The Inner Struggle

Deceivers and Divine Mercy …

Ballad Of A Thin Man”, Bob Dylan, from the album “Highway 61 Revisited”, (1965)

Portrait of Crabbe by Henry William Pickersgill, circa 1818–19

“Deceivers are the most dangerous members of society. They trifle with the best affections of our nature, and violate the most sacred obligations.” George Crabbe 1754-1832

So, a spoiler to save the disinterested from wasting their time. This post is mostly a polemic against deception and the routine practice of it by those in positions of influence and power such that their deceptions influence the behaviour and beliefs of the innocent.

It is an appeal to authority to support my own opinion about the dangerous or even deadly influence of deception by secular and religious authorities in our polite progressive society.

Disceavers” (usage ca 1526, New Testament Translation) … the spelling and grammar are old but the message was (and is) unchanged from “The Pistle of Paul unto Titus  The First Chapter“.

Regarding “The epistle of Paul to Titus” we are, perhaps, more familiar with: ” 7For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,

8but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. 

10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.

12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.

15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” (Titus 1:7-16 New American Standard Bible)

David Warren

My favorite Idler has some interesting “treasures from the attic” in his latest post, namely: “The Chinese drawing masters were very strict (in the days before the destruction of their civilization). Any sign of an attempt to “fix” would be punished, audibly. Mistakes were punished, too; but trying to conceal them was understood to be the worse evil.

And also, aligning with one of my own treasures from the experience of blogging for over 4 years now … namely: (we bloggers) ” … must fight each temptation to replace, revise, amend. Leave margins for later comments. For the first thing is to think and write, without error, in the classical, linear way (staying “inside the box,” never straying). Later they may look back, and see all their stupidities clearly. This will make them less inclined to repeat them.

It would seem that our thoughts on “cover-ups” and “hiding or spinning the truth” are more or less congruent, perhaps because we have both experienced similar organizational “attempt(s) at erasure … and as we ought to know, dishonesty loves to hide … Should a mistake be made, it must be flagged, then corrected in the margin, in plain view. No tricks“.

Adam and Eve

Now, deception is another name for “lying”, and is Lucifer’s the stock in trade, his primary tool.  His other name is “Father of Lies”. The first big lie was what he told Eve in the garden, thereby destroying our trust in God for all generations.

Notice a few things here. After the big lie, when the deception becomes clear in 20/20 hindsight for Adam and Eve, when they hear God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening, rather than run to him, they run away. “Kids???? Where are you?”

Rather than acknowledge their sin, confess it, and jump into the embrace of God’s merciful love, they hide. Rather than trust in our infinitely good and merciful GOD, they have become afraid of him.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains what’s going on here: “Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command“. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness and mercy.

But Lucifer was the first and greatest deceiver. This first big lie sucked us out of paradise and lost us God’s loving presence. It appealed to our desire for more power and more wisdom and some unspecified “ascendancy”. Every deceiver since the beginning has been a child of Lucifer, a child of the Devil, an Antichrist”.

HMCS St. Laurent

And we, the gullible marks of this perpetual con game are easy targets for every huckster and spinner and politician and leader and writer and talking head “since Christ was a Killick in the Jewish Navy” as we used to say, back in the day, when referring to “forever”.

I was an “Able Seaman” during my service on HMCS St. Laurent, and a “Killick” on HMCS Saguenay,  always “Lower Decks” for this matelot.

HMCS Saguenay

Anyone from the Wardroom was suspect until they proved otherwise by demonstrated competence. Thankfully the Petty Officers and Chiefs really knew what they were doing and protected the Hands from the worst problems most of the time.

In that environment, there were always a significant number of “Subys” fresh out of Royal Roads some of whom indulged in “spin” or “cover-up” or even the blame game. They were my first introduction to “Deceivers”.

Those sorts could get you killed if allowed to run free. Most of them were weeded out but some were promoted up the line for whatever reason and eventually made their way to Ottawa, “the Hill”. So “deceiving” has been a real NoNo most of my adult life. Now, in old age, I find most, or perhaps all, of what comes out of the media and our leadership is some form of spin and deception. And just like in the days of my mis-spent youf, if it goes on long enough its gonna get someone killed.

