Bad Days

I’m pretty sure “bad days” are a real phenomenon. There have been days in which I feel good, like I’ve got things figured out, like everything’s going to be better than okay – like I’m a winner. Then all of a sudden, I’m sucker-punched in the gut, doubled-over and questioning my entire existence and hating everything this wretched-world has to offer.

Then things kinda go back to normal and I follow my usual daily routine. I’m not sure if those bad days typically follow the days in which I feel like a winner – or are they just randomly interspersed. Is it a normalization process in which my ultra-positive attitude is brought back down? Or simply some bit of chaos mixed into an otherwise boring routine?

It’s like having a nightmare. Hm, well if life is a dream, then having some nightmarish days makes sense I suppose. Although I wonder if I encourage them, or do they appear randomly. It’s really easy to get lost in the narrative of a bad day too. I suppose I should try to recognize those days as soon as possible and do something about it. Hm, but what – especially when my energy feels so drained.

Maybe bad days aren’t so bad? Maybe they’re just days filled with potentiality – swirling with chaotic creativity, providing a chance to switch things up, an opportunity to step off of a dull habit-formed path. Hm, maybe. Well, on a bad day I suppose I shouldn’t attempt to follow my typical daily routine – maybe that’s why I lack the energy to do so.

Since everything is harder, it only leads to frustration, so maybe I should try something new? Instead of: “Oh boy, it’s going to be a real struggle to get through today. Nothing I usually do is working, it’s like failure around every corner.” It becomes: “Oh wow, it’s a day of chaotic creativity! I shouldn’t expect my usual approach to work today. Therefore, I should refrain from my typical routine and try something different!”

Packing Purpose

If you know where you’re going, it makes packing much easier. With packing, you can’t always bring everything you own. And even if you can, you still have to prioritize accessibility of items – some things get buried on the bottom while others are kept near the top. What’s the weather like? Hot, cold, rainy? What activities will I do? Which accessories should I keep at hand? How long will I be without the stuff I leave behind?

A couple years ago for example, I emptied out a storage unit that contained stuff I left behind ten years prior. More than half of that stuff was irrelevant and got thrown out. I’m at a similar spot now. I have to leave but I don’t know where I’m going. I have to pack but I don’t know what to bring. Will the rest go into storage again? Another decade entombed until my return? I’m obviously not pleased by this prospect.

If I had my druthers, I’d simply buy a nice home in a pleasant location and settle there. I’m able to make more suitable choices for myself than the powers that be. Yet for whatever reason, something wants me riled up. But honestly, I don’t like this world enough to bear any inconvenience. It’s a relationship in which my needs are reluctantly addressed. Me: “Can I get an ice-cream cone?” The world: “We have popsicles at home.” Me: “oh.”

So dear world, you disappoint me once again. If I could end this relationship, I would. But I know any authority so petty and cruel would not allow such a circumstance – thus your prisoner I remain. Whatever. I have nothing better to do apparently. One would assume that a good host would make their guest’s stay a pleasant one. Yet, it is an absolute chore to attain any sense of enjoyment from this place. Good day to you.

Entry 227-772021

Dear diary, I’m currently displeased. And as such, my modus operandi tends to be questioning the very fabric of reality. Why are things this way? In fact, why is anything the way it is? What is this world anyway?

Here are some things I know. I know I exist within a fictional construct. This world is artificial, yet it attempts to conceal its fabricated foundation in order to enhance a sense of immersion. But every time circumstances fall outside of my expectations, I’m shaken awake by my discomfort. If the fiction doesn’t want to reveal itself, why doesn’t it simply comply with my assumptions?

I don’t have much patience for this world, so additional casus belli don’t help. And what about that? I frankly have a lot of issues with this place. Does it keep me alive and supplied with the bare essentials? Yes. But why doesn’t it go above and beyond? What’s with the bread & water routine? Am I a prisoner? Is this a behavior modification facility?

I seem restricted from doing what I want and I can’t leave. Sounds like prison to me. Hm, even the other inmates form gangs and fight amongst themselves. I currently have an eye-strain headache which doesn’t help, I’ve never gotten a good night’s rest in all the years I’ve been here, and I don’t understand the point of this place. I feel punished, yet I don’t know what for – thus I can feel no repentance.

If I’m supposed to learn something, it’s lost on me. I’ve been in-game for decades and I still don’t get it. Did I sign up for this place? With an in-game single-lifetime obligation? If I did, I’d kick my other-world self in the nuts. I’ve stated many times to this world, just give me what I ask and I’ll play along. Yet for some reason, I find myself ever amidst a sea of uncomfortable turbulence.

