Cultural differences along with personality differences will always leave the door open for dead end conversations and socially awkward moments- however, there are some basic principles people should follow that show a mutual respect for others and allow for good socialising when in public.

1. Don’t bitch. For a start bitching is cowardly, it’s all done behind people’s backs and is about you complaining while never seeking a solution (who’s the real villain?).

Occasional venting or in-depth discussion about people is fine if it’s with someone you know and is not a regular thing- but don’t burden this on a mere acquaintance/stranger because it puts them in an awkward situation of feeling like they need to take sides.

Besides, no one is good company if all they can think to say involves putting other people down.

2. Give any conversation topic a roll of the dice. Heck, coming up with subjects isn’t easy, we’ve all said ‘hello’ then hit a brick wall for what to say next. Unless someone is talking about how they paint the walls of their house with a pig’s heart, give it a chance. Everyone has lots to say, but finding something that you have to say to someone else takes perseverance – every roaring fire starts with a single spark and you may well have to tread through some dull clichés of ‘what’s the weather doing’ or ‘the parking’s terrible’ before you get to something interesting. Alternatively they could be dull and worth avoiding but you don’t know that yet: If someone makes the effort give them a chance.

3. Give some of the ‘real you’ back to the person- how can anyone get to know you otherwise?

My sisters mother-in-law always talks to me in the same way- asks me my news, tells me her news then ends the conversation within 5 minutes with ‘well it was lovely to meet you’. A textbook might say this is good socialising, I as a person say it definitely isn’t.

The trouble is that she treats speaking to me like a PR exercise- I’m not getting to know the real her, all I’m getting is a bunch of statements designed to appear like she wants to talk to me/likes me- while the underlying factor of her speaking to me this way is unreservedly that she thinks the opposite. Could you imagine yourself ever restricting a conversation with someone you like to the same 5 minute structure? Of course not- great conversations swish and swirl down unexpected routes and by the end you have no idea what the last hour and a half had to do with your original point. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now I’m not saying you need to air all your dirty laundry or tell them your life story within the first 10 minutes of meeting them, all I’m saying is you have to be giving answers that are an honest reflection of yourself.

Don’t fall into the trap of telling people answers that you think they want to hear. It might seem polite and caring but it is a bad route to go down because of these three potential connotations:

1. You’re patronising/humouring them- like when talking to children we feign interest in their toys- why not show the other adults some respect for their intelligence?

2.  You have little depth to your personality and are desperate for friends.

3. You don’t like them and are trying to keep your distance.

The first two connotations will make people run a mile but the 3rd is the most significant. By not being yourself you are not allowing a relationship to grow. Okay- it might turn out you just aren’t ever going to be friends and the conversation reaches a dead end in a minute or so- but this is a good thing: what a time saver! Better finding out quickly that you won’t get along and being done with it. Anyway, disagreeing doesn’t mean the conversations doomed- people disagree all the time and life’s more exciting that way. Plus by going this way even if you clearly aren’t suited you will still have their respect as you’ve shown the confidence to be who you are. (Trust me on this one I learnt the hard way)

4. Avoid negativity. If someone only has met you for 3 minutes, then 3 minutes is all they have to judge you on- it doesn’t matter if you’re a really interesting person if they get to know you – if all you’ve done is complain you’re hardly going to seem worth getting to know.

The balance between critical thinking and blind optimism is worth a post in itself- but in terms of being good company make things positive. Positivity is inherently more enjoyable plus being positive makes you seem more worthwhile because positive people are the ones who get things done; nothing can be achieved without enthusiasm.

A band might be playing who are so terrible saying so is a good ice breaker and that’s fine- just don’t dwell in negative areas for too long. It will lead nowhere fun.

5. Don’t boast. If you’ve got some great exam results, if you make xyz amount of money more than Joe average a year, if you’ve gone to over 100 countries in the past 6 months, don’t dwell on it.

By all means be positive about yourself, but don’t spend too long on the subject unless you’re prompted to through further questions. Talking about yourself for long periods makes it look like you’re either self-centred, or you’re trying to impress people. Trying to impress people is inherently pathetic – it is done because someone needs other people to think they’re great for them to feel good about themselves rather than from their own achievements- hello insecurity as low opinion of self = needing reassurance. (Ever had some alpha male sort try to control a group all night before getting a few drinks down him and then not shutting up about how depressed he is?)

6. Hold back on the more over the top humour (to begin with). I have a good sense of humour but it has got me into trouble through the years. Is it worth the misunderstandings and awkwardness when jokes go sour for the laughs you do get when it works? Yes without doubt- laugher is fantastic and worth the occasional bruise. However, too full on too soon can scare people away. You may know you’re joking but if people don’t know you then a large amount of them won’t get it (sadly). Plus I’m sure we all probably have a few friends who aren’t the sort you’d joke with much but are still very precious friends nonetheless – don’t deter these people before you get a chance to properly meet them. Keep jokes basic and safe (just for a little while).

Oh yeah, and if you’re with friends in a wider group, keep your in jokes to yourself- it alienates all the others (how are they supposed to get it?).

7. Keep the noise down. It sounds so basic but I’ve lost count of the amount of times when speaking within a group there’s certain people who just keep talking louder and louder to get herd. It’s thoroughly irritating and paints the person in the light of being self centred (never mind others- let’s hear about me) or trying to be the alpha controlling the group (what I say is the most important) – either way it’s not a good trait.

Worst still is when in public you see groups of people get together and then some start shouting loudly for no good reason other than pathetic in-group attention seeking and a lack of courtesy for others. Often these people observe others disapproval of their shouting and label them as being ‘stuck up’- what an absolute travesty of human knee-jerk ego-protecting thinking. For the record: No we’re not stuck up, we just have ear drums and aren’t wrapped up in your life like you are. Keep it down to a low enough level so I can choose to ignore you, thanks.

8. Take a genuine interest in the other person/people- otherwise really what is the point? It’s back to my sister’s mother in law again- if you don’t care about the other person how can a decent social relationship ever develop? And more to the point, why are you bothering to talk to them in the first place? If you don’t want to talk don’t talk, why get involved in an unenjoyable piece of dribble both you and your counterpart would rather not be involved in?

9. Don’t drink too much. (Boy did I make this mistake at university) It can be a nice way to loosen the tongue and I’ve had some brilliant nights thanks to alcohol- but drink too much and you will loose some peoples respect for good.

As a good friend of mine pointed out, when drinking there is a tipping point where loosing your inhibitions slips from being talkative to becoming obnoxious. With too much you become too sure of yourself and speak without consideration for others, plus you begin to show other forms of disrespect like invading people’s private space- not to mention the stupid things you can do (I’ve urinated on my friends wardrobe before… yep).

Heck all drinkers have been there and had to wake up with some sinking feeling from the night before, but don’t make a habit of it- you’ll loose money, brain cells and credibility (perhaps not with your inner circle of friends if your all the partying sort but definitely with those on the outside). And also, don’t think it will improve your chances of finding a partner, no one wants a slobbering idiot with bad breath and that’s what you become.

What I’m about to outline here is not a full explanation of the subconscious but simply one aspect of it that it is helpful to understand in relation to being able to self-improve effectively.

