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.

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Hellish Nightmare

Within this world, a devil does exist, a tempter. And the temptation he presents you, is to think negatively about life. And if you follow this temptation, you in effect create a hell-on-earth for yourself. But the good news is this: if you unwittingly succumb to the temptation, salvation exists in this world as well. Salvation comes in the form of a positive belief about life — you must develop and maintain the idea that this is a benevolent world. In other words, heaven is at hand if you simply reach for it.

Every time you think of the world as a dark and scary place, you create it — the vision forms before you. You’ll interpret every scene and situation as an opportunity to suffer abuse. Every random noise is doom stepping closer. Every smell is the stink of decay. Every person is a predator that sees you as prey. In this way, you find the hell you seek and the devil wins another soul.

But this nightmare need not happen. You can resist the temptation to disparage the world. It’s easy to hate and ridicule and cause calamity — it’s an effortless path to take. Imagine showing up at a party and ripping on the host for throwing such a lame soiree, you taste and spit-out every one of the hors d’oeuvres — claiming them not fit for consumption, you taunt the guests for dressing like peasants, you break some vases and urinate in the pool. You definitely create some excitement, but is it worth it?

Or, you can enter the party with an accepting attitude, willing to try new things. No, you won’t like every song or every bite to eat, but there’s no reason to go nuts over it — calm down, it’s a party. Others are there to have fun too, maybe it’s not all about you and what you want. Maybe the host tried as hard as she could — and there you are ready to jump down her throat for every perceived offense. Careful not to look in the mirror or the devil might be staring back.

But listen, you have an opportunity to rectify your earlier roguishness. Redemption is available. Think about this: when you show up to the party every morning, are you feeling timid and dreading what the day has in store? “Great things!!” is the only acceptable answer when wondering what’ll happen today. YOU specifically were invited to the greatest party ever — you’re a welcomed guest. If you’re not feeling loved and valued then you’re being willfully obstinate and downright rude. You should feel nothing but appreciation for this wondrous opportunity.

So if you’re feeling bad, then you know the devil’s got you. This means you’ve got a fight on your hands. But because the devil is your own negativity, this is actually a pretty easy fight to win. The way to win is simply this: STOP BEING NEGATIVE. You’re not denying reality by denying negativity. The world takes whatever form you imagine it to take and you can easily prove this to yourself by stopping your negativity for a few days. Your nightmare will end and you’ll never want to go back.

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.

Magical Morning

You talk a good game, and it sounds like you’re attempting to crawl out from beneath that crushing rock of negativity, but are you actually having fun?!

Okay, okay, fair question, well check it out. Today, I had a Magical Morning with Michelle. We went for a walk at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Just a walk, simply strolling around for the fun and fitness. It was the perfect weather too, blue-skies and temps in the mid-60s. Since we were pretty early, the parking was perfect — from our car we simply walked to the front gate and waltzed right through, no waiting anywhere. Yes there were crowds, yes some people were waiting, but not us — it was a smooth flow right through. That’s magic.

The sights, the sounds, the smells — it was a pretty day at the park. I could smell the buttered popcorn cooking. We wove through the throngs of bustling tourists, delighting in our aimless jaunt — no ride-lines to wait in, no reservations to keep, just out and about enjoying the atmosphere. It didn’t take us long to traverse the entire place, probably about an hour, we walked a couple of miles in total. We did stop to watch the Stormtroopers march at one point. And I’m glad they’re putting in the Galaxy’s Edge, Star Wars attraction, it should add a bit more space for walking.

How’s that for fun, huh? It’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea, but it sure is mine. Walt Disney World was my childhood happy-place and it’s good to be back. I tried living here a decade ago but I just couldn’t accept it — my pessimistic, lack-minded, masochistic tendencies flared up and I had to leave. But now that I’m relinquishing pessimism, abandoning lack-mindedness, and discarding masochism — I’m feeling a real sense of enjoyment here. It was even my idea to go today, it just seemed like an enjoyable way to spend the morning.