Dearest and Almighty Creator of this world, I beseech you as a humble participant in your grand experiment, do not let this wretched creature suffer. Fulfill the preferences implanted within and let me know triumph in this world. Relieve the pain and stresses known so long. Let time-served be punishment enough for transgressions done. Let this mortal form not serve as example of a state unwished for, but let this character become a shining beacon on a hill, an inspiration, one that has realized the resplendence this world has to offer. If there is any hope to be had, let it manifest now.

Hope and a Smile

I think quality-of-life can drastically change based on my focus and perspective. Therefore, by adjusting and shaping my thoughts, I can improve my experience of existence. And the crux of this, is mental discipline: the practice of deliberately monitoring and adjusting my thoughts, feelings, and reactions. It doesn’t matter how seemingly upsetting or how logically dire a situation is – with properly applied mental discipline, my state of mind can be improved.

I could attempt to alter my surroundings and the world through physical means – or, I could simply see everything as perfectly fine. Yes, this is EXACTLY like the cartoon-dog sitting in a burning-house meme when he says: “This is fine”. But, he died with hope and a smile. Would it have been better to die in a state of panic and despair? From what I’ve seen, positive attitudes lead to more enjoyable experiences and better outcomes.

As is said: if surrounded by darkness, should you not seek the light? And if that light-source happens to be a raging fire, well that’s fine too. As the poster reminds: Keep calm and carry on. It’s not a defeatist attitude, it’s just pivoting. When you can’t jump high enough to get over the hurdle, you could simply sit and enjoy the day regardless. If you can’t think of something nice to say, you can say nothing at all.

Mental discipline is still a form of striving by the way. But instead of struggling against physical obstacles, it’s striving to shape my perspective into something positive – no matter what. It’s like those people that train themselves to sit in icy water despite the seemingly uncomfortable and improbable nature of the task. I tend to see situations as unpleasant or impossible, and I must overcome that tendency through the practice of mental discipline. I must have hope and smile.

Corporeal Lament

I’ve watched captivating movies, lost myself in enthralling shows, and journeyed alongside characters in great books. While engaged with these stories, I’m undistracted and enjoy myself. In other words, I’m an effective audience member. But when I leave these stories and return to my own story of everyday life, I’m often distracted and frequently fail to enjoy myself. What gives!?

Obviously it’s because my story SUCKS. And it’s true, I don’t like it. If I had to devise a dumber plot or a more unlikable character I’m not sure that I could. As I implied earlier, good storylines are effortless to consume, but bad narratives are boring and a chore to get through. I know good stories exist, I’ve seen them, yet my life is not one of them – why?

Nothing short of a bonafide Christmas Miracle would make the preceding years balance out. Maybe aliens introducing advanced technology such as teleportation, perfect health, mechanized avatars, and recreational virtual worlds. Well whatever it is, there needs to be a deus-ex-machina alteration to this narrative for it to become a worthwhile story.

Am I unappreciative of the miracle of life? YES, it needs to be interesting and engaging or else who cares. Ooh look at me walk around. How fun. Ooh trees! Neato. Ooh all those stars in the sky! So bright! I don’t care. Physical pain, the awkwardness of personal interactions, digestion difficulties, sleep and energy issues, the tediousness of transportation, finding purpose — who needs that crap!? If this world is simply a lesson to teach me that bodies are terrible things to have, then mission accomplished.

Unknowable Truth

The ultimate truth of life, is that absolute truth isn’t knowable. Reality is only ever experienced from a particular perspective. When observed from different positions or at different times, what seemed true no longer is. We can easily witness this phenomenon as we age, yet we rarely regard its significance. Instead of acknowledging the truth of unknowableness, we pick a few “facts” and cling to them as long as we can, telling ourselves that they represent absolute truth.

We play this truth-game for as long as we can. Because these ideas aren’t actually true, they readily collapse whenever we fail to maintain our delusion. We’ll struggle for a bit until we pick a new “truth” to believe in. And on and on we go, attempting to make our leaky boat float, patching it wherever we find weakness. It’s a futile effort of course, but it’s a game we apparently like to play.

For playing this stupid game, we win the stupid prize of a flimsy foundation upon which our life rests. Our life never feels secure because it isn’t. But playing pretend isn’t the problem, the problem lies with trying to extract an absolute truth from these games. Within this world, we can only play: the characters we meet and the circumstances we experience are forms of fiction, not fact.

The things of this world are fictional and fleeting. And because nothing is of substance, it’s all frivolity. In other words: the temporary tales that constitute our experience reveal that it’s all for fun. Solid unchanging facts can be taken seriously, fleeting fiction cannot. Therefore, we purposefully play the truth-game in order to add solemnity and solidity to life.

The opposite is also true. If at any point we find life too intense, we can simply stop playing the truth-game. In other words, we can stop believing in the sources of fear and woe. Monsters disappear when we no longer believe in them. Once we stop fantasizing about the solidity of the world, there is no foundation upon which woe and worry can rest. By accepting and appreciating the ultimate truth of unknowableness, we cease in scaring ourselves — life turns from nasty nightmare into delightful dream.