 

Our subconscious mind is a collection of conclusions reached by our conscious mind through its thought processes and experiences and effectively acts as our autopilot when the conscious mind is preoccupied with other things. The conscious and the subconscious work together for us to learn: the conscious mind discovers and the subconscious remembers. For example, if we place our hand on an object and it turns out to be very hot, the conscious will acknowledge that the pain is coming from the object and then the ‘that object can be hot’ stored conclusion would go into our subconscious meaning we would automatically approach the object with more caution in the future.

 

Trouble can emerge if we carry conclusions in our subconscious that hinder our personal enjoyment and progression in life. Distressing experiences can give us a disproportionately negative view towards things- like how traumatic car accidents can lead to a fear of travelling by car and similarly bad relationships can make people stop looking for love. Also as we meander through life we can simply make incorrect conclusions based on a wide variety of factors such as flawed logic, misleading evidence, unjustified associations and bias.

 

All self-help is essentially about discovering unhelpful conclusions held in our subconscious and trying to replace them with positive ones.

 

Unfortunately it can be very difficulty when trying adopt a new belief or attitude – largely for two reasons:

 

Firstly the sub-conscious mind isn’t always receptive to taking in new ideas.

 

In an intense emotional state (positive or negative) the subconscious mind is very receptive and will take on messages (hence why car crashes can give people a fear of driving), but in everyday life it can be a bit of a lottery as to whether your going to take something on board. Think back to when you were at school- did you not find that some exam answers you could always remember whereas others always seemed to elude you?

 

‘A limerick is a 5 lined poem- the 1st line rhymes with the 2nd line, then the 3rd line rhymes with the 4th line, and then the 5th line rhymes with the first two lines’

 

That was one of those things our class was told and it is still embedded in my memory years later despite not being particularly useful or interesting, not least to a 10 year old. It just so happened that at the point when my teacher was talking my subconscious was tuned-in resulting in the information going directly into my memory bank.

 

To try to get the subconscious to accept new information can be tough- if nothing else one method is just to keep repeating the same information back to yourself and it should sink in eventually. Hypnosis is another way; it works by putting the mind into a state/trance that makes the subconscious receptive to taking in new information. I’d recommend reading into it if you haven’t already- this link as a decent place to start. http://healnowtherapyhypnosis.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/what-is-hypnotherapy.html

 

The second complication to adopting new attitudes and approaches is that there may be old stored conclusions that contradict your current goal. 

 

When you have an area that you wish to improve on in your life be it exercise, eating habits, confidence, motivation or whatever and you find that despite how you’ve tried before you just seem to slip back into your old ways, then this usually is a sign that there is an old stored conclusion in your mind blocking your progression. It is important to find out what these old thought(s) are so that you can reopen/reassess the issues in your head. If someone has the opinion ‘I’m ugly’ implanted in their mind then they will have great difficulty in trying to improve their confidence until they address this view.

 

It is tough work trying to adopt a new approach, the old ways have a habit of creeping back in without you even realising. I’d largely put it down to the chimp brain taking comfort in staying with known rituals and habits rather than branching out because the new is unknown and thus threatening – a unhappy known is at least safe and therefore desirable by chimp brain logic. I’d recommend reading more about the chimp brain it helps me realize when I’m being my own worst enemy- this article might give you some help.  http://finance.ninemsn.com.au/newsbusiness/motley/8433951/investing-badly-blame-your-chimp-brain) Note: the chimp brain is not the same as the subconscious

 

Often to turn over a new leaf you need to reassess and re-order the prioritise in your subconscious mind. Essentially every creature is pleasure seeking – no one intends to be unhappy its just everyone has different prioritise they attach different amounts of worth to and this is the basis for our decisions making, thus people who make themselves unhappy do so because they have unhelpful prioritise based on incorrect conclusions that result in them making unprofitable decisions. Examples include people who spend most their life working at a job they hate because of the priority placed on making large amounts of money, or someone who avoids socialising because of prioritising evading potentially awkward social situations despite them being lonely.

 

If you are trying to adopt something new it usually means that something old you were attracted towards doing has to go – you need to consciously make the decision not just to do the new but to let go of the old. For example, a person may well wish to loose weight- and consciously aim to do so, but if loosing weight is not prioritised above ‘enjoying eating’ by the subconscious when push come to shove eating will be the superior.

 

Also, and this is important- be sure you actually emotionally agree with what you say you want to do – and by emotionally I mean that the new alternative genuinely feels desirable compared to the old ways (that will mean the subconscious is won over), not just something that logically you concede would be better for you. Unless you have a desire that you feel warrants a change where are you going to find the motivation to do it? We aren’t motivated by logic, we are motivated by emotions.

 

If you logically want to make the positive change but you know that emotionally you don’t feel the desire then first make the effort to convince your subconscious that you want to do it- read around your subject, find its benefits and then explore your desires/what you want from life and analyse what is stopping you changing and see if you can shift your emotional outlook. Only once you have convinced yourself emotionally to change will you realistically be able to do so.

 

If there’s something to learn from this article it is this: if you want to change yourself you’ve got to know yourself. The conscious mind is logical but the subconscious is not – take the time to try to discover conclusions held in the subconscious that are not in line with what you consciously want and then move to change these views. It can be done- explore, understand, convince, repeat- good luck! 

Recently I made a small tweak in my approach to doing new tasks and I was able to find far more motivation, enjoyment and success in whatever I was doing.

 

The change was simply this:

 

Old Approach – ‘How am I supposed to tackle this?’

New Approach – ‘How am I going to tackle this?’

 

The difference is only slight in as much as they are both trying to find a way to work towards achieving a desired end. However, in practice I’ve found the difference between the two to be massive.

 

My old approach worked on the idea that for every task there is a correct way to do it and that way needs to be learned. I adopted this approach as it seemed quite reasonable and even humble to think that others with experience will know how to do a task better than me with little or none. After all, surely only an arrogant person would think they know the best way to complete a new task?

 

However, I had problems finding success when using this approach. It gave me the feeling of constantly not living up to expectations because it made all the answers feel so external and unobtainable. It also left the door open for one of my personal demons ‘over analysis’ because I had the strong doubt that anything I was considering doing would probably be wrong and it would be worth exploring my options further. In the end my old approach simply made me feel world weary.

 

The problem was that I was trying to comprehend someone else’s understanding of a subject rather than using my own intellect to gradually figure it out for myself. The trouble with trying to see the way experts do things is your trying to comprehend the end result before going through the necessary learning stages- I was thinking about the end when I was only at the beginning. Ultimately you’ve got to learn to do things in a way that’s right for you.

 

Eventually after growing frustration at lack of progress I revised my methods. In my new approach I feel empowered as rather than trying to think how someone else would do something, what will probably go wrong if I try it and any other garbage, I now just move on my own decisions. Any new task I do now feels like an independent challenge as it’s inherently more fun to approach a task your own way rather than following laid out steps. Its gives you a chance to ‘play’ with ideas and gets your mind involved in the task and thinking round the topic far more than if you have to monotonously spend long chunks of time absorbing information.

