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Not Buying It

I have never subscribed to any sort of religious or spiritual ideals. I have never read any of the great thinkers or philosophers. In fact, I have pretty much steered clear, and, down right rejected, any, and all things, that resemble ‘asking the universe‘ for something. For good reason.

There has always been something about the ‘self-help’ group of people that gives me a serious case of the ‘heebee jeebees’. Maybe it has something to do with the ‘cult’ high school I attended a million years ago. Maybe it has something to do with that time I spent in AA, (another million years ago), a room crawling with cliche filled mottos…which eventually turned me off to all things G-d. Maybe it is because my biological father is so far detached from reality and a Maharishi extremist. Maybe it is because I have seen one to many fanatics take things to the utmost extreme. Or maybe, it is simply because I am a usually a rational human being.

Either way, I am pretty much CLOSED minded with respects to these kinds of concepts.

But, as I am about to embark upon a new year in my life, filled with hope, in search of new things, or new ways to fill the gaping hole that is the lonely emptiness eating away at my core, I decided to take a chance.

After listening to a few people suggesting I read’The Secret’ and after listening to people suggesting I do not to read it…out of sheer curiosity, I decided to go ahead and buy it, and I read it. What harm could there be in reading a book… right?

As it turns out, I am still not buying into anything that resembles hocus pocus.

Yeah, um, I think my time would have been better spent reading a Thesaurus and expanding my vocabulary.

After reading that book, all I can say is this… I agree with Greg.

He said it best, “Instead of reading ˜The Secret™ and discovering that you can just wish for stuff, maybe just save your money and write Santa instead. It has the same effect.” Then, when he said this I just about fell on the floor laughing.

I am not trying to offend anyone who has read that book, or to those of you that have benefited from it. But, I just don’t get it. [And, I don’t WANT to.] I also don’t get the legions of scientologists or that L. Ron Hubbard guy. I don’t believe in the Bible, or in the Torah, or in the Koran, or anything of the like either. Hey, if that is what works for you, then great. For me, not so much. Alas, don’t worry your g-d fearing heads, I am not completely devoid of substance.

* What I do believe, and, what I am learning about myself, is that a lot of my problems have to do with my attitude, and actions, or lack thereof. Dare I say, I have discovered when I put negative energy ‘out there’ I get negative energy back, but more on THAT another time.

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  • I am EVERYTHING you described: a stagnant, fearful, disconnected, passive, aggressive, sad, ignorant, complainer

    Some of that stuff may not matter. I’m more concerned with the kinds of actions you might be taking.

    I just need to balance MY TIME, and MY EMOTIONS better. I have too many things on my plate that all require the same amount of attention. It can be very overwhelming.

    TIME: From my personal experience with saying this from time to time, I’ve found that what I’m really saying is that there is a lot of stuff on my plate that I don’t want or like to do, and I spend so much time avoiding doing those things that I don’t have much time left to take care of everything. Often people mean that they would rather be doing other things. I have found that I can get a lot of stuff done and still have time for more if I just do whatever needs to be done and not complain so much or at all.

    EMOTIONS: This is the tough one because your equilibrium is probably way out of whack. For you, normal may be a state of depression or mania. Getting back to center is exactly like going through withdrawal. There are a lot of ways of approaching this. One is to just focus on your actions and wait until your new equilibrium kicks in by itself. That takes a lot of patience. Or you could take some actions to counter feelings you have at any given time, but I think that puts more stress on your nerves and body.
    I can be much more specific, but everybody is different, so I’d have to know some specific things.

    Can / Will you elaborate on your definition of love?

    This was going to be an eventual post, but I can explain this a bit now. My definition of love is the simple acceptance of a person (or entity) for being that person (or entity). Probably the quickest way to understand this is to think about the opposite, hate. Hate would be the desire to destroy a person for being that person. Love does not imply that you want to possess the person, or desire the person to do one thing or another. Love is only the acceptance that a person is a person (or in general, an entity is an entity). This may seem over simplistic to many, but consider what it means to not accept people as people.

