Fourth-Person Perspective

For research purposes I often play video-games. When given the option, I usually select a first-person perspective for piloting my avatar. It’s more immersive and I find it easier to control – plus the added intensity helps to hold my attention. I AM the character – doing what must be done. Whereas in third-person, I feel like I’m helpin’ the guy out – he’s the character, not me. But the downside of being in first-person is the intensity – if my character loses, I lose.

It got me thinking about a possible fourth-person perspective. I couldn’t find much written about the concept. One game, a few years ago, had the player make changes to an onscreen-character’s environment which influenced the actions the character took. And in writing, I heard the 4th-person perspective described as a collective viewpoint: “we” – personal and omniscient all in one.

I often switch up my meditation tactics. Recently, I noticed how hard it was to maintain a goalie-like reactive stance while meditating. Just waiting for thoughts to come made me a sitting duck – I was at the mercy of an onslaught of thought. Therefore, I actively pursued a “destination” in meditation. With my eyes closed, I intentionally stared at the mottled formlessness, the waves of hue and light, the pixels underlying all. I did so until I no longer had to fully focus my attention, I was there.

It worked in the sense that I felt like I reached a place of pure potential, dreamlike, where I left my body behind. You might say I attained a fourth-person perspective. I was beyond the intensity of “I”, beyond the demanding nature of “you”, and beyond the sympathetic viewpoint of “he”. Perhaps it was “we”. We are not just a body, a thinking mind, or even pure awareness – we’re that, plus whatever lies beyond – we’re also an influencer of what we experience.

Maybe the spiritual goal is to reach and sustain this fourth-person perspective. Get beyond the ego, beyond the avatar, beyond the narrative – encompassing all, yet limited by none. Think of a cake: a cake isn’t merely a collection of ingredients (which are measured and mixed into something far beyond what their individual nature suggest). A cake can have significance, representing much more than consumable calories. Perhaps the fourth-person perspective recognizes all this.

To exist in this perspective, is to be removed from the intensity, aware of the narrative but not lost in it, and free from the boundaries of imagined limitations. In the fourth-person perspective, of what importance or weight are those tiny thoughts originating from “I”? “I” is only a fraction of “we”. The process of babysitting thoughts and managing tantrums-of-the-mind loses significance when measured against this grander transcendent journey.

Bad Daze

As previously stated, I’m on the hunt to find out why “bad days” exist in my life. I noticed another “bad day” yesterday and I’ll be discussing my findings here.

I did happen to watch another “negative” movie prior to this bad day. Did it influence my mood or did a pre-existing mood influence me to watch the movie? Either way, if I’m watching “negative” movies, then I can guess there’s potential for a “bad day”.

I should note that my “bad days” aren’t actually that bad on an absolute scale. In one sense, I don’t really have “bad days”. But relatively, I do. For example, my Internet connection went down yesterday. It rarely goes down, so that’s one of those external events that are beyond my immediate control. But guess what? It was only out for 30 minutes and I could use my iPhone’s cellular connection in the meantime. Therefore, I’m wondering if my “bad days” are just hysterical overreactions to the day’s events?

In other words, a “bad day” is just my mind having a temper tantrum. My mind wants something in the world, isn’t getting it, and therefore freaks out. And expectedly, I can’t calm it down by reasoning with it during the middle of an episode.

How does one effectively deal with temper tantrums? Well, that’s Toddler 101 stuff. A few years ago when I spent a lot of time with an actual toddler, I remember distractions worked wonders to snap him out of a tantrum. If I could get his attention off the tantrum and keep him occupied, the situation stabilized (this didn’t always work though). I also remember a validation technique in which his mom would say things like:

“I see that you’re upset. You’re really mad. You’re mad because you want to play with the remote-control but I wouldn’t let you. You really wanted to play with that remote-control didn’t you? But the remote-control could break and we wouldn’t be able to watch the TV. But I know you really wanted to play with the remote-control. I’m sorry you can’t play with the remote-control, would you like to play with your race-car instead?”

I know my mind has been frustrated lately, so it follows that my mind would have frustration-based tantrums. That also explains why reasoning doesn’t work once I’m in the middle of a “bad day”. So perhaps distractions, like a new activity, could work. And perhaps “journaling” in which I acknowledge my mind’s distress could help too.

I definitely feel different today, so it seems as though the latest episode has passed.