And all it took was several decades of self-inflicted suffering to finally get to this point! Not bad! Imagine being so stubborn that you refused to see the world in any other way than a harsh and brutal landscape hell-bent on your destruction. I was convinced that life meant pain and hardship, that random-chance was the only determiner of outcomes, that all this was a futile experience not worth having. Oops. But I suppose that’s just my story-arc, the typical Scrooge-like character that couldn’t see the goodness that surrounded him. I’m finally waking up to a new and glorious day in which I see the glistening greatness of this world.

Masochism Maelstrom

Note: in this context, masochist means someone that seeks out pain on purpose.

You might be a masochist if…

You constantly provide yourself with content to complain about e.g. reading the news, browsing an infuriating website, communicating with certain acquaintances, watching shows that make you feel bad, etc.

In your mind, you dredge up unpleasant scenes from your past or you imagine an unpleasant future.

You keep performing an activity despite poor performance, all while maintaining a losing-mindset, causing you to fail at aspects you would normally succeed at.

You avoid things that might actually be fun for you.

You insist on doing things the hard way.

You intensely focus on minor aches/pains and other discomforts, allowing them to influence your life and daily routine.

Is masochism just a personal preference that should be honored?

No, it’s a low-quality way to spend your time. It’s like eating junk-food instead of consuming something nutritious. In the long run, you don’t feel satisfied by the pain, you feel empty and incomplete.

So how does one stop being a masochist?

You’ll need to replace it with something better, something more nourishing. The first step is to recognize that you’re a masochist and that you’re done with the pain-loving lifestyle. Next, you’re gonna wanna take some time to think about the painful and frustrating life that YOU have been putting yourself through. You sadistic sicko. Next, you’ll need to seek out new ways to spend your time. Since you won’t be torturing yourself any longer, you’ll need some new hobbies.

This will take some effort, but you can do it. There’s creative pursuits, pleasant activities, lighthearted entertainment, loving something, connecting with others, celebrating stuff, being helpful — whatever incites delight. And during this exploration and experimentation time, you’ll need to recognize those moments when you’re absentmindedly seeking out pain — when you see it, shut it down. Luckily you can use the feeling of pain as an alarm to indicate that you’re doing something masochistic again. In brief: feel pain, stop doing what you’re doing, do something better instead.

Masochistic Delight

So I’m sitting there in the War Robots lobby looking at the scrolling chat, and this guy is complaining about something not working right. And believe me, EVERY complaint about War Robots is probably legit — there’s so much to complain about –in fact, I do it all the time. Yet we all still show up to play the game. WHY!!?? The game literally abuses us in every way possible. So I contributed to the conversation and said, “well yeah, I think you gotta love some level of abuse to play this game.”

And then it hit me, I’m a freakin masochist!!! It’s like one of those M. Night Shyamalan moments when your life flashes before your eyes and all the clues were there, but you just couldn’t recognize them at the time. It’s dead-obvious now that I’m analyzing it — but I always thought it was such a dumb concept: who the heck would purposefully seek out pain? Uh, um, well, me I guess. Please hurt me!! Thank you, may I have another!!?

I’m always playing games in which I suffer frustrating losses. Even this blog frustrates me. My relationships frustrate me. Food frustrates me. It turns out, EVERYTHING frustrates me! YET, I keep going back for more.

So then I started thinking about memorable circumstances throughout my life. Would things have gone more smoothly if I had only trusted life and stopped trying to fight at every turn — if I had simply gone with the flow? And my conclusion was: no, not really. BUT, what readily and reliably explains the circumstances of my life: I’m a masochist! It’s as if the scenes I experienced were professionally designed to evoke maximum frustration!

If you think about it though, games are typically designed to introduce frustration, that’s their underlying nature. An obstacle prevents your progress — and until you overcome it, you’re frustrated by it. And the MORE frustrating a challenge is, the MORE it draws you in. That’s why the concept of “playing hard to get” can work in the realm of romance. If it’s easy, who cares. But if it’s difficult to attain, that’s a challenge that’ll keep you interested! That’s something you can dedicate yourself to!