Stupid Games

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

How do you know if you’re playing a stupid game? By the potential prize you’d win. If it’s not a prize you want, don’t play it. For example, I could irritate my friend by saying a bunch of stupid stuff until she gets annoyed. On the one hand: I’d get some attention, alleviate some boredom, and feel the power of instigating a reaction. On the other hand, she might retaliate in some way or perhaps my tirade would damage our relationship. So based on the potential prizes, it certainly sounds like a stupid game.

Or how about the game of imagining the worst possible outcomes? On one hand: it alleviates some boredom and gets the anxiety juices flowing — I really feel alive and in danger — ooh so exciting! On the other hand, I don’t handle the stress of it very well and it tends to sour my mood and results in an extended period of unpleasantness. So based on the potential prizes, it sounds like a stupid game.

How about the game of mocking everything? On the one hand: I laugh at how foolish everything is, which provides me with a feeling of superiority, and it serves as an excuse for not engaging with life. On the other hand, there’s nothing to do since everything’s “lame” and “not worth the effort”, which fosters a general mood of “meh” and “who cares”. Overall it leads to even more boredom, so again, it sounds like a stupid game to play.

And what about the game of frustration? On the one hand: all that anger is energizing, it’s even intoxicating as it takes control — all of a sudden I’m on a rollercoaster and who knows what’ll happen next! On the other hand, the prize is a treasure-chest of discomfort and a wake of destruction. Who wants to clean up after that mess? Hm, sounds like a stupid game to play.

Of course there’s the game of masochism as well. On the one hand: I feel the pain and persecution it summons forth, transforming me into a virtuous victim. I’m tossed about in the turbulence of life — poor me at the mercy of a cruel world, struggling against the current. Now that’s exhilarating!!! You have my attention and I’m fully engaged! On the other hand, pain is pretty unpleasant — it’s a bad way to spend the day. Yeah, that’s a stupid game.

It seems like I’ve been playing a LOT of stupid games for the past few decades. And based on the prizes that were offered, it seems like I got what I deserved. Apparently I didn’t think it through. It’s like showing up at a contest that’s offering dick-kicks as first prize, then feeling shocked and upset when you end up winning that kick to the groin. The simple message is this: play games that offer GOOD prizes.

Stupid Prizes

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Would you play a game that’s upsetting and irritating? It’d be a dumb way to spend your time. Yet that’s what I do, and I get first-prize every time.

I’m always receiving stupid prizes, which is how I know I’m engaging in a lot of stupid games. Yet causing oneself to get upset is low-quality entertainment — it’s masochism.

Particular things and specific circumstances just don’t matter. Want something? It’s just a change in perspective whether you attain it or not. You simply check-off the item in your mind.

Getting frustrated? Just check it off NOW, why wait? It’s yours, don’t sweat it any longer. From there, move to the next item on the list. See how it works? That’s what happens anyway, there’s always a “next item”.

You lack nothing, it’s yours! In fact, you’re bored of it already! Time for the next item on the list! Just ask yourself, what’s a stupider game: guaranteed victory or a constant state of defeat?

In other words, stop playing stupid games in which you repeatedly paint yourself into the losing corner. That’s not fun. There are better ways to entertain yourself than inciting frustration.

Focus Game

Think about it this way. Perhaps life doesn’t know exactly what you want, plus the process of “selecting” is fun. Shopping is an example of this: it’s enjoyable to evaluate, reject, and eventually select an item that’s “just right”.

So there you are: center-screen like the spaceship in Astroids, and all these items come drifting towards you (like astroids). But in this game, you use your focus to capture items — like a tractor-beam. To do well, you’ll want to aim at items that interest you — while avoiding items that are undesirable. If you do capture an item that displeases you, it has a poison-like effect that lingers and lowers your stamina. Whereas delightful items temporarily boost your stamina — so keep focusing on and collecting the good stuff, it’s fun.

Sometimes big nasty things get in the way and block your field-of-view. Now what!? You can’t even see anything pleasant to aim at. You’re stuck!! Or are you? Zoom out, obviously. Stop focusing on that giant nasty object — immediately. Concentrate on pulling-back — keep going until that nasty object becomes as small as everything else. Don’t curse its presence, don’t poke it to see if it hurts, simply zoom out until you find something better to focus on. Widen your perspective, go beyond the smallness of your ship.

The items coming at you consist of EVERYTHING, so you have to be choosy. Don’t like it? Don’t pick it. Complaining about its presence IS focusing on it. You must only contemplate the things you truly want to collect. That’s the game, and games are challenging. Sometimes a nasty object will capture your attention and you won’t realize until the poison-like effect kicks-in. It’ll take all your effort to stop staring and zoom the heck out. But good luck out there and have a great game!

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.