Core life advice

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Greengrasshere, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. The gift of being human: foresight.

    Of all the potential built in to an average human, the most impressive and useful talent we have is the ability to predict the future. Of course we can’t predict the winning lotto numbers, or even what our next thought will be, but we are capable of predicting the outcome of a given circumstance if we know enough about the situation.

    Introspection, to look inward on your own life is essential to having a happy and healthy life.

    Generally people are either so focused on outward “success” or so ignorant of their own true self that they never even question their own actions and thoughts.

    You can think of the human brain as a computer. For most of the time our computers are running in subconscious mode. In this mode thoughts and actions are constructed from data we had no control over and no conscious desire to compute. This is essentially what caused philosophers to argue over whether we have “free will” or not. Do we choose our own destiny when have have no conscious control over the majority of our thoughts and actions. Where and why am i typing the specific words here, now? Why did you just think that thought?

    Conscious mode on the other hand is when we sit down with the aim of getting an answer to a particular question. The amazing thing that happens when we sit down and try to come up with an answer. It’s not necessarily an answer as in “THE ANSWER”, the perfect, polished, precise answer to our question. It’s an answer that will get us on our way towards our goal. We must then be humble and smart enough to understand that even the best laid plans need to be tweaked and altered. If the flights to the moon didn’t CONSTANTLY correct their course they would have ended up flying past the moon. In a similar vein, the gift of our foresight is only the beginning to us putting our first foot forward.
  2. Honesty: choosing your future or letting it be chosen

    When i started reading into positive psychology, self improvement, spirituality i started realising i had a strange moral question. Am i being “fake”, disingenuous, or incongruent with my own morals when i choose, for example “what kind of person i want to be”?
    Initially i felt as though who we are is a result of everything we’ve experienced and to choose how we want to behave or the things we want to achieve isn’t being true to that.

    But i soon realised that choosing our actions is the ONLY honest, genuine and congruent course that we can have. It doesn’t mean that we put ourselves first above everyone else, because this will not be congruent with your morals (unless your an asshole). Someone with decent ethics and morals will not be happy unless they are positively influencing people around them (mutually beneficial generosity) and when they are actively choosing their own actions.

    For most of my life i felt like i didn’t have to conform to societies norms if i didn’t want to. But really this is an impossibility to not do some things which are socially normal. Touching other living things, running, being in the sun, having sex, exercising, eating "natural" foods are social norms (not so much in our messed up western cultures) because of our evolutionary history and as result (if done in the right way) makes us feel better.

    I guess i’m trying to bring attention to all the things that i’ve rejected because i thought i was being myself and was unaware of our propensity to stay at a current equilibrium unless we are pushed beyond it. In truth my obnoxious independence led to being unhappy. I didn’t want to go in the sun, i didn’t want to contact friends and hang out, i didn’t want to chase girls, i didn’t want to exercise, i didn’t want to study and get a good education. Partly because i felt i was better than everyone else, partly because i’m “different” to everyone else, but mostly because my basic human needs were in some way being met. The elephant in me was driving the direction of my life. It wasn’t until i consciously started asking questions about where my life was headed that i started taking actions to do what i truly wanted. I realised the rider of the elephant had been sleeping the whole time.

    I’ve realised over the last year or so that you can do the things that we evolved to do and still be your genuine self. And when you start doing this you will be much happier because of it.
  3. rabbit.

    rabbit. Member

    I am going through a similar process and a few things come to mind:

    This has do to with growing up. As a teenager, you think nobody has a clue and your parents are stupid, but then you realize that not everything they said was bullshit and that a lot of social norms serve a purpose. So as you're getting older, you now understand the use many social rules have, and if you don’t, you just become some stupid hipster idiot and there is nothing cool about that when you’re 30 years old.

    In practical terms, the question shouldn’t be whether you lose your independence by complying with some social standard, but whether a rule makes sense and improves your life. I adhere to almost all driving rules because they make sense. I actually often go further than the norms, e.g. I never drink and drive, even though I could legally drink like 2 beers. So I can accept a social norm and keep my independence a bit by making my own rules within the limits set by the norm.

