Last week we published here the Human Effectiveness Institute’s “highly incomplete checklist” of things to do each day in 2012 to define and meet your goals for the year. One could write a book on each item in that list. For starters, here’s a drill-down on one item in the list that in a way underpins all the other items on the list.
Item III.1 on the list describes why you should be enjoying the moment and provides ways to get yourself into that headspace. Ironically, this is the most difficult game on Earth.
In some version of this universe, it is natural to be in that state all the time, i.e. happy doing whatever you are doing at the moment, or not doing anything but just being there. Why not be happy? If it’s what you’re doing that is blocking happiness, do something else. Why were you doing it in the first place if it didn’t make you happy?
The ego is what gets in the way. The ego is the be-all and end-all of unhappiness. You can choose happiness or at least neutrality in any moment no matter what is being inflicted upon you against your will, to pick an extreme case. If you’re being waterboarded, okay, neutrality is probably the best you can hope for. But such an extreme case illustrates that by an act of will and focus we can indeed choose our mental emotional state. All of us can. There have been times when we’ve all had an opportunity to prove that to ourselves. Nonetheless, it’s the most difficult game on Earth.
In the prior post we also described a modus operandi where you allow events in your mind/feelings to occur and then float away downstream without holding onto them unless they are perfect and contain no negativity. An impulse to be unhappy is one such event. The typical reaction is to get stuck in it. Great news: you can allow that impulse to float downstream. Perhaps as it goes you realize where it came from, or not. But you choose not to listen to it, obey it, or be taken over by it. It was just an arising in your consciousness. They keep happening of their own accord. It’s as if they are being lobbed into you from somewhere, but it is not necessarily your own best interests or wisest self that lobs each one. In fact most of the incoming is not up to the quality level of your best thinking. So why take it all on?
The ego is what makes this game so damnably hard. Whether the brain is a biocomputer or that concept is merely a construct, we are offered similar user choices in both domains. In dealing with a computer we are always offered choices of “View”. The ego is one “View” we are offered within our own conscious experience.
The ego Views every cup as half empty. The ego is Worf on the Starship Enterprise. Stuff is out to get us and we had better have the adrenalin flowing to deal with it right now.
Adrenalin and cortisol of course play havoc with the body as well as the mind. The ego is also the source of all stress. The ego is the bad guy in this movie. And yet the ego has nothing but your own best interests at heart. As Freud speculated and we agree, the ego is the manager that interposes in front of the sensitive animal infant to take care of it as soon as there is seen to be an Other outside of the self who does not always hasten to obey the felt needs of the self. The ego is therefore a normal part of growing up. Why should we paint it as a bad guy?
My theory of Holosentience (whole-consciousness) is that we do not use our whole brains enough. We are dominated by the ego view, due to “temporary” imbalances that have occurred since the infancy of our race, which is where we still are. These imbalances resulted from a mixture of testosterone, left-brain dominance, and Acceleritis — really all parts of one phenomenon: the newest physical brain parts have been slow to gain their appropriate level of contribution within the total brain. These laggards are the right brain and prefrontal cortex. The violence of the pre-existing culture — driven by testosterone, tools and weapons — co-opted the left cortex, one of the newer brain parts, into their drama, at the expense of the right cortex. That causes the ego to be pandemically “swollen”. We get stuck; we have not learned the “float downstream” methodology. This is why staying happy in every moment is the hardest game on Earth. A million years from now, or even in a couple of hundred thousand years, it will not be so.
But we can’t wait.
We need to develop methodologies to advance ourselves mentally/emotionally that far into the future, now. The actual survival of the race may well be at stake, but more importantly, our own individual happiness — yours and mine, and that of the people we love, the whole human race — is at stake for sure.
Happiness cannot remain up the trail somewhere, an elusive thing we are working toward. Not good. Outdated idea. Time for the new idea. Happiness now. In every now. Now. And now. And now. Happiness all the time, internally controlled, internally generated, by an act of will. Infernally difficult but we cannot abandon this game as we possibly always have before. Now is the time to face it — fight it — and win. And keep winning. Because the game is not won once, but continuously. That’s what makes it so hard.
After nearly 5 billion years of Earth’s existence, dinosaurs ruled the Earth for 160 million years. This is the normal rate of change for evolution. Just 200,000 years ago the hairless standing ape emerged. This is an eyeblink in history considering the billions of years it took for Earth to develop life and the hundreds of millions of years for life to very slowly evolve. The problem is that the new big-brained hairless ape developed its brain physically at unbelievable speed and mentally at lightspeed by comparison with the formerly slow movement of the Earth drama.
The hairlessness was, according to Desmond Morris in The Naked Ape, evolution’s way of making humans sexier so as to promote full-life mating as a survival mechanism enabling time-binding, the passing on of knowledge from generation to generation. Hand in hand with hairlessness, larger female breasts and larger male genitalia than apes. In Morris’ theory, neotony — the longer time required for newborns to become self-sufficient in humans vs. other species — was also aimed at causing lifelong bonding of male and female so that the big-brained new ape could leverage its brain cumulatively across time.
Holosentience theory posits that we are living through a temporary spike in time when “recently” we have been given new testosterone levels, new highly-active left brains, still largely dormant right brains and forebrains, and we have not as a race learned yet how to integrate this stuff. The purpose of the Human Effectiveness Institute is to push forward that learning.
So back to the hardest game on Earth. As you go through your day, keep coming back to your right to be happy, right now, and use your focus, your will, and your creativity to bring about your happiness, in the Now. Let inner impulses float downstream if they are not conducive to your happiness in the Now. Take notes on stuff you let float away if you feel it is worth coming back to later, but let it go in the moment. This is remarkably conducive to flow state. There is a perceptible drag on flow state caused by looking backward at the supposed imperfections of what you did a moment ago. In martial arts one is trained to not gloat or sulk over your own last (good or bad) move. Erase everything downstream of the Now. Keep erasing it in your consciousness all the time, taking notes on items felt to contain future insight.
One thing that gets in the way of winning this supreme game is the never-ending To-Do list. We all have two of them, our primary moneymaking job To-Do list, and the Remainder-of-Life To-Do list. In this time of Acceleritis — which is still accelerating faster all the time, like an out of control merry-go-round — it’s common for sincere people who keep their agreements to wind up subordinating themselves and their moment-to-moment happiness to the To-Do list. This gives more weight to the To-Do list than to one’s own best interests. This is the thinking of a slave.
The recommended technique for de-weighting the To-Do list is, ironically, to be more thorough about how you maintain it. If you sweep everything up into two lists kept on the lower toolbar of your computer, prioritized as well as realistic time pressure allows, and continue to put the incoming in there, a palpable sense of calm ensues when you close these lists back down into the toolbar. You’re not going to forget to do anything. The most important stuff will arise in your mind to remind you to bring it to the top of the documented list. It suddenly all feels under control.
Sometimes learning how to use our brains comes down to simple stuff like this.
You have enough creativity to find ways to make whatever your task is at the moment more interesting to yourself. You may have to give yourself a little more time to achieve the desired effect. If you feel you are being watched at work and can’t carry out these methodologies, go to the rest room and into a stall. (Why do you think the human race called it a “stall” in the first place? 🙂 )
Beyond our own individual lives, I feel we all have a duty to posterity to bring widespread public awareness to how consciousness works, and how to make it work better. We need to start using methodologies such as “float downstream” in the upbringing of our children, in school curricula at all levels, and in on-the-job HR training. That’s the mission of the Human Effectiveness Institute and this blog is one of our means to that end.
Thanks for reading. For a short video relevant to this same subject, please click on the link below.
Best to all,