Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All Those Trees Hiding the Forest!

It is said that the best place to hide something is right in front of whoever shouldn’t find it.  How often have you searched and searched for something and, finally, discover it at the end of your nose, so to speak.  The experience is often regarded as a DUH! moment.

As we approach a new year, 2014, and Earth passes our starting line for another trip around old Sol, many of us search for that special something, that magical ingredient, or lottery number, that will bring more joy to the new year.  Some declare intentions by means of Resolutions – a resolve for some change in behavior that might result in an improved life.

Let’s take a look at some ways to have a fulfilling and enjoyable 2014.

First, the trinity:  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  So well phrased, and in working order.  Life is – you’ve already got that.  Liberty – got that, although liberty can involve surrendering or trading freedom for some other presumed gain.  Think giving up your freedom of movement and privacy to get on an airplane – supposedly made safer.  For most, it is the Pursuit of Happiness that gets action.

So how does one pursue happiness?  This is the important second step – how is your happiness defined?  Do you determine what is best for you, or do you defer to what someone, or something else, decides is best for you?  This is important.  It does not matter how much energy, treasure, and effort you put into meeting someone else’s idea of what is good for you, you will not be happy.  You will be confused and likely irritated (no good feeling payoff for all of your sacrifice.)  There is only one person who knows what is best for you, and that is you.  This is a simple aspect of life that may take an entire lifetime to realize.  The frustration comes from realizing near the end of a lifetime that the knowledge was always present – the firmness of a two-year old declaring “you ain’t the boss of me!” or some similar declaration of independence.

A greatly misunderstood belief is that it is wrong (bad!) to be selfish, to think of yourself, when you ought to be thinking of others and making sure you give them much of your stuff.  That’s a thinking pattern born of materialism.  Materialism is based on a zero-sum formula – anything that you have means someone else will have less.  It is false, but widely held and thus kept in momentum.  Have you ever met a materialist who was actually happy?  I haven’t, not really.

An extension of materialism is seeking something external, outside of self, that influences or causes some physical or other change.  This thinking does not, and cannot, recognize the authority of the individual – the mind.  Not the brain, the brain is an organ designed to process a multitude of energy frequencies into sensory applications.  The brain is a tool for the mind.  And, mind is safely regarded as consciousness.  Consciousness is not confined or limited, since it is not “material.”  Thus, consciousness can include so much more than a physical, material, experience.  Once that’s recognized, then the pursuit of happiness really gets going!

Or not.  It is true that “those who get it, get it.  Those who don’t get it, can’t get it.”  For example, there are those who decry “wishful thinking” as silly, and getting in the way of the work necessary to get something.  In their view, that is correct.  Wishful thinking is not a substitute for the hard work necessary to achieve something.  What these people call “wishful thinking” is the best description they can come up with for others who give their focused  attention to what they wish for and not on things undesired.  A huge difference.

The pursuit of happiness is possible when the person has a good idea of what he/she desires.  Then, it’s a matter of keeping focused on that desire and not wasting thought, time, energy, on things that are unwanted or undesired.  It’s not complicated.  And, it works.

But even when it works, it may not be recognized.  The more materialistic a person, the more he/she fails to see the forest because of all those trees in the way.

I was reminded of this the other day while reading the January/February 2014 issue of Discover Magazine, one of my favorite reads.  In the issue, writer Ed Yong interviews psychologist Brian Nosek about Nosek’s efforts to systematize reproducibility of psychological studies.  A very worthy goal.  Let me quote Nosek’s answer to Yong’s opening question:  “When did you first become aware of the problem of reproducibility?”

            When I was an undergrad, I read a paper that evaluated claims about subliminal mood      tapes, which supposedly improved your memory if you played then while you slept.  When  people tried to replicate these claims, they found that only the subject’s expectations mattered:  If you thought the tape increased your memory, your memory was better.  This was my first insight that not all scientific claims are valid or reproducible.

There was no viable way to “prove” that the memory tapes were the factor that improved memory.  Okay.  But, what was clearly evident? ...only the subject’s expectations  mattered:  If you thought the tape increased your memory, your memory was better.  To me, at least, this was the component that begged for further study rather than considered a corrupting factor.  Alas, an “expectation” is considered an internal thing, a conditioned response of the brain, and not a real factor, such as the tapes.  There’s the forest,  unseen due to belief trees.  Ergo, those that get it, get it.  Those that don’t, can’t.  It’s a matter of belief.  Which is a matter of thought.  Which is a matter of thinking.  Which is the activity of the mind.  Which is the nature of consciousness.  And so on...

This line of thought is where materialists get headaches and often become tempermental.  Consciousness is non-physical and, try as hard as they might, it simple won’t fly as an effect of brain chemistry.  Yet, if you expect to find Consciousness as a product of brain activity, then you will find it.  Thus someone who rejects Consciousness as anything outside of chemical interactions is satisfied.  Expectation is neutral – it reveals to the person whatever he/she desires or intends.  This is what is meant by “those that don’t get it, can’t get it.”

What do you expect for 2014?  Not a superficial thought or parroting the wishes of others, but on a gut-level (the power realm) what do you expect for yourself during this next trip around the sun?  The knack is to align desires with expectation (a.k.a. faith) and that’s where Consciousness comes in.  One way to do that is becoming more aware of the “thought behind the thought.”  The thought “behind” is usually the expectation.  Such as:  “I will be healthy, happy and prosperous this new year” but growling behind that desire may be the expectation “but it really won’t happen.”

Why not? you may ask.  A mental listing of reasons why it is unlikely that you would be healthy, happy, and prosperous unfold.  Attention to these factors doom the desire.  It really is a matter of attention.  One exercise is to mentally add a comma at the end of any statement, then fill in with what is viscerally expected.  That awareness provides the moment for change.  Replace the negative thought behind the thought by reaffirming the genuine desire and intent.  It takes practice (you’re supplanting a habit) but it can be done.

This year I’m going to lose fifteen pounds” COMMA , “And it will be fun!”  Affirm what a delight the intent will be rather than give attention to the struggle, past failure, etc.  “I’m going to enjoy my job more this year” COMMA , “And that will be fun!”  I mean, isn’t anything you want and desire fun?  If it’s not fun, then do you really want it?  Or, do you trick yourself into “wanting it” to please someone else?  This is about you, not them.

A mental check for other sabotaging “thoughts behind the thought” are motivations from ought to, should, must, and got to.  Anytime and everytime you have the thought that you must do something, or should do something, or that you ought to do something then you are resisting yourself.  Now, if the whatever it is that you “should” do is truly something you desire, then use your consciousness and replace the word “should” with “It is fun to...”  All the difference in the world.

Expectations are accompanied by feelings.  The nature of the feeling is an accurate indication of the expectation.  If the expectation feels good – then you’re aligned for fun.  If the expectation feels bad – despite the “good” desire, then you know that you don’t really expect the desire to manifest but something else, undesired, will come into your experience.  This is another opportunity to use the COMMA and substitute the expectation with “and it will be fun”.  Or, change the “desire” if it really isn’t what you want, but instead something you feel obligated to want – like the end of poverty, or world illness, or unhappy people.

The best way to truly help anyone is to be healthy, happy, and prosperous yourself all the while having fun!  Enough exposure to you in that state is the only experience that may, finally, help them look beyond the tree in front of them, and view the grandeur of the forest.

Happy New Year!

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