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Life & Philosophy Quotes

Stuck on autopilot


Do you ever ask what happened to the day that just past?

We often carry on throughout the day without thinking about our actions.

We tune out of our existence, and we turn into robots, competent without comprehension. Said writer and philosopher Colin Wilson: “The more I allow the robot to take over my life—that is, the more I live passively—the less real I feel.”

On the flip side, one can also be too mystic, excessively absorbed into the occult.

Reality is too sober

There are some things worth being awake for and others being drunk on habit. Even the routine — doing the dishes, going for a walk — can excite the deepest thinking. Meanwhile, overthinking like anxiously driving a car stresses one into accidents. Thinking how to run will trip you up.

If you can learn how to flow forward, the world becomes less sober and gamelike.

Chaos and the cosmos goad unpredictability and order, a pendulum that hangs in the balance only by staying awake while being at peace.

We can only control the whims of the market if we control our own attention, values, and beliefs.

Yet, we let go. We enroll in life, maybe even live a little.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Psychology

The gateway to light is the eye

A short-term realist, a long-term optimist.

Can one hedge against fear and doubt while simultaneously pushing for a better and brighter future?

Most of us struggle in bear markets when confidence ebbs into despair. We can only permit pertinacity.

What keeps one going is the light at the end of the tunnel, connecting the slightest ideas to extend the road through all perceived hurdles.

The obstacle is the way, they say.

Necessity is the mother of invention. If we can’t tolerate ambiguity along the way, we’ll most certainly give up.

If the gateway to light is the eye, persistence lies in the guts.

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Books Life & Philosophy

Alan Watts: The Story of the Chinese Farmer

Some of Alan Watts’s most influential lessons and ideas emerged from lectures he gave at universities across the United States, including his story of the Chinese farmer.

The story, recorded and transcribed below (after the jump), is also part of a collection of lectures entitled Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life: Collected Talks: 1960-1969

The Story of the Chinese Farmer

Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbors came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.” 

The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.” The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbors came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”

The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it’s really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad — because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.

Alan Watts
Alan Watts: The Story of the Chinese Farmer

‘Maybe’ we pick up clues as we go along, labeling situations as either misfortune or good fortune. But ‘maybe’ everything is the way it’s supposed to be: the yin can’t exist without the yang, the shadow depends on light and vice versa.

The nature of experience proposes a game of chance: the future is too unpredictable to force an outcome so everything must be perceived as neutral.

We never know the consequences of any event other than the one we can emotionally control. Just try to keep a good outlook.

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Creativity Life & Philosophy Photography Poetry Social Media Tech

In the blink of an eye…

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Photo by Wells Baum

That’s how subtleties move along, transparent, through the chaos of abundant information for which the likes of Facebook and Twitter sell our eyeballs to the attention merchants.

As John Berger wrote in Ways of Seeing, “seeing comes before words.” Images overpower our digital world. Video maximizes these stitched images. People lose interest in thinking by themselves and using their imagination.

Said color photography pioneer William Eggleston: “Words and pictures don’t — they’re like two different animals. They don’t particularly like each other.”

Showing speaks louder than telling. One can intuit a concept quicker with a visual cue more so than a verbalized one.

The first taste is with your eyes. But what you perceive in your mind’s eye is what empowers an agile interpretation.

Categories
Creativity Culture Life & Philosophy

The unique shall inherit the Earth

There are three ways to stand out and be remembered:

  1. Be so good that they can’t ignore you.
  2. Be so interesting that they can’t ignore you.
  3. Be so unique that they can’t ignore you.

Talent is usually enough, but everyone can take a great picture. Technology and the internet leveled the playing field.

Grabbing attention can be fleeting. Remember the digital tenet that new things get consumed and forgotten.

But what cements you in someone else’s memory is acting remarkably daring and different.

In a world of masses, it pays to go micro. But the loopholes in individuality are getting smaller and smaller.

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Photo Challenge Photography Poetry Postaday

The car with a dragon tattoo

Photo by Wells Baum

The leaves grow sideways, unimpeded from the downward force of nature.

The car with a dragon tattoo also roars its way into the future.

2017 is the end of the past

Revisiting the roots, 2018 promises to bend into unusual shape.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology Science

Upgrade your human operating system

There is no doubt that the mind changes as it ages. You’ll be a different person in your 20s, 30s, and so on.

For some, brain deterioration is genetic. While you can’t medicate mental problems away, you can upgrade your internal software by widening your perception and controlling your emotions to so-called triggers.

The human brain is plastic

Strengthening the operating system protects against the destructive forces of sensory stimulants that try to undermine chemical synchronicity. Knowing that you can gauge your reactions to uncertainty while strengthening the bonds between neurons and synaptic connections helps alleviate anxiety’s thinking problem.

Babies are born platform agnostic; it’s mostly the environment that shapes their internal compass as they grow into adults. Health, philosophy, and social behaviors produce an entire ecosystem of choices where balancing the right springs and gears to maintain the human clock is the key, per say.

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Life & Philosophy Psychology

The chemicals between us

We all want to experience pleasure all the time. But it’s utility is temporary, the dopamine hit comes and goes. Addiction is the attempt to make it last forever. Spinning the social media wheel, again and again, is a prime example of its superficiality.

Happiness, on the other hand, “is long-term, additive and generous.” It’s a state of mind built over time through sustained effort toward true connection and generosity. It’s a deeper emotional investment with zero emphases on cash-value.

We have two choices: the taking of short-term dopamine or the giving of long-term serotonin. We become what we choose.

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Life & Philosophy

Anxiety is a thinking problem

Anxiety is a thinking problem. It is a presence in flux, stuck in gear between looking backward and looking forward simultaneously.

To better cope with the onslaught of worry, you need stronger cognitive tools or algorithms to live by. You need some cognitive presets and habits to inculcate them.

For example, a basic tenet of Stoic philosophy is that ‘What’s outside my control is indifferent to me.’ Another way to step back, is to realize that imagination is always worse than reality.

If you’re looking for more tactical strategies for coping with anxiety, particularly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), please consider reading my book Rule OCD: 20 Tips to Overcoming OCD where I outline 20 tips for dealing with the doubting disease. 

Habits will change your life

If you want to get unnecessary doubts under your control, consider practicing some positive daily habits like meditation, fear-setting, or journaling. I recommend writing by hand in a daily journal like The Five Minute Gratitude Journal or if you’re an artist, the ever-popular Morning Pages JournalIt’s these kinds of diurnal practices that reinforce affirmative beliefs like bicep curls for the brain. 

People worry as a preventative. But it’s not worth worrying before it’s time, inching closer to the giant sucking sound of a depressing gif loop.

“I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened.”  

Mark Twain

Try to avoid looking forward to a future you can’t control. The sooner you embrace uncertainty and greet your anxiety instead, the more present and happier you’ll be.

Pro tip: One of the ways I also encourage people to get unstuck is to blog out their anxieties (btw, you can start a free blog on WordPress right here). When it comes to blogging effectively, you have to be a little vulnerable. Don’t tell all but don’t hide everything either, especially if your advice will benefit the lives of other people. 

Categories
Books Quotes

Alan Watts on the law of reversed effort

“When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float’ and that ‘insecurity is the result of trying to be secure.”

Alan Watts on the ‘law of reversed effort’, also known as the ‘backwards law’ when doing what’s right make things wrong (as featured in The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking)