Being Very Smart

Let me be clear: if you use your mental-energy to pick-apart life, your behavior is idiotic. Whether they say it or not, the people currently enjoying life intuitively sense what’s going on here. They forgive the paper-thin plots, the poor acting, and any anomalies they find — and instead, they focus on some enjoyable aspect of the experience. That’s what a polite audience does.

But you, oh no, you have to point out every little thing that doesn’t seem quite right in your opinion. But consider this: ya know how you feel clueless when you’re in a social situation? Well perhaps you’re always clueless — in EVERY situation. Maybe the metric by which you judge, is completely misguided?

What’s more likely to be true? That you’re the sole bastion of what’s right in the world OR you’re a dummy that’s been doing things wrong this entire time? And that’s fine, being wrong in this situation should come as a great relief. It means the world doesn’t suck — you just suck at understanding what’s happening here, and that can be fixed.

You CAN intuitively understand the world as soon as you stop your misguided criticism. The world seems like a fecal-covered toilet only because you keep shitting all over it with your negativity. And secondly, stop being so self-centered i.e. stop staring at yourself — there’s a whole world happening beyond the border of “me”.

So what would a smarter approach entail? Cease the introspection, there’s nothing significant to be found in constantly examining yourself — you’re not that interesting. “Oh bother, how do I feel about this? Golly, I’m not sure I liked it! Oh my, what a terrible time I’m having! Oh poo, I wish things would go my way for once!”

And if you rely on your own internal drama for entertainment, you’re only going to torture yourself with worrisome thoughts in order to generate some excitement. Instead, you should be looking to entertain yourself with activities that originate outside of yourself. But of course you’ll likely disparage them, so avoid doing that.

Listen, it takes practice to become a better participant here. You messed up, now make it right.

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Faulty Focus

My problem, is that I’m overly focused on every minute detail of my life while being overly sensitive to perceived imperfections. It’s like being preoccupied with the components of a bicycle I’m riding instead of just enjoying the sensation of motion while taking in all the scenery. “What’s that clicking noise from the chain!? Are the brakes still working!? I better test them again. Ugh, this seat feels uncomfortable and the handle bars are sticking a bit. I shoulda got the green bike, I’m not sure I like this blue color.”

And in life it’s the same, “Hm, my body needs less freckles and more muscle-tone. What’s that clicking noise in my ankle? Ugh, I feel so uncomfortable when I go out, it’s like everyone’s looking at me. Why did I just say that!? And on top of that, my hair looks dumb today. I feel so inadequate, why don’t I have more money!?” All throughout the day I’m focusing on the most trivial nonsense while ignoring EVERYTHING that’s around me.

Why bother to be within the massively-multiplayer interactive environment of Earth? For ninety-plus percent of the time, I’m focused on this tiny frame of flesh like it’s the most interesting thing ever. Why not lose myself in the sensation of existence? Why not delight in all there is to do while losing track of myself? Why must everyday be an existential battle in which I reconcile with life, convincing myself that my initial reactions are wrong, and that everything is actually okay?

The answer is obvious. STOP BEING SO SELF-CENTERED. Literally stop staring at yourself. Did a thought about yourself or some aspect of being you just enter your awareness? You don’t get to entertain that thought, sorry. Buh-bye. It’s like the bike analogy at the beginning. Did you just catch yourself noticing some feature of the bicycle? Stop that. Now look around and become aware of your movement and the environment you’re in.

It’s like watching a movie at the theater, sometimes you get distracted by someone walking to their seat after coming back from the bathroom or refreshment-stand. The appropriate procedure is to minimize the distraction by ignoring it and concentrate on the movie in front of you. It’s wrong to stare at the walking-wall and frustrate yourself by contemplating how inconvenienced you are, and how that person ruined your experience with their inconsiderate actions. Stop that.

And stop pointing out how imperfect everything is. You literally suck at being a participant in life, yet you’re going to criticize every object, interaction, and circumstance as if they should completely conform to your specifications? You don’t know how to do anything right, so how do you know what the “perfect” anything even is?! Get over yourself. ACCEPT what you see and move on, then there’s nothing to reconcile — everything’s great as it is.