So, this is for real, not a figment of someone’s imagination: “10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”

I have found from experience that “Deceivers are (indeed) the most dangerous members of society”. Not only do their lies lead to serious problems but they also often serve to protect and perpetuate the success of the liars.

This category of practitioners … practicing upon our credulity with the bald-faced intention to delude … includes what seem to be many of the brightest members of our “nice” “polite” population, and virtually all those at the level of Director and above, in most bureaucracies and organizations, those who have been most “rewarded by this world”. Deception rules, and it is destroying our world and our society.

To illustrate that the most important virtue is honesty I am going to quote from a wonderful little book by Mark Manson called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k, A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life”:

*****

Mark Manson

There’s a bluntness to Russian culture that generally rubs Westerners the wrong way. Gone are the fake niceties and verbal webs of politeness. You don’t smile at strangers or pretend to like anything you don’t. In Russia, if something is stupid, you say it’s stupid. …

But as the weeks wore on, I got used to the Russian frankness, much as I did the midnight sunsets and the vodka that went down like ice water. And then I started appreciating it for what it really was: unadulterated expression. Honesty in the truest sense of the word. Communication with no conditions, no strings attached, no ulterior motive, no sales job, no desperate attempt to be liked.

I remember discussing this dynamic with my Russian teacher one day, and he had an interesting theory. Having lived under communism for so many generations, with little to no economic opportunity and caged by a culture of fear (and dishonesty and distrust), Russian society found the most valuable currency to be trust. And to build trust you have to be honest. That means when things suck, you say so openly and without apology.

People’s displays of unpleasant honesty were rewarded for the simple fact that they were necessary for survival—you had to know whom you could rely on and whom you couldn’t, and you needed to know quickly. But, in the “free” West, my Russian teacher continued, there existed an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually be that way.

Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship (spin) became more advantageous forms of expression. Knowing a lot of people superficially was more beneficial than knowing a few people closely. This is why it became the norm in Western cultures to smile and say polite things even when you don’t feel like it, to tell little white lies and agree with someone whom you don’t actually agree with.

This is why people learn to pretend to be friends with people they don’t actually like, to buy things they don’t actually want. The economic system promotes such deception. The downside of this is that you never know, in the West, if you can completely trust the person you’re talking to.

Sometimes this is the case even among good friends or family members. There is such pressure in the West to be likable that people often reconfigure their entire personality depending on the person they’re dealing with.

Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 167-170). HarperCollins.

*****

So we have built a society of deceivers, liars, and frauds. We have built a society that rewards dishonesty and deception. and it is slowly killing us all. So, what’s the fix?  Sadly, I don’t see any fix this side of the grave. This world protects its own and if one is not “of this world” the focus has to be on the next. This world is just one night in a bad hotel.

Cheers

Joe

All the ruined castles of our lies…

 

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Sincerity …

Hamachidori“, by Ryutaro Hirota, played by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra & Kazumasa Watanabe, from the album “Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

Lately I’ve been thinking about Justice, Gratitude, and Sincerity. We are observably running a serious deficit in these important virtues in our polite, politically correct, Canadian society.

I recently finished a decent little book by an author named Mark Manson. His book is all about the delusions we suffer under through caring too much about too many things and having values which are disconnected from our reality, which disconnect Steven Covey used to call our “circle of concern” versus our circle of influence.

In his book, Mark Manson makes a reference to the differences between Russian culture and Western Anglo culture. I think it is on or about page 166 and 170 or thereabouts. Anyway, here is an (longish) excerpt which perfectly encapsulates my observation about our progressive, politically correct, Canadian society:

*****

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

In 2011, I traveled to Saint Petersburg, Russia. The food sucked. The weather sucked. (Snow in May? Are you f**king kidding me?) My apartment sucked. Nothing worked. Everything was overpriced. The people were rude and smelled funny. Nobody smiled and everyone drank too much. Yet, I loved it. It was one of my favorite trips. There’s a bluntness to Russian culture that generally rubs Westerners the wrong way. Gone are the fake niceties and verbal webs of politeness. You don’t smile at strangers or pretend to like anything you don’t.

