Friday 24 January 2014

#56 A ghost in the machine

"...trying to be enlightened. The whole thing is ridiculous because we are born enlightened and to try for something that is already the case is the most absurd thing. If you already have it, you cannot achieve it... It cannot be made an ambition. Mind is ambitious. Ambitious for money, power, prestige. Then one day, when it gets fed up, it becomes ambitious for enlightenment... but the same ambition has come back, only the object has changed. Your attitude, your approach has not changed. You are the same person in the same rut, in the same routine. The day I became enlightened, simply means the day I realised that there is nothing to achieve. There is nowhere to go. There is nothing to be done. We are already divine and we are already perfect as we are. No improvement is needed. God never creates anybody imperfect. Even if you come across an imperfect man, you will see that his imperfection is perfect." - Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

The following should be taken with a pinch of salt, if at all:

So what's good about your life?
>> Nothing, I'm constantly stressing about the situation
Why don't you have any faith?
>> Because then if I'm wrong, it would be worse
Who cares?
>> I do because I prefer to see reality than pretend everything is ok
You're not living as happily as you should
>> I can't, I'm too scared.
Will you always be this scared?
>> No, when the situation changes, I'll be ok
What if something worse happens in the meantime?
>> I don't care although yes, that would seem like a waste
Are you sure?
>> Well look, it's best just to be yourself, right?
Wait, which one of us are you now?
>> I don't even know anymore.
Who is this conversation with?
It's between me and my mind
>> How can your mind talk to itself? 
I don't know, it just can.
>> Isn't that a bit crazy? 
No, anyone can do this, it's actually useful.
>> What happens when I run out of questions?
Ha, then we really start to worry
>> What is the purpose of this?
I don't know, I am just doing it anyway
>> Do you articulate your thoughts better in writing?
>> Are you saying that your mind actually works better when you write?
Maybe but I may also end up repeating myself, just like in person
>> Why do you do that?
I don't know, just how the mind was made. Might be related to memory
>> Ok so what now? I thought you were supposed to be coping?
How am I supposed to cope with this? Besides, I am
>> It doesn't look like it
Oh very funny, what, you've never spent the weekend in bed? It's a coping mechansim
>> Is it working?
Yeah kinda. I'm still typing and I'm not crazy
>> You're not?
No, I'm not. I'm sure of that. I could have a regular conversation with someone right now
>> That doesn't mean you're not crazy
I know when I'm not crazy. You should take my word for it.
>> Ok fine, I will
Thanks. Now, where were we?
>> I was asking the questions.
Are you still asking them?
>> I don't know. I think we swapped places. Is that ok?
It messes things up a bit. Now I don't know what's going on.
>> Shall I start asking the questions again then?
Yeah sure, ok.
>> How long has it been like this?
Few days.
>> This happens sometimes. It'd be good if you could change your psychology.
Maybe having conversations with myself will help.
>> I doubt it, you'll be nuts by Monday.
Who's side are you on?
>> Sorry, I'm just testing you.
You don't think I have enough to worry about?
>> I don't think you have anything to worry about but you seem to think so, which is why we're here
Look, even if the worst happened, I'd manage somehow
>>Managing doesn't sound like much fun
What is this anyway?
>> It's late. When do you want to go to sleep? 
You don't even...
>> So now your mind is just doing what it always does
Are you saying this perfectly good conversation has descended into something pointless?
>> All of the crap that you think is pointless
What's a useful thought? 
>> You could have one but you're always, always too scared to do anything different
Are you saying that I prefer being unhappy?
>> I am definitely saying that. It's your default state.
No wonder I have trouble forging meaningful relationships
>> That's right but don't worry, it's not all pervasive. 
Hmm... are you sure?
>> Are you bored of this yet?
A bit, plus I don't know where it's going
>> Nobody does. Speak to you later?
Maybe. Love you.
>> Love you too.

Saturday 18 January 2014

#55 Fear

Earlier today, I was watching a TED talk by the novelist Karen Thompson Walker, which happened to be about the emotion of fear. Now at first, making a blog post about this might appear to fly in the face of my new year's resolution to be more happy but I'm going to explain why I don't think this is completely the case.