Awesome Burger

Dear Rich, you seem to be pushing an agenda of positivity, does that mean everything in your life is super awesome?

Well remember, I have decades of experience in thinking the worst about the world. In other words, I’m well-practiced in pessimism. If you want a negative response, just ask me. I can tell you why any objective will not only fail, but will result in the worst consequences imaginable. I still have these thoughts, I just don’t accept them as true like I used to — they’re silly suggestions from a joker that likes to pretend the world is on fire.

So nowadays I brush these initial reactions aside, replacing them with more appropriate responses. I understand that it’s dumb for me to pretend to predict the future with a decidedly dour slant. Either I should keep my yapper zipped or perhaps offer some encouragement towards the endeavor. I’ve been so wrong about predicting dire outcomes, that I have no place shutting-down some else’s goals (not even my own).

As far as my life being super-duper awesome? No, it’s not. For instance, I had a headache yesterday. And that’s literally the worst thing that usually happens to me. But man, are those rough. If you look with a zoomed-out perspective, then everything appears to be going well. But that’s not how we look at our own life is it!? No, we’re zoomed-in to our own life. So no matter what problem we’re currently facing, it’s a BIG all-consuming problem to us.

And that’s why I still spend a significant portion of my day just reconciling with life. I notice an imperfection and suddenly LIFE SUCKS!!! It’s the WORST thing ever!!! Like when Five Guys neglected to put ketchup on my hamburger!? WHY ME!!??? Why must I be cursed with this wretched fate!? Okay, I didn’t mind that much since I was busy munching the Cajun fries. And actually, my headache went away immediately after that — so I can’t complain.

As you can tell, I’m very harsh and unforgiving in regards to any perceived imperfections I see. And that critical perspective makes it difficult to appreciate life. Therefore, my agenda of positivity is a means to change that disparaging perspective. It’s not necessarily a reflection of the life I’m experiencing, but it represents the mental state I want to achieve. As they say: practice makes improvement.

Elegant Earth

Dear Rich, why do you try so hard to make the world seem as though it’s a nice place?

Make no mistake dear reader, I make pessimists look like optimists, and introverts look like extroverts. My default mode is to sit isolated in a small room while staring at a glowing screen. And if I happen to leave that room, I will denigrate everything that passes into view. You will not like me and I will not like you.

But as it turns out, such an outlook is a terrible way to experience existence. Go figure. So maybe I got tired of feeling the repugnance and the fear — whatever crossed my path, I was disgusted by it or scared of it. Or maybe, after criticizing everything else in this world, perhaps there was nothing left to disparage but my own bad attitude.

Whatever it was, the situation became untenable. Therefore, my focus has been altered, my natural tendency to find-fault and rip-apart has been aimed at my discontentment. I am using all the condemning power at my disposal to shutdown and shame my tendency for pessimism and ungratefulness.

And as part of that effort, I am defending the world I long insulted. And you know what? I actually do feel better. And it turns out that all those horrible things that I thought, weren’t even true. Oopsie! My bad! As a means to make amends and as a way to reinforce it within myself, I am painting the world as a place that cares.

Word War II

I dunno man, you’re trying to convince me that the world is benevolent, but I’m seeing something very different. If it’s truly a friendly place, then shouldn’t it be obvious? Show, don’t tell. Why present all these “logical arguments” when the proof should be in the pudding.

If you’re projecting a nefarious nature onto everything, how can you be shown the truth? To you, everything looks as if it has evil intentions. Cats are ready to scratch, dogs are waiting to bite, food is filled with toxins, air is potential poison, people are always plotting — your dire predictions are all the evidence you need to condemn the world. You’ve convinced yourself that the world wants you dead.

Yet you ignore the inconvenient fact that you’re still alive!! Not only are you alive, but you’re doing well DESPITE a lack of effort on your part. You’ve done NOTHING to ensure your own continuing existence, yet here you are. How is that possible UNLESS the world is actively ensuring your well-being? You can’t hide from the world, no matter where you go you’re in it.

