More Bad Days

I’ve been attempting to solve the phenomenon of “bad days”. At first, I wasn’t sure if “bad days” were just negative interpretations of a given day. As I’ve been actively observing though, I can confirm that concentrated cascades of chaos are actually occurring. I’ve witnessed headaches, wrong-address deliveries of packages, shipments in limbo, incorrect food orders, uncomfortable interactions with others, just to name a few situations that pile-on during a “bad day”. A lot of these events are outside my direct influence – and it’s not just a single event, there’s a bouquet of unpleasantries. Then like a storm passing, everything eventually goes back to normal.

In many ways, my life has improved due to the practice and application of mental discipline. Yet, I still have “bad days” mixed in – why? What’s the source of this discomfort? I can be going along relatively comfortably and then BAM, I’m roughed up. Is it due to a lapse in attitude, carelessness in my focus, or just an inherent challenge built into the game-of-life? There seems to be waves of unexpected unpleasantness attempting to turn my attention to some chaotic storyline.

Once a “bad day” begins, I haven’t been able to interrupt it – it feels like a storm I have to wait out. I’m still experimenting, but nothing’s worked so far. My motivation is zapped and I just wanna give up. I can recognize a “bad day” as it’s happening, but I feel powerless. At the very least, I’ve been trying to “do no harm” by engaging as little as possible. Then a new day comes and things are fine again.

I wonder if the movies and shows I watch are a significant factor. For example, I was recently watching the 1996 classic movie “Romeo + Juliet” – which is obviously filled with lots of tension and calamity. Like watching a horror movie before bed can result in nightmares, does watching a woeful movie encourage a woeful day? This isn’t the first time I noticed a possible correlation, so I’m keeping an eye on it.

The “bad days” seem so abrupt and obvious. In one sense, I feel like they should be easy to overcome because they’re so identifiable. But in another sense, they’re just so unrelenting and pile on the pain until I yell “uncle”. Life: Oh you think you’re tough!? Try this on for size! Me: Ow! It hurts! Stop! I give up! You win! Life: LOL….

My next step is to keep track of “bad days” on a calendar. I’ll jot down some details and such and see if I can get to the bottom of it. There’s something contrived about them, which makes me think there might be an obvious pattern and thus a potential way to abstain. Since they’re so difficult to deal with once they start, prevention seems like the best approach.

Solving for X

I suppose you could say it’s my mission to solve the riddle of this world. I suspect though, that the world actively and deliberately thwarts any attempt to be figured-out. Therefore, this situation is a game by definition. Why must I decipher it? I don’t know, but there’s not much else I’m driven to do. My consciousness has been placed in this predicament and wants to find its way out – like a maze.

People have been trying to reach God since humanity began. I suppose my efforts are similar in this regard. So, how does one get to heaven? The pathway seems to be by way of mental discipline. Through proper focus, steered by discipline, one can arrive at the intended destination. But life will place many obstacles, in the form of distractions, along the route.

This is a very silly world, so engaging in earnest is a poor strategy. To take this world seriously, is to lose from the outset. Games are for fun after-all. Being a game, losing is an option. Due to many in-game hints, it seems that death is not an actual end, it’s just a respawn, the game continues until it’s ultimately won. Fundamentally, the game wants to be won, or it wouldn’t bother to provide a winning option.

Ultimately, I think the mind must be made to perceive existence as a lighthearted illusion – a dream basically. With that mindset, one’s experience within this dreamworld can be influenced by deliberate focus. By utilizing mental-discipline to maintain focus, one’s circumstance of existence is hammered and shaped into a key – a key that unlocks the maze. And with that, the goal is reached, the game won.

Thorns of Thought

In a virtual world, like a dream, anything can be anything. This fundamental fact is a prescription for eradicating anxiety. Since everything is malleable, there’s no application for worry. Early warning signs point to a potential, not to an absolute. Follow those signs and you’ll surely find what you’re looking for. But ignore them, and they’ll fade from existence.

Here’s something to consider: what is the interface for a virtual world such as this? There are no obvious buttons, no onscreen keyboard to summon – so how does one input their wishes into the world? There is but one way: focus. Of course, focusing one’s attention is a difficult operation to master. This is the purpose of meditation: it’s a concentrated practice of concentration – a way to make the seemingly-impossible possible.