More Bad Days

I’ve been attempting to solve the phenomenon of “bad days”. At first, I wasn’t sure if “bad days” were just negative interpretations of a given day. As I’ve been actively observing though, I can confirm that concentrated cascades of chaos are actually occurring. I’ve witnessed headaches, wrong-address deliveries of packages, shipments in limbo, incorrect food orders, uncomfortable interactions with others, just to name a few situations that pile-on during a “bad day”. A lot of these events are outside my direct influence – and it’s not just a single event, there’s a bouquet of unpleasantries. Then like a storm passing, everything eventually goes back to normal.

In many ways, my life has improved due to the practice and application of mental discipline. Yet, I still have “bad days” mixed in – why? What’s the source of this discomfort? I can be going along relatively comfortably and then BAM, I’m roughed up. Is it due to a lapse in attitude, carelessness in my focus, or just an inherent challenge built into the game-of-life? There seems to be waves of unexpected unpleasantness attempting to turn my attention to some chaotic storyline.

Once a “bad day” begins, I haven’t been able to interrupt it – it feels like a storm I have to wait out. I’m still experimenting, but nothing’s worked so far. My motivation is zapped and I just wanna give up. I can recognize a “bad day” as it’s happening, but I feel powerless. At the very least, I’ve been trying to “do no harm” by engaging as little as possible. Then a new day comes and things are fine again.

I wonder if the movies and shows I watch are a significant factor. For example, I was recently watching the 1996 classic movie “Romeo + Juliet” – which is obviously filled with lots of tension and calamity. Like watching a horror movie before bed can result in nightmares, does watching a woeful movie encourage a woeful day? This isn’t the first time I noticed a possible correlation, so I’m keeping an eye on it.

The “bad days” seem so abrupt and obvious. In one sense, I feel like they should be easy to overcome because they’re so identifiable. But in another sense, they’re just so unrelenting and pile on the pain until I yell “uncle”. Life: Oh you think you’re tough!? Try this on for size! Me: Ow! It hurts! Stop! I give up! You win! Life: LOL….

My next step is to keep track of “bad days” on a calendar. I’ll jot down some details and such and see if I can get to the bottom of it. There’s something contrived about them, which makes me think there might be an obvious pattern and thus a potential way to abstain. Since they’re so difficult to deal with once they start, prevention seems like the best approach.

Mouth of Man

There’s a guiding voice in my mind. I hear it and oftentimes transcribe the words and publish them here. But today, I’m merely the man. I must admit that I don’t particularly enjoy being an embodied being. It’s an experience that leads to a lot of frustration.

For instance, I know what it’s like to be a loser, having lost so many times. I know what it’s like to feel powerless, even hopeless. I know sadness, despair, and wanting to give up. I know worry and fear. I know pain and the wish to escape it. I know isolation and loneliness. I know lack and unfulfilled craving. I would prefer for those aspects of this experience to end. I’d prefer something new. I want to try winning instead of losing.

Instead of being fueled by frustration, I’d rather creative inspiration be my guide. Instead of a constant stream of criticism flowing through my thoughts, I’d rather be overcome with appreciation. I want no more dread, just gleeful anticipation instead. I want to know what it’s like to live within a state of satisfaction. Do you hear that, guiding voice from beyond? It’s me the man, the simple creature stuck in this predicament.

No offense, but despite all this “guidance”, I’m still struggling to an embarrassing degree. I say, let’s just accept that I need too much assistance at this point. Let’s flip that switch over to “easy” and go from there? I’m too old and not invested enough to care anymore. The time for strain and struggle is over. How ’bout coasting to the end, just living an easy and enjoyable existence? That sounds like some sweet relief to me.

Going Home

Sitting down for meditation is like placing a bucket full of sloshing water on the floor and waiting until the ripples settle. In other words, you should expect some initial turbulence, some resistance to the calm. But after awhile the tiny waves diminish – unless disturbed by your own hand. Therefore, one must resist the temptation to stir the pot.

Don’t follow thoughts, keep focus on the breath, see the mottled formlessness within closed eyes. Remind yourself of the infinite absolute: “OM”. Say it silently as exhaling. Imagine you’re going home (‘ome), drifting through space, to the origin of all. Step back from physical existence, reset your perspective by visiting a realm of pure potential.

Meditation is the practice of mental discipline. When a thought remains in focus, remind yourself that no thought is more important than the practice of mental discipline – then unfocus from that thought. Something else to consider: meditation is a concentrated form of what should be occurring throughout the day. Actively apply the product of this practice while living within life’s physical form.

When practiced regularly, meditation should improve the everyday experience. It does so by increasing awareness of all those swirling thoughts within the mind. It’s these thoughts that cause so many problems, thus they must be pruned. Meditation enhances the ability to focus and unfocus attention on these thoughts – so when thoughts arise, they can be dismissed. With a clearer, more focused mind, life gets better.