In Russia, if something is stupid, you say it’s stupid. If someone is being an asshole, you tell him he’s being an asshole. If you really like someone and are having a great time, you tell her that you like her and are having a great time. It doesn’t matter if this person is your friend, a stranger, or someone you met five minutes ago on the street.

The first week I found all of this really uncomfortable. I went on a coffee date with a Russian girl, and within three minutes of sitting down she looked at me funny and told me that what I’d just said was stupid. I nearly choked on my drink. There was nothing combative about the way she said it; it was spoken as if it were some mundane fact—like the quality of the weather that day, or her shoe size—but I was still shocked. After all, in the West such outspokenness is seen as highly offensive, especially from someone you just met. But it went on like this with everyone. Everyone came across as rude all the time, and as a result, my Western-coddled mind felt attacked on all sides.

Nagging insecurities began to surface in situations where they hadn’t existed in years. But as the weeks wore on, I got used to the Russian frankness, much as I did the midnight sunsets and the vodka that went down like ice water. And then I started appreciating it for what it really was: unadulterated expression. Honesty in the truest sense of the word. Communication with no conditions, no strings attached, no ulterior motive, no sales job, no desperate attempt to be liked.

Somehow, after years of travel, it was in perhaps the most un-American of places where I first experienced a particular flavor of freedom: the ability to say whatever I thought or felt, without fear of repercussion. It was a strange form of liberation through accepting rejection. And as someone who had been starved of this kind of blunt expression most of his life—first by an emotionally repressed family life, then later by a meticulously constructed false display of confidence—I got drunk on it like, well, like it was the finest damn vodka I’d ever had.

Canals of Saint Petersburg

Canals of Saint Petersburg

The month I spent in Saint Petersburg went by in a blur, and by the end I didn’t want to leave. Travel is a fantastic self-development tool, because it extricates you from the values of your culture and shows you that another society can live with entirely different values and still function and not hate themselves.

This exposure to different cultural values and metrics then forces you to reexamine what seems obvious in your own life and to consider that perhaps it’s not necessarily the best way to live. In this case, Russia had me reexamining the bullshitty, fake-nice communication that is so common in Anglo culture, and asking myself if this wasn’t somehow making us more insecure around each other and worse at intimacy.

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg

I remember discussing this dynamic with my Russian teacher one day, and he had an interesting theory. Having lived under communism for so many generations, with little to no economic opportunity and caged by a culture of fear, Russian society found the most valuable currency to be trust. And to build trust you have to be honest. That means when things suck, you say so openly and without apology. People’s displays of unpleasant honesty were rewarded for the simple fact that they were necessary for survival—you had to know whom you could rely on and whom you couldn’t, and you needed to know quickly.

But, in the “free” West, my Russian teacher continued, there existed an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually be that way. Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship became more advantageous forms of expression. Knowing a lot of people superficially was more beneficial than knowing a few people closely.

Shopping in the West ...

Shopping in the West …

This is why it became the norm in Western cultures to smile and say polite things even when you don’t feel like it, to tell little white lies and agree with someone whom you don’t actually agree with. This is why people learn to pretend to be friends with people they don’t actually like, to buy things they don’t actually want. The economic system promotes such deception.

The downside of this is that you never know, in the West, if you can completely trust the person you’re talking to. Sometimes this is the case even among good friends or family members. There is such pressure in the West to be likable that people often reconfigure their entire personality depending on the person they’re dealing with.

Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 166-170). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

*****

Hamabe No Uta (Narita), Jean-Pierre Rampal, from the album “Rampal: Japanese Folk Melodies”, (1978)

So, if you got this far then we can get to daily life here in the Anglo west. How do we deal with Justice, Gratitude, and Sincerity? Well, it seems that mostly we don’t. Oh, we talk a lot about it, especially Justice, but when it comes right down to it we shy away from the reality of these virtues, preferring to dodge in favor of some direction that either makes us look better, or feel better about ourselves, or influences the other in a direction beneficial to ourselves. Distinctly the opposite of Justice, Gratitude, and Sincerity.