The point is to stop following every little thought. These thoughts aren’t the problem, they’re like thorns as you walk through a garden. Don’t interact with them, and you remain without pain. Focus on them, wonder what happens when they press against flesh, then their prick provokes distress. Playing with each and every thought as it comes into view is an ever-flowing source of dissatisfaction.

Your focus betrays you. If you allow it to wander, you’ll crash. Whereas if you steer your attention in a delightful direction, your experience vastly improves. But be advised: this is not an effortless task because boredom encourages negligence. Thrilling ways lead to exciting days – and the mind seeks drama. This is the other facet of meditation: to become comfortable sans-spectacle.

Quiet the mind, intentionally guide it: you win. Forgo discipline and allow the mind to wander wherever: you lose. One evokes satisfaction, the other suffering. This concept can be tested and proven, faith is not required. Left to its own devices, the mind becomes a bitter pessimist poisoning your experience. But if you invest the effort, the mind may be molded into a cheerful companion that gladdens your days.

Racing Around

It seems like the most common feeling I experience is “irritation”. Wouldn’t it be better though, if instead of a constant state of annoyance, a more enjoyable sensation dominated my experience? Oh I dunno, maybe something like anticipation, delight, appreciation, and just an overall sense of satisfaction? That seems like a much better approach to life than finding reasons to be upset all the time.

But doesn’t life manipulate your feelings through external stimuli? I’m not so sure about that. Although I believe that life intentionally introduces “surprises”, I think my reaction to those surprises can be steered. Not perfectly controlled, but at least influenced. It seems like my internal attitude makes a significant difference in regards to external stimuli. It’s like driving a car: if you overreact or overcorrect, you’re going to have a bad time. It’s better to stay calm and stay the course.

Gentle turns, soft acceleration, light breaking, maintaining adequate distance – it’s not that difficult. The same goes with the human avatar. If you go nuts, you crash. Why wouldn’t you? Isn’t that obvious? If you get distracted, you miss a turn. Now you’re scrambling to get back to where you were going. There are consequences for being a bad driver – why shouldn’t there be? Gun the engine, strip your gears. Pay attention, or pay the toll.

My point is this: the human avatar is NOT a ride-car that’s safely and securely fastened to a track, whisking your consciousness around a preset stage of audio-animatronic characters programmed for your amusement. Think of this more like a car-driving game in which crashing IS an option. The benefit is that there’s an element of excitement and a greater sense of immersion. The downside is that you have to maintain proper focus at all times – you’re a player not a passenger.

Like in any video-game, there are aspects and cut-scenes that are scripted. For example, a car-driving game has a bunch of race-courses you have to carefully navigate. Games aren’t very open-ended, they provide a lot of structure for a character to follow. This leads to confusion about “free-will” – am I in control or not in control? Basically it’s both. Within the preset parameters of the game, you can control a limited aspect of the character.

What you actually control isn’t quite obvious here. It’s not the avatar directly. Think about “walking” while walking, and you’ll likely stumble. For the avatar to perform effectively, you essentially have to keep your consciousness from trying to micromanage. Like driving a car, you’re just nudging it from time to time, keeping everything steady, staying between the lines while the vehicle does the work rolling down the road.

The destination is already known, it’s the checkered finish-line. Your role is to sit in the driver’s seat with a first-class view, gently influencing the controls. And your primary mode of control is through focus and attitude. Focus on stuff you don’t like and you’ll drive right into it. Have a bad attitude while rip-roaring down the road, and you’ll likely crash. It’s a direct correlation, just simple arithmetic, nothing complicated.

Therefore, if the most common sensation you experience is “irritation”, then we can deduce that you’re not applying enough consideration to your role as driver. You’re likely just sitting there, gazing out the window as the side of your vehicle scrapes against the guardrail and the worn-out windshield wipers drag across dry glass. “Boy I wonder what all that noise is? It sure is annoying!”

Theory of Existence

The primary objective of the perceptible world is to attract and hold the attention of inhabitants (i.e. to captivate its audience). It will do this even at the expense of personal comfort (i.e. expect to be thrilled more than soothed). As part of this, “surprise” is an inherent aspect of the narrative. Outcomes are purposefully uncertain in order to maximize an attention-grabbing effect (i.e. intermittent reward).

Life isn’t random, the path is tuned to the traits of the character. Additionally, the tone of the narrative is directly affected by the character’s focus and attitude. The prevailing theme of one’s life tends to adhere to wherever the attention is focused and the particular attitude that’s maintained. For example, a lighthearted outlook tends to encourage sitcom-style situations whereas a dour outlook tends to evoke sad or dramatic circumstances.

If an inhabitant doesn’t specifically select a topic through focus, life will select something stimulating. This automatic process can lead to undesirable circumstances. Therefore, it’s advisable to intentionally select a topic of interest to focus on, and to deliberately maintain a positive attitude. Letting the mind wander to “wherever” will tend to increase the intensity of one’s experience while decreasing contentment.

Achievement and attainment of physical-world objects and objectives represents a one-time finish-line, not an end to dissatisfaction itself. Winning one game simply leads to another, and so on. When participating in a game, winning a prize feels crucial, but this sensation quickly fades upon the game’s conclusion. Do participate in games believed to achieve a desired result – but appreciate the activity itself as an amusing way to spend time, and realize outcomes are uncertain by design and essentially unimportant.

Existence Notes

Because I can imagine significantly superior scenarios compared to the actual situations I experience everyday, I can determine that this world does not maximize for my short-term delight. Therefore, it would be futile for me to focus on such things. I can also reasonably deduce that “surprise” is an inherent part of this world. Like any well-written narrative, the reader never knows what’s next.

Applying these assumptions to the question “How do I get what I want?”, results in an answer of “uncertainty”. But at least this answers the second question: “Why don’t I always get what I want?”. In short, life will always leave you guessing. Does this aspect support the notion of random-chance? No, because “randomness” implies outcomes that are too far from the storyline and “chance” implies a probability (which uncertainty denies).

That leads to the question: “If uncertainty is certain, should I even try to achieve a goal?”. Sports and games are the embodiment of this question. Games by their nature are fun and futile – you invest your time and effort into the game’s premise, then lament or celebrate depending on the outcome (an outcome that is completely meaningless outside of the game). So, should you attempt a goal? Yes, it’s a game and games are fun because of their uncertainty.

Relatedly: the things you want, most likely represent a finish-line more than a cure for dissatisfaction. In other words, you will not achieve a lasting fulfillment from the attainment of anything in particular. If you win one game, you simply play another, and so on. When you’re participating in a game, winning a prize feels vitally important, but this sensation quickly fades upon the game’s conclusion (with a proper attitude of course).

Based on all this, let’s see what we can apply to a theory of existence. Perhaps life is like a role-playing game in which a character stumbles through an outlandish narrative. This narrative is not random, it’s tuned to the traits of the character. Outcomes are purposefully uncertain in order to maximize an attention-grabbing effect. Life seems to prioritize captivation of its audience above all else – even sacrificing a character’s comfort to achieve this end.

Lastly: attitude matters. The prevailing theme of one’s life tends to adhere to one’s attitude. For example, a lighthearted outlook tends to encourage sitcom-style situations whereas a dour outlook tends to invoke sad or tragic circumstances.

Problematic Solutions

Fixing one problem can reveal or exacerbate another problem. I think that’s what’s happening here. Early on, my primary focus was fear and hostility. I was an anxiety-ridden mess, always worried about something and suspicious of everything. I fixed that problem through a major alteration of perspective. In short, I dumped my belief in a physical-reality ruled by random-chance. I replaced it with a belief in a simulated (or dreamlike) reality in which random-chance doesn’t exist.

It took a few years of dedication, but eventually the new perspective took hold. I truly believe that I exist within a simulation/dream. Because of that, my anxiety and hostility are gone, there’s literally nothing to fear and nothing to fight – it’s all flickering pixels. But now that fear and hostility are gone, so is my primary hobby: worrying and arguing.

