Monday, July 21, 2014
It is my opinion that an awful lot of trouble in the world can be traced back to ego. In my experience, and I'm breaking this down to very simple ideas, there have been two methods by which I have approached life. Either feeling good and having fun (spirit) or trying to be the best (ego).
In my early years, and I'm sure this is the same for most kids, all I wanted to do was have fun. I never worried at all. The grownups had things covered. My job was to run around, jump over things, climb under things, and chase a lot of other things. It was great. Fun all the way.
And then as I got older, a lot of pressure seemed to be shifted onto me. Do well at school! Get good grades! Dress neatly! Look your best! Do your homework! Do your best for your sports team! If you're not good enough you won't get to play! Make sure you get into college! If you don't go to college you'll have no hope in life! And on and on and on. You don't want to be in the uncool gang, you wanna hang around with the cool kids. Girls want to be the most beautiful. Guys want to be the toughest, the "jockiest" etc. It all really just turned into competition. The fun had disappeared.
For most people this goes well on into their adult lives. Get the best qualification. Get the high paying job. You might be stressed outta your mind but it's high paying. Try your best to gravitate to a certain class of people. Get married at the appropriate age. Have kids. Present to facebook your happy, successful life. Big smiles. Be the best. Have the most. Be the smartest. Be the top of the list.
What struck me one day was that all of this was only playing out within the realm of the mind. The mind can only compare. Better, worse. Beautiful, ugly. Smart, stupid. But the one thing it can't do is feel. It can sense satisfaction at a particular configuration or arrangement in life. However complex it may get. But it can never feel good. That seems to be something else entirely.
The way to dismantle the ego (being top of every list) in my opinion is by chasing anything that feels good to the soul. The chesty feeling within you. This to me is emotional intelligence. It is a method for climbing out of depression, and has worked for me. Just intuitively go through life building that good feeling within your chest, heart, soul whatever. Getting your spirits up. Having fun. Having a laugh. Having good freinds. Not the best freinds. Buying only the things in life that help you feel good. Not working like crazy just to have the best car, the best clothes, the biggest house. Having a good personality. Having good times. Having adventures. This is just my theory. Hope it makes sense.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
One thing that I've noticed more and more now is that you become what you think. Your thoughts slowly develop into habits, actions, your overall character etc. This would be the inside working it's way out to the world as your expression. A good thought on the inside will eventually work it's way out as a positive action to the outside world. Same goes for a negative thought.
Now, the reverse of this would be the outside world acting inwards on the self. Negative events always seem to drain good feeling inside. Positive events give good feeling to the soul. Just like good organic food gives life and energy to the body, and junk food drains physical health. It's the outside source acting it's way inward. You've just got to pick the outside sources that make you feel better.
And this, to me, really is what emotional intelligence is about. It is the ability to accurately detect whether you feel good or bad after putting your focus on something. Do you feel good or bad when you watch the news? Do you feel good or bad when you hang around with complete assholes? Do you feel good or bad when you watch an inspiring movie? Do you feel good or bad when you hang around great friends?
There are an awful lot of people who seem to be tuned in to a high degree on all the negative things in the world. Wars, violence, disasters etc. Sometimes it's even an attempt at compassion which is commendable. But what I see more and more is that it tends to fill a person with hate and overall negative feeling, and they will start hating pretty much anything. Everything becomes a conspiracy. It is a fascination with the problem. The "problem" is that focusing on the problem always tends to leave too large of an imprint on the self. No solution is found. In essence you become the very thing that you are so focused on. You "become" the problem. It starts to own you.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else — you are the one who gets burned.” - The Buddha
The biggest change I made to myself after years and years of anger and even obsession with" the brutal world" was to say "Fine there's loads of shit in the world, but get over it, and find your happiness". I started focusing on all the good things in the world. The good movies. The good music. Good books. Good friends. A job that made life seem better. Anything that made me feel better. The outside acting in. But the key is also to work from the inside out. I started choosing better thoughts. I stopped beating myself up all the time. I would think to myself "Hmmm, all my fear seems to have disappeared. I feel good inside. I'm a good guy". Some of it was pure bluff, but the more I said it the more I believed it and the more I became it.