    Imagine if I took you for a walk down a trail through some woods. We walk for several miles and finally sit by a small pond with many other people doing things that people around ponds do. After a while we get up and walk back up the trail and go home. What do you remember from that trip? Do you remember the trees with the rough bark that blocked out the sun and gave you shade? Do you remember the crows hopping from branch to branch? Do you remember the snake hole off to the side of the trail? Do you remember the color of the pond? Do you remember the man and boy sitting in a small boat fishing on the other side of the pond? Do you remember the couple sitting on a blanket looking up at the clouds in the sky?

    This is an imaginary walk so I have to tell you everything that was there. But suppose it was real? How much do you acknowledge is there when you walk by? When you walk past a person in the street, do you acknowledge that person to be there? Or is this person just an object that is passing you by?

    Love is having awareness of people. It is knowing they are people. It is knowing that the person you walk past is a person and not just any mass of matter floating by. Love is appreciating what someone or something is because you recognize it as being that thing. Love is a very simple concept that we overcomplicate.

    Now when I say, “I love you” to someone, I am expressing much more than love as I’ve defined it. The common expression of love is actually many emotions combined. “I love you” to a friend is a different set of emotions than “I love you” to a lover. And these are a different set of emotions than “I love you” to a son or daughter. They all share love as I defined it in each of their sets, but the other emotions might differ.

    Lust, or wanting sexual intimacy with someone applies to the lover, but not to the friend or child. Protectiveness may apply to the lover and child, but not necessarily to the friend. Wonder may apply to the friend, but not necessarily to the lover or child.

    This confusion of not understanding love as a simple emotion rather than a complex emotion, and the confusion of not understanding conventional love as a set of emotions and not just love is what gives many people problems dealing with others in their life.

    When we mention love in regard to a lover, we often include selfish feelings, not only lust, but feelings of possessiveness. So when someone pulls out the “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” card that means that lust isn’t in the emotional set that person is trying to convey. The term love is one of the most abused words in the English language. What makes it worse is that many philosophers try to assert that there are different types. What they actually end up describing for each type is love grouped with other emotions.

    I am not saying that I expect to be happy all the time every day. That is insane. But I would like to be happy more OFTEN then I am currently experiencing.

    Lots of people forget or are unaware of their neutral state. It is the emotional state healthy people spend most of their time in. People do yoga (I’m not talking about it as a philosophy only as a therapeutic) and meditate and many never learn that all they are doing is trying to find their neutral state. Any kind of rhythmic activity can get us their. We are usually focused on something else, so this might explain why we overlook it. In happiness and sadness we focus on the thing that is making us happy or sad so we remember these times.

    Stuff like yoga and meditation are nice, but most people don’t make the connection between these activities and their daily lives. They make them a separate thing they do, and often this causes them more stress. The best place to start is to be more self aware and pay attention for those times where you are not happy or not sad. Many daydream during this time, some actively think, some are capable of doing absolutely nothing which is quite peaceful. I believe lots of men hit this state right after they reach orgasm. Women don’t seem to at that time.

    If you start taking actions that result in slow and constant growth, your equilibrium should take care of itself. If you are impatient then you can try extra activities to try to compensate, but like I said, for many they have the opposite effect. Patience, grasshopper.

    “So why would thinking effect an action you take?”

    For me, when I think, “I don’t want to go to work, I hate my job, my actions reflect that thinking. I become hostile, argumentative, and resentful. I end up treating the people around me like shit, because I am unhappy. But, when I wake up in the morning and think hey my job is just for now, until something better comes along, at least I have great health benefits, my actions reflect those thoughts as well. I become more productive, work harder and I am much more pleasant to be around.

    You are analyzing this incorrectly. One action involved might be going to work. You either go to work or you don’t. Your thinking isn’t effecting the actions, it is effecting WHAT actions you take. This is why positive and negative thinking is not relevant. Your problem is in using valid versus invalid logic. The first case is invalid logic: (P == I don’t want to go to work) therefore (Q == I’m going to treat people like shit). One doesn’t have anything to do with the other. The second case is convoluted, but does contain a reasonable argument: (P == I don’t want to go to work) therefore (If (R == I’m more productive) Then (S == I’ll get a better job) ).

