Pie in the Sky

Imagine the main-course just ended and you’re sitting at the table and out comes a slice of delicious-smelling hand-crafted apple-pie that’s placed in-front of you. “Wow, that’s nice. Mmmm, the warm cinnamon scent is intoxicating”. Now you notice the plate it’s on. “A weird-shaped orange and purple plate!? Man, that’s ugly! Why would you place something so perfect on something so nasty!?” The plate becomes so distracting in fact, that it’s all you think about while consuming the pie. You barely notice any deliciousness as you’re too busy staring at the plate.

Dumb right? Why would you focus on something so insignificant as a plate when there’s a delicious pie just waiting to be enjoyed? And THAT is the problem of “negativity” and why I’m on a negativity-free diet. Despite the goodness that surrounds, I too often focus on the worst aspects I can find. And if I can’t see anything on the surface, I’ll simply speculate as to what’s wrong underneath, or predict dire consequences that are sure to happen as a result of what I’m currently experiencing. What a horrible habit to have — I don’t want it anymore.

The simple answer is to stop focusing on the negative stuff. But obviously I have to realize I’m doing it in the first place. To do that, I have to pay attention to how I’m feeling. Feeling bad? “I’m doing it again! Stop focusing on whatever horrible thought I’m currently thinking! Now find a positive thought — try appreciating something!” That’s one part of the solution, but I can’t simply react, I have to encourage positive thoughts through deliberate exercises.

I’ve practiced pondering negative thoughts for many years, therefore I must practice pondering positive thoughts until I get good at that. I have to specifically seek out thoughts that feel good to think and purposely place my attention on them. As an illustration, the previous pie example should go like this: “Hm I’m noticing that I’m not enjoying the pie, I feel kinda bad. Ah-ha! I must be focusing on negativity! That’s it, it’s the plate! Okay, I’ll ignore that poor plate and focus on the taste of pie. Mmm, the cinnamon is really coming through. Ooh and that apple mixed with a buttery crust — sooo good.”

Ennui On We

It’s my belief that greatest threat to humanity is ennui. In other words, existential boredom. In an attempt to alleviate this boredom, mankind invents all sorts of problems to contend with. In my life for instance, I’ve been trying to balance intensity and stillness. There’s either too much or too little — things are too serious or too frivolous. Like Goldilocks, I’m ever searching for “just right”. For most of life I’m either scared or bored.

Even after a few decades, I’m STILL trying to get it right. I’m trying to find low-intensity forms of entertainment, things that don’t rely on fear, frustration, anger, sadness, etc. to stimulate and hold my attention. I tried computer programming for example, but found it much too frustrating. I’m also trying to quit the classic game of “worrying about money” — I really think I’m getting close on that one. On the other end, I’m trying to get into woodworking as a hobby, but it takes effort to keep from getting bored. I tried playing a musical instrument for instance, but there just wasn’t enough excitement to sustain it.

Whereas I’ll light up like a Christmas tree when I hear some monkey-business going on. I’m trying to quit that though. Like junk-food, it leaves me with too much of a tummy-ache nowadays and I want no part of it. Maybe my tastes are maturing… or perhaps I’ve been beaten into submission, not sure. I was so good at pessimism and criticism, and they kept me endlessly entertained. Now optimism and appreciation are the arts I’m trying to master — I feel like such an amateur though. It’s so easy to tear something apart and so foreign to build it up.

Well dear diary, that’s where I’m at right now: mid-life and finally trying to put an end to my immature approach to existence. I’m attempting to go from scared and bored to appreciative and enthusiastically engrossed. The greatest hardship I’ve ever faced is reconciling with life, just trying to get a grasp on what’s going on here — and on top of that, finding the right balance of engagement. Some day soon I hope to taste that perfectly warmed porridge and sleep in that comfortable bed.

LOA Retooling

In order to help curb my negativity, I’ve been following the techniques described in the book The Law of Attraction (2006). It’s been about 6 weeks since I purchased the book in late January and the results aren’t there yet. I think I’ve been getting too specific with my “Creative Workshop” items. I’m apparently too much of a Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) when it comes to the things I want. “Don’t care how, I want it NOW!”

It’s like episode 12 in season 10 of South Park, “Go God Go” (2006), when Cartman is too impatient to wait 3-weeks until the Wii gaming console is released — he consequently attempts to cryogenically freeze himself in the snow until the release date. When I pick out a specific item, I want it NOW!! For example, I’ve been focusing on the Sjobergs Scandi Plus woodworking workbench. I’ve purposefully imagined it everyday, but now I’m just getting bratty about it. The same goes for a well-functioning body — why isn’t it performing perfectly!?

