Honesty is a miracle cure

Honesty is a miracle cure

In this post I want to examine the value of honesty in relationships, and the benefits of opening up to yourself and others.

The last few weeks have been very difficult for me emotionally. I had some very real and intense discussions with my girlfriend about our sexual pasts, and about the future of our relationship.

To be honest, what’s been the main issue for me recently has been insecurity. Somehow, just accepting and admitting that my girlfriend had slept with others in the past has been difficult for me.

But that’s why I wanted to have these discussions, because I wanted to examine these feelings and ultimately overcome them. Jealousy is rooted in insecurity, which is in itself a manifestation of fear.

Developing honest communication

Recently, I’ve tried my best to develop honesty and sincerity as a character trait.

Especially when it comes to my relationships. Especially especially when it comes to the people I love the most.

This approach is incredibly scary when you just start out. It certainly was for me. But developing the capacity for honesty has changed my life for the better in so many ways. There are and always will be things that are important to you, that will be difficult to discuss. This is just a part of life.

Learning to overcome the fear and being vulnerable in a relationship has multiple hidden benefits. Things start to become clearer. Your view of the other person will almost certainly change. And who knows, you may learn something about yourself that was hidden.

Expression of emotions is key

What I’ve found is that until you express your feelings, whatever they may be, you can’t fully understand them. You can try to intellectualize them, conceptualize them, but feelings seem to require expression to be fully resolved.

Our society is in many ways fiercely individualistic. So much so that we tend to forget that we are social creatures at heart. In fact, we are the most connected, most gregarious animals that have ever existed. When we look past this subtle fact, we’re in danger of isolation.

We try to resolve our issues by ourselves, we try to work through difficult feelings by thinking about them.

That’s probably the least effective way of dealing with difficult feelings.

The most effective way of resolving emotions

As anyone who’s experienced catharsis during heartfelt conversation with a loved one can tell you, it’s intense. The feelings you’ve been ruminating on for so long will gush out of you like a geyser. Subtle feelings that you may not even have noticed will rear their sometimes ugly faces.

In order to truly deal with an unpleasant feeling you must find a counterpart. You need to create a emotional loop with someone you trust.

Let me expound on the feelings of jealousy I spoke of earlier.

I wouldn’t ordinarily consider myself especially prone to jealousy. This has changed in recent months. I’ve recently realized that my compulsive use of pornography of many years, was a crutch that I used to escape the need to deal with emotional pain. Some do this with alcohol, others with heroin. Yet others with video games. The root of all addiction is unresolved emotional pain. More specifically, the inability to experience emotional pain.

I’ve now been clean for two months, and man! It’s been a roller coaster ride.

Unshakeable feelings

I’ve had really good days, and then I’ve had really difficult days. Days where I’ve had insane scenarios playing in my mind for hours at a time. For example, there was a three day period where I just couldn’t shake the feeling that my girlfriend was cheating on me. Even though I had no evidence to back it up, and even though she was as sweet as she’s ever been.

After three days of this constant ruminating on my girlfriends supposed infidelity, as you can imagine, I was absolutely mentally exhausted.

The feeling just couldn’t be shook! Or could it?

You guessed it. It wasn’t until I actually sat my girlfriend down and had a heart to heart conversation with her about what I was feeling that I started to feel better.

I didn’t accuse her of anything, and I didn’t ask her to explain herself or anything like that. I simply told her what was going on in my head. This was incredibly scary for me, because I kind of assumed that she would be very hurt, think I didn’t trust her, etcetera. But as I said earlier, when you start to practice true honesty, people start to surprise you.

My girlfriend is a wonderful person. She accepted my feelings and did her best to make me feel better. She had noticed that something had been up with me recently. In fact, she had even been worried that I was angry at her for something. That’s the danger of not owning up to your emotions. The people who know you and love you will always notice when something’s up.

Let me end this post by examining the effects of honesty on self.

The effects of lying on the soul

There was a time in my life where I constantly lied to myself. I told myself things were okay when they weren’t. I would fool myself into thinking that doing things badly, or lying, or cheating, was okay.

This has major psychological consequences. I like the way the movie Matchstick Men portrays this. The main character, played by the awesome Nicolas Cage, is a con man by trade. Every day, he lies and deceives. He doesn’t care who he hurts. Not coincidentally, he also has OCD, all kinds of ticks, and generally just feels terrible. At the end of the movie, he’s forced to stop his games of deception, and voilá, his OCD goes away and he feels way better.

Although this may be a simplified depiction of the effects of lying on the soul, to me it feels spot on.

The wonders of self-honesty

In my own experience, the more I manage to come clean to myself and (important) others, the more psychologically healthy I feel.

I would say that the major example in my own life has been stopping my porn addiction. For most people, hardcore pornography is anathema to their values. In my own case this was so. I would think I was a good person at one moment, and then indiscriminately search for brutal, degrading pornography the next.

When I finally managed to rid myself of my addiction, I started to notice all kinds of kinks and peculiarities of my psyche start to dissolve. My shyness has been steadily going away, and especially the constant sense of shame I used to carry with me.

Making an effort to be fully honest and sincere to yourself is the first step to emotional freedom. It’s also the only way to find true connection to another human being.

I wish you luck in your endeavors of honesty.

 

Sexual transmutation and true power

Sexual transmutation, true power

Today I want to expound on my recent experiences with overcoming porn addiction and my growing fascination with the concept of semen conservation. Sexual transmutation is a force to be reckoned with.

Semen retention: Conserving the life force

It’s been “in” for the last few decades to say that any amount of masturbation is healthy and normal. On top of that, pornography, however degrading and hardcore, seems to have gotten a free pass as well.

In my own experience, and many others’, this is just not the case, or at least vastly overstated.

I’ve told snippets of my story in previous articles, but let’s dive a little deeper today.

When I was about eleven, I found a porno magazine in my parents bedroom. That was the first time I had ever been exposed to sexual material. I was understandably fascinated with all the boobs and butts.

Fast forward a few years, and I had begun to search for sexually explicit material online. When I got my first PC at age fourteen, that’s when the wheels really started turning.

My obsession with porn became unstoppable. Ever more frequently, for ever longer periods of time I would lock myself in my room and watch ever more shocking stuff that no fourteen-year-old should ever have free access to.

Let’s fast forward a few more years: at age eighteen, after years of crippling social anxiety, I lost my virginity. She was a nice girl, and I liked her, but I found myself incapable of any true intimacy.

I had become emotionally crippled as well.

My idea of sex (and hers as well) were reenactments of what we’d seen in porn. As you may know if you have any sexual experience, porn is probably the worst sex-education available.

This is incredibly personal, but I feel it needs to be said. This sh*t needs to be talked about.

