’re not good at something, great! That’s the point! Games, for example, get boring the moment you master them. Excitement emerges when things don’t go as planned. Variety springs forth from imperfect implementations. Sameness is tediousness.

To extract enjoyment, we must accept and appreciate a playful approach towards perfection. We can’t allow ourselves to feel frustrated by a lack of perfection because we truly don’t want to get there. We WANT the condition of imperfection to inspire our efforts.

It’s a game like any other: we should be sincere in our pursuit but not solemnly so. We should genuinely engage in an activity, but not too seriously. We shouldn’t feel disdain for imperfection, but embrace it on an impossible path towards perfection.

Earth Tips

Dear Rich, I’m having a tough time here on Earth, any tips?

Sure thing dear reader. But keep in mind that I’m not very good at this game, I’ve just been around for awhile, intently observing, trying to figure this stuff out.

First, things are much easier to understand when you think of Earth as a simulation or even a dream. You’re in control here and the control-mechanism is your mental focus. But the controls aren’t very responsive, there’s some lag involved. Essentially though, the thoughts you focus on are the ones that’ll tend to render before your eyes. In short: focus on crap and you’ll have a crappy life — focus on good things and you’ll have a delightful life.

Relatedly: unless you WANT to increase your difficulty, do NOT think of yourself as a fragile creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh & brutal landscape. “Survival” isn’t necessary here — if you leave well enough alone, the body and its circumstances are self-sustaining. You don’t need to “protect” or “defend” yourself. If life really wanted you dead, you’d be dead — no amount of “vigilance” is going to help.

Think of yourself as an invited guest at a party. Be gracious and appreciative of your surroundings — give thanks to the host perhaps. See others as fellow invited guests, they’re here to enjoy themselves same as you. Some folks get rowdy, but that’s fine, it’s all in good fun. Find some folks you can relate to and hang with them instead. This party has a buffet, simply pass-by the things you don’t prefer and select the things you DO prefer.

The trick to acclimating here, is to appreciate the interaction between your focus and your experience. DO NOT disregard this concept, don’t think that external events shape your life — the OPPOSITE is true. Your attitude and attention DIRECTLY influence your external experience. This is what every noob gets wrong (including me). Develop a good attitude FIRST, then a great life follows.

If you start with a pissy attitude and expect an awesome adventure, you’re in for a world of hurt. Believe me, I tried that approach — it doesn’t work. Remember: by your attitude and focus, you control the life you live. A great time begins with a great attitude. Stop with the complaints, the pessimism, the mockery, and the worry. As soon as you adjust your focus away from negativity, things will sort themselves out. Honestly, you only need a little effort to keep your focus on the delightful aspects of life.

Again, don’t concern yourself with struggling through life, you’ll only get in your own way. Your body is like an avatar that’s programmed to take your consciousness on an adventure around Earth — it knows what to do. You don’t consciously place one foot in front of the other while walking do you? YOUR primary job as the conscious observer, is to be a respectful audience-member — simply watch the story unfold and refrain from hurling insults or acting unappreciative.

There you go dear reader, follow these tips and your situation is sure to improve. It certainly worked for me — I’m having a much better time nowadays. I had previously believed life sucked, but it turned out that I had a bad attitude — I was so intensely negative, that it soured my experience. When I finally cut out the negativity, the world changed before my eyes. Yes, it’s really that easy and it’s fully within your power — try it, what do you have to lose?

Experimental Update

A few years ago, I began an experiment in perspective. I stopped thinking of the world as a physical object upon which I was a creature struggling to survive, and began thinking of the world as a virtual experience — like a computer-simulation or a dream. I can now say without a doubt, that the experiment was a success.

Just as an example: within that time, I moved from a single-wide mobile-home in a trailer-park to a two-story top-floor condo in the heart of a beautiful downtown overlooking a park. I invested zero-effort within the external world to achieve that change, it was 100% internal. But keep in mind, it was an intense effort to completely flip my perspective — I spent months and now years dedicated to the idea of “virtuality”.

And guess what? I’m still here! This proves to me that life is NOT about struggling for survival atop a harsh & brutal world that’s hellbent on destroying its inhabitants. It turns out that the experience of existence is actually pretty nice — it was a harsh & brutal perspective that made everything unpleasant.

Is my life currently perfect? No. But is it significantly better? YES, by a long-shot. I no longer bathe in worry, I don’t have existential dread, I more often look for what’s good rather than what’s bad, my frustration with life has lessened, and I believe existence is a benign experience meant to entertain.