 

I think taking my new approach also gave me a psychological advantage because by looking at it from the angle of ‘how am I going to do this’, I’ve claimed ownership of the task, and by feeling like it’s my own task I have far more motivation to get it completed.

 

It reminds me of how when back at school I used to switch off a lot in lessons and not listen even though these days I find myself reading up on many of the same subjects of my own free will. The reason for this is simple, because I was being forced to be there it didn’t feel like it was my task, it seemed like a task I was doing for someone else and thus I lacked the motivation to learn. People learn better when it’s there own project.

 

As for the idea that it’s arrogant, it may well be arrogant to think you are going to do a task right first time, but it is not arrogant to try your best at something new and looking to learn from any failures as you go. I still do research into other people’s techniques and established practices but it is me learning it for my own purposes and understanding relevant to where I am in my learning process – not being a sponge surrendering my own thoughts.

 

Arrogance is acting because you think your going to do something right.

Confidence is acting because you wish to be right and are prepared to learn from failures.

 

Maybe your mind works differently to mine, but I certainly found it of use anyway.

Some arguments go on for hours with the same basic points being repeated back and forth and never moving forward, some result in the resurfacing of every bad thing that ever happened between you and your opponent that had long been resolved until then, others end with one side running off and then shouting out an insult amid their retreat in a pathetic attempt to have the last word. Yep, some arguments really aren’t worth having. And I’m sure even if us sensible folk think back we can recollect a time when an argument brought about the worst in us and we behaved in ways we regret.

 

So, considering we’re all level headed people, how does this happen?

 

A large part of the problem is that in an argument you rely on your opponent for your exchanges to operate in a functional, problem solving way. If an opponent is wholly erratic and/or unjust in their interpretations and replies to your arguments it becomes impossible to say anything that can help lead to a productive conclusion.

 

The quote ‘‘Never argue with an idiot- they drag you down to their level and then beat you on experience’’ springs to mind. However, my problem with this quote is if you were arguing with a well intentioned idiot, although the argument would breakdown through their lack of understanding, it wouldn’t get to the point of the really terrible arguments that become nasty, heated and petty.

 

The problem behind the really bad arguments doesn’t lie in stupidity; it lies in people approaching the argument as a power struggle rather than for what it should be as an intellectual exchange in order to resolve a disagreement using reason.  

 

When people care only about winning the debate, not about being correct, this is when everything starts to fall to pieces. If an opponent is merely there to get their opinion adopted by the other then the argument is nothing more than a charade as no matter how compelling the case put forward they will never change their stance. Because any intellectual ways of solving the issue at hand are void this leaves the door open for frustration to build and can cause one to resort to other means to influence the exchange such as name calling, shouting and storming off.

 

So in light of this problem, I have deemed it a worthwhile task to outline some core ground rules that need to be followed for those of us that want to have a rational adult debate.

 

The Rules:

 

1. It should not be looked or conducted as a battle- it is two or more groups trying to ‘work towards a truth’.

2. Ego’s should be left out of the matter. Do not argue with your pride on the line and nor should someone ever try to damage their opponents (i.e. trying to rub in victories, mockery etc).

3. All parties have to accept that they might be wrong. There is always the possibility that our logic or information could be flawed in ways unbeknown to us. 

4. No side is allowed to get angry or aggressive.

5. People should be allowed to finish what they are saying. Not everything is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer – you cannot know what someone’s opinions/points are unless they are able to say them in full.

6. People should be allowed plenty of time to come up with answers. It would be advisable to have a system to note things down on. Someone not being able to immediately think of or articulate an answer does not equate to their eventual answer being invalid.

7. Each person should try to help their ‘opponent’. They should be happy to repeat things and explain any words or concepts that the other does not understand (often I have seen people’s arguments be dismissed because they did not know a certain word, this is in no way a logical conclusion, and relates back to ego led ‘make the other look stupid’ aims rather than trying to ‘work towards the truth’). If someone thinks they could give their opponent some information that would be useful to them or a better articulation of what they think they’re trying to say etc – they should offer it.

8. Insults and taunts are strictly off limits- they’re logically empty phrases designed to emotionally hurt/provoke the opponent – they are acts of war not of debate (searching for truth). The integrity or abilities of the other character can’t be questioned unless it is truly relevant, i.e. their honesty can only be put into question if some point they say is relying on them being an honest person. 

9. (to go with above) All points must be relevant to the issue at hand. To often do knaves bring up outside points to cast doubt on a person and sidetrack the argument from the trail of thought that will show them to be wrong. If a person lost an argument last week, it doesn’t make them wrong on this occasion. What you’re debating now is what you need to debate, nothing else – it’s amazing how argumentative types tend to care so little about the actual argument at hand.

10. Both opponents need to listen to the other- without this simple rule being followed there is no debate- its just two people making noises before physical combat or going home.

11. Questions must be answered (provided they’re relevant).

12. A debate has never been decided indefinitely. We only ever appear to have found answers and who knows what one discovery could do in terms of changing the appeared outcome. We do not always argue well at certain times – in some cases the argument causes adrenaline levels to rise making the body’s blood supply go into the muscles and away from the brain where the oxygen is needed making us not think straight. I think we can all think of times when we lost arguments we feel we should have won and then later remembered the key point that didn’t come to us in the heat of the moment. If practical, the issue should be open to revision if someone feels they have more to say at a later date.

13. Any contentious issue of morality is up for debate: debate is there to decide what is right and wrong, not to be governed by it. (If something is clearly wrong then it should be a short debate).

14. No person has an obligation to finish an argument if the other person persists in not following one or more of the already mentioned rules even when their error is pointed out to them. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong, it just means they are not worth debating with.

 

Additional Thoughts

 

  • To continue from rule 14 if people cannot respect the above rules, or if simply they seem a bit too dim to grasp the concepts at hand even after straight-forward explanations, you can continue if you wish but my soul advice is simply this: get out of there. No length of time spent is going to change the mind of a person that is not open to external ideas- you will waste your time and energy on a fruitless task.

 

  • Also, if they start insulting you and you feel your anger starting to boil– still get out of there. There have been times in the past where I thought I would return the persons disrespect but this only made things worse as it leaves the person you are arguing with in a position to question your integrity. Feel free to state your reasons for leaving if you feel it will do any good, i.e. ‘your not listening’ ‘you keep changing the subject’ ‘your clearly just trying to make yourself look good rather than exchange ideas logically and I want no further part in your attempts to inflate your ego nor to participate in what is a chronic waste of my time’ etc – then go… or fight/murder them but that’s another topic outside debate not related to this article (in general I’d advise against).

 

  • In regards to ‘people should be allowed plenty of time to respond’ it’s a difficult one to judge in practical terms as if someone takes 50 minutes to reply to a simple question then it seems they are using the time to find excuses or are just out to waste your day, but then again maybe the answer required is deceptively complex. How long a debate goes on for ultimately falls on the time constraints and patience on the individuals involved. In the end you cannot force someone to debate no matter how wrong they are- it’s a pity but there you go. On the plus side if someone keeps trying to argue with you all the time on subjects you don’t care about then at least you don’t have to pay them any attention.