I feel guilty about the way I treated my first girlfriend. But then again I was young and incredibly stupid. And so was she, to be honest. I forgive myself. All people are deserving of respect, and sexuality is where respect is needed the most.

In school I’d received lip service about “how to have sex”, you know, gruesomely graphic depictions of all the different venereal diseases, the teenage pregnancy scares, and of course the “learning stuff from porn is totally fine because then your parent’s don’t have to talk to you about this stuff” bit.

What’s wrong?

There are many things wrong in modern society. Our collective sexual shame is probably at the top of the list of societal woes.

You may think I’m being overly dramatic, but I’ve thought about this carefully.

Sex is the prime imperative of ALL human beings. No matter how we try to fluff it up, or distill it, sex is our most basic, primal urge.

On top of that, sexual energy is immensely powerful. Sex (or lack thereof) starts wars. It builds cities. It creates other human beings.

Sexual energy is the life force made manifest.

It’s way more important than the media makes it out to be. In fact, it’s as if the media purposely depicts sexuality as something trivial and funny, or sometimes as something that’s just in the way or even downright disgusting.

We think of ourselves as being sexually free, more sexually mature than our forebears, with all the sex on TV, billboards, online. It’s everywhere, but still we can’t seem to actually talk about it like human beings.

Parents don’t tell their children about it. Couples don’t talk to each other about it.

This is because the endless stream of smut all around us is a result of our sexual shame. As a culture, we’ve been inundated with a toxic shame towards all things sexual. Children are shamed for enjoying their genitals.

Guys slither off into a bathroom stall with their iPhones to jack off to porn, but they try to make absolutely sure that nobody catches them. Even though everyone knows, because they do it themselves.

Healthy sexuality is an absolute exception.

As an aside, I’ve been having a pretty tenacious thought lately. Or maybe more of a question to myself. It sounds like this:

Why do I want to write about this stuff?

I’ve been writing about all kinds of really personal stuff, like pornography addiction,  depression, anxiety, illness.

The stuff pertaining to sexuality is particularly delicate. I think it’s all a matter of expression.

I seem to find some kind of catharsis in expressing the ideas going through my head, by channeling out the insights and stuff I’ve learned, especially within the last few years.

Releasing the pressure

Before I started this blog, it felt like all this stuff I’ve been learning was about to make my head explode, and I believe the main reason is that I had no idea about any of this stuff. I used to be so painfully unaware and ignorant of life, health and prosperity that it felt like everything had started going wrong.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that, along with just wanting to empty my head of all this constant flux of ideas, I also feel an obligation to try to get this info out to as many people as possible.

Besides, self-expression is the ultimate way of working through toxic shame, like the sexual shame I discussed above.

I want to do my best to make sure that others won’t have to suffer as needlessly as I did. It sounds impossible, but I think that with small steps and big goals, at the very least I’ll manage to reach a few lost souls.

And you know, that will make me happy.

An extended brain

Let’s just think of this website as an extension of my brain and get on with it.

Let’s move away from the rant on society’s faults.

Today is day 40 since I last looked at porn, and day 16 since I ejaculated. I aim to reach 90 days of no PMO, meaning no porn, masturbation or orgasm. And then, if I still feel good, I’m going to continue.

You know, five years ago, if I had met my past self and told him to stop masturbating to porn, he would have looked at me funny, laughed, and brushed it off. Inside, he would have thought I was a prude, some kind of bible-thumper or puritan, or just completely crazy.

I can assure you, I’m as rational as I’ve ever been. I’ve never seen anything as clearly as this:

Sexual energy is the source of vitality, health, and strength.

Semen is the physical manifestation of this energy. By constantly seeking empty pleasure through porn and fantasy and ejaculating again and again, I deplete this energy.

I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety, lethargy and weakness my entire adult life. The last few weeks, I feel as though I’ve regained that youthful energy I thought I had lost forever.

This is no laughing matter. I’ve discovered that this is the difference between a life of doing awesome sh*t every day, becoming the most powerful version of a man that I can possibly become, and living life as a sheep, or worse yet, a vegetable. This is the concept of sexual transmutation.

If I don’t develop my own life force, someone else will simply submit me to their own.

A dog-eat-dog world

When it comes down to it, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Not that the outside world is particularly malevolent. It’s just the way things are. As they say, nature abhors a vacuum, and will strive to achieve balance. The high must tower over the low, the heavy must hold down the light, and the strong must dominate the weak. It sound harsh, but it’s a law of nature. Where there is lack of motivation and energy, an outside source of these things will seek to gain control. This is where sexual transmutation comes in.

If you fall off a 30 meter high cliff, you’ll probably die. Does that mean that gravity is evil?

If a hungry tiger catches you unawares, you’ll probably get eaten. Does that mean that tigers are inherently evil?

We may find some particular aspects of reality to be unpleasant or even painful. But what causes us most suffering of all is when we attempt to deny the natural laws that govern us.

We often say that in a perfect world things would be different, but this world is perfect. Everything is in balance, and nothing is superfluous.

So, back to the life force.

Amassing creative energy through transmutation

There have been a few times in my life before this where I’ve unknowingly conserved massive amounts of sexual energy, with massive consequences. More often than not, because of my lack of awareness and control, these consequences were quite negative, like outbursts of anger, or destructive habits and tendencies.

However, some things also went massively well. For example, I picked up an electric guitar for the first time at age 15 and within a couple of years I was soloing like Eddy Van Halen and Slash. I was crushing it at the gym, getting buff and ripped, and my energy for going to parties and social events was seemingly limitless. Sexual transmutation drives men to do awesome things.

One thing I haven’t mentioned here, is that for whatever unknown reason, I never ejaculated before the age of eighteen. Even though I was watching a lot of porn at that time, I just never learned how to orgasm, somehow. That means I had three years of massive sexual transmutation, at the time of peak sexual activity for young men. It wasn’t until I first had sex that I ever ejaculated, and after that I quickly learned to orgasm by myself.

The downfall and discovery of sexual transmutation

In many ways, I feel incredibly lucky for having experienced this, even if just by some fluke. I know of many guys who started jerking off at age twelve and were probably cumming daily until the present day. It gave me perspective, even though in the years following my teens everything seemed to go downhill sexually for a long time.

So now that I’ve shared my incredibly personal history, let’s examine the true power of abstinence from ejaculation, especially when combined with methods of sexual transmutation.

There’s a great post that I’ll share here, about men throughout history who practiced semen retention and sexual transmutation. To name a few, Steve Jobs, Muhammad Ali, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Nikola Tesla, Mike Tyson. We may or may not agree with the philosophies of these men, and we may not support decisions they made throughout their lives, but one thing is for certain: these men had power.

