Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Evolution of a Perspective

Most human dissatisfaction is the result of asking yourself: What's missing? What don't I have? Who or what is not here? How does my current circumstance fail to measure up to expectations? What about the current moment is imperfect? We are princesses constantly scanning for mattress peas.

None of this has anything to do with what's actually happening (what's happening is what's happening!). Instead, it's about indulging a conception of yourself as living in a movie, and viewing your outcomes from the vantage point of an audience, measuring how far circumstances stray from the script as you envisioned it.

It is, quite literally, insane; a narcissistic fantasy world, none of it real. But this is how people with idle time (an unusual human condition found only among the rich, and you - yes, you! - are very very rich) make themselves needlessly miserable.

I've broken this habit; I simply stopped indulging it. The evolution can be traced via the following postings, especially the third one, which was quite a "eureka" (it's helpful to understand that this Slog isn't where I share my knowledge, it's where I get my knowledge, during the process of writing. It's an oracle):

The Monks and the Coffee
An Adult View on Preference
The Deeper Implications of Holiday Blues
Labeling and Post-Processing
Lasagna and Depression
Paradise Lost
Mental Tickertape (mostly a revisit to the idea behind Paradise Lost, which I'd forgotten I'd written!)

Once you've found ease in the repose of what's actually happening (opting out of obsession with what's not happening), the next step is to find that same ease amid unexpected change. I greatly admire my GPS, which accommodates surprise with infinite equanimity, always calmly "recalculating" as I ignore its instructions. The following are postings about that part:

The Real Secret
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
The Key to Happiness is Rolling With It
Resilience Means Giving Serendipity a Chance (see also the links at the bottom of this one)
Resilience Postscript
"So That Happened"
Pharaoh's Tombs, Movie Theaters, and Consciousnes
...and, The Problem With the Serenity Prayer

[A while after I posted this, I wrote "Why God Lets Bad Things Happen"]

It's a lot of reading, and I readily acknowledge that I'm expressing the same point from multiple angles. But the repetition is intentional and useful, because while the points are simple, they're extremely counterintuitive, and if you'll actually plunge yourself into this in an experiential way, rather than ponder it intellectually, you may find your bumpy life more of a ride and less of a torture test.

Getting to the root of it all, it's really about letting go. Because our tight grip never helped anything in the first place. Consider The Toddler and the Steering Wheel....and Jnani Train.

To peek behind the curtain of it all, read this, and dive into the links therein.

Then there's still a pitfall, and it's a doozy. If you drop most, but not all, of the dramatization, it's extremely easy - perhaps even inevitable - to spin the undramatizing into a tragic super-drama. And then you're back where you started.

In the end, it's all about how we frame things. While we humans are immensely curious about our thinking process, we barely acknowledge our ability to frame. More on perceptual framing here (I'd suggest reading from the bottom upward).

FWIW, some of these postings appear to be listed out of order because I've replayed a few of them, which screwed up the posting dates.

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