    But my explanation for all of this is different (I think, I don’t really get your explanation). The fear runs deeper: it's the fear of having a real, tangible identity.

    It’s important to realize that not being anything is not an identity and that you won't get a medal for being different. "I am not like those people" – yes, but what are you then? "I’m not married" – well, are you single, dating, in a relationship, divorced? I too thought I knew my "true self", but in reality, I had a laundry list of things I wasn’t or didn’t do, but my list of what I was and did was very short. It was just a false sense of security.

    Changing that is a scary process to me, going from "non"-something to "for"-something, giving up that anti/non-conformist identity and actually choosing things that other people do that would also benefit me. I agree this is difficult for people who value their independence and being different and it does feel like giving up your "true self", but this is a bad paradigm, as you would say.

    I don’t think a "true self" exists and there is no "real you". There are natural tendencies and character traits that are pretty constant (though they can also change), but choices are also driven by preferences and priorities between values, both of which are highly variable over a lifetime.

    I didn’t eat many things as a child, but over the last 2 years, I’ve decided to try foods that I havent eaten for 20 years or have never eaten before. And surprise, my preferences have changed. I never ate fish as a child, but now I really like it. It’s ok, I am allowed to do that, I can create a new identity, I am a fish eater now and I am not a "picky eater" anymore.

    In contrast, the "true self" concept will make it more difficult to decide to choose new things – almost by circular logic: I never did xyz, it’s not who I am, if it was my true self, I would already be doing it, so I shouldn’t choose it.

    But when you give up that "true self" idea, you are suddenly free to choose something for a bit and see if you like it and it becomes your new „true self“ – for a while or longer.

    You mentioned your fear of not being who you used to be, but consider this: do I really want my adult life to be guided by what a fucking clueless 18 year old child thought best at the time? Based on no experience, weird logic and unreasonable assumptions? I certainly dont hope that was my true genuine self because that would mean I am stupid as fuck :D.
  4. Hi rabbit,

    The social norms thing is just a small aspect of this paradigm for me. I was trying to convey that what should guide our actions is the honesty that comes from doing what makes you "happy". Previously i was the polar OPPOSITE of the social puppet. I would not do things that were socially normal even if they would make me "happy" because i thought is was disingenuous.

    What i've realised now is that these actions that are socially normal, are that way for a reason and that reason is that we've been doing them for millions of years. So while we should aim to do what will make us happy, we shouldn't not do something because it is socially normal if it will make us happy.

    "I certainly dont hope that was my true genuine self because that would mean I am stupid as fuck :D." Haha me too. A lot of us are dumb as fuck 18 yr olds in much older bodies because we never consciously look at our actions.

    Maybe what i should have spoken about more is that your "true self" comes from understanding what makes you "happy" and having some conscious input into your actions in both short and long term timelines. In Stephen Coveys 7 Habits Highly Effective People he talks about the difference between personality and character. Personality being the mask we use to cover up what our "true self" wants to do. Usually people's "masks" are full of actions that are purely socially acceptable. They say and do things which are socially acceptable to put forward an illusion that they think is what will make them happy. When in truth this personality mask is feeding their hollow ego whilst destroying their true self/soul. S Covey calls this in part, a person's character. People do this because they it is what is put forward by our consumer based societies as what makes us happy. Prior to the 1930's or so "happiness" was linked to character enriching behaviours familiar to humanity for longer than we've been human.

    Already you might have picked up on a contradiction. I've said that you should both do what is socially normal if it makes you happy and yet what are social norms in this day and age will not make you happy. So there's two caveats. Firstly you must understand what will truly make you happy. Things like watching porn, eating junk and sitting on your ass all day will not make you happy. They are satisfying the elephant and not the rider. Things like exercising, whole foods, positive social interactions, human contact and conversation, being among nature, challenging yourself, helping others will be a large part of anyone's long term happiness. The second caveat is that the some of the more recent social norms in most cultures (those cultures driven by consumerism) are things that will detract from your long term happiness. The self absorption, the overemphasis on looks, clothing, possessions, large houses are all things which can make you feel good for a short time but also lead to an emptiness when that feeling has quickly passed and the need to fill the void.

