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.

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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.

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.