It seems, on consideration, that we, as a nation, are just more comfortable lieing about reality – or as I have written before: “Joe, I don’t care about your damned facts, and your damned truth, I just want to have a pleasant conversation with my friends”. I think the foundation of these three virtues is really Sincerity. And it seems that the only thing which invokes sincerity these days is the destruction and discrediting of anyone who disagrees with us.  C.S. Lewis said it well in his little essay about Bulverism a (shortish) excerpt of which appears below from one of my previous posts here:

*****

Until Bulverism is crushed, reason can play no effective part in human affairs. Each side snatches it early as a weapon against the other; but between the two reason itself is discredited. And why should reason not be discredited? It would be easy, in answer, to point to the present state of the world, but the real answer is even more immediate.

The forces discrediting reason, themselves depend of reasoning. You must reason even to Bulverize. You are trying to prove that all proofs are invalid. If you fail, you fail. If you succeed, then you fail even more – for the proof that all proofs are invalid must be invalid itself.

The alternative then is either sheer self-contradicting idiocy or else some tenacious belief in our power of reasoning, held in the teeth of all the evidence that Bulverists can bring for a “taint” in this or that human reasoner.

I am ready to admit, if you like, that this tenacious belief has something transcendental or mystical about it. What then? Would you rather be a lunatic than a mystic?

*****

And so we now see that virtually every “debate” extent today in all venues and all media is simply some variant of “Bulverism” which we are now calling “Social Media” and “Fake News”. For the powers of reason have been abrogated by the legions of  the thoughtless – Truly Truly I say to you – a Zombie Apocalypse. So what about Justice, Gratitude, and Sincerity, especially Sincerity?

Why is Sincerity the foundation of the other two, the foundation of Justice, and Gratitude? Well, lets take a stab and see if I can get it out. What I say here is informed by a fervent belief in God and the absolute Goodness, that is, the absolute Truth of God. To grow to adulthood we must continually search to possess truth in our hearts, in the core of our being.

We have to know ourselves as we really are, we have to know the absolute truth about ourselves, without any trace of disguise and artificiality. This means that we have to know and accept not only the truths about ourselves which please us, but also all those truths which are painful and wound our pride and self worship by exposing our faults and evil tendencies.

A Sincere adult never avoids or dodges these painful truths, but rather treasures them because the humiliation of these painful truths is worth more than illusion, which flatters our pride and builds up our self worship and keeps us steadfastly on the broad road to perdition.  Even our society’s denial of the broad road is just another illusion to which we cling because we would rather take the easy path regardless of the long term cost. People would literally rather die than change their behaviour. People seem to spend all their precious time searching for the quick fix which will permit them to keep on indulging their fantasies and gratifying their appetites and egos.

Daily we encounter contradiction in the course of going about whatever makes up our lives, and as often as not that contradiction gives rise to anger, rebellion, selfishness, and continuous pressure to indulge our fantasies, palliate our flaws and faults and to continue to cling to our illusions about ourselves and the world we live in.

Any growth requires the courage to acknowledge our faults, accept our faults and the effort of will to change our behaviors and beliefs to conform with empirical reality. If instead we blame circumstances, or other people, or the economy or the politics of the day then we perpetuate the fantasies which are crippling us and preventing the existence of Justice, Gratitude and Sincerity. But it all starts with a sincere appraisal of the truths of our inner self, the inner self to which we are so attached and which we worship.

To be sincere our words and actions must correspond to our thoughts. To be convinced of one thing but to affirm something else for the sake of expediency or to avoid hurting the “feelings” of another person is contrary to truth. Shorn of all make-up it is “living a lie”,  for the sake of gaining an advantage over another. That said, sincerity does not require that we reveal all that we think and know to everyone, this is contrary to prudence (another virtue). Sincerity does, however, demand that everything we do reveal by word or action or even by silence, corresponds to truth.

Cheers

Joe

Disclaimer for nitpickers: We take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately

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The Inner Struggle

Doing the Right Thing … with anger and resentment? … or peaceful humility?

ゆりかごの歌”  William W. Spearman IV, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

“Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

“Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

For the last little while, I have been thinking about stress and disposition, over hot coffee, and amongst friends and allies, all the while acknowledging that  congeniality and a relative absence of turmoil and emotive stress are required to consider honestly any life situation involving said turmoil and stress.