With time on my hands, I started focusing on the good-things in life – I finally have the capacity for appreciation. But here’s the problem: if life is a dream, why can’t I have everything I want? Previously, I figured chance wasn’t in my favor, I was lucky to have what little I had. I was fine hiding away from the world, remaining unnoticed. But if this is a simulation, and random-chance doesn’t exist, what’s keeping my wishes from coming true?

Therefore, I’m getting a bit frustrated. Fixing one bug caused another: frustration has become my new hobby. Apparently, I have a tendency to pick dumb ways to occupy my time. So now what? Obviously I have to fix this problem while maintaining the previous fix – I need a comprehensive solution that doesn’t introduce more issues.

One option is to completely renounce the physical world, seeing attainment as an exercise in futility. But this seems wrong. Why exist within a world that offers so much stuff? Purely as an exercise in denial and self-restraint? That seems rude. Hey, here’s this vast and wondrous world to engage with! “Um, no thanks, I’m good – I’ll just sit here facing the corner.”

Another option might be believing in benevolent constraints. Essentially, rules for your own good. “You’ll spoil your supper if you eat dessert first!” Or maybe to keep the narrative more engaging: there’s no story to tell if you already have everything. Or maybe it’s like a Christmas Wishlist: Santa might bring something you asked for, or he might not – be grateful either way.

Although I’ve looked, I’ve yet to find an effective algorithm for attainment. In my experience, success seems haphazard. But in my belief-system, it can’t be chance-based – there has to be some underlying principle. I don’t have to discover the true fundamental nature of reality, I just need a convincing non-contradictory explanation that I can believe in. An adequate answer to the question: how do I get what I want, and why don’t I always get what I want?

Confused Ignorance

I’ve been investigating the fundamental nature of reality for a few decades now. The fact that I still don’t have an adequate explanation reveals that the foundation of existence is elusive – or that I’m a moron. But if I’m really dumb, that in itself demonstrates how my intelligence is set to a point below an ability to understand the underlying principles of the world I’m in.

Therefore, the structure of existence is hidden from inhabitants. And this makes sense, it’s like a character in a video-game – he has no idea about the computing-device running the game. Even the player himself doesn’t understand the underlying electrical engineering involved to run the device’s hardware nor the programming-code that powers the game’s software.

But of course, there could be another reason for my ignorance: there’s simply no foundation. Perhaps nothing exists below the surface. In a dream for example, there’s only an imagined reality in which circumstances blip in and out and often fail to follow logical pathways. I had assumed life was logical, but the longer I’ve examined it, the less logical it seems. Things more or less “just happen”.

Yet, my inability to perceive a logical pathway could in itself reveal a lack of intelligence on my part. Are the workings of the world painfully obvious, yet I’m too dumb to understand? But I’ve seen many different and wildly varying explanations of “how the world works” – so this implies that an explanation isn’t easy or obvious. Perhaps it’s like the allegory of the blind men and the elephant.

Either the world doesn’t want me to perceive its underlying structure, or there’s nothing significant to see (i.e. there are no secrets being kept). Either I’m a character in a game, or I’m the dreamer. Either I’m an ignorant pawn kept in confusion – or I’m the author, designer of everything I see. Or is there some in-between position in which I create within constraints? And why is it that I don’t know?

Why is it that I even want to know? It’s simply because I’m unsatisfied with the game/dream. When I’m enjoying myself, who cares how anything works. I don’t mind losing myself within the story if it’s fun. But if things aren’t going well, perhaps I can fix the problem if I can discern how the world works. Whenever I find a physical-world solution, I use it – but if I can’t find one, I go deeper, to the very foundation of existence itself. (Hm, it sounds like I’m trying to hack the mainframe.)

But what if the underlying structure doesn’t matter, what if the “fix” is the same no matter the foundation. What if the solution is simply to improve one’s attitude. For instance, a dreamer’s dream is often influenced by what they focus on in waking life (i.e. watch a scary movie, have a scary dream). And a gamer’s fun is based on his level of engagement and frame of mind (i.e. if he’s too serious, he’s going to get frustrated).