    When it comes to knowing what will make you happy, you need to understand who you are. A great tool for doing this is the personal mission statement. Suggested in Coveys 7 Habits, it allows you to consciously form what kind of person you will be in regards to what your core values are for your relationships, health, "career" and spirituality. How will you interact with yourself and the world?

    With these kinds of ideas you can then "choose your future:honestly" because you know who you are, what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it.
  5. The need for stressors to be healthy

    The human body, the most complex organism in the known universe is a result of genetic mutations and constant stressors testing those mutations for the last few million years if not few billion.

    From the time of conception we start on the path towards “death”. For every human this is inevitable.

    According to one of the foremost experts in “life extension” research Aubrey De Gray, on average everyone’s life expectancy in years is the same within 4 years between the shortest average life expectancy to the longest. This implies that the “recent” philosophy of “a healthy diet will give you an extra ten years” or “taking this supplement with increase your life expectancy by 3 years” is mostly untrue. However he is focusing on life expectancy, not quality of life.

    Our life expectancy is mostly reliant on genetic factors like “telomere” length (the caps at the ends of your DNA that keep them tidy) and lots of other factors that i don’t know about. Our quality of life in terms of health is still somewhat reliant on genetic factors but is far more responsive to our actions than is life expectancy.

    A reasonably healthy body must be exposed to some level of healthy stressors. A healthy heart, muscles, lungs, skin, tendons, arteries, eyes, bones, teeth…basically every part of us needs to be to used and stressed to a point for it to function as it should.
    Eyes need to focus at various lengths from a few centimetres up to a few hundred metres or more. We evolved looking for bugs, berries and bears not computer screens and iPhones.

    Muscles need to be used to move and manipulate things so that they send signals to the brain that they need to be maintained or improved through protein synthesis and increasing natural hormones.

    Synapses, the wires that connect neurons in the brain and allow signals to travel through them adapt by increasing the thickness of the wires and anything that is not used sufficiently will reduce it’s performance capacity and vice versa, anything that is used sufficiently will increase it’s performance capacity to adapt to the stressor as best as possible. So the stressors don’t need to equal that of elite weight lifters, mathematicians or health guru’s. They just need to stimulate a level of adaptation that you feel content with.

    I use the old saying "Use it or lose it" to quickly conjure up all the feelings and ideas that i associate with this paradigm.
  6. Newnes

    Newnes Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yep, I agree with it.

    Beneficial stressors are actually the opposite of porn, when it comes to dopamine receptors. Cold showers, intense exercise, (intermittent) fasting all decrease dopamine (and hence, upregulate the receptors) ; while porn increases dopamine, and numbers the receptors.

    That's why HIIT / strength trainings have some metabolic advantages over long cardio (check some Tabata studies showing how less than 20mn of intense exercise a week can beat 5 hours of running by some health measures).

    Other physical, beneficial stressors include polyphenols (antioxidants), heat (saunas), alcohol (that's a guess - 2-3 drinks a day for men have been found to increase things like insulin sensitivity).

    But stressors need to be coupled with rest or low-stress activities. Things like meditation, sleep, slow walking... By the way, meditation is proven to increase the length of telomeres!
  7. Nicely said Newnes, thanks :D
  8. yearofchange

    yearofchange Your actions matter.

    Posting to follow
  9. Limitations of willpower

    Whatever our subconscious desires, it will strive to attain it. Seemingly simple objects and activities become compulsive desires and addictions. This prehistoric trait, forged from humans being one of the apex predators in the “evolutionary soup” combines with the unique human ability of foresight to give us “willpower”.

    In many new age philosophies like the one we saw Oprah spew to her millions of fans called “The Secret”, “willpower” is something magical and intangible. Something which a person can turn on and off, up and down in order to achieve their goals. In reality it is simply a bunch of brain systems working together to allow us to survive and thrive. We can improve our willpower by practicing activities that require focus, like meditation or reading.