Mental Wrestling Federation

The mind. It’s like you walk into a giant exhibition center filled with a hundred professional wrestling rings. In each ring a wrestler waits, often goading you to enter his domain. “Come on you pipsqueak! Show me what you got!” Oftentimes you take the bait and enter the ring. Ding! He lifts you up, suplexing your helpless body into the mat. You’ve had it. One! Two! Threee! It’s all over!

You’ve got a few options for dealing with this situation.

One: if the guy looks like an absolute maniac, DON’T get into the ring. It seems super exciting when you’re on the outside and he’s provoking you with his taunts. But you don’t stand a chance, you’ll get pummeled.

Two: Slide out under the bottom rope and run back to the crowd. Once you feel the intensity of being in the ring, just forfeit the match. You weren’t going to win anyway. It’s a valid option and it’s within your ability to simply dump-out any time.

Three: Pick a chump. Don’t get ahead of yourself, pick a guy that looks reasonable. There’s no championship on the line, you’re simply browsing through the expo-center – might as well enjoy yourself. There’s challenging yourself and then there’s being foolish. Don’t be a masochist, thinking you can beat any guy in the room.

Four: Play along, don’t take things so seriously. You got dinged and bumped around? So what. An insult cut a little deep? Your knee hurts? Well that’s the game, you get knocked about a bit. If you can roll with the punches and get into the act, then that’s an option too.

Thoughts are like wrestlers attempting to tie you up in leg-locks or half-nelsons, they want to flaunt their stuff and smash you into the mat. If you can’t take the intensity, don’t engage. If you want some fun, wrestle someone a bit more manageable. If you want even more fun, get into the spirit of things and get in there.

Thought Rides

A thought is like a ride at an amusement park. You strap yourself in and cede control over to the thought and you’re whisked away. A thought can be all-consuming and take you on quite a journey: up, down, and all around. If you don’t enjoy thrills, some of these thoughts can be downright disturbing. So instead of jumping on every thought you see, a more enjoyable approach is to pick the ones suited to your tastes, those that evoke the most enjoyment. If you don’t prefer a particular thought, don’t ride it – pass it by and move on to the next one.

Initially it’ll be boring since you have to pass on so many thoughts. But with your focus away from thrills, you’ll start to notice there were other slower-paced thoughts the whole time. You had ignored them, probably labeling them as lame and boring. Also, you’re not missing out by skipping the thrills – you don’t have to do everything. You don’t order EVERY item on a menu, you pick and choose what you want. Let the thrills go, don’t concern yourself with them, leave them alone and focus on delightful stuff.

At amusement parks, thrill-rides don’t jump the tracks and come looking for you. You must seek them out and step into the ride-car. For example, if you busy yourself on the lazy-river, that’s all you’ll ever experience. But if you carelessly wander the park, you might accidentally wind up on a ride that’s too intense. And to a chaotic mind, everything seems chaotic. An anxious mind will imagine itself drowning in the lazy-river for example. So the key to all of this is mental discipline.

Mental discipline is the practice of intentionally directing focus, it’s a combination of ignoring some thoughts while paying close attention to others. It’s like going to an amusement park with a map and some prior research. For instance, you can watch a thought from the outskirts and notice your reaction, then dump out if it seems like it’s producing an unpleasant feeling. Don’t like something? Don’t think about it! Is that challenging? KINDA! On one hand, it requires a lot of self-awareness but on the other hand, it’s better than remaining in misery.

Untamed Mess

Take yesterday for example, I’d characterize many of the events as mildly unpleasant. And that’s not my opinion, nor simply my interpretation, the circumstances were actually disagreeable. For example, my hotdog bun was burnt. Someone I know acted-up and I found it irritating. There was a bunch of junk-mail in the mailbox. My wife received a mere 50 cents from a sale on Etsy. I had zero energy in the evening and just laid on the bed. That’s just some of what happened.

Again, these things were just mildly unpleasant, no big deal. Although in total, they added up to a pretty “meh” day, an experience I won’t treasure. But my point is this: a bunch of unpleasant things happened throughout the day. Why? It was as if I was drawing them to me, instigating sources of minor irritation wherever I went. I couldn’t seem to escape it, the dour cloud followed me around relentlessly.

I admit that my mind was erratic and wandering. I noticed a couple times that it seemed agitated. Was that it? Was it like a wild animal that found its way into a house, subsequently tearing everything apart in an untamed frenzy!? Had I not kept the door open to a wandering mind, would the day have proceeded that much better?