I have been considering the difference between doing, or not doing the required “right thing” which you are handed by circumstances and the exigencies of daily life. Between saying and not saying whatever comes to mind as one finds oneself yet again troubled by the unrest resulting from the ill considered actions and sayings of others.

As Bill the Bard famously wrote: “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them”. I rather suspect folks have thinking these thoughts for a long long time.

I think the question of doing or not doing is pretty much settled, at least for me. Of course we “do the right thing” regardless of how we feel about it personally, sometimes we even manage to do it to the extent that we choose to make major personal sacrifices to do the right thing. All well and good. Doing “the right thing” is the important thing. 

But my personal jury is still out deliberating over “saying” or “not saying”.  Adapting ourselves to the mentalities, preferences and needs of others proves to be a real obstacle to doing the right thing with good will. We give ourselves a free pass to say whatever comes to mind because “the other” is wrong, rude, ungrateful, malicious, stupid, they don’t understand, they never learn … the excuses we use to heal our self image and justify our bad behaviour are endless.

Captain James T. Kirk

We choose to insist upon our personal feelings, our point of view, our own tastes, instead of resolving to overlook  all the differences of temperament, mentality, education, experience, tastes and so on.

Putting ourselves as the service of the other with a genuine and sincere spirit of humility in all things would short circuit the hard wired reactions of resentment, anger, judgement, and general dissatisfaction with the “moronic” conduct of others which lack of consideration and foresight leads to all the problems and crisis of daily life, our “Calvary”.

So how can one reasonably transition from anger, resentment, thirst for personal justice and fairness, wake up and smell the coffee, people, the all encompassing general irritation with the idiosyncrasies and idiocy of those around us who are continually screwing with our otherwise peaceful pleasant lives by their self-centered, narcissistic, ill-considered, defecation on the carpet of life?

How can one transition from pride and arrogance to humility and peace?

“早春賦”, William W. Spearman IV, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

It strikes me today that that place of transition, that no-man’s land between anger and arrogance and peaceful humility, may well be entered into by Mark Manson’s “Subtle art of not giving a F***”. As he says in his book (swapping the F-bomb for “damn”):

*****

Look, this is how it works. You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon.

And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of damns to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a damn about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get damned.

There is a subtle art to not giving a damn. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an idiot, what I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively—how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values.

This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life.

Because when you give too many damns—when you give a damn about everyone and everything—you will feel that you’re perpetually entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is supposed to be just exactly the damned way you want it to be.

***

Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 13-14). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The fault zone, the rift valley, between the tectonic plate of self-righteous anger and resentment and the neighboring undiscovered country of peaceful meekness and humility in all things is so huge as to be difficult to apprehend and consider crossing without some kind of mountain pass or transition zone.

I am thinking that perhaps that philosophical mountain pass is in fact exactly what Mark is talking about: “pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values”.

Not only “what matters to me” but leap to “What Matters”! In this metaphorical mountain pass we can pick off daily bites of climbing which our limited abilities make doable.

Considering the entire fault zone as one huge challenge to “leap at a single bound!” puts us in the position of having to be Tony Stark in our Iron Man flying power armor. We are going to fail, come up short, confirm just what a screw-up we really are, in short turn our struggle into a self fulfilling prophecy of failure and misery.

Then, as a newly realized, miserable failure, we are tempted to indulge in : … F***ing  things up in at least one of two ways: 1.   “Denial”.  Some people deny that their problems exist in the first place. And because they deny reality, they must constantly delude or distract themselves from reality. This may make them feel good in the short term, but it leads to a life of insecurity, neuroticism, and emotional repression.

And 2.  (a real biggy) Victim Mentality”.  Some choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problems, even when they in fact could. Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances. This may make them feel better in the short term, but it leads to a life of anger, helplessness, and despair.

People deny and blame others for their problems for the simple reason that it’s easy and feels good, while solving (personal behaviour) problems is hard and often feels bad.

