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.

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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.

New Book

It’s been a couple weeks since I paused this blog to write a new book. It ended up being super-short, but perhaps it’s a work-in-progress at this point (I do appreciate brevity though). And since it’s so short, I’ll just keep it as a dedicated page on this blog for now: Virtual Enlightenment.

It’s a non-fiction simulation-based self-help book. It explains how the adoption of “simulation theory” can actually lead to a more enjoyable existence. It’s a concept that helped me tremendously, so I figured I’d write it in a book. Of course this blog says the same things but the book is a more succinct format.

Eighties Kid

The 80s!? Yeah, I was there man. I was just a kid, but weren’t we all. I was sportin a velour shirt with corduroy pants, my hair a bit too long, and sneakers fastened with newly invented Velcro straps. Those were the times man! It’s what we were wearin. Yeah I rode my bike around the neighborhood unsupervised. That’s what we did, children of the Moonwalk era — there were glitter gloves and copious amounts of hairspray spewing from large aerosol cans. Yeah I sprayed that stuff all OVER my hair! What of it!? The ozone-layer is overrated anyway.

The 80s were like, totally awesome, like, you know? That’s just like, how we spoke. Everything was awesome. And if you were from where I was from, anything better than awesome was wicked-awesome. We’d head down to Papa Ginos and play Pac-Man or Space Invaders while waiting for our pizza. The cola-wars were heating up around this time too: Coke or Pepsi. Though really, we just ordered whichever they served.

I remember going over to my neighbor’s house to play Atari. Eventually we got a ColecoVision console of our own. I even remember Pong. And TV?! TVs had two dials that cranked from U to 13 and 14 to 83 — but only like 7 channels had any shows on them — and you had to adjust the rabbit-ear antennas to get anything to come-in. Sure, your cousin had cable-TV but she lived in the next town over, and your town didn’t have cable yet — those were the breaks.

Kid-culture propagated through sleep-overs, out-of-state cousins, and summer-camps. When it came time, everyone knew the incantation to perform: “Light as a feather, stiff as a board…” or how to play “Murder in the Dark”. Otherwise, we learned stuff through music and movies. We all knew the “King of Pop” and E.T. We rebelled with our hair, our clothes, and of course our music. You don’t understand, OLD MAN! This is OUR time!

Ronald Regan was the president and my sister received Wonder Woman Underoos for her birthday. It was underwear that made you look and feel like a superhero underneath your clothes. Now that’s… wicked awesome! Sure, we had the threat of nuclear annihilation to ponder as we laid our heads down to sleep at night, and we dreamt of post-apocalyptic hell-scapes — but those were the times man. Well it was either that, or we had nightmares after watching Poltergeist or a Freddy Krueger movie.

In the 80s, phones weren’t something you carried around with you, they were hard-wired to the wall. And if you wanted to call someone, good luck! It was a shared device amongst an entire family and the person you wanted to contact needed to be in the right place at the right time. And more than likely, some random family member would answer. And the only game you played on the phone, was making prank-calls. Back then, you didn’t know who was on the other end of the line until they told you.

The food? Breakfast began with a box of Lucky Charms poured into a bowl, followed by a splash of milk, alongside a Dixie-cup filled with orange-juice not-from-concentrate. The prize/toy from the box was already gone, you’d have reached your entire arm inside when your mom first brought home the cereal-box from the supermarket. Lunch was bologna (pronounced “baloney”) on factory-made white-bread with a squirt of yellow stuff, and a box of sweetened colored liquid to wash it down (it wasn’t juice).

I’ve never been nostalgic about the 80s, and I sure as hell wouldn’t start now. The 80s began almost four decades ago — it was my introduction to Earth as a little kid. People were dressed in outlandish outfits, had wild teased-up hair, and applied an over-abundance of makeup (women AND men). I didn’t know what to make of it. The 90s made a lot more sense to me: widespread cable-TV, Grunge music, plain-looking clothes, computers, and of course the Internet.

Alone in the World

I think solipsism has its advantages — it’s the idea that I’m the only player in the game. It puts all responsibility on me, which may sound daunting, but I don’t take it too seriously. My primary takeaway is that everything that happens to me is MY fault — which sounds bad, but also means I can fix it. I’m not a passive victim of my surroundings, I’m the guy in charge. I may be a masochist that likes to hurt myself — but anytime I want, I can change those circumstances.

So when I think of my childhood for instance, I did it, I caused all that nonsense. WHY? Well apparently I’m a masochist that enjoys freaking myself out. There was no other perpetrator but me, not my mom, dad, siblings, relatives, schoolmates, teachers, strangers — no one but me to blame. Within that context, I never even deal with the concept of forgiveness — there’s no one to forgive. I made the mistake, I was in a negative mental-state and caused myself to have an unpleasant experience — that’s it — done.

So nowadays, if I’m having a tense interaction with another person, I say to myself: “whoa, I must be in a bad mood, I’m even manifesting an unpleasant scene. I better calm down and get in a good-mood, obviously my attitude is causing this negative scenario to develop right before my eyes.” And it works, I don’t blame anyone but myself — and when I further analyze my mental state, I find that I WAS in a bad mood prior to the tense interaction. The evidence is there, I DID do it.

I’ve had this perspective for awhile now, and it’s worked wonders. It’s allowed me to leapfrog over that whole “coming to terms” with people stuff, I don’t have to hash anything out, I don’t have to “forgive” anyone. It’s like it never happened. I suppose it’s a cheat-code of sorts — but I’m fine with that. And who knows, it might even be true.