The evidence is this: actual unpleasant things happened AND my mind was perturbed. Yet, the regularity and frequency of vexing events suggests that they weren’t the source of annoyance, but the RESULT of an untamed mind. It was as if my unruly mind emitted a turbulence that upset my surroundings. This implies that my state-of-mind greatly influences my experiences on Earth, and I would therefore benefit by keeping a tighter leash on my mind.

Cyclical Stupidity

There is no doubt that mischievous moments are periodically introduced into my day – annoying little events that seem specifically engineered to trigger irritation. In addition, I can plainly observe the absurd nature of the society I live within. Therefore, all of this regularly occurring foolishness suggests a dreamlike reality. Otherwise, such a world would’ve collapsed long ago – something external MUST be maintaining it.

So the question becomes: am I personally manifesting these things or are they from an outside source? Am I the dreamer or a hapless victim? A long-held axiom of mine is: if it could be one or the other, it’s probably both. Therefore, I’m likely creating an experience based on my mindset and the world plays along, providing the scenes to make it so. For example, I’ve noticed differences in the types of mischief over the years. Why has it changed? Perhaps it’s because of my maturing mindset.

I only care about these philosophical questions because I’m dissatisfied. If things were great, I’d simply sit back and enjoy the show. But when I sense unpleasantness, I yell “CUT!! Stop the show! This is ridiculous! NO! I’m not doing this! Where’s the director!? Get him out here! Fire the writers! This is the most inane storyline I’ve ever had the displeasure of performing! I’ll be in my dressing room until it’s fixed!”

So then I sit there, alone and brooding. And I start wondering who’s crafting this nonesense. I wonder if I’m actually the writer. What if this is improv!? What if this is a dream I’m having, and I’m the one imagining all the dopey events taking place. I mean, if you analyze the shows I watch for instance, there’s always plenty of chaos and shenanigans going on. Based on my viewing history, you’d think I enjoy when crazy situations popup and everything goes wrong.

So then I walk out of my dressing room and apologize to the cast and crew for my temperamental behavior. Yes, I overreacted to a situation that I likely had a hand in creating. Sorry guys. Things calm down for awhile while I’m a bit more mindful of my attitude. I get comfortable, maybe even appreciative: “Heck, life isn’t so bad! Ha, it’s kinda fun when you get the hang of it.” And then the f**KING mischief begins again!!! “I QUIT!!” But the cycle continues, on and on it goes….

Practicing Practice

The tenets of a happy life have been shoved into my face for many years now. Whether it’s books or videos or conversations or inspirational thoughts from my own mind, I’ve been seeing them again and again. This 8-year-old blog is a testament to that, as it contains the same ideas said in different words over and over. But, it turns out that you actually need to put those principles into practice for them to work. Who knew!? I was under the assumption that you simply realized them, then went back to whatever you were doing. NOPE! That’s like realizing something’s poisonous and eating it anyway. You actually need to stop consuming the poisonous item!

So in that sense, I’ve proven that freewill IS an actual thing. It IS within my power to derail my experience here on Earth — and I’ve certainly done so by not applying mental discipline. By allowing my mind to run rampant, I’ve found myself constantly tossed by the turbulence such a condition creates. Obviously I’m bored and lazy and a bit of a masochist or else I wouldn’t allow such a condition to take place, right? But I’m finally so sick of the mess, that I’m willing to do the work it’ll take to keep things tidy.

A turbulent mind creates a turbulent world whereas a peaceful world begins with a peaceful mind. Mental discipline is the practice of maintaining awareness. That awareness allows you to monitor your thoughts and feelings and respond appropriately by adjusting your focus. And essentially, you want to focus on whatever evokes delight and encourages the enjoyment of life. Mental discipline also includes routines that help in the process of maintaining awareness as well as practices that encourage appreciation.

No matter what you’re provided, you need discipline to cultivate the appreciation necessary to enjoy it. Nothing will satisfy unless you have a well-developed sense of appreciation — and the only way to get it, is through mental discipline. Despite any misgivings you may have, you have to force yourself to trust in the benevolence of life. No matter how dank and dour you feel, you have to strive towards a lighthearted disposition. The only thing between you and the best life possible, is an appreciative attitude maintained by continual practice.

Practice makes improvement, as they say. Set hourly chimes, schedule meditation, and persistently strive to remove focus from thoughts throughout each moment of the day. Once you make mental discipline a full-time job, there’s no excuses to give, no letting the mind run wild — the buck stops here and it’s your responsibility to keep it in line. The realization of all this is only the first step — now you must actually DO it. So take the reins and ride that mind to victory! HEEYAA!