    Most people don’t realise that “willpower” is a limited “resource”. Using “willpower” requires our brain to burn even more energy than it normally does. In normal circumstances just going about our basic existence our brains consume about 20% of our energy usage and while there are no specific numbers on how much more the use of willpower makes us burn, it is somewhere north of this already overly energy hungry organ’s 20% energy usage.

    So when it comes to beating an addiction or achieving a goal we should keep in mind that both our focus and determination are a limited resource that must be replenished. Also “willpower” shouldn’t be solely relied on when it comes to a subconscious impulse such as being hungry and trying not to eat the glazed donut in front of you, YOU WILL LOSE one way or the other. Some of the best ways to beat cravings while minimizing the drain on "willpower are through distraction and by removing the source. "Distraction" for e.g could be some kind of positive activity to take your mind of the craving such as exercise, journalling, a call to family or friends and meditation. "Removing the source" is obviously by removing access to the addictive "substance", e.g if you're trying to lose fat and have an "addiction" to highly processed foods you would want to remove all highly processed foods from the house.

    Keep in mind these tools are only part of the puzzle. They are meant to help get you over the hump and to save your willpower reserves. They are to help you develop positive cognitive channels by giving you time to sit back and contemplate the battle between your "rider" and "elephants" desires.

    “Willpower” can be depleted simply by the constant bombardment of signals from the subconscious. It will send out flood after flood of various manipulative reasons as to why you should give in. If you’re trying to overcome an addiction it will be the cliched devil on your shoulder saying things like “you’ve done so well, you said no 3 times today, you deserve a reward!”, “just once won’t hurt”, “it will feel so good!”. Or maybe if you’re trying to achieve a challenging goal it might say things like “you can’t do this!”, “who do you think you are?” in order to have you surrender and relapse. The subconscious also sends out hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline which after a short period of time will make you physically and mentally exhausted and want to give up.

    Your subconscious seems to do this because it is happy with the status quo. Like in the movie “the Croods", where the prehistoric cave family never ventures outside, why would you leave the cave when you’ve got everything you need here and now? The subconscious has two primal agenda, survive and procreate. If we achieve those two things (which is stupidly easy in western society (even homeless people achieve this) then the subconscious is content. Whatever your current circumstances are, that is what it will aim to maintain if you’ve convinced it that you aren’t at risk of dying and that you have/will pass on your genes.

    Be attentive to how often you are tapping into your "willpower" and what drains and replenishes it. In this day and age we are bombarded with "heros" that seemingly have boundless energy. People that can exercise 7 days a week, stay up until 3 am studying, people that are "successful". The thing to remember is that more often than not we are seeing a very small portion of the full story and "success" in whatever way you define is NEVER EASY. Don't be fooled by success story trying to sell you a product, life is HARD, life is AMAZING and using "shortcuts" only tarnishes the end result. It is up to our “frontal cortex”, i.e our conscious, the part that makes us human to choose and guide our modern human path.
  10. Any requests, ideas or questions from anyone? I'm getting bored of talking to myself. :eek:
  11. yearofchange

    yearofchange Your actions matter.

    I've yet to read all the posts in this thread, but a question for a new post could be about self-restraint. What exactly is it? How is it trained? Is there proof that self-restraint in one area of our lives can transfer over to other areas?
  12. Hey yearofchange,

    That's a good idea. Self-restraint ties-in closely with addiction and fighting negative habits. I guess the control of self-restraint comes as a culmination of a lot of the topics i have and will talk about so it would be good to address specifically. Here are some of the paradigms - topics i might address:

    Your goals

    Being present-Mindfulness


    How we learn

    How “addiction” works

    Paradigm shifts


    Honesty: “choosing” your actions (to a point)

    Personal mission statement, "choosing" who you are

    Character vs personality

    Seeing other peoples realities, frames, paradigm, world views

    No one sees what you see


    Reciprocity - Mutually beneficial generosity

  13. rabbit.

    rabbit. Member

    Regarding willpower:

    The "The Secret" example doesn't really work because in the "The Secret" philosophy there is no willpower. You ask the universe and it provides. Law of attraction etc.