 

  • When I say ‘all issues of morality are up for debate’- I mean general moral issues- if it is personalised then it can be a bad thing. For example- to debate whether it is acceptable to debate who’s spouse is better looking is acceptable whoever you are with – its an external issues, no one’s feelings can get hurt. However, if you start debating whether Jonny’s girlfriend is better looking than Stewart’s in a debate that involved Jonny and Stewart… and their girlfriends- this is unacceptable (unless they all say its fine to before hand).

 

  • The number of people who agree or disagree doesn’t equate to something being automatically right or wrong. Not so long ago it was agreed on mass that the world was flat, racism was acceptable and public beheadings were a family day out. I refer to the classic Oscar Wild quote “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” Much of the time with the general public certain ‘truths’ get ingrained in their minds and they are merely remembering taught clichés rather than arguing progressively with an open mind. All good ideas start with either one or a few people adopting them and then grow from there. The percentage of support may well be a good indicator and often is the only reasonable way to make decisions but it is by no means ‘proof’ – the proof lies in the logic, and if it’s measurable- the results.

 

So to wrap things up…

 

These rules being followed will not mean that things necessarily reach a concrete conclusion, but they should at least mean things end amiably.

 

There is still room for abuse of the rules- people can leave claiming the other person hasn’t been listening when they have, people can not explain things well even when they say they’ve put it in simple terms and so on. It can happen because of this reason: a good debate is a partnership. You will get no where without a necessary level of integrity and intelligence being displayed by your opponent. And this is a problem because people who lack intelligence or integrity generally are more likely to be wrong in what they say. It’s a flaw what can you do?

 

However, before taking up the temptation to blame all sour argument in the past on our opponents it would be useful to remember that even us level headed folk are also flawed beings. We are not born a perfect species and we have to compete against ourselves and our own instincts as much as anything as we try to move forward. The human race is considerably stupider than it should be because often people cling to bad ideas in an attempt to save ourselves from embarrassment or having to admit to ourselves that we are wrong. Yep as daft as it seems it’s a very frequent occurrence for us to hold onto wrong ideas to try to avoid looking stupid, not the smartest move all things considered.

 

Try your best to be aware of when you are holding yourself back clinging on to flawed ideas and be patient and understanding when you see it in others- no one chooses to think/act stupidly, it just happens. And of course, if all else fails: get out of there!

As mentioned in my previous post ‘The meaning of life’ I wish to help create systems that bring about sustainable happiness.

One idea I have to make this happen is to bring back/reinvent the temple. The purpose of the building will be to help/develop ourselves and others.

In essence I want it to be a place people can come at a loose end to find something to do for the good of humanity and as a place for people to develop their own minds. Everything should be geared towards creating and facilitating the existence of sustainable happiness – with the attempt to do this through developing greater understanding of ourselves and having somewhere to give us an outlet for positive actions.

I think a lot of people like myself would like to help towards creating a better world but aren’t too sure how to go about doing it, and amid the difficulties/time consumption required to think of something to do and find somewhere to do it the idea of the action gets lost. What I would like is to create one place that people can go to and be able to get whatever their positive intention is moving on from there.

The potential functions of the building should it become established (with other suggested ideas welcome)

1. somewhere for community projects to be pitched and organised.

2. somewhere for debate or to highlight problems about the community or wider issues and to try to find solutions to resolve them.

3. various classes (for free hopefully) about mental development.

4. (to go in hand with community projects) things set-up/run purely for fun rather than solving any direct problem. – life is about enjoyment and that should be a good enough reason in itself.

5. Have psychologist/councillor/life coaches/ or if nothing else just decent people about the place who are available for people to chat with. (Samaritans is a great concept but where does one go if their having difficulties they don’t feel they can talk about with others they know/or would simply feel they’d benefit from an outside opinion, but don’t consider themselves depressed/suicidal)

6. A place to express yourself

The focus is on human improvement and nourishment – improve yourself, improve society – the aim, to help create sustainable happiness. I call it a temple as it would be a place for self-development and greater understanding but whether you believe in God or not would not come into it- its open to all.

I want this temple to if nothing else, be a reminder to people of the importance of their own minds.

Perhaps better than the title ‘the meaning of life’ which implies our existence centres around there being some kind of puzzle to be solved, it would be more fitting to call this piece ‘my understanding of where we are, and where would be a correct direction to plan our actions towards from here’.

My conclusion for what direction is right to take in life is ‘to promote and create sustainable happiness within yourself and others throughout the universe eternally’.

 

I will explain my reasoning behind this conclusion in the following stages:

1. Why it seems all matter is energy and eternal

2. Why I believe ourselves to be physical and thus eternal.

3. Why feelings are what’s important and why happiness is the one to go for.

4. Why setting up sustainable happiness systems within our finite time is important/the best thing we can do.

1.

I will begin with two points of science believed as facts by physicists (my personal knowledge of science is very limited, but I have assurance the following two points are correct).

1. One connotation of Albert Einstein’s celebrated equation E=MC2 is ‘all matter is energy running at different speeds’- effectively everything is energy (whatever that is) flowing around in different forms.

2. There is another fundamental of science which is ‘energy is never lost, it is transferred’.

From the above two point I draw the conclusion that all matter is energy, and therefore anything that is matter is eternal as energy is never lost.

2.

I believe that our personal subjective consciousness is physical in nature thus making us matter, thus making us energy and thus making us eternal.

I know many would disagree with the idea that the mind is physical. I admit my claim does not look the strongest case at first as private/subjective experience does not seem to be possessed by the physical, but my argument is that consciousness is actually a physical process which has the unique property of subjectivity- so it’s different to other physical things but is still physical.

Here’s my thought process behind how I reached my conclusion.

To begin I will admit I cannot definitively prove that our minds our physical, or that there is not some different plain we pass on into in the after life- but nor could anyone definitively prove the counter argument. (Read later post ‘Scepticism and reasonable doubt’ for problems with proof and whether we can be sure when checking our own minds logic) It is about making reasonable conclusions from what we have to work with – seeing if the theory fits together and if there are viable alternatives.

So, to begin- it would appear to my logic that there are three available options; everything is physical, everything is mental, or there is both the physical and the mental. My doubts over the other two alternatives, and why the physical explanation appears to add up, I shall outline by using the examples of brain injury, drugs and evolution.

I will begin with the ‘everything is mental’ theory. If we say that there is only the mental, this implies that the physical is not there, it is merely an illusion. It goes to the extreme of believing that if what people believe to be physical objects are not observed/perceived, then they does not exist, as if there is no physical, all there is is the mental perception of it.

What to my mind rules out the idea that there is no physical is how physical occurrences are able to effects the thought processes of the mind. There are many examples- there is a famous case of a Welsh minor getting a spike through his head and then turning from a quite church going man into an aggressive alcoholic. I also remember watching a TV show when I was younger about brain injury where a man was in only a minor car crash, but after damaging his brains frontal lobes (I think) he lost the ability to emotionally relate to people. How could the physical cause a dramatic change to the nature of the persons mind if it isn’t actually there?

