Not long ago, I noticed that I was having a great day. Things were going really well, I even found a few things I thought I lost. But do you know what people with horribly unappreciative and pessimistic attitudes do with such a feeling? “Uh-oh, I’m gonna have to pay for this great day with a horrible day, downs always follow ups, something bad is SURE to happen now!”
I had that thought during my day and I dismissed it whenever it appeared. The next day was a decent one, not great but overall it was okay. And the next-next day? It was a rough morning. I was dropping things, speaking harshly, and things weren’t going my way. It was obvious that my mind was in a frenetic state. It was jumpy, going from one topic to the next as fast as it could.
After breakfast, I sat at my desk and noticed how I kept jumping from one brief activity to the next. “Ah-ha! I see what you’re doing! You’re all over the place! Time to shut down….” And with that realization, I ceased all activity and stopped engaging with incoming thoughts. I simply sat in a meditative state until my mind reset. It finally calmed down after a few minutes and I proceeded from there.
The day went well after that. So the lesson here is this: When things sour, stop. Notice the calamity the mind is causing when allowed to run wild — reset yourself by taking the reins and quieting the mind. When my mind ran rampant, the external world I experienced was unpleasant — but it completely turned around once I became present and noticed what was going on.
Dear Rich, an idea popped into my head and now I feel frustrated because it’s not something I can readily pursue.
Dear reader, it’s good that you noticed that stormy situation forming in your thoughts. That’s step one. Step two, is to NOT pursue the idea. Pump the brakes. It’s only an idea worth pursing if it fills you with delight and inspires hopefulness for the future. If, as in this case, it makes you feel frustrated, DUMP IT.
It might even be an idea that comes true later on, but right now is not the time to think about it. You’ll know this by the way it makes you feel. Pursuing those feelings of frustration will only hinder your life, it won’t improve anything, nor will it hasten fulfillment of the goal.
You might be tempted to believe that you NEED frustration as a form of motivation. It’s not true. Frustration is the feeling of annoyance, and being pushed around by irritation is a low-quality way to navigate this world. You’ll want to do things because they seem fun and interesting, NOT because you’re upset.
Instead of wandering wherever frustration leads you, take some breaths and clear your mind. Then allow the stream of endless thoughts to flow once again. This time, ignore the frustrating ones and select something pleasant instead. You’re the doorman/bouncer at the hottest club in town, and your job is to let in the coolest thoughts around.
Ideas are just fanciful visions floating around in your head — figments of your imagination. If you ignore one, another takes its place. Even if an idea truly needs to come in, yet shows-up with an unruly attitude, deny it entry until it returns in the form of something pleasant. Don’t worry, it’ll come back — your mind is the only opportunity for these ideas to express themselves. You have the power, not them.
“No! Rich!? It can’t be!!!” Well I’m afraid it is…. For too long have I suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Far too long has this world had its way with my mortal coil, casting it this way and that. A rudderless ship adrift amongst endless waves? Nay! For I shall use the guiding light that leads to safe-harbor. And I shall set an anchor of stone against ye, ne’er to stray again.
For in truth, there is a light that guides those set astray. In thy darkest hour it shines as a beacon to summon men home. From times of old it has resided within the beating heart and rhythmic breath, ever-present signals of a solid connection to the source. Simply close thy eyes and think of nothing, and in that void comes the ancient voice. Anytime it’s wished, empty the mind to let it fill with celestial calm.
And so it is upon this day, that I do declare my dedication to this just cause. Such terrestrial pedantry shall not mar me. Nay, for I shall rise to the heights of heavenly bodies soaring well above the fray, reflecting the brightness of the light that maintains their course. It is in hours such as these, that men’s wills are tried. Does one simply turn to dust under pressure?
Or does one become as a non-Newtonian fluid, strengthening under increasing strain — yet softening when the push is no longer present? The game played here is a simple one: maintain tranquility amidst a turbulent sea. The penalties and rewards are immediate. The sensation of drowning versus the perception of contentment. What begets which is obvious to those amply illuminated — so seek the light.
I keep seeing the theme of latent-ability released through adversity. In other words, a character has a power that he doesn’t know he possesses until he faces a challenge tough enough to force its release.
In one sense, he’s finally sick of losing. He’s tired of deriving pleasure from pain, done with his masochistic ways. He’s ready to handle invincibility.
So let me ask you this: are you ready to win? Ready to wield the hammer that constructs victory conditions? Willing to climb the hill to become king?
Illness and ache? Negativity and lack? Adversity and bad-luck? Are you done with these concepts yet? Forged from these fires you will awaken as steel, shined and sharpened. You will know only invincibility.