    Tangentially, this is an interesting topic in itself -- to me, the secret behind "The Secret" is simply the change of perception that leads to perceived (and not real) improved results. If you always focus on negative stuff, you don't perceive positive events anymore -- like when you are made to wait, many people will remember when you missed their train, but you wont remember when you were late and the bus driver waited on you so you could reach the bus, or you will remember it when you have to wait 3 months for a doctor's appointment, but not when the doctor's assistant was really nice and was able to fit you in this week. Atually over time, it all balances out, but not if you are always in this kind of victim mindset and only focus on the negative.

    So "The Secret" tries to change people's perception, so they start noticing positive events more and more and ultimately, I think, start to automatically reframe even negative events into something positive, so no negative events occur in their mind, whereas in objective reality, the events have stayed just as positive or negative as before.

    Ok, back on topic...I've been thinking about how to make dieting easier for my family and it is very difficult. They simply have no willpower in this regard (even though they are motivated intrinsically), so like most people.

    What I think might be a general approach is mustering that little willpower we have to come up with some systems that almost automatically lead to improved results even when there is little willpower left. E.g. Use your willpower this week to make writing down all your food a habit (something many successful dieters have in common), get used to the web interface of my fitness pal or whatever, so it then becomes easier practically (all your foods are already saved, you got used to the process etc) and habitually (you are more conscious of your food) and requires less willpower to do. Something like that, maybe a better example is needed, but I havent thought it out yet.

    In terms of porn addiction, what has helped me and others was this Emergency Urge Control thread. The idea is to post on there whenever you feel an urge and are struggling, so essentially you are giving your brain a new strategy as opposed to immediately relapsing that it can rely on in the future, and if you use your willpower to make posting (or doing anything else in that moment) a habit in the beginning, the seed is planted...The point is not really to just distract yourself, but to develop an automatic, subsconscious behavior you can fall back on and something that destroys the super quick urge->relapse automatic behavior.

    This is what I find problematic with the willpower research I've read (only little), I think you are referring to that marshmellow experiment: children dont have the strategies that adults can adopt in a difficult situation. I could see differences in willpower there if the adult can increase the reward in their mind, e.g. look at people who starve themselves to death -- makes no sense from a willpower perspective (or any perspective really), but somehow they are able to do this (might be due to neurological differences where their brain feels at unease when eating and at ease not eating as in anorexics in general, I dont know).

    Ok this was really long and rambly, but maybe you can take something from my paradigm ( ;D).
  14. "The point is not really to just distract yourself, but to develop an automatic, subsconscious behavior you can fall back on and something that destroys the super quick urge->relapse automatic behavior."

    This is where things like meditation and the use of willpower and focus come to the fore of beating addiction. People with addictions usually show an under-developed, under-utilised pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls our higher functions) which can be improved through meditation and the practice of self control.

    *Scientists have found that if you can gain control in one aspect of your daily life, e.g having self-control to only eat 1 biscuit instead of 6 (a demonstration of willpower), that the self-control will "bleed" into all other areas where self control is needed (don't forget it is still a limited resource).

    *You're willpower "reserves" will depend on how much "energy" you have and how many times you've accessed your willpower that day.

    *Being distracted, trying to do to many things at once (pulled in too many directions) can lead to your willpower being greatly reduced. I think this stems from the obvious limitations of the pre-frontal cortex to do more than one thing at a time. For example there was an experiment where two groups of people (who'm were all aiming to lose fat) were given either a 2 digit number or a 7 digit number to memorize while they walked from one side of the building to another. During the walk they passed a table with a choice of either fruit salad or a slice of cake. Fifty-nine percent of the people trying to remember seven digits (high cognitive load) chose the cake, while sixty-three percent of the two-digit subjects (low cognitive load) chose the fruit salad.