Initially there wasn’t a problem, I felt happy picturing myself sitting at the beech-topped bench, turning the vises as they clamp my latest project. But it seems that anything specific just can’t come fast enough. And as the book says, I’ll have to “go general” and stop getting too specific. Similarly with health related matters, I was under-the-weather not long ago and had difficulty reconciling my weakened state with my desires. So instead of browsing life for things I want, I’ll simply have to pick the best thoughts in every moment.

No more browsing tool catalogs, real estate listings, vacation resorts, and no more imagining big bank accounts or improved sleep. I’ll just have to think of things like “joy” and “contentment”. Psh. Yeah I’m a bit disappointed. It felt like leafing through the Sears Wish Book of the 1980s and making a list of all the delightful goodies I wanted. Now it’s just “being happy” without a tangible reward. That sounds like Buddhism. Forget material possessions, focus on achieving a state of bliss by calming the chaotic mind.

I was hoping to see myself integrating into the world through the intentional creation of my desires. Now it’s back to retreating from the physical and focusing on the intangible, which is where I was at. And if you can’t tell, I’m STILL being a brat about it. Therefore, I’m clearly not able to handle “wanting”. Yes, the book mentions the possibility of a rough transitional period, and maybe this is it — but it definitely feels like I’m doing something wrong.

So instead of imagining a Sjobergs workbench for example, I’m going to imagine myself having the knowledge and ability to consistently apply a “higher” perspective to my everyday life. I’ll see myself realizing my bratty behavior and bad attitude, helping myself to redirect focus onto better thoughts. I’ll imagine appreciation and comfort, confidence and contentment, lighthearted amusement and an overall enjoyment of life. We’ll see how that goes.

Unfolding Focus

When I witness a negative scene unfolding before me, what I’m seeing is a direct reflection of my attitude. It doesn’t matter if I’m a primary participant in the scene or merely a bystander — whatever I experience as life, is simply a projection of how I think and feel. Essentially, the external is a manifestation of the internal.

So whenever something bad happens, it demonstrates that I’m in a state susceptible to negativity. For example: if I ask my friend to go on a walk, and along the way she says something upsetting, I must’ve been in a sensitive mood. Even if I simply see something bad along the way, it means I must’ve been prone to pessimism — it shows that my attention is attracted to negativity.

Therefore, the root cause of any unpleasant experience, is a lack of mental discipline — it’s a failure to properly direct my attention. That’s convenient because it serves as a reminder to watch my thoughts and adjust my attitude. So I can’t blame anyone or anything for a disagreeable circumstance, I can only see it as an opportunity to improve my focus.

What this perspective provides is empowerment. It demolishes any sense of victimhood — I’m no longer a poor little leaf trapped in the wayward winds of the world. Instead, I am the wind, I am that which directs the world I experience. My control is so complete in fact, that my whims form before me. Consequently, my greatest responsibility is to manage the thoughts I invite into my mind.

Coincidental Calamity

Nothing’s going right right-now. Look at that opening sentence for example!! “right right”?!! COINCIDENCE!? Three, yes THREE different activities that I typically enjoy crashed and burned today. Wait, make that FOUR activities now that my opening sentence sucks. What’s going on!? Are the forces of physics and chance aligned against me!?

But if they’re aligning in such an obvious way, then a chance-based physical reality isn’t real. Something else is going on here. If EVERY place smells like poop, it’s time to check your own shoe. Okay, gotta get back to basics — gotta get calm. These were just simple activities we’re talking about, yet for whatever reason they went extremely wrong.

Uh-oh. You know what went “right” today? I was really enthralled by the Netflix show Lost in Space (season 2). And you know what happens in EVERY episode? Something goes drastically wrong!!! “Danger, Will Robinson!” What if I’ve been feeding my mind a diet of calamity, and consequently it’s introducing that theme into my everyday life!

My mind’s like: “Oh, you’re entertained when things go wrong? Well here’s more of the same! Yay!” Such a helpful and dutiful mind, right? So sweet. I remember watching a dark-themed show a few weeks ago and noticing a dour cloud around me then too. Hm, I guess that’s not a coincidence. What goes in, is what comes out.

Hm, does that mean I have to completely cut-out shows that showcase disaster, even if they have upbeat endings? Is it like stuffing yourself with a bunch of junk-food and getting a tummy ache? Or, does my awareness of this circumstance help to negate the effects? Can it be consumed in moderation?

Hm, I only have a few episodes to go, I’ll try to keep my awareness high and monitor the situation. I’ll report back…

Rich, out.

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.

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!