Telling Tales

Can you tell yourself a story that’ll make you upset? For instance: “I just heard a noise and I’m pretty sure it’s zombies that came to destroy me.” If you can do that, does that mean you can also tell yourself a story that’ll make you feel good? For example: “I just heard a noise and I’m pretty sure it’s Santa Claus that came to deliver an early Christmas present — I can’t wait to open it!!!”

And what if you keep telling yourself pleasant stories from now on? THAT is how you have a great life. Perpetually telling yourself stories that make you feel good, while refraining from telling yourself stories that make you feel bad, is mental discipline. Neither story is necessarily true, they’re merely inspired by true events.

You have a choice in every situation: tell yourself a dour tale or a delightful one. And because YOU get to make that choice, it means YOU decide whether you have a great life or a nasty one. It’s that simple: if you’re going to keep telling stories to yourself, you might as well make them as pleasant as possible.

Advertisements

Swiping Thoughts

I’m a loser. There’s just no doubt about it. I’m short, I have bad teeth and terrible social skills, I’m rude and self-centered, pompous and patronizing, I have no career, I have to ask my mom for money, I’ve got nothing going for me, I’m just existing because it’s easier than not existing. I’m such a weak character, it’s so embarrassing to be me. If I compete at something, there’s a better than average chance I’ll lose — I’m clearly a failure.

The above paragraph represents a thought. What do I notice while having the thought? I notice that I feel pretty bad. Based on my reaction, I can tell it’s a negative thought. Negative thoughts MUST be managed. Thoughts are not real, they’re mere mental-suggestions. It’s like a buddy throwing out ideas: “we could split a pizza, we could eat our own feces, we could order some chinese-food, we could insult ourself until we cry, we could go to the movies…”

But this buddy has no filter and is kinda psycho. You have to think of him more like a five-year old just spitballing ideas. He’s not leadership material. His suggestions should never be taken without proper evaluation. Whereas if you take what he says with a grain-of-salt, then he’s kinda fun in a wacky way. Again, the way in which to evaluate his ideas is by noticing how they make you feel. If it feels bad, it is bad — don’t accept the suggestion.

If he’s persistent, then you be persistent. Don’t entertain that nonsense. Whenever you hear “You’re a loser, you suck!”, don’t take the bait, don’t play that game. It’s a trick to engage your attention, a way to thrill you through the feeling of pain. There’s other ways to alleviate boredom, just keep rejecting the unpleasant suggestions until a more pleasant option pops up. The great thing about thoughts is that there’s millions more in the pipeline, you’ll never run out, just keep swiping for the next one.

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.

Making the Switch

A part of the Overcoming Negativity series.

I’ve held two opposing perspectives of the world — one was a negative interpretation and the other was positive. In the first, I believed that I was an insignificant creature struggling for survival amidst a cruel yet random world. In the second, I perceived myself as an invited guest to the greatest party ever thrown. As someone that’s tried both perspectives, I can confidently tell you that a positive interpretation of the world is by far the most satisfying option. Whereas if you crave high-intensity, go with a negative outlook in which literally everything is out to get you.

Now, if you find yourself not enjoying life because it feels like the intensity is too high, then it’s likely that you mistakenly developed a negative outlook. The good news is that it’s not too late to change. I had this problem, and although it took me a few years, I finally switched to a positive outlook and life is a lot easier now. Whew! What was I thinking!? Why did I believe I could handle that kind of intensity!? I don’t know, but I’m glad it’s over.

If you’re ready to make the switch, then perhaps I can help. First, you’re gonna need to prove you’re serious about overcoming negativity. Let’s begin by you writing down your fundamental interpretation of the world. In other words, what IS this world, what’s your place within it, and what do you expect from it? And to demonstrate that you truly considered your answer, the description must be under 200 words (in your own words). Here’s an example:

The world is a giant rock hurtling around a massive fireball upon which I was randomly born via natural selection. Daily life is about struggling to survive within a harsh environment that cares for no one. I guess I’m one of the so-called lucky ones that gets to exist for at least a brief period of time. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do here, but I’m certain that my vigilance keeps me alive. From this world, I expect stress and pain and an ongoing dissatisfaction that continually crushes my spirit. Once in a while something good happens, but even a broken analog-clock is right twice per day.
(This is slightly over 100 words)

Negativity Nightmare

A part of the Overcoming Negativity series.

