I’m sure all of us are familar with the fact that what you spend your time thinking about has a massive impact on your success, your emotions, and your relationships with others. This lead me to spend a lot of time thinking about the kinds of things I should spend my time thinking about.
Is thinking a good thing? After all, we’ve all seen people who spend so much time thinking about their life, their identity, and where they’re going, that they think themselves into depression. To avoid this, a mindset typically pops up which goes something along the lines: Live in the moment and enjoy each small instant.
Then again, people who do not understand the “big picture” seem to be lost. If you don’t ever think about your life, or where you’re going, or have any sort of plans, you seem to leave the destiny of your life up to some arbitrary fate. We’ve all heard things along the line: Make each step firm by thinking out your options and good planning.
I’ve always noticed when confronted with dilemmas of this sort, where it seems there’s only two options, both with unpleasing consequences, that there’s typically a third option that was left unnoticed in the beginning. This issue is one of those cases.
First off, I’m going to tackle the kinds of things you do not want to think about. I’m going to show the kinds of thoughts which lead to depression, and what they all have in common.
Next I’m going to show that everything hinges on a person’s “mindset”. Whether a person is depressed when reflecting, or filled with joy when reflecting, is all based on their mindset.
Finally I’m going to talk about the kinds of things I spend my time reflecting on, and how they’ve brought me progressive joy.
II. Thinking On What Does Not Exist
One of the first things that’s sure to bring depression in reflection is thinking on what does not exist. Let’s just jump right into some details, all from my own personal experiences, and analyze them afterwards.
The first example I’m going to give, that I’m very very guilty of, is day-dreaming of relationships with members of the opposite sex, which do not exist. I used to do this all the time.
You know what’s nasty about this one? It’s fun while you’re doing it. That’s the bait, and that’s how this one will get you if you let it.
I used to spend hours, lying in bed, thinking of girls I had crushes on, taking them out on romantic dates, laughing, and having good times. What’s even worse about this kind of ordeal is that you can actually fall in love with a girl, when the girl is completely unworthy of any sort of affection on your part. You’ve fantasized of this girl for so long, that you’ve built up a whole host of emotional affections that should not even exist.
This is a sure fire way to mess up your own mind, mess things up with the girl if you had a chance with her (because you’re going to act weird around her), and mess your emotions up with all kinds of depression.
If you’re going to be a happy individual, you’re going to have to learn to be happy with your real life. You can’t create fantasies because whenever you finally open your eyes you’re going to see that what you’ve dreamed about all day isn’t there. That’s when the depression will kick in, and the depression is far worse than the mild fun you were able to have in your imagination.
Another example, that I’m embarrassed to even admit, is day-dreaming while listening to music.
I did this one as well, and it would steal the joy I should have been having while listening to music, and instead left depression.
We all want to be interesting to the people around us, and one thing that seems to be common to all of us is a love of music. So instead of turning on the music and enjoying it, you daydream that you are the one playing the music in front of either your friends, a particular social group, or a member of the opposite sex you’re interested in. I’m guilty of all of the above.
Music has another scenario which can get you as well. Turn on a very emotionally charged song and you start to daydream you’re on an epic adventure of some kind. Good music can do that to you. Instead of focusing on how great the piece of music is, you’re instead saving the world, fighting some crazy monster, or sailing the ocean in an old fashioned sailboat.
I’ll mention again, as I stated just a second ago, you need to be happy in reality. Your mental energies need to be focused not on fantasies, but on getting your real life to be the fantasy.
I’ve found with fantasies that they’re shallow and pale in comparison to the real thing. You may not want to let go of your fantasies sometimes, especially if life is not going the way you want it to, but I’ll tell you, get the real thing. Sail on a real boat. Feel the wind on your face, hear the ocean below, and see the sunset with your own eyes. It’ll be so much more vivid than you could have ever imagined.
There will be so many details that your vague daydream was lacking.
When you daydream about members of the opposite sex, you’re by definition living in your own mind. There’s no spontaneity. You’re never suprised at what happens. The real thing will be so much more fulfilling.