Dirigo. I lead. I am the North Star by which ships sail.
I’m conscious, therefore I tell my tale.
For me, in order to get into the mindset of invincibility, I picture myself as Wolverine, adamantium claws extending, and posturing to strike. Wolverine is invincible, an unstoppable force of pure fury. Similar to the Honey Badger: Honey badger don’t care. Honey badger don’t give a shit.
One of my new mental-training exercises is to bathe in the imagery and sensation of invincibility for five minutes. It’s very invigorating.
Oh. Ha. Okay I think I get it. Today is the 7-year anniversary of the very first post on this blog. SEVEN YEARS!!! I’m not excited, I’m amazed at my ineptitude.
Instead of actually disciplining my mind, I’ve been writing about disciplining my mind. I mean yes, I’ve improved, but more by osmosis rather than direct effort — that seems terribly inefficient. Had I directly applied myself to the task of mental discipline, I probably would’ve had better results.
My friend was just saying to me: I’m procrastinating instead of doing the work I need to do. And then it hit me: I’M procrastinating instead of doing the work I need to do!! For SEVEN YEARS no less!!! I should really stop procrastinating and DO the work.
Like the Dhammapada says:
As a fletcher makes straight his arrow, a wise man makes straight his trembling and unsteady thought. It is good to tame the mind, which is difficult to hold-in and flighty, rushing wherever it listeth; a tamed mind brings happiness. Whatever an enemy may do to an enemy, a wrongly-directed mind will do us greater mischief. Not a mother, not a father will do so much; a well-directed mind will do us greater service.
And so THAT’S what I should be doing with my time and effort: disciplining my mind. Therefore, I hereby declare by the powers vested in me by the state of consciousness, that I do solemnly swear to perform such tasks and fulfill said duties that directly lead to a disciplined mind. I shall henceforth engage in adequate activities that indubitably achieve the desired result of calm and steady thought. Furthermore, this pursuit will most assuredly provide receipts for ensured compliance.
— Faithfully and most ernestly yours, Rich.
The most important thing you can do to enhance your experience of existence is this: mental hygiene. In other words, if you’re having an unpleasant time, then you have a dirty mind. Every day, every hour, every minute, you have to tidy up as thoughts ceaselessly blow in through the window of consciousness.
The thoughts themselves aren’t necessarily “dirty”, it’s your own tendency to collect them and clutter up your mind that’s the problem. On their own, thoughts blow in, thoughts blow out — no big deal. But when you hold on to them, storing them away on a shelf for easy access, regularly marveling at them to the exclusion of new thoughts — you’ve got a problem.
Be careful of collected thoughts. Once you take a thought, it’s like plucking a flower off a bush. It’s cool to have it in your house for awhile, but it will wither and wilt soon enough, becoming a decayed version of its former self. And that’s fine, who doesn’t like some fresh-cut flowers around? But, you must maintain the vases and throw-out the flowers when they start to droop.
Who wants ugly or stinky flowers in their home? If a thought is unpleasant, don’t maintain it in your mind. Let it go, move on to the next one — there’s always a new one waiting to come in. Try not grabbing any, just soak in the sights as you browse the thought aisle. Scan past the ones you don’t prefer and focus on the ones you do.
In games, sometimes there’s a tipping-point in which you become the master. After struggling to get even a toe-hold, you get to a position where your dominance is inevitable. You don’t always want to reach that tipping-point though. If you’re not prepared to handle it, it will be very unfulfilling and you’ll be left with nothing but emptiness. Boredom will come — and from that, you can’t hide.
And it’s true — at one point, life presented me with a scenario I preferred, but I couldn’t handle it. Without a doubt, my negativity won. From there, I went into a multi-year exile. During those years, I trained — not my body as I had done in my youth, but my mind. I sat in isolation attempting to figure life out — trying to understand what I was doing wrong. The culmination of everything I gathered is within this blog.
In the upcoming year, I hope I’m ready to reach that tipping-point — to become a player that focuses on living-out his role the best he can. I hope that I’ve shed my negativity and developed an ability to appreciate the simple fear-free life. I’m done with using fear as a crutch to stave-off existential boredom. Anxiety, distress, worry, despair, anxiousness, hopelessness, frustration — these are words I knew well, but now wish to know only from a distance. I’m not afraid of them, I’m simply ready to mature beyond them.
I was meditating yesterday, methodically shutting down every thought that came into my mind — and a realization occurred: I shutdown this chatter in order to create an inlet for life to enter. These constant thoughts simply don’t allow life to happen, they choke it in every instance — like a loudmouth shouting over everyone else — or weeds preventing desirable crops from growing. So in this new year, I wish to listen — to allow life in.