    @rabbit, if i can give some simple advise to help you family. Don't focus on the negatives of being overweight, focus on all the positives. If you can give them a glimpse of what benefits a healthy life will be like then you have the greatest chance of changing their behaviours. At the moment they constantly feel the "benefits" of "bad" food. So sometimes you can kind of trick them into forgetting the constant "benefits" of bad food (dopamine hits) by having them go on an all natural/all home cooked food program and light exercise program. If their diet is quite nutritionally poor they will feel much better even after a week of eating mostly whole foods from the boost of phytonutrients in the fruit, veg and nuts intake.

    Your goals

    Of course EVERYTHING is relative. “Success” is relative, “happiness” is relative, goals, health, wealth, spirituality, wisdom, knowledge, ideals, love is all relative. They are relative to the individual, the life they’ve lead up to that point and they life they will choose from that point.
    Success for everyone at a basic level should be to achieve a good balance between the four pillars of human life: health, wealth, love and spirituality (whatever that may mean).
    For each of these pillars you should commit to regularly question where your future is headed. You don’t have a choice as to whether or not you face the results of your actions. You will either be forced to address these pillars when the “consequences” fall below your self expectations or you can choose now to accept that you are responsible for the outcomes of your life. Being able to pre-empt your future path and change it can mean the difference between being happy or being miserable. It could for example mean the difference between having a strong relationship with your family or being someone who isn’t quite the family member they could be.

    The consequences of inaction are always worse than the consequences of action. If you choose to address your life direction you will face some hardships, but they will almost always pale in comparison to the consequences of inaction. Pre-emptive action also allows you to develop and feel like you’ve achieved something. Each small victory, like improving your sleeping patterns for example, will be another notch in the belt.
  15. Being present-Mindfulness

    In this day and age we are surrounded by distractions, quick and easy sources of dopamine hits for the ever hungry brain. Humans “reward” systems in the brain evolved for millions of years as a result of activities like hunting animals, foraging for tubers or berries, building shelter, fishing, having conversations, walking through the wilderness, sitting around the camp fire. The “reward” system evolved as a result of creatures responding positively to activities that improved their chance of “success. Reinforced and encouraged to be done again and again, each time improving upon the last and hopefully improving the chance of survival. When we do these activities we get subtle hits of dopamine and other endorphins that make us feel good and this encourages us to do it again. There's a book called “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, that does a good job of explaining this theory.

    Our brains are constantly seeking hits of dopamine whether we recognise it or not. Chances are though that we won’t recognise it because this happens entirely in the subconscious. Never does the desire to get a dopamine hit arise in the pre frontal cortex (conscious) of the brain. The subconscious simply “announces” the desire to do X,Y,Z to the PFC and from then the PFC feels as though it is the one who made the decision. “Wow i really feel like a donut/ coffee/ sex, drug” is a result of various chemicals being sent to the subconscious which interprets them into an appropriate message and then forwards that onto the conscious.

    In modern society our core needs are largely met without any hardship. Food, shelter and sex (even porn as a substitute) are available with next to zero effort. The activities which we evolved with, are now done only by choice, often as a luxury activity after we have "made the bossy happy", whether that boss be your employer or wife. It’s pretty rare for people to want to do any of the activities which we evolved with in the same way they would want to do modern activities like watch tv, eat junk food or do drugs. So not only do these modern activities become “addictive” but they stop us from “being present” because our minds are use to being constantly stimulated and jumping from one stimulation-activity to the next.

    We aren’t present in these activities because there is no challenge in them. We also get consistently distracted so that even if there was some kind of challenge in the activity we would be distracted by Facebook or some other kind of quick dopamine hit. It is a sign of an epidemic when people can’t even sit down to dinner without being distracted by their phone.

    As a consequence of these constant distractions and the inability to focus, we are not present. Present to what exactly? Well, to start off with we aren’t present to being alive. That is where you must start. To be aware of the “magic” of being matter with consciousness. After that you become aware of the “magic” of your family, friends, your cat, the trees, the sky, the stars and nature as a whole. That somehow, something created a system that is seemingly “perfect”. There are no glitches in reality. We don’t appear to see things pop in and out of existence or see things happen in reverse. Matter is there and they adhere to the fundamental laws of physics without question.