The trouble with overcoming negativity, is that it looks like there’s no way out. When you’re negative and sporting a bad attitude, any advice will seem stupid. And anyone doing well in life will seem like a moron deluding himself into being superficially happy, whereas you live in the “real world” and know the gritty truth about life. So it’ll usually take quite a shock to wake you from the nightmare you’re in.

Why am I bothering with this somewhat mild message then? Certainly it’s not enough to shake you awake. But here’s the thing, maybe you really are as smart as you say you are. Maybe you can get the message before life turns up the intensity. Because at some point, life will come for you — but this gentle notification is here if you want to avoid all that fuss.

It’s like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol — he had a simple “dream” one night, then his whole world turned around. Here is your dream. Take heed and you’re off the hook, you’ll have an easy time living a life that far exceeds your pessimistic imaginings. Ignore it, and you step in line at the roller-coaster, ready to have your snot shaken loose as your heart-rate races you to the finish.

Right now, life is getting ready to show you that nightmare you’ve been imagining your entire life. You asked for it, you expected it to come — so you’ll receive it. But if you give up your negative ways, the good life awaits — right here and right now. It’s always been there, you just couldn’t appreciate it. So what’s it going to be?

Expected Expectations

“When an expectation doesn’t come true, doesn’t that prove that my expectations don’t actually control anything?” No, it proves that you didn’t really expect to get what you wanted. You need to double-down and expect an even better outcome from that point forward. Yes that sounds like some funky logic, but it turns out that logic is for losers — people that excel at this game don’t waste their time with logic.

But here’s the thing, the deeper you get into the practice of positive expectations, the less-specific things you expect. Who cares really? Losers care about minutia whereas winners have a great day no matter what. All you ever need to expect is an entertaining time here on Earth. The specifics aren’t important. What’s the difference whether it’s sunny or raining, whether you’re alone or with others, whether you’re laughing or crying — the enjoyment of the experience is the important part.

The bottom line is this folks: do you want to sit around rotting away, decaying everyday until you finally give-up and die? Of course not, that’s stupid. You play a game to have fun. And right now you’re in one of the best games ever created: Earth. And like any game, the only point is to engage and enjoy. And the way to enjoy ANY game is to approach it with a positive attitude and an expectation of having a great time.

If you’re failing at life, it’s because you didn’t follow this simple step. And that’s not even a problem — anytime you want, you can start turning things around. Life isn’t a particularly hard game unless you expect it to be. And if I sound harsh, it’s because you’ve ignored every sweetly-worded explanation that’s come your way thus far, you regularly dismiss that stuff as nonsense. Now you’re stuck with me, speaking on your terms, at your level. Now smarten up and have a great time!

Overlooking Logic

A part of the Overcoming Negativity series.

Don’t listen to logic, listen to life. For the longest time, that sentiment made no sense to me.

You enter into life and your thinking-mind (the part that chatters all day long) tries to brute-force its way through. Unfortunately, this babbling big-mouth doesn’t know anything, and subsequently fails at every step. Your thinking-mind then determines that “life sucks” and it’s too hard — then it proceeds to bad-mouth life from here on out. Sound familiar?

“Logic” is a trick that your thinking-mind uses to convince itself that it’s right about everything. Logic relies on a foundation of facts yet your thinking-mind doesn’t bother with actual facts, it simply cobbles together a framework of plausible beliefs based on incomplete data and hearsay evidence. It will then bend and twist every situation to fit into its system of “logic”.

So basically, “logic” is a lie your thinking-mind uses to feel justified in its failure. But if “logic” is a sure route to loser-ville, what’s left? Well it turns out that life doesn’t need to be figured out. If you simply listen to life, it’ll tell you exactly what to do and where to go. If you can just get that blathering part of your mind to shut-up for once, you can receive all the instruction you’ll ever need.

Members of the Serious Thinkers Club don’t naturally integrate into life because our thinking-mind is so prominent. Therefore, we have to manually shut it down. But don’t worry, that yapping jabber-box is not who you really are, it’s actually preventing you from being who you really are. Nothing of value is lost in the process — you’re simply removing a thorn from your side.

If you’ve noticed, we all have a bunch of attributes that define our character — but an always-complaining scaredy-cat is not a legitimate attribute — it’s a side-effect that occurs when the thinking-mind is at the helm. It creates a selfish, self-centered creature that perceives nothing but the worst in its surroundings. Silence it, and a whole new wonderful world opens up before you.