So perhaps it’s a waste of time to attempt to discover the fundamental nature of reality when such an understanding might not solve the actual problem, which is “dissatisfaction”. In other words, just knowing how something works doesn’t make you a skilled user. In that sense, the fundamental nature of reality could be a red-herring that wouldn’t lead to the intended goal of “satisfaction”.

I suppose it comes down to the ole gamer’s taunt: “Get good, noob”. In other words, I’m complaining that a difficult game is difficult instead of putting in the time and effort to get better. I guess that’s a fair criticism. I expect to be good at the outset, have everything go my way, all while dominating opponents with my mad-skills. But I’m sitting here cursing the dumb game-controller for not working right.

I dunno man, this game is hard.

Problematic Analysis

Due to an abrupt interruption in lifestyle, my character perceives a problem that must be fixed. How can I maintain or upgrade my situation? A potential downgrade is unacceptable – so therein lies the issue. One way to workaround a downgrade is to shift perspective and see it as an upgrade – but that technique is more of a last-resort.

Scanning potential options…. Hm, oh-well I suppose shifting perspective is all I have available at the moment. I don’t see any feasible physical-world solutions. I have “hoping” and “wishing” but I’ve yet to see satisfactory results from previous attempts. My most effective strategy for life has been resigning myself to “what is” and then engaging in some form of small-scale distraction therapy.

Through observation, I can tell that this life is a fictional construct. Also, it seems to be very dreamlike in that the plot goes “wherever” and circumstances follow “dream logic” (reasoning that only makes sense in the dream). Therefore, life isn’t like a ride on a track, a mechanism constructed to gradually reveal an interesting concrete narrative – instead, it simply flows all over the place like a dream.

But not quite “all over the place”. It flows in the general direction of the thinking-mind. I suppose that’s what the “law of attraction” stuff is basically saying: think pleasant thoughts, have a pleasant experience – think nasty thoughts, have a nasty experience. It comes down to controlling the dream through a prevalence of theme. In other words: deluge the thinking-mind with awesomeness in order to live an awesome life.

I admit to beginning life as an untrusting pessimist that searched for ways in which things would fail. And in that way, my wish was often granted. That great things should come to an inelegant end, is well within my belief system. So of course it is of no surprise to be unceremoniously booted from my current abode. But I’m sick of losing, I’m ready to accept a magical transition to an elegant end-game in which I effortlessly excel in the game of life.

Sleep To Dream

I don’t sleep well. I’ve never slept well. Although, when I was younger I remember being able to sleep for 5 hours straight and oftentimes going back to sleep for a couple more hours. That 5 hours was a hard limit that was timed pretty perfectly. Nowadays it’s more like 2 or 3 hours until I wake up. Getting back to sleep is very hit or miss and mostly miss. Oftentimes I remain in a sleepy state that isn’t really sleep.

I tried various sleep aids and remedies of course, but nothing fixed the problem. I finally resorted to supplementing with caffeine during the day – which has helped the most. Oh, but what about naps during the day you say!? Well, I actually have plenty of opportunity to nap during the day… BUT, I can’t nap. It’s forbidden apparently. If I attempt to nap, something ALWAYS wakes me up very soon after I drift off.

For example, I can sit in a room in which no one enters EXCEPT when I fall asleep. I briefly fell asleep in the afternoon the other day but the power randomly blipped on and off (which rarely happens) and people came looking for me. I was woken up, and that was the end of that. If I fall asleep, some external circumstance tends to wake me up. And if it doesn’t, I just wake up after a few minutes with a burst of energy. So no, I can’t nap.

I wonder if it’s some sort of “Harrison Bergeron” style handicap (the short-story by Kurt Vonnegut, 1961)? Being in a perpetual state of low-energy induced by a lack-of-sleep certainly has a suppressing effect. It seems strange how well-enforced it is: time-limits, disturbances, and a no-nap policy. The strangest part is the well-coordinated external interruptions. I used to live in a place where I regularly woke up to the sound of an old howling cat. I thought that was the problem, but even after I moved I just woke up anyway.

Why doesn’t this world want me well-rested? I don’t enjoy being in a drowsy state. I suppose it’s just one of the many types of limitations placed on people, like low self-esteem or imposter syndrome. Life can’t just be easy apparently.