It's just really looking at life from a different angle. And choosing to focus on the solutions and good things in life. Become the good example that people will be inspired to be. There's an awful lot of pointing at the problem going on, so why not buck the trend and be that person who points at the solution, who says"This way guys, I think we'll all feel better if we just go this way!" Because I'm pretty sure that we weren't born to feel terrible everyday of our lives. Start feeling good. Emotional intelligence isn't some highly sophisticated thing that the word "intelligence" seems to imply. I think it's just the ability to make yourself feel good.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
If there's one job that I can think of that can do more towards improving your general life situation it is inspiring yourself. Somehow, in any way you can, lighting the fire within yourself gets you up, gives you courage to smash through setbacks and obstacles, you start flying rather than crawling, you start shouting rather than whispering. A soul that is set on fire can get through pretty much anything.
You may be battered and bruised, your confidence may be shot down to a million pieces, you might be tired of getting up time after time, looking up at the person or people that mentally beat you down day after day, the drudgery, the getting up each morning to face more hell, more assault and chipping away at your soul, a million petty comments that sap your confidence each time. But if you can still light the fire in your soul after all this, there's nothing that can stop you from making a comeback.
See yourself doing the Ali shuffle as a victory dance, loud and confident, brave and unstoppable. Laughing at your enemy. "Haha sucker, is that all you got? You can't hurt me, you're fighting the champion". You've got energy and inspiration, your heart and soul is soaring above the clouds. Every atom in your body is charged with energy, a lightening bolt is gonna strike at any time. Zap! Kabaam! There's a fierceness in your eyes, the contents of your soul beaming straight out at the world, wild, "I'm not gonna take this no more!" See yourself smashing your way through life with energy and passion.
Then bring yourself back down to earth every once in a while! And be humble too.
When you feel "off", or your mind feels overworked and stressed, use this simple technique to give yourself a recharge. Get away from the TV, the Internet, your Laptop etc. Sit in your favourite armchair or lay on your bed. Just go somewhere peaceful and quiet, and away from any distractions.
First of all, it is best to quiet and still your mind with an easy meditation. Just close your eyes and listen to the sounds all around you; the traffic outside your window, the birds in your garden, somebody pottering around in the room next door. Once you put your focus on these sounds it creates a feeling of calmness within you. You are giving your brain a much needed time-out. Thoughts of your job, money, or relationship issues might force themselves to cross your mind but just keep returning back to the sounds of your environment.
You can use any of your senses as tools to meditate with. Feel the sensations of your body, try and detect the good feeling of the soul within you. Some focus all of their attention on a candle flame. You can even use smell as a focal point, though I've never tried this.
You can skip the meditation and go straight this next Imagination technique if you like. It is important to understand that your thoughts create your feelings. If you had 100 thoughts to use in 1 day, and 90 of them were negative, anxious thoughts, you would without a doubt feel anxious that very day. Extend this bad habit to weeks, months and years and no doubt about it, you will be a depressed and anxious person, like I was for nearly 15 years of my life. One of the biggest breakthroughs I made was understanding that I get to choose my thoughts. Everyone does.
So, now carrying on with the "100 thoughts a day" analogy, I choose to think of 100 great feeling thoughts a day instead of 90 or so negative, anxious bad feeling thoughts. The result is that I feel great, I feel confident, and I feel like I can conquer the world. And I do this by bluffing or tricking myself into believing that "I have no fear", "I feel calm and peaceful inside", "everything is going to be great from now on" using good feeling thoughts alone. I think these thoughts until I actually feel it and believe it. They form my core beliefs.
You can't just read the words written here and feel good, you've got to actually practice it. Use your imagination to come up with the most exciting, daring, full of life thoughts that you can think of. For example: "My mental health is in great shape right now". "I have got an unlimited amount of energy within myself". "Soon I will be travelling the most interesting cities in the world doing the job I love". See the life you want to live. Feel the sensation of it. See yourself with the girl of your dreams. See yourself buying the house you've always wanted. For me, personally, I aim more at the spiritual side of things, like a good soul feeling, but it's up to you what you'd like to attract.