More evidence of the physical affecting the mind is in the use of drugs- albeit anti-depressants, alcohol, or hallucinogens – when used these things alter our thought processes. I’ll play safe and recommend alcohol if you want to experiment with this at home- feel yourself become more chatty, less self-conscious, feel your opinions of people change, your outlook on life become more exaggerated etc- Again, how on earth could the physical effect the mental if there was no physical? Perhaps someone could say that the idea of the alcohol was enough for the mind to trick itself into being drunk (far fetched at any rate) but if this is the case, considering everyone has to get drunk for a first time, how would we know what being drunk was going to be like to imagine ourselves into being drunk? It would be like trying to think of a new colour (go on, try it), we need experience of things first before we know what they are and can play around with the idea of them in our imaginations. (So it would appear drinking can be the solution after all)

There is also the very definite need of physical things to stay alive. We need oxygen to survive- if you believe everything is truly in the mind, hold you breath and try your best to imagine air isn’t necessary. Then there’s also food to stay alive and so on- I don’t think the idea of there only being the mental really holds much tangible weight.

So, the other alternative is there being both a physical and mental world.

The mind being separate seems to say that there is a separate mind substance not of the physical world- a ‘spirit’ if you will, that inhabits the body as a vehicle, but is distinctly separate from the body.

One problem for the mental and the physical being separate argument is how would the mental and the physical interact if they’re separate entities? – How does drinking a physical alcoholic drink, taking an anti-depressant, or a hallucinogenic affect out mental processes? Why did the welsh minor’s personality change through receiving a brain injury- what would damaging the physical have to do with the mind if they were separate things? I personally can’t think of a way to explain it.

One of the core things that lead me to feel that the ‘mind is physical’ option is correct is when I started thinking about evolution.

If we accept evolution to be true then it is to say that over time life came to be starting from a single cell organism, and then gradually, small addition by small addition, the mind/consciousness was slowly formed by a trial and error physical process.

So to start some quick points to support the validity of evolution:-

1. The human appendix. It doesn’t serve a purpose and can lead to death on occasions if not removed – the explanation that it was once useful but then was no longer required and so became defective from not being needed is very plausible/adds up. If not from evolution, why is it there?

2. Provided we accept the physical to be there (I hope we do by now, but more evidence to come) there is vast amounts of archaeological evidence showing evolution of species throughout the ages.

3. A very good piece of evidence that is based in the mind is the feeling of falling you get as you go to sleep- that dates back to a protective mechanism from when we used to live in trees- why on earth would such an irrelevant thing to our current circumstances be there otherwise?

I draw the conclusion that if consciousness is formed by the gradual development of physical organisms over time, then it is part of these physical organisms, and if it is part of a physical thing then it must itself be physical. How can something be part of something physical and not be physical itself? How could cells bunching together, producing different hormones, minerals, tissues, electromagnetic impulses etc, amount to producing anything other than the physical?

If we think the mental is its own distinct thing, how exactly were our minds supposed to arrive in our bodies if not through a physical process? Zapped in by a bold of lightening when a foetus develops to around 6 months old? Just some minds floating around infinity that thought they’d nip into our dimension and inhabit a body that conveniently happened to have evolved to hold a mind? All a bit far fetched. And if the mind is an external thing to evolution why do families often have similar traits? Do similar minds bunch together and inhabit similar families just to confuse the hell out of DNA researchers? What of the evidence of how you can breed personality traits into things just like humans have done with dogs over time?

If I’m right in my conclusions and the mind is the result of a physical process (the working of the brain) – then ‘consciousness’ is actually a structure-dependant unique property of the physical – different to other physical things but still physical. Neurologists, although they will admit they don’t fully understand the brain, have seen how neurons fire in a certain way when someone thinks a certain thought. Granted when we look at a brain we see many different connective tissues and so on but we don’t see thought- however, and this is key, there is a difference between observing a brain and being the brain, (or whatever bit of the brain it is that is ourselves). If we accept there are physical things, then something actually has to ‘be’ the thing- and we can never know the nature of ‘being’ the thing from observation, to know that you have to be it (obviously).

So here I believe it is necessary to say that the physical must have at least two properties- the space that it occupies in space-time which we can observe, and the actual ‘being’ of itself that we cannot observe. To my reasoning it is the mistake of trying to find the experience of being something by observing something that has made it seem like there is an inseparable difference between the physical and the mental. However, although observation won’t tell us, for sure, whether consciousness is there, if the brain is working away firing a neuron in the same place each time the person has the exact same thought then the strong implication is that what we’re witnessing is the brain doing the thinking. And again if the brain doesn’t do the thinking why is brain injury able to affect personality/thought processes?

The mental being a different substance to the physical seems to imply that the spirit uses the body- whereas I’d stipulate that the mental is actually here for the survival of the physical (in evolutionary terms).

It adds up to me that as organisms developed and became increasingly complex, the creation of emotions/subjective experience would act as a useful tool for survival when looking at them from an evolutionary perspective. It fits together that before the brain evolved to have logic (which is a very complex process), a basic emotional system to dislike things that are harmful and like things that are useful would have come into effect. Our emotions (minus people/animals with what we call ‘disorders’, or at the very least unusual traits) carry out functions that help us survive/pass on our genes to the next generation. For example, potentially harmful things generally seem scary to people like snakes and spiders because any of our ancient ancestors that wanted to give a boa constrictor a hug wouldn’t have hung around very long. Similarly the things we’re attracted to, like what is considered sexually desirable, in general, is that which will give an evolutionarily advantaged next generation- I say with almost absolute certainty that the average man in a pub who is starring at a woman’s wide hips and large breasts isn’t in the least bit considering their functional purpose of child rearing, but none the less that is why they are attracted to it. And similarly women liking men with broad shoulders do so in evolutionary terms because they imply more strength thus better protection for themselves and their potential offspring, or indeed why many women are attracted to rich men because they feel assured they will be able to provide for their children (blunt truths don’t shoot the messenger). And so on with the rest of our emotional reactions to things- good smell; lamb stew cooking on stove, bad smell; manure – and guess which one has a higher nutritional value.

If we take the mind not to be physical and instead see the mind as a spirit, why do we have so many imperfections? To give a few examples; nerves in inappropriate circumstances (job interviews springs to mind); limited attention spans; and imperfect thought processes such as bias, jealousy and anger that often creep in without us even realising. To me us having these imperfections only really make sense from an evolutionary perspective as evolution doesn’t build the perfect design (the morally pure, the ideal body with no defects) it allows for flaws so long as things are able to get by. Evolutions golden rule is not ‘survival of the fittest’ merely ‘what survives, survives’ – but of course as a strong general rule the fittest (in terms of matching their environment) would be the ones that do tend survive/pass on their genes.

A couple of points to bear in mind here:

1. In evolution there is no necessity as such for everything to continually get better (the crocodile appears have remained the same for millions of years), if a species can survive and pass on its genes then it will remain even if all or large sections of its species are weaker than its ancestors. Generally however, circumstances have a habit of changing which results in species needing to begin to adapt/compete with themselves to survive once again. Even in times of comfy living there comes a point where there is so many of an animal/organism that food becomes scarce and so only those able to acquire food amid the scarcity will survive.

2. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with a species wishing to not survive or help the species along- its just what survives passes its genes on, and what makes something more likely to pass its genes on is something that wants to survive- so replication + time has moulded creatures into wanting to survive and wanting to do things that create a strong next generation.

I think it would be useful to note that to my mind/argument the only aspects of the physical realm that necessarily make it distinct from the idea of there being a mental realm are:-

1. The physical is actually there external to perception.

2. The interactions/consistencies within the physical world we see and are able to understand (i.e. the laws of physics; two objects can’t obtain the same space; an object travelling with greater force will change the course of the other object it comes into contact with and so on) – are accurate. That is to say that these consistencies we observe in physical things are genuinely representative of, and relevant to, affairs in reality – what they are actually in reality is most likely different to the way we perceive them, but there is a ‘truth of reality’ within our perceptions of the physical that represent goings on in the actual world.

I deem the above to be correct (on top of the evidence for the physical world I’ve outlined so far) on the logic that the relationships/consistencies we see in the world are what our sensory apparatus/brain have evolved to make sense of. As we’ve evolved to make sense of it, then by the laws of evolution it should be useful to our survival. And if its useful to our survival, it’s a reasonable assumption that it’s a decent representation of reality- at least to the extent reality is relevant to us (in our current form) – as the more we know about the actual world, the better placed we are to survive in it.

And if what we perceive through our 5 senses is not representing a ‘truth of reality’, then it does seem odd how the basic physical processes we do every day like how I am able to cook a meal by opening the packets, chopping the ingredients, switching the oven on etc and then eating it and being relieved of hunger all fit together perfectly and produce the results we’d expect that act perfectly in line with our previous experiences and scientific reasoning. The worlds consistency has never let me down on the regularly day-to-day stuff; if I walk to the park I arrive at the park; if I avoid the car I don’t get run over. It all implies how I (and I’m presuming you also) experience things that are an accurate portrayal in terms of the consequences they produce.

I’ll make a quick point about God here. As I will outline in the next section emotions are the only thing that make life worthwhile, and if there was a God that was truly all powerful (capable of even the impossible) then to my mind surely he would have made us all balanced and happy all of the time. Why make us imperfect and prone to horrible deeds- even if there is an afterlife, it’s still all a bit backward as an all powerful God would know the results of what he was about to make before he’d even made them- thus he’d make a person knowing full well they’d spend there time on earth causing suffering and then go to hell for eternity- there wouldn’t seem much point to doing that.

This argument doesn’t rule out there being a God of some kind, but the heavy implication is if there is one it is one that has to work within logical constraints/the laws of physics and thus we’re back to arguing about how the physical world works and the logical rules that govern it. There could still be a creator; it’s just a question of whether the big bang etc happened with a creator’s purpose in mind or whether it just simply happened (look out for a later article on God).

Also, I know many don’t like the idea that minds are merely physical and not of a higher plain of being as the idea of minds being something more than physical makes them feel like humanity/their mind is more special, more important- ultimately it sits better with the ego (section 4 talks about the ego in greater detail). For me this represents one of the main enemies of philosophical development, the ‘I’d like to think this, so that’s what I’ll argue’ thought process rather than the follow the evidence approach – it’s the cause of so much backward customs and beliefs within humanity that hold development back. Without an accurate understanding of things how can you make prosperous decisions? The way to become wise is to accept truths as and when you find them and to be prepared reassess your beliefs should you come across evidence that appears to cast them into doubt.

Besides why should the physical be any less amazing or mystical than the idea of their being a separate mental realm? There is still much to know and ponder on the physical because our sense data only shows to us what the physical does (to an extent) but not really what it is. The miraculous nature of something actually ‘being’ is still a wondrous contemplation.

So to re-cap, this is my overview of the three options that I see as available. (There’s a few new spins on arguments in there also, this piece is far longer than I intended so I’m going to run with it as it is even if it’s not the best in terms of structure). Again absolute proof not possible, but I’ll demonstrate how I decided the ‘all physical’ adds-up/holds together whilst the other options don’t.

Only the mind– can’t explain physical impact on mental activity- the mind seems to have created evolutionary fossils for no apparent reason and is riddled with imperfections and oddities that have no reasonable explanation in a mental realm i.e. how can the mind die from the idea of lack of oxygen, the feeling of falling as we start ‘falling’ asleep, why do we get jealous and so on. Evolutionarily speaking, it would appear our minds are built to think things in a way that’s useful to our survival in terms of getting by in the physical world- if there is no physical world why would our minds be geared to instinctively want to eat, mate, raise our young etc if all of these physical activities are not there thus inconsequential?

Mind and Physical – the mind is somehow a separate entity not of the physical world but depends on and is bound to the physical world, for this life at least, for some unknown reason. If separate and from some ‘higher plain’ why do we have oddities like anger/jealousy/sensation of falling as go to sleep that seem distinctly human/dictated by our environment/evolution? The heavy implication is that we are in a physical world, and the mind has been created by a gradually developed physical process of evolution in order to help the physical organism survive in the physical world.

If the mind is a physical process (neurons firing and whatever) then surely the mind is physical as how can something physical create anything other than the physical? Evidence for the brain being behind the thinking comes in how brain damage can effect the emotions/feelings of the mind and similarly with drug use- it seems a little odd how the physical could effect the mental if they’re separate entities. The physical can bump into and affect the physical- but how would it affect a spirit? And why does the brain have neurons firing in certain directions to act in cohesions with certain thoughts if it has nothing to do with the mental?

If the mental and physical are separate then there’s the issue of the unexplained way how the mind gets into our bodies- swooping down from somewhere else seems a little far fetched?

The mind being separate does have the advantage of how we have private experience whereas other non-alive physical things like logs do not (presumably) but that’s just a mass of energy currently in log form for a finite time- it will change around over time as the energy gets transferred. Besides we still do not know what it is to ‘be’ the log (or however many actual bits it is that makes up the log) and it’s illogical to expect to find consciousness from observation.

Physical only – the mental is a process that came about through evolution. It evolved because it made evolutionary sense to have sensations that repelled as from the harmful and attracted us to the useful (adds up logically). To have a mind and feelings allows for contemplation, and also, a motivation for staying alive. Without emotion one would not care in living or dying so why the motive to do either? This explains the instincts near all species have that help them survive and create a next generation such as wishing to live, eat, drink, find a partner, raise young and so on, all this makes evolutionary sense. Even our abnormalities are explained as evolution isn’t perfect, things just survive because they do (no intent) but in the process generally get stronger and more complex- hence limited attention spans and things such as the appendix (was once useful but no longer) plus there is much physical evidence of development of species in fossilised form.

The ‘everything is physical’ argument also accounts for how brain damage and drugs affect people’s personalities- the physical interacts with the physical causing the brain neurons to fire differently. It also explains why often people have traits of their parents- ‘if spirits in bodies’ why would these spirits so often happen to share traits with ancestry lines- what’s the connection?

