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Life & Philosophy

Trying too hard to be happy

Everyone’s out there chasing Mr. Smiley. But “happiness must happen,” wrote Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning, “and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

The quest for happiness produces the exact opposite of its intention: unhappiness. Keep swimming in the sea of joy, and we’ll cease to be so. The extra effort makes one miserable.

We try too hard to be happy when everything we want is on the other side of fear. What we want is to be more vulnerable. Everything in life that matters requires risk.

Happy elephant, Trying too hard to be happy?
via welcometonature/twitter

Dancing with the unknown and thinking unhappy thoughts is at the heart of finding satisfaction.

The storm never ends, the faster we accept that, the quicker we can land contentment which is happy just being itself.

Categories
Books Productivity & Work Quotes Writing

‘The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it’

the war of art steven pressfield

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no resistance.”

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Categories
Life & Philosophy

Floating into thin air

There’s always something jerking at the brain, wooing it into the warp of distraction.

So if we can just concentrate the mind and wield the paintbrush, maybe we could uncover the pleasure of presence.

There’s something about being in the moment with all our flesh that makes realization realizable.

Instead of casting a wide net into the river, we’re the ones being fished back into reality.

The brain does the walking while the feet adhere. We stroll into our best thoughts like a tourist with fresh eyes.

The ground is near because we’re floating in the air rather than swimming in the sea of uncertainty.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Quick hits pervert happiness

You can’t solve your problems by simply buying things. Materialism offers a temporary sop of happiness.

Alcoholism is also a crude method for escaping life’s woes. Pursuing short-term satisfaction only paints the surface.

The quick hit — whether a shot of dopamine or a numbing of anxiety — bends to the rhythm of a rollercoaster only for stress and discomfort to volley right back.

Long-term joy comes from the satisfaction of knowing that your health and emotions are in check.

Man is a strange and contradictory animal. He chases immediacy in the hunt for glory.

In feeling invigorated, he lets slip the most beautiful way to live: coming clean in the challenge and opportunity to get the balance right.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Poetry

Searching for the ‘right’ fix

Assumptions provide fence-sitting answers. They are just half-truths that validate how things usually go, band-aids that make us feel safer. The inquisitive mind chases uncertainty and complexity.

“We must be ignorant of what we are looking for, or we would not go looking for it.”

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Rather, like a dog with a bone, we should be running off for a half-hour to return just as whelmed as when we left. The trick in any activity is to offer the right balance between intrigue and satisfaction, ensuring that it’s interesting enough to revisit it later.

The last thing we want to do is externalize the whimsical nature of life to the certitude of a photo. Life goes on beyond the screen. Memory hinges on context and keeps developing each time the story gets told.

Confidence basks in the chase of uncertainty if only to ensure that the truth remains unfixed. Less fixedly, we validate through a consistent form of experimentation.

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Life & Philosophy Science

We can redesign our brain

“Who you are depends on what your neurons are up to, moment by moment,” writes David Eagleman in his book The Brain: The Story of You.

The classical textbook tells us that our brains are immutable after a certain age, that in fact, our neurocognitive code is set in place right after our teens.

But today’s neuroscience studies show that the mind remains forever elastic. By staying challenged and interested in new experiences, we can plant even more brain cells and make even more connections.

Writes Sharon Begley in Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain:

William James, the father of experimental psychology in the United States, first introduced the word plasticity to the science of the brain, positing in 1890 that “organic matter, especially nervous tissue, seems endowed with a very extraordinary degree of plasticity.”

Sharon Begley, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain

It’s therefore vital that the information we choose to digest and how we categorize it ameliorate the brain’s flexibility rather than deteriorate it.

We may be born with a set number of preconditions, but that will never account for what we can gain from trial and error. Neuroplasticity ensures that we can redesign our brains as we wish.