    I guess being present can be seen as being conscious of what is happening at the present moment. You aren’t concerned with what you did before, what you want to do after or what the person next to you might be thinking. You just try to be open to the sensorial information that is coming to you. It is a form of active meditation. Similarly to meditation, you do not assign any context or meaning to the information you are receiving. You don’t ask questions about it, or tell a story in your mind about it. Nor do you judge it. It just is. You have made the most of that moment by not thinking about anything that happened before or that may happen in the future. Or by thinking about who else is judging this moment and how you should react accordingly to appease them. However the moment will surely pass and when it does, that is when you will be appreciative of it.

    You can do this anywhere just sitting around in your room or outside, while eating dinner, sitting in the sun or talking to someone. When you try to be present while you’re sitting you will first feel a subtle calmness come over you at the instant that you lose thought. When you first start off, as soon as you “lose thought” you quickly gain thought back again as you acknowledge you lost your thought. It’s a form of meditation where the past and future don’t exist, your internal dialogue (conscious) quietens down and your senses can become so much more sensitive, leaving you with a feeling of expanded consciousness. If you do this during a conversation for example your communication will be instinctive and true to your character because you aren’t questioning or pre-empting anything. If you can learn to do this it reduces the anxiety and stress a lot of people have when in conversations or any kind of social interaction.

    Being present is essential to “happiness” and as far as i know is a unique concern of humans. Every other animal is present. A lyon doesn’t stress over Hyenas that might come and steal their food in an hour. They just deal with whatever concern is in front of them. (Disclaimer: there are animals that "plan", however it is not known that they have foresight and stress as a result). When humans are present they feel relaxed and "in-tune". You can be present to a stressful or dangerous situation and not be happy, but that is relevant to the situation. Chances are that if you are present to a stressful situation you won't be all that stressed.

    How stupid are we for constantly being in the “fight or flight” mode, it floods our bodies with cortisol and adrenaline when we are in an entirely SAFE environment?! Not being present is ONE OF THE MAIN causes of todays mental health issues such as depression. Not being present is part of what allows a persons brain to impart excruciating pain on itself. The negative internal dialogue snowballs and compounds the brains “depressed pathways”. A simple but powerful thought can be pounded into a persons conscious until they develop schizophrenia, OCD, or chronic depression.

    We are the only creatures that pay for our “mistakes” a thousand times over. We must learn to stop doing this. We must know that what’s done is done. We can learn from it but we can not change it.

    There have been studies done on mindfulness and they show that this simple “technique” can greatly reduce stress and depression. As i said before, humans are the only creatures on earth that can suffer a thousand self inflicted wounds for a mistake long in the past. Stress evolved in us to help us run from danger and to be hyper alert in risky situations for short amounts of time, maybe a few hours or days at most. These days, stress is an epidemic that is causing diseases like depression, stroke and heart attacks to name just a few, because people have no control over their thoughts. Stress lasts for days, weeks, months and years depending on the source, when in reality it should cause no stress at all.

    Mindfulness, or being present can be done instantaneously at any time. And you should aim to do it all the time with the exception of when you are planning or contemplating, in which case you are still present about something which exists nowhere but in your mind.

    Here are some more excerpts from Mindfulness in plain english:

    "In developing mindfulness, however, we temporarily suspend the conceptualisation process and focus on the pure nature of mental phenomena. During meditation we are seeking to experience the mind at the PRE CONCEPTUAL LEVEL."

    "Your relation to sensation should never be one of past or future but always of the simple and immediate now."

    "This escape from the obsessive nature of thought produces a whole new view of reality. It is a complete paradigm shift, a total change in the perceptual mechanism."

    "Our goal is to reach the perfection of all the noble and wholesome qualities latent in our subconscious mind. This goal has five elements to it: purification of mind, overcoming sorrow and lamentation, overcoming pain and grief, treading the right path leading to attainment of eternal peace, and attaining happiness by following that path."