I believe that a massive buildup of sexual energy (sexual transmutation) is a prerequisite for massive success. At least, for massive power. Some people may come into wealth through shear luck and good fortune, but power must be carefully cultivated. Nobody conquers new lands, develops massive scientific breakthroughs, or changes the world in any meaningful way except by developing their vital, creative energies.

There may be many ways of doing this, but I believe it all comes down to this simple truth: Sexual energy can be transformed into a titanic creative force, if properly cultivated.

The dark side – When we fail to transmute sexual energy

I also believe, however, that a surplus of sexual energy, when not properly handled or understood, also becomes a vastly destructive force. We see this in the cases of tyrants and dictators, who, while obviously very powerful, are intent on destruction, misery, and their own self interest, as opposed to those saints who work for the benefit of the good, the true, and the beautiful.

There is a definite polarity in working with this seminal energy. It can tend toward the good, but it can quite easily move in the opposite direction, and become absolute evil. This is just what we have to work with. The key to developing this power in a wholesome way, beneficial to yourself and all of humanity, is developing awareness.

Awareness can guide this sexual transmutation. In the absence of strong and developed awareness, the energy will control you. This is why I’ve been meditating more than ever during this transformation. I’ve been doing visualisations of energy, seeing the sex energy pulsating within me, traveling up my spine and conserved in my solar plexus. This seems to be a lot more stable than keeping it in the default sacral chakra. I’ve also been doing a lot of simple mindfulness meditation, and vipassana.

All of this has been incredibly helpful, because as anybody who’s taken on the challenge of semen retention can tell you, it can be a roller coaster. The energy often surprises you.

I’ll end this here. I wish you great luck on your journey, reach out to me if you want to talk more about this.

The awesome power of NoFap

Wow. This last month has been intense for me.

Thirty-two days ago I installed an application on my phone, tablet and pc, called Accountable2you.

As per its name, it’s an accountability program, which just means that it keeps me from viewing material online that I’ve decided I don’t want to use.

In my case, I’m using it to overcome the compulsion to watch porn. It’s working really well, in fact.

I’ve installed filters on my pc before, and though some of them work reasonably well, circumventing them is just a matter of time.

With this program, if I search for porn, it sends the exact links I searched for straight to my girlfriend. Yikes!

So no more midget goat porn for me.

The reason I’m writing about this now is because I’ve been experiencing something I wasn’t really expecting.

As my compulsion to search for pornographic material has decreased, I’ve found myself having way less compulsively sexual thoughts, too.

I’ve been using porn since puberty, and I just thought the constant sexual fantasies were just a by-product of being male. After only thirty days of no porn, I feel like there’s 80% less sexual thoughts in my head throughout the day.

That’s really weird for me! I thought I just had an overactive libido.

It seems to me that the input determines the output. Years of filling my brain with pornographic images made it so that my brain started churning out pornographic thoughts non-stop.

After I’ve finally managed to remove porn from my life, it’s obvious to me that this is the case.

It wasn’t so obvious a month ago, I can tell you that.

So the major side effect of this reduced sexual fantasy is a reduction in the urge to masturbate. Today is day 9 since I last had an orgasm, and I’m feeling it. Definitely feeling it.

It may not seem like such a long time, but to a (hopefully ex-) compulsive porn addict like myself, it feels like a year. Since puberty, I’ve only once managed a month without porn, and never more than nine or ten days without ejaculating.

I’ve known about the community called NoFap for years. I’ve often read posts on the SubReddit and watched Youtube videos from those who swear by it, but I always thought it was mostly bro-science.

Fapstronauts (practitioners of NoFap, in case you haven’t guessed) talk about “rebooting” their minds by abstaining from PMO (porn, masturbation, orgasm) for 90 days.

What I found most interesting about the community, though, was the insistence that once on NoFap you would start to receive so-called superpowers.

Powers like laser focus, supercharged energy, incredible confidence, especially around women, no more brain fog, better skin, more muscle, nicer hair and more beard growth, as well as spiritual benefits.

I’ve always been a pretty skeptical dude, so I pretty much thought this was all wishful thinking. How could any of this stuff be true?

Well, in my very limited experience, I’ve definitely noticed increased energy and drive, physical strength and endurance, a clearer mind, and minor increases in self-confidence.

I’m just getting started though. I feel like now that I’ve finally found a way to put a stop to my addictive porn use, my ability to restrain myself from other destructive habits has increased as well.

It’s as if my will power is getting stronger.

I’m willing and able, finally, to start this experiment on myself instead of listening to other people.

In ancient traditions, semen is considered the life essence, the ultimate creative force.

Considering this is the longest I’ve gone without busting a nut, I’m not qualified to talk about the full benefits of being abstinent for long periods of time, especially using methods of sexual transmutation.

My own direct experience is all I’m willing to divulge. That’s what this blog is all about. Me sharing what I’ve learned on my life’s journey with the world.

Funnily enough, as the days have gone by, my motivation for working on the Joy of Awareness has increased tremendously. I’ve been writing a lot, as well as researching ways for improving the site itself.

The urge to create more seems to be increasing with every day of semen retention. Which is pretty congruent with the label of a creative force, to be fair.

Stories abound of great men who’ve attributed much of their success to their ability to restrain themselves from wasting their vital energies in the bedroom, alone or with a partner.

Which brings me to my next point, SEX!

We all love sex, right? Sex is awesome. One of the most incredible activities known to man, woman, and any combination thereof.

I’ve tried having sex without ejaculating a few times, and while difficult, it can be done. The sensations of staying on the edge of orgasm for longer than I’m used to are very intense.

There are all kinds of sexual practices, some of them very ancient and well developed, like tantra, karezza, and the taoist sexual practices, that talk about exactly this. Learning to have sex without the compulsive need to ejaculate.

And funnily enough, the benefits listed in these practices, superpowers, if you will, are the same superpowers listed by fapstronauts.

I find all this stuff immensely interesting, and I feel like I’ve finally started to understand the value of sexual energy, not as something that needs to be tapped off regularly, but rather as something that can be harnessed, transmuted and directed at will.

Energy that can be used to develop yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.

Energy that can allow you to create wealth, abundance, and power for yourself and others.

Energy that is at the heart of being human, the stuff that you’re essentially made of.

I’ve written about my addiction to pornography at length before, check out my series on the root of pornography addiction, for example.

In that series, I felt like I had been able to pinpoint anxiety as the root for my addiction.

I still believe that’s so, but with an extra twist: Anxiety was the root of my porn addiction, but after the addiction became full fledged, the addiction itself had become the root of my anxiety.

I definitely feel reduction of anxiety after these thirty days of no porn. I can only anticipate an even further reduction, and let me tell you, I am not going to miss it.