Don’t give up on the dream, give up the fantasy. I advise you, never daydream. Continually work toward getting your real life to be the dream.
III. Thinking on What You Do Not Want
The world is never in a state of affairs that is completely, 100% in line with how you would like to be. That leaves some things that you like, and some things that you do not like.
I’ve found, so very very often that people continually focus on what their world is NOT. They focus on the ‘negation’, or the negative. The ‘negative’ as it’s so often called, is focusing on what the world is not, or how it is in a state of affairs you do not approve of.
I like to browse around sites like Myspace, Xanga, Livejournal, etc, and see the kinds of posts people have, because it directly reflects what is on people’s minds. I saw one girl’s just the other day, talking about growing up. She was at a party with some of her friends, and they started to act childish. They were running around the yard, playing with toys. Then she said something about how we can’t always be an adult, and take everything so seriously. She mentioned some bad news events going on, and other aspects of her country she did not like, and mentioned we can’t always be adults.
Greg and I would say this girl is living in bad basis. Her view of what it means to be an adult is neccessarily to reflect on the negative news (which is a very small fraction of mostly good reality) and other aspects of this sort. This is an awful way to view being an adult.
It’s sad because a person’s life will be a direct consequence of what they can envision in their mind. If she cannot envision a better picture of what it means to be an adult, she will, by neccessity, live a miserable life as an adult. She doesn’t know any differently. All kinds of horrible things will be going on in her mind, because she thinks this way.
This girl is going to dread getting older, because she only views that life can be good if you live child-like. That’s the only fun she’s ever had. She thinks to be an adult is to live a reactive life to what the world’s trashiest scum are doing. It’s no wonder she wants to go back to being a child.
But toys are for kids. I don’t say that because I’m trying to say, “you’re too old now to play with toys.” I’m saying that you’d be better off getting grown up toys, because they’re much much better. You can sit in a bathtub and play with your plastic boat, or you can get yourself a yacht, sail in the Caribbean, and go scuba diving in the coral reefs. You can get yourself a cheap snorkle at Wal-Mart, and fantasize you’re doing this in your bathtub, but it won’t be near as good of an experience, I can tell you that right now.
As for taking things “seriously” now that you’re an adult, life is about being a creator, not living reactively to what others are doing. What the news portrays as “reality” is not even what is going on.
I love my father, but I think sometimes he’s been polluted by watching too much of the news. We were eating pizza a few months ago, and my mother mentioned visiting Israel. My Dad mentioned, “With all the terrorist bombings going on over there, you don’t want to go over there.” Then I said, “Dad, I was just watching a DVD course here just recently, and the professor was talking about just this issue. The DVD set was on statistics and as a real example he gave the statistical probability of you dying by being killed in a terrorist bombing versus you dying in a normal car accident here in the USA. You’re 3 times more likely to die in a car accident over here than you are to die in a terrorist killing over in Israel.”
I could give countless examples of this sort of propaganda. The real terrorists are the news networks. They have turned us all against each other, and have made us all hide in our homes in fear, when there is little to fear. You hear about the neurotic college student going and killing 20 students, or a bombing, or a woman who was raped while using the vaccuum at the car wash.
What about the other 20 million kids who went to college for the past 10 years and haven’t even been injured? What about the million other buildings that have never been bombed, and I bet if you set a camera outside of every car wash in the entire state of Missouri, did a statistical probability of how likely it is that you’re going to be raped, and it’d be 1 in a very large number.
But numbers are abstract. I advise you, go to the college campus in your local town, go there every day, sit in the middle of campus, and just watch the things going on. You’ll get a picture of the reality and you’ll see it’s a peaceful setting. Go outside the car-wash, and watch it all day long. You’ll find it’s not a dangerous place at all.
If all you do is watch the news, you’ll have a distorted view of reality, because all they do is show you the small percentage (and it’s very small) of the very very worst atrocities imaginable. It’s by definition, the very worst thing you could even focus your mind on.