The ‘everything is physical’ argument does have the difficulty of saying where exactly the mind resides in the brain (can it be divided, how can I be a collection of atoms and when my thinking/feeling cannot be divided?), but just because I don’t know this doesn’t make it impossible. I can’t explain how it works- but given millions upon millions of years/generations of trial and error and gradual improvement I’m sure miraculous things do come to be. I know it’s a hard call to say the mind can come down to being atoms (thus made up of smaller parts) but as previously mentioned the physical is still mystical and I haven’t ruled out there being properties to it unknown to us (from my light reading into quantum physics it seems partials behave very differently to what we would expect at any rate). For my theory to hold together the physical needs to be/do two things- be there external to perception, and that the consistencies we observe in it to embody truths about actual reality. Perhaps neurologists will be able to give a comprehensive explanation one day, but my guess is the difference between observing something and being that something will always leave it at an educated guess.

I deem the ‘everything is physical’ argument to be the best option with what we have to go on. Obviously you may have other opinions but I see it fitting together- the nature of ‘being’ and where exactly the consciousness resides is a blank to be filled in but it isn’t something that I feel causes the rest of the theory to fall down- although obviously it would be stronger if I could answer them but I think the distinction between ‘observing’ and ‘being’ has done a fair amount of the hard work in philosophical terms.

3.

So, why feelings and getting happiness is what’s important…

By feelings I mean simply the ability to feel good or bad albeit in general or towards something. Feelings are not just about sensing as such (although ‘feelings’ are a form of sensation), as it is feasible to be able to perceive sense data like sound and sight and to have no emotional reaction to it. Feeling is about being able to attach a worth to something, a level of like or dislike – and this, although developed as merely a feature gained through evolution, gives a point to life as it allows desires/desired destinations to be possible.

For an emotionless creature hunger would not exist for pain is a feeling, nor would fear of death as fear is a feeling, nor sexual desire as desire is a feeling, and so on. The thought process of a creature without feelings would simple be – ‘should I move? No opinion either way… Is it worth trying to eat something? No opinion either way.’ Such a creature would be as likely to walk off the edge of a cliff than to stay by the side, to stay still and never move than to bother doing anything – and it would seem highly unlikely it would do all the required functions for life like eating, drinking, mating, avoiding danger and so on enough of the time to survive. Emotions give us a steak in things – they give us a purpose. If a significant level of intelligence was ever going to develop it would need emotions to accompany it as otherwise the intelligent mind would have nothing to motivate it into apply itself towards the ends of survival and reproduction.

The logical and the emotional need to work hand in hand for life- there is no need for reason without emotion, no puzzle worth solving, no solution worth finding – planets can explode, stars can fall- none of this would matter – as for something mattering is a subjective process. Although lots of other stuff in the physical world goes on that we depend on for survival, in the end emotions are the only thing of worth as they are the only things that allow the feelings of worth to be given.

Emotions are the greatest of all gifts and the greatest of all curses- the ability to be in ecstasy, yet the ability to be in despair. Between those two extremes falls our entire spectrum of feelings, but the aim of life is simple- to be as happy as possible. How one could explain happiness without the experience is near impossible, but it makes sense to all us conscious beholders that have. The ability to enjoy- the greatest of all occurrences.

Happiness is the finest of things and the best thing that could possibly happen is for all things to be conscious and happy, without fail, forever. I hear a critic say ‘no one can be happy all the time’ – I say its possible (although debatably not for humans). ‘ah yes but you’d just get bored of being happy’ well not in this hypothetical situation you wouldn’t as boredom is a negative emotion and wouldn’t occur if you were happy- put very simply; if you were always happy by definition you wouldn’t be unhappy about it. No one ever tires of happiness, it’s just sadly the case that it always seems to naturally come and go (for me at least). Perhaps it is possible for an animal to evolve always happy, but it seems to me negative emotions are necessary (in evolutionary terms) to spur you on to change environments to spread seeds further, to protect from danger/threats, and sadly negative emotions like jealousy also have an evolutionary advantage if not a psychological/moral one, (i.e. feeling jealous of someone who’s superior in some way can spur one to poison their food thus eliminating them from competition for finding a mate) and so continue to manifest.

I’m not sure if humans can be happy all the time or not. But I do think we can improve things for ourselves vastly beyond what we have achieved so far because we have the fortune of being an intelligent enough creature to understand and order its own mind provided it finds the motivation to do so. A common mistake mankind seems to make (but is smart enough to be able to see through) is to see things that make themselves happy- like money or sex, and to see them as what is most important, overlooking that it’s the emotional reward that gives the process of obtaining what they did its worth. Although meeting our physical needs is required to keep us alive- the rest all lies in our own minds. If someone could truly master their own mind, they’d be able to control their own emotional state and make themselves happy all the time. (I personally haven’t managed this yet, I don’t know if its possible, but it is my aim to master myself as much as I can) – Anyhow, more information on this to come in the next section.

4.

So, happiness = as good as it gets, but why then sustainable happiness for all.

So to re-cap section 1-3 – all matter is energy running at different speeds, energy is never lost/eternal, and we are physical and so we are therefore eternal, and the only thing of worth having in life is happiness.

It’s worth mentioning that in the view of the physical being where consciousness resides there is the strong possibility of an afterlife because if we are energy, and everything is energy flowing through time into different forms, and our current form is one of consciousness, then it is conceivable that at some point we will flow into another form of consciousness. Considering we are here eternally it would seem highly likely to happen again, although not definite because it is also conceivable that by chance we would not take on a conscious form again.

However this form of afterlife would not be meritocratic; that is to say how good/bad you are in this life will not automatically put you in a fittingly improved/lessened position in the next. We may at this time of reading be of an individual state of mind (consciousness) but that is but for a finite time within infinity, before dropping back into a state of unconsciousness, having the energy that is us flow around whatever path the cycle of energy takes through space, until/if the next random encounter occurs with consciousness that takes you into another form. – note it is far more likely you’d come back as another animal than a human by the shear amount more of other species than compared to our own – plus who knows how long the time limit would be/what changes will have occurred to the universe before the next opportunity arises.

Many may not like this idea as they’d prefer the idea of justice being done (bad people go to hell etc) but just because it would be nice to be that way doesn’t make it the case, and besides, when you give it some thought it’s the only fair way really- no one can choose their environment or their genetics, we didn’t choose to be ourselves we’re just flung into these circumstances (see my later piece on determinism), we come from the same substance (energy), we go into different forms created by the cycles of energy and stuff works itself out from there- our next life, should we have one will be worked out by our placing as controlled by the laws of physics, not whether we helped old ladies across the street.

The only thing you can do to improve your chances of a potential future life is to leave a legacy of kindness to all creatures– it perhaps may be only a small effect, but by giving out kindness you increase the amount of kindness in the world as kindness tends to breed kindness and so it improves your chances of coming back in a happy life form. Better yet is adding to or creating political or social systems within society with the intent to improve sustainable happiness. So if not for your current form, do it for your infinite self beyond this current life form. We are here temporarily as individuals, but we are infinitely of the whole.

But we can take this further. A strange thought that once occurred to me, one that made my hairs stand on end, which was that when you look at it from the perspective of all of us being of the same thing, energy- in the end we are of the same thing (energy) going through the same process (energy flow) just at different points. If you accept ‘I am energy’ then the connotation is that any bad action you do to another is actually you doing it to yourself – its just the mask of temporary identity that blinds us from seeing it. We are the universe doing actions onto itself- all life is the universe experiencing itself subjectively.