Well maybe I hide because I don’t like what’s out there. I’ve tried to participate — but every time I do, it sucks. Perhaps this world is just a poor implementation — not everything can be great, right? Or maybe it’s not the right fit for me.

That’s not true. There have been times in which you’ve enjoyed yourself here. And if someone with such a bad attitude can find enjoyment, how great a place must this be? Yet instead of savoring any enjoyment, you grow suspicious of it. You see it as cheese in a mouse-trap lulling you into a false sense of security as the trap gets ready to spring.

I’ve seen things happen to others and I don’t want those things happening to me. It’s truly a brutal world.

Instead of seeing the world for what it is, you’re trying to convince yourself that your imagined ideas are right. You developed an initial opinion when you arrived here, and you’ve clung to it for no good reason. You’re in a prison of your own design. If you step out into the sun, you might enjoy yourself.

I’d rather not step out into the sun, it causes sunburns and cancer.

If that were true, everyone would be roasted and/or dead. Could it be that your expectations about the world actually come true to some extent? If you expect something to evoke pain, perhaps it will? Maybe you’re not so much a victim, but a perpetrator? Might you be at the root of your own suffering?

Why would I want to hurt myself? That’s stupid. Now you’re trying to convince me that I’m the bad-guy in all this?

If you’re the one projecting evil onto everything you see in the world, how is that not bad? You’re like a vandal spraying grey and gloomy graffiti on every surface you pass. It’s laziness: destroy what’s there instead of creating something new. How fun for you to smash and break and tear things to bits. Wow, look how powerful you are. Impressive. But of course, that’s an immature form of fun. Destruction is the basest form of entertainment. It takes effort and care to create, a maturity that perhaps you refuse to develop?

I have ideas. I want to do things. The world refuses to give me what I want.

But you have opposing ideas. On one hand, you see a goal. On the other hand, you see a hundred reasons why it should never come to pass. Perhaps the world wants to give you everything you want, but YOU refuse it. You’re not battling the world, you’re battling your own contradictions. You’re saying: “give me five dollars!” but then you say “Eh, I guess I don’t deserve five dollars. And even if I get five dollars, I wouldn’t trust it — there’s bound to be strings attached. Five dollars is worthless anyway, I’d need at least twenty. Forget the five dollars, it’s too much trouble to deal with!” Does that sound familiar?

Well what am I supposed to do!? Why am I like this? I didn’t choose to be this way.

But now that it’s been pointed out to you, you can choose not to be this way. You’re aware of it, and with that awareness you can stop participating in the practice of pessimism. You can notice when your mood sours, when you paint with dour hues, when you’re doing something destructive instead of constructive. And from there, decide to follow a brighter path. You’ve been complicating things tremendously — it’s not that hard.

If it’s not that hard, then why haven’t I figured this stuff out on my own? I’m the smartest person I know!

Smart? No. You’re actually the most STUBBORN person you know. How can you be smart if you can’t do the simplest things? If you can’t even understand what’s happening right in front of you on a daily basis? If anything, you’re a special-needs case — and that’s okay. Your disability is that you think you know something.

If you actually knew something, the world would make sense. But because your intuition and imaginings are completely wrong, the world seems as though it’s messed up. It’s YOU that’s messed up — how could you be right, and the entire world wrong? Think about that. You’ve been believing all these juvenile notions about yourself and the world, and it’s gotten you nowhere.

Well you don’t have to be mean about it.

Isn’t that what you do? Don’t you go around criticizing? Disparaging EVERYTHING you happen across? Does that sound smart to you? You claim that you’re simply describing the reality around you, but it seems more like an editorial with an underlying tone of piss and vinegar. Your opinion is no more factual than a gossip-rag at the supermarket checkout-aisle. You’re no more than a shyster attempting to peddle your smut-filled fear-mongering nonsense to anyone that’ll listen. And you think you deserve sympathy?