I notice when I go for my walks, I’ll be walking along the sidewalk and a woman will be coming outdoors to get her mail out of her mailbox. The timing will just so happen to where I would be near the mailbox when she would be checking it, so she’ll look at me for a second, then act like she’s busy doing something in her yard until I walk by. The same thing happened the other day when I was walking by a bank. I was walking on the sidewalk when an older man would have been getting into his vehicle. He got a little nervous, then bent down and literally started examining some thing in the grass.
I thought, man, what has the news done to us. It has turned us into a paranoid world. Everyone is scared of everyone else, irrationally. A rational man bases his decisions on probability, but these people just assume near everyone is dangerous. That’s statistically unsound, and unreasonable. I walk around town all the time, and I even walk by people who are rough looking at times, and they never bother me. I have no fear. There are truly some situations that are dangerous, but it’s unfortunate to see that people are generally, by default, accused beforehand to be a mother-stabbing, rapist, murderer.
I was walking by the Middle school one time, and I cut through their field. I walked around the building there for a bit and was seeing my old school I used to go to. Lo and behold, here comes a police officer. No kids were even in school, as it was spring break. I was walking around the school campus sidewalks, and seeing the new additions and checking out the tether-ball poles. The officer pulls up right beside me, gets out of the car, lights up a cigarette and watches me like a hawk. He talked to me for a second, and was acting wary of me. Someone had called the police, paranoid I was going to break into the school. No one trusts anyone.
Sometimes I meet people online playing video games, and it’s amazing if you meet a girl. They are so paranoid of stalkers. Greg and I always laugh at this strange phenomenon. I can meet a girl in real life, meet her in some location, and next thing you know (even maybe the next weekened or something) you’re picking her up in your car, and you’re going to do something together. Internet girls, you can know them for over a year, and they’re still paranoid you may show up on their doorstep. I don’t know why they’ll trust a stranger in person, but not trust someone they’ve had a year to get to know, and I can only assume paranoia in relation to news and stories about stalkers.
Outside of the news, however, other things that can get you depressed really fast is thinking on lost loves, failures, or screw-ups. This is heavily tied to thinking on what doesn’t exist. Thinking on these kinds of subjects reminds me of hopping in a cannon, and shooting yourself in a black void that sucks the life out of you as you stay there. Black holes start out as concentrated suctions, and when they suck things in, they start to expand as they do so. These kinds of thoughts are the same way. You’ll throw all your mental energies away thinking on these types of things, and the worst part is, it won’t help you at all. You’ll only be left with an ever expanding void and emptiness.
IV. Self Consciousness
The last issue to consider on things that will take the joy of life away from you is self-consciousness. I’ve already mentioned examples of self-consciousness before, such as listening to music and dreaming you’re playing it for someone else, but there’s a lot more to say on this topic.
What is self-consciousness? It is when you try to portray an identity to someone else, being reactive to the world around you, instead of being an identity that you want to be.
The most powerful piece of advice I can tell you is to be selfish when it comes to your identity. Don’t let anyone else form it. You form it. Be what you want to be, and do what you want to do (with ethical constraints of course).
I remember talking to a really neat girl a while back, on some discussion, and I was the one talking. I think the subject was related to business. I said a bunch of things, and she said, “That’s really interesting. I wish I had some interesting things to say.”
This kind of thing is self-consciousness, and it was probably robbing her of a decent conversation experience. It’s kind of charming, I guess, to think someone thinks highly enough of you to try to put off an image, but at the same time, don’t do this.
Do you think a little kid reflects on the image he’s portraying as you talk to him about something? No, he just listens. He doesn’t care if he doesn’t contribute anything. He doesn’t care if he looks smart, or looks stupid, or what he looks like. If he’s interested, he keeps listening, if not, he tells you that up front. This kind of thinking is why little kids enjoy life.