When you think about it, internet porn is an incredibly unnatural thing. Video after video of sweaty genitals and often violent depictions of the inherently beautiful sex act. Endless variety, endless levels of intensity.

When you grow up with something, it’s hard to imagine life without it.

Sugar, video games, television, even hot water. There are so many things that are artificial, that we have created as humans, often to make life easier or better in some ways, that end up being taken completely for granted.

Many of these things, like a reliable source of hot water, are an incredible boon and a very useful tool in life.

Others may have seeming benefits at first, if only for pleasure or entertainment purposes, but may carry all kinds of risk and negative side effects. Think sugar, MMORPG video games, and television. Alcohol and cigarettes are another example.

For me, internet porn has always been there.

My dad may have grown up with Playboy and Hustler, but I’m sure my grandfather hardly ever saw any pornographic material, and it would have been hard for him to get his hands on it without social shaming if he had been looking for it in the first place.

Having been inundated, saturated with porn as an adolescent, I’ve been holding the belief as an adult that this was a totally natural state of affairs. Society even tells us it’s healthy. Constantly!

The whole bit about porn being a part of female sexual liberation, about daily masturbation being good for the male prostate, about portraying sexuality in ever baser details in television, movies and advertising, and this being somehow all good stuff.

It sickens me. Really.

Sex is as natural a part of being human as anything. It’s a wonderful thing. But it’s also sacred, in some sense. It’s not something that should be so easily bandied about, so easily available without even the tiniest trace of love and dedication.

As my relationship to my own sexuality becomes healthier and clearer, it becomes ever more obvious to me that something is absolutely amiss in this sexually manic society. We’re obsessed with sex, but only as empty pleasure.

I don’t want to sound like I’m proselytizing (at least not to much).

It’s one of those things that, when you see it, you really see it. Everywhere. And it makes you sick to your stomach that somehow the majority of other people seem to not see it. Or at least they ignore it.

It’s not that society is evil, or that there’s some kind of conspiracy (though you never know), to my mind it seems that something is wrong, sick, diseased, in our culture.

That’s a cliché, I know, but I happen to think it’s also true.

When I think of my eighteen-year-old self, when I remember my thought patterns at the time, my beliefs about the world, my faith in society to tell me what’s best for me and everyone else, it drives me crazy. Or not really, but I feel like it should.

I’ve come a long way since then, thankfully.

I seem to be finally heading the schooner that is my life in the right direction.

When it comes down to it, society isn’t really anything but a concept. It’s a collection of people, just like you and me. It can’t fairly be blamed for anything. In fact, I suggest that you put the concept of blame aside for now. Decide to take full responsibility for yourself, your life.

It doesn’t mean that you’re at fault for what’s wrong with you or your circumstances. It means that you’ve decided to take the power of change into your own hands.

Responsibility is power. The power to change. You can change everything about anything. Your mind is more powerful than a hundred million hydrogen bombs. You just don’t know how to use it.

NoFap is a way to learn how. Don’t let the funny name turn you off. Call it Brahmacharya. Call it conscious celibacy or abstinence. Call it sex transmutation.

Just become aware of the fact that your sexual energy is the most powerful force in the universe.

I kid you not.

Let yourself be open to the idea that you are more than the sum of your parts. You have powers beyond your wildest dreams. By virtue of your humanity, you are endlessly valuable. You are a treasure-trove of potential, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

I’m just getting started with sex transmutation. I’ve dabbled with it in the past, didn’t go so well. My heart just wasn’t in it. My mind was foggy, as if going through life drugged or tied down. I’m in a much better place now. More enlightened, clearer and more focused. There is so much to life that I can’t even imagine.

I feel my potential. I feel my potential to create vast wealth and abundance for myself and everyone I love. What’s required is a little sacrifice. Well, it’s actually a great sacrifice.

To harness the sexual energy, the life force, we need to be ready to sacrifice empty pleasure. Orgasm feels awesome, but as men, it also drains us. Ever tried working out after ejaculating more than once? It makes you weak.

If you are able and willing to sacrifice your urge to ejaculate, you may be able to tap into something higher, something greater. That’s the path I’ve chosen.

Stay tuned to the Joy of Awareness, cause things are about to get real.

Your life force is your birth right. Treat it with respect and the rewards will be astronomical.

Take it easy.

The most effective way to overcome depression

Throughout my life, starting shortly before puberty, I’ve had episodes of deep depression. Depression is common. Most of us have first hand knowledge of it, or somebody close to us does.

The mind is incredible. It learns to process data from this crazy reality incredibly efficiently, to make life easier and more fulfilling.

This attribute of the mind is what allows us to use language, tools, run from danger, think rationally and so on. But as with all things, it has two sides.

The mind is incredibly good at developing habits. Whatever it repeatedly does, it gets better at, and whatever it is becomes easier.

The dark side of this aspect of the mind is that while we can and do develop useful and good habits, we also develop negative habits that hold us back.

In my experience, depression is the result of the highly negative habit of dwelling on unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or events.

These thoughts, emotions, and events almost always originate from our memories of the past or predictions (speculations) about the future.

Depression can only arise when we’re overly focused on the past or future.

The reasons for depression are simple, but dealing with it is anything but.

As anyone who’s had to deal with bouts of severe depression can tell you, getting out of the negative thought patterns that arise seems absolutely impossible.

Whatever our circumstances, whether we’re chronically ill, or we feel stuck in life, or we feel unloved, or whatever they may be, our reaction to them is a choice.

A difficult choice, to be sure. When I was dealing with a horrific illness for the last two years, choosing to be unhappy and depressed was way easier than choosing to be happy.

In fact, choosing to be happy at that point was impossible for me, because I wasn’t even aware of the fact that I had a choice.

As the saying goes, you may not be able to control the wind, but you can adjust your sails. We don’t choose our circumstances, fate does. But we do choose the way we react to the cards that fate deals us.

So this is kind of a paradox.

Am I saying that people who are depressed are simply choosing to be depressed? In a sense I am, but it’s not that simple.

When we’re depressed, we are naturally inclined to be in that state. If we suffer misfortune or just sink into a pit of negative thought patterns, depression is the natural result. We feel like we have no choice.

As with all things, if we aren’t aware of the all of the possible choices presented to us at any given moment, the hidden choices might as well not exist.

Imagine a sparrow who for some reason thinks it’s a cat. It’s standing in the middle of the road, and a car is speeding towards it. It’s too late for the sparrow’s short legs to run out of the way, so he should just fly straight up, right?

Well, remember, he thinks he’s a cat. He isn’t aware that he has the choice of flying out of the way.

So he gets hit by a car.