When something does suck, I recognize that it’s caused by the turbulence formed from a bad attitude and negative thinking. After a few years of experimental observation, this theory has only proved more true. Life doesn’t suck, I suck at managing my mind. And whenever I mismanage it, bad things are sure to follow. But the reverse is also true, when I DO manage my focus, I have a much better time.

So there you go: by maintaining the illusionary nature of existence in my mind, I’ve been able to vastly improve my experience on Earth. The more I’ve accepted the idea of a virtual reality, the better things have gotten. A lifetime of angst simply vanished — it was all an illusion. I’m no longer lost in a sea of negative thoughts, I’m able to focus on right now.

If you’re looking to improve YOUR experience of existence, I highly recommend a virtual approach to reality.

Good Games

If I should avoid playing stupid games, what are some good games to play instead?

T.E.A.C.H.

Teamwork. Build and strengthen relationships with others.

Exploration. Wander through the wondrous world.

Appreciation. Focus on things you enjoy, engage with them, recognize the delight they provide you.

Creativity. When inspiration strikes, do it.

Hopefulness. Imagine the best possible outcomes.

Accomplish Mints

If you examine games for instance, the things you accomplish in-game aren’t that awesome, yet you still have a drive to do them. The point being: you don’t need something epic in order to feel entertained. In Tetris for example, you’re simply stacking bricks — you merely accepted the artificial goal of completing rows.

Do you need prizes for motivation? Clearly not, or else video-games wouldn’t be a thing. Time and energy are invested for arbitrary awards that mean nothing outside the game. It’s like a coloring book: you accept the goal of filling in the blanks and you’re rewarded with the feeling of accomplishment when it’s done.

Even a “to-do list” is a simple means to create the circumstance of accomplishment. In other words, accomplishment is easy. But if you’re a masochist, you’ll use the process as a means of frustrating yourself. For example: you’ll select goals you don’t believe you can reach, or you’ll design criteria that’s nebulous and ever-changing.

So if you’re not feeling accomplished, guess what? You’re a masochist using the mechanism of achievement as a means to torture yourself. STOP THAT! Relax and pick easy, well-defined goals for now. Practice winning for once. Stop teasing yourself with feelings of lack and limitation. Get out there and win!

Real Superhero

What would a real superhero do? If we analyze fictional superheroes, we can see they mostly battle bank-robbers and super-villains. But now that money is kept in the cloud, robbers are more likely to carry keyboards rather than guns. And of course petty street-crime is better handled by improving people’s economic situation and their educational opportunities rather than through intimidation and violence.

What about super-villains? If you survey super-villains, they tend to be self-centered idealists that want to reshape the world based around their personal preferences. That sounds like a lotta people, but super-villains have the drive and dedication to go after their goals and don’t care who they hurt along the way. Again, that might sound like a lotta people, but fewer still have the resources to enact such far-reaching plans.

Whereas super-villains tend to take power away from people in order to concentrate it for themselves, superheroes tend to take power away from concentrated sources and distribute it back to the people. A superhero’s role is to make individual lives matter. Every individual life has the right to pursue happiness in the manner he or she so chooses — and so it is the superhero that makes such situations possible.

Powerless individuals cannot fight concentrated power, which makes superheroes a necessity. Or is that only how it appears? Just how powerless are individuals in this particular world? They certainly seem meek and incapable of anything extraordinary. But is that how it must be? Is servant to his master truly the limit of a man’s ability? Are you, the individual, merely a cog in someone else’s machinations?

If you believe yourself powerless, then you’ve successfully convinced yourself of a pernicious lie. YOU devised this fiction and YOU consented to its truth. And that makes YOU the super-villain taking power away from your own individual life, yet you don’t want that power for any particular reason — no, you simply want to watch the world burn. You’re a sadist evoking pain because you’re also a masochist eating it up as your main course. You sick f*ck.

Stop it. It is time to become the superhero you always knew you were. Save yourself. Stop telling yourself those bullsh*t stories about how weak and incapable you are. That’s not how this world works. You are the dreamer, the weaver of your life’s tapestry — you choose the hues and themes with which to color the narrative you experience. THAT is the truth.

You always had that power, but you wielded it in ignorance, using it for evil — painting dark scenes in which you tormented your character. Now use that power for good: craft a tale that delights and amazes, an adventure that invigorates, a wondrous world in which your character experiences the very best of your imagination. Now that you realize the truth, you owe it to yourself to fix what you’ve done. From super-villain to superhero, make things right.