    People often confuse positive thinking with effectiveness because they accidentally stumble upon a decent argument. They attribute success to the positive thinking rather that the valid logic that they can’t identify because they are not good with logic. Your challenge is that you need to consciously discover invalid and valid arguments. To show positive thinking is irrelevant, I’ll change the second arguments descriptors a bit. (P == My job sucks ass) therefore (If (R == I work my ass off) Then (S == I won’t have to work with these assholes anymore) ). As long as we define what R means, this would be effective.

    It would be nice if for 5 minutes I could be content with what I have. I used to be. When I first moved in to my condo 4 years ago, I felt like I had arrived. I loved my house, my job, I was proud of how far I had come. I never thought I would survive the transition from life A to life B. But now, I feel like I have been at a stand still for 3 years. I am just going through the motions. Like a robot. Pay Bills-check, Clean House-check, Go To Work-check… I don’t have the same satisfaction or gratitude any more.

    Don’t let clichés and over generalizations take over your life. Being content stops growth. Once a business becomes content, that’s a sign of impending doom—same with people in our society. You are not analyzing the situation properly again. You were not happy because you were content, you were happy because you were in a state of growth. Since then you hit a period of stagnation.

    But, WHAT can I change? What ACTIONS can I take to CHANGE any of that? Those are all things I HAVE to do to survive. However, I can change the way I think about it… right?

    Yes you can change how you think about them, how you qualify them, but at best you’ll be deceiving yourself for a while. Pretend you’re a doctor for the next month and see how far that gets you. When you start focusing on actions, you should quickly notice that there are LOTS of actions that we do each day. We don’t just go to work. We do tens, hundreds, maybe thousands of actions during our workday. You don’t just stop going to work. You change a few of the many actions you take regarding work.

    I can be more specific but again I’ll need more details because everybody is different.

    “Now we CAN say there is a correlation between unsuccessful people and negative thinking, and there is a correlation between successful people and positive thinking.”

    Yes. Thank you.

    The word correlation doesn’t mean what most people think it means, including many scientists and professors. It is the most abused word with educated and stupid people alike. I suspect the correlation is due to a third variable, third party perceptions which are inaccurate observations.

    I don’t dislike sadness.

    I’ve come to appreciate sadness a great deal. That is what makes happiness so special.

    I personally think of my emotions as being on a pendulum. As far into sadness the pendulum swings, it will swing just as far into happiness. I have NO CONCEPT of what “middle ground”, “neutrality” or a “state of peace” feels like.

    If this accurately describes you then this is good. Your body is balancing itself. Your pendulum is swinging a bit strong (manic depressive), so you just need to slow it up a bit. But at least you can see your body trying to balance things out. Sometimes when we push happiness or sadness too far our body kicks us back into a neutral state and we don’t feel anything. This is an exhausted neutral state. It can give you an idea; just imagine it without being so tired. If you do something repetitive like jogging, or maybe sewing (?), or meditation (anything physical and repetitive without distractions) you can find your neutral state. It’s the point where you let go and just be. Athletes and military folk tend to grasp this idea. Imagine running down a field with a football, happiness and sadness are distractions, you just let go and be in the moment. So discipline plays a big part in neutrality.

    Sometimes I think I like sadness too much… I gravitate towards misery. I create my own misery. I wonder? Am I only happy when I have something to be sad / bitch about?

    You’re a bit off center. It’s like if you spend six out of seven days high. On the seventh day you feel a bit off center. You need to spend a bit more time in that neutral place. This is where physical hobbies help some people (yoga, meditation, sports, jogging, sewing, etc.). Once you get comfortable with just being and accept that you don’t have to be happy or sad all the time, your pendulum will slow down.