Surreal allegory aside, we humans are worth more, capable of more than most of us could ever imagine.

We have such inherent power that it’s hard to believe.

We can literally change reality with our thoughts. We imagine something, and then we create it.

We are creators.

When we’re suffering from depression, we’ve forgotten our true natures, and we’ve become ignorant of our powers of change and creation.

In the spirals of self-doubt and destructive thought patterns, we’re unaware of our capacity to change our circumstances.

Depression is characterized by a dreadful feeling of utter hopelessness. Hopelessness towards the future, jaded with regards to the past, and ignorance of the present moment.

Why do I say we’re ignorant of the present moment when we’re depressed? Surely we’re feeling the pains of depression in this very moment?

That much is certainly true. The pain of depression is our only anchor to the present moment, but we ignore it. We ignore the sensations of the present in exchange for ruminations on the past and future.

We project our current circumstances into the future, and we dwell on the mistakes of the past.

This causes pain in the present, but as it goes untended, it stays unresolved.

The way to overcome emotional pain is to fully feel it.

When we decide not to run away from our pain with our medication of choice, be it a substance, porn, TV, sugar, cigarettes, sex, whatever, and instead we sit down and consciously feel what’s going on in the here and now, our depression will start to lift.

Keep in mind, this is a process.

This is in no way a quick fix. It is, however, a permanent fix. Or at least a permanent tool, which can be used as effectively in future bouts of depression.

So what are we doing here?

There’s a term for this process: mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the act of remaining aware of the present moment. Remaining aware of whatever you’re doing here and now.

There are a myriad benefits to practicing mindfulness, such as reduced stress, clarity of mind, stability of mood and, for the purposes of this article, lifting of depression.

I feel like mindfulness has a lot of woo surrounding it, even these days, when it’s become a popular word often thrown around in the spiritual, self-help or even fitness communities.

There’s really nothing supernatural about it (well, I guess it depends on what you call natural). Calling it a method or an activity is a bit misleading, since in itself, mindfulness isn’t a doing, but rather a being.

What I mean by this is that you can be mindful at all times, whatever it is that you’re doing.

You can be mindful of walking, eating, talking, thinking, writing, having sex. getting drunk, your emotions, bodily sensations, any mode of operating as a human entity.

Being mindful is being aware of what you’re doing, feeling, and thinking.

You don’t do mindfulness.

When we get sucked into that headspace, that gnawing negative thought cycle, it feels like we can never get out. It feels like resistance is futile.

The longer we allow the state of depression to drag us down, the more complacent we become, and the more difficult it becomes to get out of the pit of despair. Believe me, I know.

I should say that for me, mindfulness hasn’t been the cure for my depression, but more of a catalyst.

When I managed to become truly mindful of my mental state, and then made that awareness into a habit, I proactively started to research ways of making myself feeling better.

I researched all kinds of exercise, diets, breathing techniques, meditation techniques, psychology, and environment design, in order to set up a life that would be conducive to happiness, health, and fulfillment.

This is key.

Use mindfulness to break the depressive state. Then, before it manages to close in on you again, develop a new habit.

You may already be meditating, or eating relatively healthy, or you may be the worlds laziest couch potato with not a single good habit to talk about.

Whatever your circumstances, they can most certainly be improved.

If you don’t already meditate regularly, that’s the habit I would recommend you instill first. The benefits of regular meditation are so enormous that they outweigh all else.

After meditation, I would recommend cleaning up your diet and exercising, starting a journal, and going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, in that order.

There are plenty of other great habits to start, like deep breathing, cold showers, nofap, and so much more.

But don’t get overwhelmed!

The key here is to start small. Trying to kick-start a two-hour-daily meditation habit from the get-go is a recipe for disaster.

Trying to start a habit of writing five pages in your journal will meet a similar fate.

Listen, always start according to your circumstances. If you’re physically ill, starting an intense exercise regimen won’t be a good bet. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise though!

Go for a walk, do some pushups, and for god’s sake, do it in nature if you possibly can.

The internet is more than saturated with information on everything. Be selective, but be persistent. Research everything that could possibly help you work through your depression and into a more stable, happy mode of being.

Sustained well-being is actually possible! You may not believe it, but it’s true. There are people, sharing this same reality, who feel good almost all the time.

If nothing else, you should strive to be one of them.

After you get the hang of being mindful of your state of being, you should never stop.

You should aim for mindfulness to be your default. Mindfulness is the key to sustained well-being. It’s not the only thing to strive for, but it’s one of the most important.

When I first discovered mindfulness, I might as well have been sleep-walking in life.

I wasn’t aware of anything.

Everything was foggy, everything was unclear.

Life happened to me, rather than me actively participating in life. It’s stunning to me, looking back on my life, how much time I’ve spent being hardly conscious of my own existence.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from being mindful every second of every day, but that is what I’m aiming for. It’s hard work, rewiring your brain that way.

You must learn to become mindful of your thought patterns.

This is probably the most important aspect to overcoming depression.

Take time out of your day to just sit down, and after a brief warm up of mindful breathing, move your awareness to your thought-space.

This feels weird at first, if you’ve never been consciously aware of this space before, but you’ll get used to it, and you’ll probably come to love it.

The thought space is that place in your mind where your thoughts pop up.

Notice that you don’t actually generate your thought, though you can do that with conscious effort. Rather, thoughts come to you.

This point is important. The thoughts that come to you are the results of mental habit.

With conscious effort, these thought patterns can be changed. If you’re often feeling depressed, chances are your thought patterns are generally highly negative.

This is obviously not good. The first step to changing this is becoming mindful of the thoughts themselves.

The thing is, we think we’re conscious. I mean, here I am, right?

We’re actually semi-conscious, most of the time, at best.

We’re on autopilot, almost all the time. We’re creatures of habit. We find a routine, and we stick to it like spaghetti to a wall.

The art of becoming conscious of our unconsciousness is the path to happiness and fulfillment.

Be mindful of your thoughts, and notice what’s going through your mind. Don’t try to change anything yet. Just becoming aware is half the battle.

Be especially aware of thoughts pertaining to yourself.

Now that you actually know what you’re thinking about yourself, it’s time to instill a habit of changing these thoughts as they arise.

The two absolute most effective ways of training yourself to do this is starting a journal and writing in it every day, and affirmations.

Check out the posts I linked to above, and then research some more online. Knowledge is power, my friend.

This is an uphill battle. Maybe even a up-mountain battle. But it’s the most worthwhile battle you can ever undertake. The battle for your sanity.

Collectively, we need to take responsibility for ourselves.

We need to realize that, while circumstances may be crappy, while our bodies may not be functioning properly, while we may be battered, beaten and betrayed, we can still take responsibility for our reactions to life.