So, these days I am strongly leaning towards “daily bites of climbing” which are doable with our limited resources and God’s help. The other part of this challenge is the understanding that we are unlikely to be successful in attaining peaceful, humble, meekness in any degree of perfection. This is a daily ongoing battle – failing and getting up again and trying again.

No matter how much we may seem to have failed, the climb is all about never giving up and always starting again with renewed commitment. This is all that matters, it is an effort of the will, it is not emotional, and there are precious few consolations along the way. The emotional danger of feeling that all our time and effort is wasted is what tempts us to give up in our effort.

Our ordinary notion of progress does not serve us well in this climb, for it will often appear that we spend more time failing than succeeding, and in that we lose site of the fact that the climb is all about trying and never giving up.

At least that is how it seems to me these days.

Cheers

Joe

Never Give Up, Never Give Up, Never Give Up …

 

 

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The Inner Struggle

Happiness is a Problem …

Here is a brief excerpt from my latest good read … : Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 31-32). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

*****

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

To be happy we need something to solve. Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity, not something that is passively bestowed upon you, not something that you magically discover in a top-ten article on the Huffington Post or from any specific guru or teacher. It doesn’t magically appear when you finally make enough money to add on that extra room to the house. You don’t find it waiting for you in a place, an idea, a job—or even a book, for that matter.

Happiness is a constant work-in-progress, because solving problems is a constant work-in-progress—the solutions to today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s problems, and so on. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving. Sometimes those problems are simple: eating good food, traveling to some new place, winning at the new video game you just bought. Other times those problems are abstract and complicated: fixing your relationship with your mother, finding a career you can feel good about, developing better friendships.

Whatever your problems are, the concept is the same: solve problems; be happy.

Unfortunately, for many people, life doesn’t feel that simple. That’s because they f*** things up in at least one of two ways:

1.   Denial. Some people deny that their problems exist in the first place. And because they deny reality, they must constantly delude or distract themselves from reality. This may make them feel good in the short term, but it leads to a life of insecurity, neuroticism, and emotional repression.

2.   Victim Mentality. Some choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problems, even when they in fact could. Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances. This may make them feel better in the short term, but it leads to a life of anger, helplessness, and despair.

People deny and blame others for their problems for the simple reason that it’s easy and feels good, while solving problems is hard and often feels bad. Forms of blame and denial give us a quick high. They are a way to temporarily escape our problems, and that escape can provide us a quick rush that makes us feel better.

*****

Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 31-32). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

It just gets better

Cheers

Joe

blind leading the blindJust follow the Guru – we know what’s best for you …

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** …

“Highway 61 Revisited”, Bob Dylan, from the album of the same name, (1965)

Don't Try

Don’t Try

As previously noted, every now and again I come across an outstanding post on someone else’s blog or an article in an online publication or some beautifully articulated observation or, in this case, a little book that just nails the salient observations of life, at least MY observations anyway.

Just such a book is a new release by Mark Manson, read more about Mark here. I have edited an excerpt from his new book — replacing the F bomb with “damn” — to make it presentable for all audiences – but I warn you that the F bomb and other crudities figure large in this little gem.

Having spent the better part of the 70’s in the military, and a subsequent 10 years as a Correctional Officer, and understanding that there would be little or no communication in the military or the Corrections Service without the grammatical lubrication provided by the F bomb, and knowing some guys personally who would be quite literally speechless if they could not use the F bomb, I find its use in this book hilarious but … I have a somewhat twisted sense of humor and your mileage may vary. Was that a run-on sentence?

*****

Look, this is how it works. You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon.

Mark Manson, early 2016

Mark Manson, early 2016

And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of damns to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a damn about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get damned.

There is a subtle art to not giving a damn. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an idiot, what I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively—how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values.

This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life.

Because when you give too many damns—when you give a damn about everyone and everything—you will feel that you’re perpetually entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is supposed to be just exactly the damned way you want it to be.

*****

Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 13-14). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The humor of the F bomb aside, this is a concise summary of what goes wrong with our lives when we just give too many damns!

Cheers

Joe

Kananaskis     OR      Wheat harvest

We choose the kind of life we have, the sorrows, difficulties and trials we encounter by the  things we choose to give a damn about!

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