If you quickly get through a game, it’s over — there’s nothing left to do. Whereas if challenges continually keep you from getting to the end, you literally might play for years. Sure you’re frustrated, but you keep going and going and going. You MUST reach the end no matter what it takes!!! So that’s life in a nutshell: a series of unconquerable tasks that string you along to the end. After all these years here, I haven’t mastered ANYTHING — and apparently, I’m not supposed to.

And if I did master life’s challenges, there’d be nothing left to accomplish. It’d be: “You Win!” followed by: “Game Over”.

So the question becomes: can I participate in this game-of-life while only experiencing minimal frustration? Must I always find myself maximally frustrated? Is pain simply my preference? I honestly don’t feel like it is, but ample evidence says otherwise. I would theorize that it’s possible to give up the pain-loving lifestyle if I develop an alternate means in which to appreciate life. For example, maybe I could develop a taste for winning.

As it is, I barely care if I win. But when I lose, oh boy, I can feel that frustration brewing. That’s something real. What a thrill it is to feel dominated and defeated!! In every path of life, I’ve felt that same frustration from my inabilities. I’m nothing but a weak and worthless moron that can’t do anything right. A loser. A loser lapping up frustration like it’s the tastiest cake on Earth. Sicko.

Therefore, having recognized my masochistic tendencies AND having recognized that I do not enjoy the level of pain produced by said tendencies, I hereby declare that I will work towards developing a new way to appreciate life. I will celebrate the victories and the revelry, the camaraderie and the creativity, the gentle and the loving — I am done delighting in despair and the not-fair.

Taking a Step Back

I think you’ll notice that the game-of-life pushes the notion of a concrete physical reality mixed with the concept of random chance. And the reason for that, is because those properties maximize the intensity and excitement we feel here. Everything you see and experience is “real”, born of cosmic fire, created through millions of years of evolution and chemical reaction. There’s an epic-ness to it all. “And what’s this!? Any part of it, including me and everyone I know, will be struck-down by random chance?! Gasp!! Oh no!!! So exciting!!!”

But of course, it’s just predetermined pixels designed to appear as if they’re there. It’s obvious when you stop and stare at the gameplay itself, but when you’re lost in your character it certainly feels like the real-deal. And like I mentioned at the start, the game will keep attempting to convince you that it’s real and random.

If you consider the story of the Pilgrims, it’s the story of some people that put the concept of a non-physical-world to the test. Without any special skill or ability, they boarded a boat and went over to the “new world” trusting in their faith of a benevolent world. God will protect and provide — and in many ways He did. They survived the daunting voyage, there was a native man that just happened to speak English who was willing to show them how to procure food, and there was an “empty” village just waiting for them. While it’s reported that half of them died during the first winter, it’s still a miraculous feat.

There are lots of stories that tell of the non-random, non-physical nature of the world — yet for some reason we tend to say it was “luck”, just random happenstance that could never happen again. Yet, unusual things happen all the time, there are “amazing”, seemingly impossible narratives that happen again and again. The very fact that life occurs in story-like patterns is a give-away in itself.

Lest you think I’m trying to spoil the fun and ruin the surprise, far from it. I’m only attempting to provide some perspective. Without their faith in a non-physical world, the Pilgrims never would’ve been so bold. Whereas if you believe yourself a simple creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape, you’ll dig a hole and hide away your entire existence — it’s the logical thing to do. But, if you know beyond a doubt that the world wants you well, then you’ll step into the sun, soaking up its warm rays as you seek out the adventure of a lifetime.

So consider this: the world is not real OR random. It’s a game of pretend. You’re a character meant to play out your role. Whenever the intensity of immersion becomes too great, take a step back and realize that you’re not just a character, but also the player that watches, the one having the fun.