How to be Happy – A short summary of 10,000 years of advice

Really… it all comes down to two primary tenets.

  1.  Realize that other’s assessments of you are flawed in that it is run through their own paradigms and filter of life experiences. Only you are responsible for knowing who you are and you better be honest (authentic) about that, which ìs the hard part.
  1. Know that you cannot choose other’s behaviors, but only how you choose to react to them…
  • Often this just comes down to giving a “High-Quality No”
  • This is not about getting mad and stifling a reaction. That just builds up till you blow up……   It is about ripping out the weed of anger in your mind that leads to you getting mad and objectively realizing that you don’t need to be mad just because other people are acting poorly…
  • Check out James Allen’s book “As a man Thinketh” for a deep dive into understanding your thoughts, or you can read Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” or just view this TED talk on Stoicism for a short-attention-span version.

For extra credit, research the history of “Lorem Ipsum” and it’s link to a 45 BC philosophical work.

  • You may have seen the text of this as it is used often to approximate a Latin based language when proofing Print layouts and is included in many web and print templates as an example.
    • “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.”
  • So many lessons from history are “Hidden in plain sight” and form a cultural foundation that remains nearly invisible

Common Place Hypocrisy 

The discussion around Climate Change science is a good example of a common place hypocrisy .

How many times have you read through some compelling information, complete with graphs and diagrams, set forth to convey and convince you of a particular complex bit of the argument, all while leaving you no clear communicated actionable position? As if the true goal was simply to “Win” the argument.   A Socratic exercise with the prize being a quiet acknowledgment of cleverness. And what is expressed in these sophist arguments other than a desire to pollute less and leave the world better than we found it? Why can the question not just be “Who thinks we should pollute less?”

As in all human endeavors the truth often revolves around those ideas or actions/inaction that we find value in. What value do we find in these overly complex discussions which we seem intent on repeating while deferring action until consensus is satisfactorily reached?

The answer lies in the question itself. Our ability to hold pedantic views on a myriad of topics allow us to pontificate and espouse beliefs in a way that assures no consensus can be reached, and therefor we never need to internalize any of these ideas into a codified conduct of behavior.  In summary, we can identify with great ideas and not change our behavior one bit.

An example of this duplicitous ability is that all of us want to save the polar bears, but none of us are willing to simply pledge to not buy convenience drinks in plastic bottles.

Would you hang clothes to dry instead of running the dryer?

Would you purposefully limit your showers to 5 minutes?

Would you pass on a trip to a foreign land and opt for a local destination?

As simple as these ideas are, the vast majority of us are unwilling to take such simple actions and yet we readily wave the flag of environmental stewardship on social media and elsewhere.   It is to have the conversation as …

  • “We need to do something!!” he said.
  • “YEA!!!” they replied.
  • “Let’s start now! ” he said.
  • … wait a sec..i didn’t know you actually meant ‘us’… or actually meant ‘right now…” they said. 😐😐😐

And that is an example of common place  hypocrisy.

Where else do you see this dynamic?

Giving freely, the Energy to Maintain

 

The truth is far simpler than we would like to admit. We create constructs in how we interact with the world to ensure that we (our ego, the thinking part) feels OK and is able to really do whatever the hell it wants. Vice, Victim-hood, expectations, justification, wrong action all require an attention to the future or the past.

We seem to expend a great amount of energy serving the needs of the ego (also a product of a focus on the past or the future) to continue to re-enforce itself, all while obscuring any true sense of self. A self without attachment to external ideas, things, property, vices, or virtues. Instead, we are rooted in a perceived reality thoroughly filtered by the ego. What is WORSE is that the more we heap on ourselves to create an identity, an armor against harm, a sense of worth or entitlement that comes from external to ourselves, the more we have to maintain it. We cannot have armor without having to polish it and care for it. We cannot feel entitled or justified in the wrong action without constant attention to maintaining that perception.

Just like every single piece of physical property you have, the habits of the ego will require some level of energy to maintain. From a quick note written on a discarded envelope to a bicycle, to a house, to a paper clip in the back of the desk drawer that hasn’t seen light in years, all of it will require some attention, some energy, and some focus at some time. It is the same for the ego….. everything that makes it up drains energy and focus from the present to sustain itself….. the ego lives by sucking away energy and awareness from the present.

Most of the “beliefs” and ideologies we have are there simply because “we get something of value out of it”.

Even in negative situations such as arguing and fighting, we are re-enforcing our sense of self. We fight over things we decide are important, but is most of the time really just a feeding of our ego which by its Temporary nature demands that we nurture it, care for it. The ego has to be cared for and told that it is “has worth”, and it can do so by draining energy and attention from others through conflict. Like a wood stove, the ego needs a steady supply of fuel.