    “Much of the positive thinking ideology only gets people to change the way they look at themselves rather than actually changing anything.”

    In my particular case I feel like that’s a BIG thing I think I need to change.
    I NEED TO CHANGE THE WAY I LOOK AT MYSELF.

    At which point, Dr. Phil says, “And how’s that working for ya?” I hate Dr. Phil. Like I said, pretend you are a doctor and let me know how that works out.

    Well, I can say my life is both? My life is a flowery piece of shit.

    Good start. Now identify the pretty parts and the stinky parts.

    “You can arbitrarily change how you think about yourself, but that doesn’t change who you are.”

    And, what if I don’t like who I am?

    You can join the club; I hear there’s a club. Or you can start working on changing your actions. The little ones I mentioned before, not whole sets of hundreds of actions. Start small.

    I am COMPLANING because I AM seeking something else. I just don’t know how too obtain it.

    If you complain then the only thing that will actually change things, not just cover them up, is to start taking different actions. I can get into what specifically, but we would have to start with very specific parts of your life. People are often surprised with how little they have to change to make a difference in their life. I’m not talking about becoming millionaires, but just making their lives feel more manageable. That’s the kind of start to look for first.

    I am willing to work. I am. I am not looking for the easy way out. I have tried and failed with pills and drugs and AA and therapy psycho babble since I was 8 years old.

    AA is a cult in itself. It’s a mask for religious conversion. It’s a shame many U.S. courts send people there. Most of the 12 steps require a person to accept gods into their life. Many drug programs are the same. Alcohol and drugs are not diseases, they’re choices. They are classified as diseases for insurance purposes.

    There are some good psychotherapists out there so I wouldn’t damn them across the board. Most though can’t even manage their own lives and amount to nothing more than a paid friend. TV personalities like Dr. Phil pander to the audience. They are Oprah’s and Jerry Springer’s with academic degrees. The whole lot of them make fortunes on the misfortunes of others. I guess they compensate by giving prizes away to their audience. Very humanitarian of them.

  • I meant to bold both my old comments and your replies before my latest reply, but for a few I messed up. There are a few cases where your replies aren’t in bold, but it’s still possible to figure out whose writing.

  • Meleah

    I can tell who is saying what. Thank you.

    And now, I will be addressing some of this in PRIVATE emails to you as I don’t need the WHOLE internet to know ALL the details of my psyche!

    But seriously, Thank You.

  • Despite my celebrations as of late for the high holidays, I’m not really into the hocus pocus stuff either. Yes I like the religion I belong to, no I don’t think a big light from the sky will shine down and solve all my problems if I pray. I think you have seen lots of people who take that stuff to the extreme and just give religion a bad name. There are also so many religions that are a total sham in the sense that they are cults designed to suck the cash out of you. I totally understand your scepticism and it’s justified.

    The bottom line is that you have to do what works for you. I don’t care for the people who think you have to have religion in your life or else it will all fall to pieces. It’s just not true. there are many atheists and agnostics that do just fine. So if that works, go for it. Beware of the idiots who try and force some debased version of G-d down your throat. these people are running away from themselves. It’s sad.

  • Greg & Meleah – one more comment and I promise I will not come back here.
    I read books about everything, not just self help books. I’ve read some great books about sex, but I didn’t consider every single technique in them the right one for me. I still don’t consider reading the whole book a waste of time or time that I should have spent doing something else. I tried something new. I thought about doing something that I had not thought about before, to me, that is a thought window. I may not spend anymore time thinking about it – it may not be worth the time (over-thinking), but I didn’t completely close my mind to the new thought.
    *sigh* The debate is good – too good. I’m sorry to take up more of your space.
    i’m going off to my own blog now with my tail between my legs. ;/

  • Meleah

    MICKI:

    I am sorry you feel that way.

    You are NOT taking up SPACE on my blog.

    I appreciate all of the different points of views and IDEAS.

    Thats how I am learning / growing.

    I really hope you didn’t mean it when you said “and I promise I will not come back here.”

    That would SUCK.

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