You CAN stop finding fault with everything. You CAN stop focusing on every bad thing you can think of. You CAN get smarter. You CAN appreciate the goodness that’s given to you. You CAN enjoy your time here on Earth. You CAN be happy and do constructive things. The choice is up to you though — a better life is an option you can select. You must exercise your free-will to attain it.

Well whatever, I guess I’m an idiot then. I guess it’s Shit-on-me Day today. More of the same.

Very good. You’re learning. You ARE an idiot and you WILL receive exactly what you expect to receive. Expect a bad experience, receive a bad experience. Now think about this: you’ve been arguing this entire time for the right to be miserable. Why would you want that? If you abandon your position, you can have a much better life. Stop defending a perspective that causes you to hate existence. Life loves you — why reject it? Accept, appreciate, engage, enjoy — it’s not so hard.

I dunno…

Of course you don’t know, that’s the point. You don’t know — so start there. Start at the position of unknowableness. Don’t be so sure of your pessimistic positions. Maybe everything you’ve been so certain about is wrong. And if you explore with an open-mind, perhaps you’ll discover a world that’s been waiting to embrace you. It didn’t dare before, you screamed with suspicion at anything you were given. Now accept the caress — let your guard down. Forget what you think you know and know the love of life.

I want to be loved.

You are loved.

Animal to Avatar

So basically, I’ve gone from a fragile creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape to an invincible avatar within a simulated world. Neat huh?

In the first scenario, I was always worried and had a horrible time. I believed the world to be a torture chamber in which I was simply waiting in line as my time-of-doom approached. The uncertainty of “how” and “when” was part of the torment. Basically: “Life sucks, then you die.”

Whereas in the second scenario, I’m a carefree sprite just wandering through fantasyland. Existence is a benevolent experience designed for my enjoyment and the world is a fulfillment generator in which dreams come true. Basically, life is a gift I’ve been generously given.

At this time, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the second scenario. Over the course of a few decades, the falsity of the first scenario has been proven to me. There’s no denying it. Yet the second scenario doesn’t quite feel true. Logically and evidence-wise, it’s true beyond a reasonable doubt — but “feeling-wise” it seems a little off.

For so many years, I was heavily invested in the idea that this is a physical world ruled by a mixture of natural-selection and random-chance. I was certain that this world didn’t care one whit about me, that I needed to struggle in order to survive, and that a lack of vigilance on my part would result in certain death. This was a very scary perspective to maintain.

But because I was so scared, I inadvertently proved that the pessimistic perspective was wrong. By hiding away in fright, I proved that doing nothing can result in something. If the world truly didn’t care, I should’ve wasted away — but that’s not what happened. The world was looking out for me and made sure I progressed in small palatable ways.

So because I’m still here and because I’m doing well DESPITE all that I refused to do, it proves that existence is a benevolent experience. For instance, I refused to develop a career or get a job, I refused to go out and meet people, I refused to leave the house, I refused to get involved in stuff, and I certainly refused to have a good attitude — I basically refused to participate in life. YET here I am. HUH!!??

Not only am I here, but I’m doing quite well. WHAT!!?? Based on my previous perspective, that outcome should be impossible. Therefore, I’ve proven that perspective false. I have no other option but to realize the truth of my situation: the world not only knows of my presence but is actively ensuring my well-being.

Of course that makes me feel like an idiot. It’s like showing up at a surprise-party thrown in my honor and I go around reprimanding each and every guest for scaring me when they yelled “Surprise!”. Oops. And what’s worse, is that I still treat them rudely because they shouldn’t have scared me like that.

So that’s where I’m at: trying to get over myself and my bad attitude. I know this is a great party and I know I should be enjoying it, yet I still have lingering suspicions and a bit of contempt. But at least I realize that it’s MY job to get rid of my negativity — I get it now. I had no right to be offended or scared or anything at all. I should appreciate the party, stop complaining, participate, remember that I’m an invited guest, behave appropriately, and treat everyone else with respect.

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.