Whether situations are negative or positive interactions, it doesn’t matter. It can all be used to drive our sense of self, sense of entitlement, and justifies our behavior. Indeed we often create situations solely to justify predicted or planned behavior. We are motivated to pursue that which we gain value out of, which is not always in line with the pursuing of pleasure and avoiding of pain. The Ego can find value in pain and suffering as easily as in Joy and Happiness.

But a value to whom? Only to our individual Ego.

Concepts of good and bad, positive and negative, right and wrong do not change this fact.

Even identifying with pious or altruistic endeavors, while certainly an alluring state for those wishing to improve themselves, are still only a state of being… subject to change without warning. It provides a sense of answers when there are none, a sense of hope or promise in the future, a defined value system with which to measure your action, but it is a personal construct, a fabricated and invented scale with which to measure, a “thing”; chosen and adopted because of what value it brings to the table for our mind to mull over.

The Ego fears the unknown. The Ego drives us to classify, categorize and run our experiences through an egoic filter to ensure that we gain value out of it, or abstain from it. We reject and accept ideologies not based on merit or truth, but based on preconceived ideas and current desires. We use our mind to fill in holes in thought and logic with mysticism, magic, and beliefs. That is not to say in any way that things like religion are a bad thing, but it is still just a “thing”. A “thing” that will require care and feeding, a “thing” that will be interpreted based on our egoic needs to feel like we are “DOING” something… about “this or that”, but still just a “thing” in that it exists externally and can not be independently verified as truth, but rather needs to be “believed” in, which is to say accepted in the absence of facts.

We construct and use these “Scales” or “measures” on which to place ourselves and gauge ourselves, but we are the creators, the fabricators of the scales. They are simply made up and if we don’t like the measure, it is our own doing, but we often blame and associate the blame to others and external things and become a victim, or justified, or etc….

Free from ego, past behavior can look like absolute madness …… much of it looks like nothing more than child-like tantrums over more complex topics.

A common Idiom is that we should “Bury the Hatchet”, we are more apt to simply bring in another truck load of dirt to cover them up. Hatchets can not be buried. They must be extracted and discarded… but only in the sense of yourself… there are no hatchets that belong to more than one person.

There is no such thing as a “shared experience” in this world with which two people can use to collectively remove these buried hatchets. The hatchets are buried in our own mind and fiercely defended by our ego. They are as much a part of who the ego is, than any other part. Perhaps even more so, but with the slightest understanding that the Ego is part of the mind, and therefore a tool and a reflection of our thoughts rather than your true self, will allow us to cast the ego aside like a winter jacket on a summer day.

 

“Economical Environmentalism” or “Buying my Ideology”

 

The overriding theme of advertising present in most “Going Green” advertising is to engineer a sense of emotion. While this is most often than not disguised behind a veil of “concern for the future” it is, in reality, the typical idea of doing something by doing nothing. Whether it is losing weight or finding happiness by taking a pill or saving the world for future generations by converting to solar power or taking two-minute showers it is just the age old marketing program set to different music. What is actually being sold is not the device, system, or product at all, but instead the emotional experience associated with it.

In truth though this type of advertising does prove to be a good example of what you must consider if you want to understand your impact on the environment though, and it requires no emotional attachment whatsoever.

Instead of worrying about your “carbon footprint”, or the impact of your conveniences on the status of human-caused “climate change”, there is a far easier measure you can use to determine how active you are in hastening the end of the world as we know it. Just look at the amount you waste. Start at the end of the chain and work backward. How much Stuff you throw away, how many trash bags a week, how much good food lands on the trash, how much water do you use a month, how much electricity, and even how much you use the restroom, are all immediate indicators of your impact on the world.

Reduce all of these by 10% to 20% and you’ll be doing more than all the Go-Green companies trying to sell you things made in China, shipped across the ocean, trucked across several states, stocked in your local store, bought, used for several months and then discarded in the trash which of course opens up some space in the garage for some other Stuff….. that you just need to have now.

Less in = Less out

 

 

 

 

 

‘Vice and Virtue’ or ‘It’s a biochemical thing, you just wouldn’t understand’

There is much truth in humor, but none of it seems to be usable. How many times I have heard a comic state something that strikes at the heart of a feeling only to tuck it back inside quickly. Perhaps it is simply too truthful or perhaps it is a statement reflecting something that is innately within and is therefore worrisome. Those dark thoughts are an ingrained behavior which we know we will not change.