This means doing everything we possibly can to improve our lot in life.

Small steps, by all means. Just a little bit at a time. But every single day, seek to make your life just a tiny bit better.

I hope with all my heart that this article will help somebody climb out of the horrific pit of despair that is depression.

Know that I feel your pain, and I know it’s hard, but you can overcome this

 

When life gets confusing, this is what you need to understand

As winter approaches, I feel like I’m getting old. Not so much physically, with the wrinkles, aches, and white hair, but more so mentally.

I feel like the illusions of youth have been shattered to some degree.

Listen, I’m only 26. I’m not old by any stretch of the word. But what I want to write about today is seeing through illusions.

Recognizing our models of reality for what they are.

The thing with illusions is, well, you don’t know they’re illusions until you go beyond them.

Life to me seems to be a sequential trading of one illusion for another. As a baby, we understand nothing apart from our own satisfaction/pain/discomfort/hunger, and our mother’s voice and breast.

Anyone seeing the baby from the outside is aware of the baby’s illusion, that the world is in fact infinitely larger and more interesting than baby can ever imagine, but we don’t try to explain this to the baby.

We know that with time, experience, and maturation the baby will experience this expansion of consciousness for itself.

The reason I feel old today, is that I’ve become aware of this part of the nature of human experience.

I may not know the absolute truth of reality, but I do know that I don’t know the absolute truth of reality. If that makes any sense.

“The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”

Socrates

This knowledge, however trivial it may seem, has been changing my life. Knowing that I don’t know, that I can’t know anything for sure, is a double-edged blade.

On the one hand, it’s a bit sad. My models of reality become pretty meaningless, everything seems a bit confusing and ephemeral. On the other, it frees up a lot of energy. Mental space.

Skórlitlir

Knowing that my models of reality are not absolute allows me to apply the energy that I used to use for keeping them up and running, to other things.

Now, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak (does that saying terrify anybody else or is it just me?).

Even though a model of reality isn’t absolute truth, it may still be applicable, or even useful.

A model that’s not absolutely true, in other words, may still be true enough.

“I don’t believe anything, but I have many suspicions.”

– Robert Anton Wilson

True enough to keep you fit and healthy, along with your relationships. True enough to find happiness and fulfillment.

We live in this ever-eddying, swirling, constantly up-down, in-and-out, ever present experience we collectively call the world or reality.

I have no idea if anybody has discovered a truth to this thing, or if it’s even possible.

What I do know, is that some peeps have models of reality that move them forward, and others have models that hold them back.

The nihilist who sees only the bleakest side of every experience isn’t occupying a different reality than the optimist who strives to see the good instead of the bad.

They’re both here, now, right?

They’ve chosen different models of reality to live by, that’s all.

“We are happy when people or things conform and unhappy when they don’t. People and events don’t disappoint us, our models of reality do. It is my model of reality that determines my happiness or disappointments.”
Stefan Zweig

I’m not saying that blind optimism and denial of the pain of the world is a good thing, because it’s not. Nor am I saying you should be nihilistic. Not at all.

Both world views have their pros and cons. The nihilist will be way less likely than the optimist to blindly trust a malevolent stranger, for example. The optimist will be way more likely than the nihilist to grab a rare opportunity that presents itself to them.

But neither model is true. And both have serious drawbacks.

These are simple examples. Most of us don’t have a label we can apply to us. Nobody’s a pure nihilist or a pure optimist.

Our models, our reality tunnels, are an amalgamation of whatever experiences and influences we’ve encountered throughout our lives.

We’re cynical about some aspects of life, optimistic about others.

We’re open to new experiences in some realms of experience, and we’re closed off in others.

We react with love in some instances, and fear in others.

I think building a model of reality that’s absolutely true is a fool’s errand, to be totally honest.

I can hear the rationalists gasping in disbelief, the religious among you shouting “blasphemy!”.

What’s more, I think trying to build an absolute model of reality is a waste of energy. There are more important things to do.

“There is but one reality, that is true — but the two of you experience it in slightly different ways. The older you get, I should think, the more you will come to understand that the universe is very much a looking glass, Miss Lancaster.”               Jim Butcher, The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Accepting the fact that you don’t know what the hell is going on, as well as the fact that you may never know, will set you free.

Earlier in this article I stated that whatever our reality tunnel may look like, we all inhabit the same reality. This statement is arguable at best.

Do I inhabit the same reality as a fish? Or a snail? Or a piece of glass?

How do we actually define reality? Does reality exist without someone to experience it? Is there such a thing as an objective reality?

In other words, if a tree falls in the woods and there’s nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Realizing that reality is fundamentally subjective, and not objective, has been a huge step for me in not only formulating a more precise model of reality, but in becoming a happier, more fulfilled, conscious human being.

This brings me to an incredibly salient hypothesis called consciousness first.

It’s very simple really, and goes hand in hand with Occam’s razor. In fact, it’s the neatest, simplest explanation of reality that I’ve ever encountered:

Consciousness is the point from which all reality arises.

There can be no object without subject.

In the history of the world, nobody has experienced anything objectively. How could they? Experience in itself entails consciousness. Without consciousness, nothing is.

“Nothing” is really an overstatement. The term “No-thing” is more appropriate. The former implies the absence of “something”. The latter implies the absence of “thing”.

“Nothing” is a concept. A concept is a thing. “Nothing” can be experienced as a concept, “No-thing” can’t be experienced at all. In the absence of consciousness, no-thing is.

If that doesn’t make your head spin the first time you think about it, congratulations!

This all ties into the nature of illusion. When we realize that out entire reality is subjective, springing out of consciousness rather than containing it, the possibilities for experience and growth become limitless.

Unninlitil

What I’m saying is, life is a dream. A dream is the most famously illusory state of mind known to man, but as you realize the fact that life itself is illusory as well, it changes your idea of what’s real.

If life is a dream, or an illusion, does it necessarily make it any less real?

But then we’re lead to our next question, which is this: If life is real despite being an illusion, then how can we say that dreams are any less real than life?

The thing is, all experience is as real as it can possibly be!

If you experience something, anything, it can’t be experienced any more or any less than it actually was. In fact, that statement would be meaningless.

Everything that arises in consciousness, arises in consciousness. And that’s that.

So in that sense, any experience is real.

Okay, so that’s pretty interesting, but how is this practical in any way? How can this knowledge improve your life?

Well, when we stop fussing over reality, over what’s real and what’s not, we can actually start having some fun with experience. We can decide to enjoy and learn from all experience equally.

Meaning is to be found in anything. Humans are creators of meaning. Meaning isn’t inherent to anything, instead it’s our minds that imbue experience with meaning.