In the end the ‘we’re all one’ philosophy against the ‘I’m clearly an individual’ is all down to perspective you choose to adopt and both are true. To my reasoning what makes your current form ‘you’ – is your relationship with your subjective experience/sensation- i.e. when you stub your toe ‘you’ feel the pain, not the next door neighbour or whoever. But at the same time your current form is something temporary that is flung upon you and will at some point be taken away yet you will always be belonging to the whole.

{As a small side note I’m not in agreement with the ‘we all belong to one consciousness’ argument as I see consciousness as a finite state that comes on an individual basis as part of a physical process. I cannot see where this claim of there being one consciousness comes from- if the universe was a wholesome thinking entity happy in itself why/how the heck did it divide up in the first place into a world where there is pain and suffering? Again, this is touching on stuff that relates back to the evidence in parts 2 and 3 of how it would appear the physical evolved consciousness, consciousness didn’t evolve the physical.}

But anyhow- yes there is our individual self, but to focus only on this is misses the bigger picture. The best practice for ourselves is to strike a balance between the whole and our individual experience. I don’t like many think it’s a case of trying to completely overcome our human ego/nature. Within our nature is the keys to our happiness in this life- as mentioned previously the logical on its own has no reason to be around, it needs to be attached to the animal/emotional part of us for there to be a reason for living- for me it seems its about using our logic to work with our minds/emotions to try to get the best for ourselves and others. Happiness for all things needs each to be individually happy- do not neglect your own feelings, you’re entitled to joy as much as others – and our joy comes from our animal nature. It’s all about striking up an intelligent balance. (I will talk about this more in a future post ‘the taming of the ego’).

Even if not looking at it from the perspective of ‘belonging to the whole’, and taking all things I’ve said to be incorrect- why not aim to help others anyway? Every action/choice we make requires a motive. When one chooses to do bad onto others (not the same as standing up for yourself), the only motivation comes from a mind being in a state of anger centred around the ego adopting the role of a child as it hits out at the world for it not looking after it as it so wished- the mental process being -‘I’m important, I’m not getting what I want, others should think about me because I’m so important, therefore everyone else deserves to be punished for not thinking of me’.

Selfishness is based on incorrect and harmful thought processes. To be selfish requires the mind to be set on gaining/keeping things- albeit money, attention or whatever. A selfish mind overlooks that it’s happiness, nothing else, that’s actually important as it is too focused on its own wants to take the time to focus on wider issues. The petty squabbles and fights for places in hierarchy that arise purely for the sake of power/status chasing are all unnecessary and counter-productive to finding happiness. A selfish person is seldom satisfied because they don’t learn to appreciate what they have, they just think about their wants.

Also, focusing on gains leads to taking yourself/life too seriously and so never being comfortable with who you are. You’re personality/body is just the hand of cards (genetics + environment) that you have been dealt in your current form, – its literally nothing personal. The truth is you need to learn to accept and work with what you’ve got or kill yourself as you’ll never be happy in your current form otherwise (with the amazing power of human intelligence to control/order itself I’d hold fire on the suicide without exploring methods of finding happiness first).

To help overcome selfishness requires a taming of our ego. The human ego is the thing that makes us think we are the most important thing there is, wishing to always be number 1 – it is embedded within us at birth as at the time we’re not aware of other minds and only have our own affairs to concentrate on. It takes us maturing to start to get over it (many do not). The ego is useful as it keeps us alive but it also limits us- it makes us take ourselves too seriously, neglect the value of others and can make us feel miserable as we yearn for more/dislike what we have even when we already live comfortably.

If you master your ego you will be able to see that we do not have to think of ourselves as the centre of anything- and that we are not cheating ourselves by not doing so. It may be our instinct to be concerned with ourselves, however, just because this is what helped us survive for however many millions of years doesn’t mean it’s the right choice to adopt in terms of what best for life. We have a choice over how we want to behave- what we want to prioritise, how we want to shape the world.

Crucially, the ego also makes us loose sight of reality by being wrapped up entirely in our own affairs. The truer reflection of how things are is that we are not the centre of anything but have our place amongst things. Our environment impacts on us, we impact on our environment in a constant two way exchange – we are bound together. To find inner harmony you need to find a harmony with your environment. Our place here on earth is not isolated, we are a thing amongst things, we are of the universe. To be happy you have to be aware of and manage your environment.

To think of yourself as more important is vanity, not to mention delusion. To think of yourself as above everything will only lead to constant falls/blows to ones ego. Thinking yourself as better only serves to make you act pathetically as you scramble around to find evidence that fuels your delusion and avoid circumstances that show you otherwise -these circumstances where we’re not on top, in control or in complete understanding are the learning opportunities that shape us for the better, avoiding them will limit you. To tame the ego and realise your place amongst things means you can understand your limitations and be prepared/able to learn – you can adopt a fluid approach and build as you go.

(read this bit if nothing else)

I’ve outlined a few advantages of getting over the ego etc, but the main point for me/logic of the whole argument is this:

We are all the same thing (energy) flowing through different forms, in and out of different states of unconsciousness and consciousness (life) within infinity. In life we have the ability to feel good (which is good) and bad (which is bad) and to feel good is what makes life worth living and is the only real thing of worth (the other stuff is only useful in so much as it helps us get more happiness in one way or another) and the best thing for all is to have everything feeling good all of the time. As humans we have a great intelligence level that makes us able to manipulate our environment and our minds, so for the good of everything we should use our abilities to mould the world into something that promotes/creates as much sustainable happiness as possible. The more we unite the more happiness we can create. And that’s it really.

‘To promote sustainable happiness within yourself and others throughout the universe, eternally’ – is a very open ended conclusion, but I deem it the right one for the reasons outlined here. I intend to release more political/philosophical writing on what I think good living should entail and steps that I think can be taken to bring it about (hopefully a lot shorter/more reader friendly than this piece, but I thought it best to go into detail- I suspect a lot of people will give up before the end so well done and I hope you found it worthwhile) – but before the basic principle of the idea gets lost in political disagreement over means rather than ends I think there are some largely concrete things we can do to promote happiness that don’t really require any political leanings to think that they are good ideas such as;- focusing on building/strengthening the mind so that we can improve the understanding of ourselves, our egos and our place amongst things; making sure people have opportunities available to them to fill their time constructively; giving opportunities of connectivity/socialising; providing the basic needs of life to those who need them; providing opportunities to flourish; and providing opportunities for expression. I’m sure there are more politically neutral things people can come up with but I feel that list is certainly a start. One idea I have to develop these ideas forward, particularly the development of the mind, I will write in my next entry ‘Reinventing the Temple’

Hello readers,

In this blog i intend to express myself and my ideas. I’m going to be as forward as possible and not tip toe around issues that i feel people are unnecessarily sensitive about. This is a place where I intend to share my knowledge, ideas and reflections. I hope it is provides stimulating interest and furthermore I hope it can genuinely help people and make for a better, happier world.

Please enjoy

 

Adam