Are there thoughts and behaviors which we cannot change? Are these thoughts and behaviors difficult to change because they have biological interactions as well? Certainly many of these behaviors are known as a vice, and certainly, the root of vice lives within the biological interactions of man with his surrounding world. There are no vices which are not manifested in the physical world.

In this perhaps is the lesson, that vice is the foundation of dark thoughts. If so, then good thoughts are the only thing that can bring the house of vice down, as it must certainly be shaken from its foundation.

Once again we see the battle that matters is between your soul (the true self), and your interaction with your mind (the often master-less servant). I believe I have seen these two entities before in cartoons and film. An angel and a devil perched on the shoulders arguing between vice and virtue.

May you choose virtue more than vice, as your history is the sum of this decision.

 

“Do we really Value That!!” or “Free Beer Tomorrow!!”

 

What is left of a life lived in the pursuit of concepts?

Success, Progress, Achievement, Productivity, goal based fulfillment, attainment, what are these to a person that has been dead for a day, an hour, a second?

What are these things to the ones left living?  Do we think back fondly to our Grandfathers, Grandmothers, and ancestors and think… “YES, the sum total of their efforts to external things really worked out well.”  Or do we recall the time they gave us… the quality of our interactions, the relationships.  Do we consider their intent, or judge only on the results of their actions.  Does it matter how much money and wealth a relative has left in their wake if they were unkind to their children, angry, or short tempered with everyone they knew?
Are we defined by firmly held opinions about transient issues?
Do we accept our opinions as facts to quickly?

Do we invest in being Right about something, more than understanding its nature?

A life lived in the pursuit of tomorrow is the equivalent of a bar sign reading “Free Beer Tomorrow”.  It is a belief and an expectation, neither of which having anything to do with the razors sharp edge of existence, the instantaneous, perpetual, finite, infinite now.

An Illusion Collusion

Most of life is an illusion
It never has and never will be
It is the B-roll cuts of our experience that the mind creates
The deleted scenes that drive much of our perception

We act as a writer and director
Consistently editing our expected future
to create a story
that fits our supposed role.

How better off we would be if we were to act like the audience
a witness of the end result.

 

How Work Requirements Can Impact Corporate Culture

The linked podcast is an interesting look at how the increasing amount of requirements placed on US Army Company Commanders is resulting in a Culture of Ethical Fading.   The central theme of the PodCast rotates largely around the idea that when you overload individuals with too many “Requirements” their ability to act in subtle unethical ways increases.

As a former member of military service, there was indeed a culture of ticking off or “pencil whipping” lower priority tasks as completed, even though they weren’t.  (Do you really need to drag out 45 small generators, fill them with gas, run them up for an hour, and drain them dry each week to know they are serviceable?)
The more interesting bit that this Podcast illuminates is a broader concept of the fundamental role the external Environment and the Individual play in the resulting culture that is formed.

The Environment is fairly stable and while we can isolate from risks, change regulations and such, the changes are typically slow. Disruptive change can occur due to natural causes or the adoption of a new technology but the nature of the Environment is to settle back down into stability for much longer periods than instability.

The Individual is the sum total of their Ideology, education, experience, trust, perception,  etc. much of which can be taught, indoctrinated, or demonstrated to be useful and adopted.

The Culture in this context is the resulting product when groups of people interact based on a common indoctrination and within a common environment.   If either the Environment or the Individual’s ideology change, the Culture changes.

So why is this related to corporate management?

As companies grow, we change both the Environment and the underlying Ideology.  Some roles may require more specialization, some roles split into separate positions.  With an influx of new employees, the corporate level of knowledge may decrease, new Executives, plot new courses or new demands are made on existing employees.

Many times when companies grow, the idea is to “preserve the culture” which can result in an attempt to mandate a cultural measure.   These are actually a change in the Central tenets and Responsibilities communicated to the Individual and the result is the Culture changes….

We cannot dictate culture. A desire to rigidly adhere to an existing culture during times of disruptive change will not by sheer willpower result in the desired outcome. A company could be defined as a work hard, play hard culture, as a task culture, a clan culture, a constructive culture, but these are essentially observations of what the culture already is. If you print out a Culture statement to post on a wall it’s either an observation or a goal and will not by itself create the culture.

A desire to rigidly adhere to an existing culture during times of disruptive change will not by sheer willpower result in the desired outcome. A company could be defined as a work hard, play hard culture, as a task culture, a clan culture, a constructive culture, but these are essentially observations of what the culture already is. If you print out a Culture statement to post on a wall it’s either an observation or a goal and will not by itself create the culture.