    "The Dhammapada, an ancient Buddhist text (which anticipated Fraud by thousands of years), says: "what you are now is the result of what you were. What you will be tomorrow will be the result of what you are now. The consequences of an evil mind will follow you like the cart that follows the ox that pulls it. The consequences of a purified mind will follow you like your own shadow. No one can do more for you than your own purified mind-no parent, no relative, no friend, no one. A well disciplined mind brings happiness."

    I hope that is a good introduction into Mindfulness.

    Best of luck to you all. I hope these paradigms and ideas are a springboard into your own self development.
  16. Lesnarlulham

    Lesnarlulham New Member

    From reading a couple of your posts on this thread. It is really striking how far you have come from - presumably addiction madness like the rest of us on here.

    It is really an inspiration to hear what a balanced view of life you have now. The clarity of your thinking in your writing is also really clear.

    Thanks for inspiring will come back and read the rest another time.
  17. Hey Les,

    I'm glad you've found some of these posts helpful. Don't forget that these really are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changing your life.

    Let me know if you have any questions after you've read some more.
  18. Lesnarlulham

    Lesnarlulham New Member

    Thanks green will do.
  19. “Failure”

    The typical western portrayal of “failure” is that it is a bad thing. “I tried to do something and it didn’t work as i planned. I’m a loser, i suck. Other people set goals and achieve them. They are so much better than me.” The truth is that “failure” is unavoidable in our reality and can also be extremely helpful in achieving our goals. The truth is that people that “succeed” have kept working towards their goal regardless of the obstacles in their way. The truth is that the typical successful person doesn’t let it be known that they failed countless times before achieving their goal and have had to adjust the trajectory towards their goal countless times. In this day and age, all we see is the end result. We see fitness gurus that have great physiques, we don’t see the years and years of “failures” and dedication to learning about health and nutrition. Or more often in the fitness world, we aren’t told about the various drugs used to achieve that look or performance. Maybe that’s not the best example. We see people that have made fortunes and just think it’s all because of something inherently awesome about them. But we don’t see the commitment and dedication they may have had to learning about saving and investment, the bankruptcy that came before the fortune, or the good old inheritance from grandma.

    True failure is when we attempt to achieve something, it doesn’t work as planned, we don’t seek to understand why it didn’t work and give up on attempting it again. This applies to every single action that we do. At first it might seem like overly obsessive to think that you need to analyse everything you do as either being a success or failure but the truth is it’s not, and that in reality we don’t have a choice.

    If i set a goal that i want to be good at reading i’d need to understand why i want to be a good reader. What being good at reading actually is. I’d need to start researching how other people have become good at reading and i’d then need to practice the same techniques and assess my progress. Each reading session i would need to analyse what i did and whether it moved me closer to or further away from my goal of being a good reader. One of the techniques for being a good reader is to read each sentence as though you were speaking, browsing multiple words together rather than reading individual words. If i was reading and…noticed…, i would quickly stop myself and say “you need to read in groups of words and allow your eyes to glance over words quickly”. This would encourage that behaviour and after a while i would slowly improve and be closer to that goal.

    Mind you that’s a pretty specific example of how i learn to do something. You might not be so pedantic and you might not need to be! Some people just have a goal of learning to read faster for example and they just start reading! But for me, i find it helpful to break things down and understand why i’m doing something.

    In essence, failure, while it isn't desired, it is expected. And when a "failure" is realised it is an opportunity to adjust the trajectory toward your goal by learning something new or changing the way you perceive the activity or goal. I think most importantly, do not be hard on yourself. You can still admit the mistakes you made and learn from them without making yourself feel worthless. Negative self talk is not helpful in anyway and is likely to minimise improvement and increase your rate of failure
  20. Letscrackthis

    Letscrackthis "He is not here, for he has risen!"

    Just had a late night glance at some of your advice. Thanks for taking the time to give it; I and I'm sure many others really appreciate it. Some things in life we have to learn ourselves, but it's great that we can quicken the learning process by taking advice from experienced people like you.

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