Notice that I said experience. Not item, place, person or teaching. In the end, all concepts, all things, all people and all places are only as real as they are experienced, meaning as the appear in consciousness.

Listen, having fun with experience is all well and good, but it doesn’t seem practical in this world to just take any old dream or hallucination for reality. Does it?

Absolutely not. This human experience has rules, laws. We need to follow those laws if we want to keep playing this game. Fair enough?

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be aware of the fact that we’re playing it.

You know when you play monopoly and you get so sucked into the game that you start to act and feel like you’re actually a millionaire? That the plastic houses and fiat currency are actually real and valuable? Even though at the end of the evening, it all goes back into the box?

Take it a step up. When you inevitably die, all your possessions, friends, personal attributes will go straight back into the box. Sound familiar?

Now imagine two players of monopoly. One of them’s so engrossed in the game that he’s forgotten his existence outside of it.

“A person who plays the game knowing he will win, doesn’t impress me as much as the person who plays the game even though he knows that he might lose.”                 N’Zuri Za Austin

He follows the rules because they’re all he knows, and he builds up an empire of hotel chains and real estate because that’s where you get meaning in monopoly.

The other guy does everything the same as the first player, with one difference: He still remembers his existence outside of the game.

When things start to go badly for him in the game, he reminds himself of the piece of cake he has waiting for him in the fridge. He’s not attached to the outcome. At least not in the same way as the other player.

If the first player loses the game, his entire universe (seemingly, to him) crumbles down all around him. His clinging will make him irrational and prone to stupid error.

The second player, although he may be enjoying the game immensely, will be cool and detached enough to see what’s actually going on, and the fear of losing will not be all consuming.

This is enlightenment.

When you get that life is a game, everything changes, even though everything actually stays the same.

The buddha saw through all illusion, maya, and that’s why he was called an enlightened one.

Seeing through the illusion of separateness, of subject and object, of self and other, is a noble goal. But even getting a glimpse of what’s on the other side of the curtain can change your life forever.

In my case, a lot of meditation, psychedelics, and a chronic illness all worked together to get me to the point where I could peak behind the curtains and see the truth.

Then I put the curtain back and went on with my life. But I will never forget what was on the other side, even if it can’t be conceptualized, or much less put into words.

There are ways to see beyond the illusory nature of reality. In fact, there are plenty of ways. I’ve written many posts on this site detailing them. But they all have something in common: work and dedication.

You need to be prepared to work for the glimpse. You need to want it enough.

When you take that drive, that need to see beyond the veil, all doors will be open to you.

Purpose (or not?)

What’s my purpose?

Why am I here?

I guess everyone has the same fears of not living up to their potential, at least sometimes. But maybe purpose isn’t something we need to find. Maybe purpose finds you.

I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time fretting over my perceived lack of purpose in life, so much time that I think the meter is full, so to speak.

I’ve decided to stop worrying about it. Of course, if I could just decide not to worry life would be a walk in the park. But I can’t, and it’s certainly not. Life is hard. Magnificent, but hard all the same.

A purpose isn’t really anything. It’s very abstract, and physically intangible. Emotionally, though, purpose is very salient. We want to feel like we’re heading in the right direction in life, like we’re doing the right thing.

I submit to you remedy to this constant yearning for knowing what to do:

Accept that you don’t know what to do, and just do what you enjoy.

It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

But I don’t even know what I enjoy doing! Is watching Friends a life path?

To which I answer,”no, you idiot, of course not”. Be sensible.

We all have multiple interests, some of them have little or no value, inherently, while other interests have great potential for making a living and feeling good about yourself.

I guess I should articulate this thought a little more precisely: To enjoy something is one thing. I may enjoy eating cake, or watching netflix. And that’s fine, really. But feeling fulfilled is a different story.

You can feel enjoyment for something without feeling fulfilled by it, like I enjoyed the last birthday party I went to and pigged out on cake, but it didn’t leave me feeling like I’d done something important, valuable, or relevant.

You can also feel fulfillment from doing something that you don’t really enjoy, like intense exercise, drinking a green smoothie, or hanging up laundry. You know it’s important, and that’s why you do it.

Then there’s the third category, the one we should focus on for the purposes of this post.

There are activities that you enjoy (everyone’s different), that also leave you feeling fulfilled!

For myself, there are a few things that fit this profile. Writing is one of them. So is drawing. Another is building or making stuff. Meditation, nutrition, studying subjects pertaining to my other interests. There’s loads of things, really.

Now what?

Well, pick one, preferably the one you feel most exciting, and stick to it. Get better at it. Become as skilled as you can become. I believe well-directed, intelligent work leads to increased fulfillment and motivation.

Fulfillment and motivation lead to mastery. And mastery opens unimaginable doors in life. Finally, all those open doors will reveal your purpose.

Obviously, I hope, some sensibility is required. Building castles out of playing cards may be fulfilling and enjoyable, and in some cases you may be able to make a living from it if you play your cards just right (pun actually not intended).

But I would tuck it away into the dusty folder of “monetization highly unlikely”. It’s really your call though, because unlikely doesn’t mean impossible.

You see, I believe that purpose is less a question of fate, and more a question of free will. To some degree, we decide on which purpose suits us best. And thank god, right?

It would be pretty ****ed if all you wanted to do was be a conceptual artist but fate had decided that your purpose was to be a corporate accountant.

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What do you *really* want?

It may be a car. A nice house. Kids, a husband or wife. Someone you love who actually loves you back.

It might be a dream job, a successful career. You may want to travel the world, you may want fame, you may want fortune.

Sexual exploits? Respect? A mountain of gold?

Maybe you want power. Maybe you want to dominate.

Whatever you think you want, you can have it. You can have it.

But keep in mind, whatever it is, that once you get it, it may no longer be yours. It may end up owning you.

But even that’s part of the game. We sometimes get what we want, only to have it taken from us.

Our goal changes from reaching, to holding. To keeping.

And when it starts to drift away, it turns to grasping.

In the end, it all goes back in the box.

And when it does, you may not get what you want, but you’ll certainly get what you need.

Anxiety only slows you down

Okay, maybe not all anxiety. Anxiety in the face of seeing a truck flying toward you at a hundred miles per hour will probably speed you up and make you get the hell off the road.

At some point in human history, all anxiety probably had a purpose. Make sure the fire doesn’t die, don’t be too loud so you don’t attract predators, get back to the hut before dark.

Anxiety in the face of survival and self-preservation is important, obviously, it always has been and always will be.

However, I think we can mostly agree that the majority of the anxiety we feel day to day in the modern world (at least in the west) is unnecessary and often harmful.

Being late to work or school makes us anxious, even though it’s nowhere close to being life threatening.