A further example:

Competitive Reality TV shows such as Survivor are a good view into the power of Environment and Ideology to affect the culture.   Once you pit groups of people against each other, add politics and million dollar prize, you see otherwise normal people act in very surprising ways.   The Individual is the same one that sits next to you on the train or passes you in the shopping center, but changing the environment and/or ideology can make for some good TV!

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Got SJW?

There is a growing amount of influence in our culture which can trace its roots to an otherwise little-known philosophy of Intersectionality which is permeated our higher education and academia.   This philosophy takes on many forms to include intersectional feminism/SJW culture/Third Wave feminism, etc.   After a fair amount of research there are some pro’s to this strain of thought, but in actual practice, quite a few more negatives.

  1. Philosophy – There seems to be a significant divide between this philosophy on paper versus how it is often applied.On paper, it holds a fair amount of merit in acknowledging that individuals may experience varying and different degrees of discrimination and seeks to divide up (classification) based on sex, gender, race, economic class, etc.    These divisions set up a decent framework for “checking your privilege” in assessing considering and discussing Social issues.   Thus allowing a constructive framework for a broader consideration.

    However,   the application of this philosophy seems too often go in the other direction with the stated divisions being used to undermine and dismiss contrary views, and can and are applied in just as bigoted a way as someone who thinks there personal experience qualifies their opinion to apply to all other people…  Instead of allowing a broader discussion it stifles discussion and often leads to an impasse.

 

  1. Language – This one I find particularly concerning

In general, the foundation for communicating is a commonality of language.

A good example of where the applied philosophy of intersectionality results in a negative impact when applied in a non-judicious way is seen in the use of the term “Mansplaining”,  which in most documentation on this subject is defined as follows.

Mansplaining – “a man trying to tell me something in a
patronizing tone, assuming that  I couldn’t possibly know
it already because I am a woman.”

While I understand that this does certainly happen and that there are misogynistic A-holes out there,  I would also point out that in the very definition of this word it insinuates some level of “intent” and when used in certain context “malice”.   I’ll also note that I have other woman friends that also heavily identify with the SJW culture and the ONLY time this phrase has been used towards me, is when I disagree with the prevailing narrative of the discussion.   Often when that happens there are other men agreeing with the narrative in even more brash and condescending ways, and this term was not applied to them…    This idea of dismissing ideas as a individuals “Privileged explaining” can quickly cover up any value from the communication and often shifts the focus of the discussion away from the subject and onto a defensive stance….   In general… once you question a person’s intention by calling them “privileged”, or racist, or a bigot….  You just ended the discussion…   Any remaining discussion will be about the charge of bigotry, etc….
Another concerning theme of the SJW culture is the idea of allowing and supporting a person’s ability to subjectively define language based on their “Lived Experience”.

The idea of respecting someone’s “lived experience” fits well into the philosophy of Intersectionalism by encouraging consideration of others lived experiences… but…. In my lived experience 😉 …  is applied to areas it should not… for example… language….   Words like Racism, bigotry, trolling, discrimination have actual definitions… and sharing how you “feel” about someone’s behavior by using the word incorrectly erodes the very commonality of language required to share ideas…

The language is defined in one way, but the way that the language of Intersectionalism is applied is more akin to a narrow subjective Cult type indoctrination.  Other examples of closed-discussion philosophies that reconstruct the use of language would include McCarthyism and Marxism.

I’ll skip the part about how intersectionality is presenting itself in mass media as well….   But that is pretty interesting to….

So… in my “lived experience, there is a fair amount that can be learned in researching and understanding the foundational intersectional philosophy that is so poorly applied in the SJW culture.  It can certainly chip away at some social conditioning.

I also discovered that those most vocal about fighting intolerance can be quite intolerant, and if I summarized my current thoughts on Intersectionality it would be as follows…

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Intersectionality as a philosophy has merit in that it seeks to create a framework to better understand the social impact, discrimination, and challenges varying groups of people encounter due to race, gender, sexual preference, economic class and gender identity (etc).  However, in practice, far too many adherents mistake what is essentially a “flexible doctrine” for a “rigid dogma” and apply this philosophy in counter-productive ways.
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Expectation Abstraction

Most of the people live life in a box
With thoughts based on education
With opinions based on expectations

Most of the people live life in a box
With nearly never a thought
Never realizing they’ve been bought

Most of the people live life in a box
Trading their efforts for things
Confusing acquiring, with Being

Most of the people live life in a box
Where living becomes a distraction
Dying to become an abstraction