It would be naive to think that a person is going to be happy all year just because they set a resolution to be so. There are bound to be threats and perceived threats that come along and give rise to fear, especially in a person that isn't used to maintaining a steady state of happiness. So to some extent, a person who wants to be happy is at some point going to have to consider how to deal better with fears.

It may be that there is research to point out that the frequency and intensity of fear experienced by a person is in part genetically predisposed. I would not argue with such a conclusion, were I in fact to read it somewhere. I would imagine that the research would also show though, some examples of instances where a person can overcome or work with or in spite of fear, or even some tips for how to deal better with it.

If I look back at situations and times where I've been fearful in my life, I sometimes find that I shut down somewhat. It's a bit like running a stripped down version of myself. I become more isolated and withdrawn and life feels like it matters less in that period of time. It's a bit like a psychological winter and life is just something that needs to be endured until the source of the fear is no longer present, even if it's a number of weeks or in some cases months and even if there's a good chance that in fact there is nothing to worry about.

The trouble with this type of behavior is that it would conflict with a resolution to be happy. A person can't be both scared and happy at the same time. It just doesn't work. A person might then start to look for answers and techniques or talk to friends. I think it's likely that they would assume their default fearful behavior to some extent but they might find some tools to make it more palatable and to give their experience character. A person might find that finding meaning in a situation is more important than finding happiness in it anyway. Then maybe in the long-term, that person would find some level of happiness out of the meaning that they had created. I have no idea though, I'm not an expert.

Sunday 12 January 2014

#54 Happiness

So my new year's resolution this year is just to be happier. It's the first non-SMART goal I've set myself in a very long time and I'm not advocating this kind of behaviour. Having said that, it can be broken down into its component parts and explained, which I will kind of, sort of do here but not really.

One of the things I've started to do is to cook more instead of relying on microwaveable meals to provide me with happiness. The idea is that if you have to make something yourself, you're going to appreciate it more. This turns out to be true for me now. It probably wasn't true before because to make something yourself, you have to shop for lots of different ingredients, which takes longer, chop them up, which takes longer, cook them all, which takes longer and then clean up everything, which takes longer. I'm not quite sure why I'm doing this but it's just something I'm trying out. Forget the health difference. Many ready-made meals come free from artificial additives and some even contain one or two portions of vegetables, which of course, I always used to make alongside these things anyway.

So from where would a person get the motivation to cook more? Well it's kind of a mystery but I like my current boss at work, which provides more cognitive ease in my day-to-day life. Recently I've also started to let things go, at times, just a bit more, by which I guess I mean trying not to worry so much about all the things I don't have (no I won't list them), or how I should be thinking. You'd be surprised how much time I used to spend wondering if the thoughts I was thinking were the right ones. They probably weren't.

We will see how this all pans out.

Sunday 5 January 2014

#53 NY

"Four fingers" insisted Rich. I'd had about eight lots of four already. Groaning, I polished off the third can of Guinness since we'd started playing less than an hour ago. I guess being the dealer in the drinking game "f*** the dealer" made me the life and soul of this party so far. Not for long.

It was an improvement on the drinking game that we made up last year, "Rich gives you a shot and you drink it" but after an hour of playing cards with the guys on the ironing board, we decided to get more inclusive. Naino had prepared several rounds of "pass the parcel" which involved wearing a pair of pink and zebra stripe knickers that she'd picked up in Primark earlier that day, singing Amy Winehouse karaoke and drinking the Werther's Original vodka that she'd made by putting a pack in the bottle and running it through the dishwasher.

Lisha emerged from the cat's room with a savoury look on her face. When she'd gone in there to put a bottle in the recycling bin, I don't think she expected to see Rob and Amy in quite the sort of position that they'd assumed. A few minutes earlier, after Naino had lost her phone for the second time, someone had found it and decided to pass it around for people to take some creative photos.

By the end of the night, everything had pretty much sorted itself out. We'd watched the fireworks even though it was pouring with rain, Lisha had put Naino to bed and with a couple of people pitching in, we'd managed to tidy up the kitchen and dining room, perhaps waking up the neighbours by vacumming at 2am.

you can read more about Naino's night here.