Being ridiculed or rejected in social situations often leaves us feeling pangs of anxiety, even though the true consequences are trivial.

Sometimes we’re anxious, chronically, for long periods of time, months, even years, about things that are so physically distant as to be virtually nonexistent subjectively.

I’m specifically referring to the mass media, like news outlets and football games, soap operas and crime thrillers.

Granted, being anxious in a dramatic way, via a good movie, is a great feeling, and knowledge about how the world works and what’s going on in the far corners of our planet is certainly important.

But binge consumption of television shows, 24 hour news networks, and a seemingly ever-increasing amount of obnoxious football fans leaves chronic anxiety in its wake.

And don’t get me started on the super-stimuli, like sugar, porn and video games. There are things that we do in the modern world that are so incredibly stimulating that we get desensitized to the simpler things in life, like exercise, social interactions and healthy food.

We are then only able to find pleasure in these specific substances and activities, which leaves us feeling anxious and empty the rest of the time.

Mind and matter aren’t as distant as we like to believe. What goes on in our mental space, and in our emotional space, affects our body, and vice versa.

This is obvious through a little self inquiry. Discomfort in the body, like feeling to hot or being in pain, has a very noticeable effect on our concentration and mood.

Likewise, as anyone who has ever dealt with depression or anxiety will know, a heavy or manic mood will destroy your ambitions and leave you feeling lethargic and weak physically.

The reason I’m drawing attention to this is to illustrate the point that anxiety literally slows you down, like a weight on your shoulders. Physically.

Anxiety is exhausting mentally and physically. We all know this. After feeling anxious all day in anticipation of a musical performance or making a speech, when it’s finally over, we crash down in post-anxious bliss, ready to chill out and go to sleep.

Therefore, minimizing or eradicating anxiety in our lives will leave us with way more energy to work on the things that truly matter to us, like expansion of consciousness, exercise, study and family.

Now, how this eradication of anxiety is to be achieved is simpler than it seems, although it will most likely require a lot of time and energy. I haven’t yet been able to fully rid myself of my own anxiety, so I can’t really say how long it will take.

Anxiety seems all-encompassing while it’s got its claws dug deep in your mind, but the mere act of becoming fully conscious of it, becoming aware of body sensations and mental activity, is often enough to calm you down and allow you to deconstruct the situation.

This is mindfulness. A word that’s thrown about a lot these days. There are good reasons for its growing popularity, but I feel like it’s often misrepresented as something that you do, whereas, the way I see it, it’s the direct opposite.

Mindfulness is learning to not do, to not think, and to just perceive what’s going on directly.

I’ve written a few posts on mindfulness in the past, like this post and this one.

I’ll keep you updated on my own deconstruction of anxiety, and I hope you’ll leave a comment if this seems at all relevant to your own life.

Until next time, much love.

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The fear of wasting your life

Fear is a dirty word. It’s never easy to truly own up to it. I regularly have bouts of fear. Many times, like right now, it’s a fear of inadequacy. A fear that I’m wasting my time, wasting my life.

Sometimes there’s a trigger, like reading about what other people are doing, but sometimes it seems to pop up out of nowhere.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. In some sense, FOMO or fear of missing out is a manifestation of this, but I feel like there’s more to it. FOMO is more of a belief that everybody else must be having more fun, doing more meaningful things etcetera.

The fear I’m describing is more all-encompassing and profound, not directed at moment-to-moment pleasure and experience, but rather lifetime achievement and fulfillment.

Here’s approximately what’s going on in my head right now: Man, I’ve spent so much time developing drawing skills and studying art, and now I’ve decided to learn woodworking?

Maybe I should think about this some more, because that’s years of my life basically gone down the drain in pursuit of something that I’m just going to throw away? I’m twenty-six now, in a few year’s I’ll be old, so I better get my **** together. I’m too old to start pursuing new interests anyway.

Twenty-six years old is too old? For what? To learn new things? And what exactly am I throwing away? The ability to draw and make art, or the experience of learning it?

Experience is what it is, nothing can take it away from you. The same with knowledge.

Life is a system of paths, and sometimes, for whatever reason, we decide on a new path. It may take us to a better place, or maybe even a worse place, but the freedom to choose a different path later on is still relevant.

Writing this stuff down really takes the edge off. It makes it easier to see the flaws in my reasoning. And besides, an anxious mind is unreasonable anyway.

However, it’s very tricky to be aware of these sorts of anxious thoughts as they’re happening. It’s easier to look back on them and shake your head and chuckle.

I’ve been working hard on understanding anxiety, what causes it, how to fix it. How to soften the blow when it hits you head-on.

Anxiety is fear. Fear is universal. I think the purpose of being, if there is one, is the overcoming of fear in it’s infinite guises.

The more we learn to see fear for what it is, the more we understand where we stand, and what we are. Fear is the shadow. Light is important, but without the shadow there would be no outlines, no tonal differences, everything would be white. Everything would be blindingly invisible.

We need to incorporate the darkness, and see it for what it is: an irreducible part of being. There’s darkness within all of us, and facing it head on is the best thing we can do for our mental health.

There’s no way to remove fear, except through death, be it partial or complete. Courage is the answer, feeling the fear, facing it without retreating from it.

Much love.

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The way you do anything is the way you do everything

As far as work goes, I’ve been pretty happy with my lot these last few years.

This is the eighth summer I’ve worked as a ranger in a national park in the north of Iceland, doing all kinds of maintenance work along with nature interpretation and education.

I’m privileged enough to get paid for spending part of my day every day in silent solitude, surrounded by magnificent nature.

However, like most people, there are things about my job that I’m not too thrilled about. Telling people off for breaking the strict rules of the park is one of those things.

Cleaning filthy, and I mean filthy (at least sometimes) dry toilets is another.

Most tourists are just regular people looking to experience something new, but every now and then you meet some real dick-heads. Dealing with those peeps is definitely on my list of things I dislike at work.

In years gone by, I would rush these chores off as quickly as I could, usually not paying much attention to the quality of my actions, and the consequences.

I would make sure the bathrooms at least looked clean, but I would cut corners wherever I could. I would make sure people ended up following the rules, without making sure that we parted on terms of mutual respect.

I’ve learned that the way I do anything is the way I do anything. If I do a shitty job cleaning toilets (poop-pun intended), I can be sure I will be more likely to lazily brush off something that is actually important to me.

If I deal with people brusquely when all that’s needed is a gentle reminder and a kind smile, I can be sure that the relationships I truly cherish will suffer for it.

Integrity is the name of the game.

If I’m going to do something, it deserves my full attention and devotion. No matter how unimportant it is to me, relatively speaking.

It’s a form of meta-practice. Practicing excellence in everything we do seems to be a pretty good way to go.

Much love.