At the very least, you will feel a lot better after 10 minutes. At it's best, it will instill hope and joy and enthusiasm for a world that you know you can create. It can give you a massive spring in your step and you can look forward with great enthusiasm to doing the work required to get there. The work won't feel like a drag. You will feel Inspired. Do this for hours a day, every day and there's no telling what you could achieve.
Monday, July 14, 2014
It's really strange to see how much personal freedom we actually allow ourselves. Busy, busy, busy. Keep going. Keep the act up. There's even those people who pretend to be so busy, and wear it like a badge of honour, so that maybe people will look at them and say "Wow what a busy person, so much going on in their lives! I wish I was that busy!" when really if you break it down, the person with this "so much going on with my life" persona is half the time just putting on a big act to try and impress the people around them. With big smiles on their faces to let everyone know how happy they appear to be.
When I look at a person like that all I see is a big juggling act to keep their image up, and not to let it slip. But I don't see any real joy in it. What I actually admire is a person that is willing to take time off for themselves. You need personal time for yourself, first of all to know yourself better, but second of all to get your mind together. To get things in your head straight. The ability to sit down and reflect on your life and to imagine a good future for yourself is worth a lot. Try and limit outside influences as much as possible. Because these voices are strong when you're in "busy, busy" mode. But once you find a bit of peace and quiet for a significant amount of time, you can really start to get a sense of yourself.
To me it feels like a process that goes "expend your energy (when around people a lot), rejuvenate (solitude), expend your energy, rejuvenate". That cycle is pretty important. When I would hang around people for days, and days, and even months on end, whatever originality I seemed to have seemed to get sucked out of me. It all got expended. And when you're running dry on originality or whatever your own "thing" is, things just get ugly and tiresome. From my experience anyway. Outside influences rub off on you a little too much and you start doing what others do a little too often. The outside is acting in on you, rather than your originality working from within coming out.
The key is to have balance. Spend too much time by yourself and you'll get lonely, but spend too much time around people and you'll get too irritable. You gotta work the two different states off eachother when it feels right to do so.
The major problem I see is that we get nearly no personal free time at all. Even when you go home, you might be glued to the TV or laptop, or whatever other bit of technology that seems to keep us entranced. And then there's work, washing the dishes, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, even keeping up with the latest TV series seems like homework sometimes etc etc. Then sleep and repeat. Sleep, repeat. One big change that I made at a stage in my life when i was highly irritable and also depressed was to get away from it all. I turned the TV off. I got away from the computer. Even away from people generally. And I sat and I reflected. Just lying on my bed, in my room, throwing a tennis ball up in the air just to keep myself awake while I thought about life.
It felt like an ocean of thought that was totally random going on in my head. And by sitting down and "getting my head straight", getting everything together I was gonna put some structure to it all. It really is just learning to tame the mind. Instead of the mind controlling you, throwing you about life here and there in a confused manner. I would sit for hours just thinking about life, what is was, why is was so bad, how I was gonna get out of it. Just trying to put some meaning to it all. The thing that really did it was to break "the mess" down into simple parts. I tried to look at the core mechanics.
What did I want most of all? To be happy. Ok, that's a start. Were my immediate surroundings any good? Not really. The immediate culture of life around me was hard to fit into. Ok, so maybe I could try and put myself in better surroundings, maybe go travelling? Was my mental health any good? No. I beat myself up at every opportunity I had. Ok so I'm gonna learn how to get mentally healthy. What about my physical health? No, I have a terrible diet. Ok, so thats enough to work on for now. If I work on some of those key areas and improve them, maybe my depression will lift. So then I went about working on those areas, and it took months and even years but eventually things got better.
The thing you can't do with this is over indulge in it. Because that can develope "over thinking" and disengagement with reality etc. You really have got to re-engage with reality every now and then, and then go back to "philosophizing" about life. The best method for engaging with reality is present moment observation. Just observe your surroundings. And the overthinking will lift. But if you can learn to get away from everything every once in a while, and ponder life, it can be a great tool for life and your happiness.