People want to go back to being children, but what they really want to do is go back to a world in which they are not so self-conscious. I remember being a child and going to the beach, and I just dove face first into the wet sand and slid along. I got all messy and didn’t think a thing of it. The waves crashed all over me as I rolled to and fro. My little brother buried me in the sand and only my head was sticking up… Why can’t you do that anymore?
Ohhh, you’re 24 years old now. You can’t do that. That’d be “inappropriate”. What??? Says who? If you want to do that, go do it. Bunch of prunes. Everyone’s all looking at everyone else to see what they’re doing… Would so and so approve of this? Would that cute girl over there think I’m goofy? Would I be giving off a “cool guy”, “intellectual” image if I did that.
Don’t misunderstand me here. Some people would take that line and go to the beach and start acting like an idiot just to show people that they’re “free” or something.
That kind of thinking is stealing life away from you. Don’t try to be different. Don’t try to be cool. Don’t try to be anything other than what you want to be. That’s the key to losing self-consciousness and living life again.
I was talking to Ek yesterday about people trying to be “different”. Ek mentioned some guitar magazine was mouthing Eric Claptop because he didn’t use enough “technicals” or something. I said, Eric Clapton makes his music because he likes it. He’s not going to care one way or the other what these “critics” are saying. That’s why he’s awesome. He’s not trying to put off some image. He’s not trying to be better than anyone. He’s not looking at what everyone else is doing, and what people are saying about him. He’s just out there playing guitar and loving what he does.
To try to be different is by definition reacting to what someone else is already doing. It’s self-consciousness. To be different, you have to be different than someone else. You have to look to what someone else is doing to make sure you’re being different.
We’ve all seen groups of people who die their hair strange colors, have tattoos all over their body, piercings all over themselves, etc. You go up to them and what do you hear them saying? They start talking about someone else, and how they’re expressing their freedom, and how other people just don’t let themselves be free.
They are the ones actually enslaved. They are reacting to what all the rest of us are doing, and trying to prove something to us by being different.
If you’re a blonde haired girl, and you go to the beauty salon and they fix your hair, and your hair ends up looking like Kelly Ripa or something, and you think, “Ohhh, I look like Kelly Ripa… I need to have this changed. I can’t be looking like her!” NO! If you like it, wear it that way! Even if you look like 90% of the other blondes out there. If you look good (and if you’re looking like Kelly Ripa, you’re definitely looking good :)), and you like it, you go!
Don’t be all you can be, be all you want to be.
V. The Virtual World – A Person’s Mindset
Most of us have a common sense view that we all live in the same world, here on the Earth, in our cozy corner of the universe. I don’t think so myself. I think every person out there sees an entirely different world, based on how they’ve chosen to view things, and their self-created identity.
You can take two people with near identical quality lives, with similar jobs, and similar familes, and one thinks he’s in a prison, and the other thinks he’s in a paradise. What’s the difference between the two?
It’s all in their mind. Typically I see a set of core factors which tend to either make a person miserable, or happy. These same factors also completely determine whether the person will be materially successful or live a life of poverty. What are these factors?:
1. Religion and Life Philosophy
This includes their views on life, meaning, purpose, God, where they are going, death, etc.
2. Political and Social Philosophy
This includes how they view the other people and social groups around them, and how they’ve chosen to interact with them.
What a person knows about the world, and how they think on what they know.
To some people this life is all about material success. They’ll tell you, “After all, what else is there?” To others it’s just the opposite. They say possessions will bring you nothing. Life is about learning to be content.
Some people trust the people around them and feel that mankind is generally good and has good motives and intentions. Others feel that mankind is by nature evil and must be kept a close eye on. Then there’s those who feel we’re just a biological mishap, strutting around wasting time.
Some people are educated, others feel learning isn’t where life is to be found. Education leads to a wide variety of types of people. The uneducated are basically left to take whatever view the propaganda around them is leading them into. They never know what’s going on. Then there’s those who study and study and study. Some study and the knowledge brings them happiness. Others study and the knowledge brings them only misery.
Some completely live a life of sacrifice, building points up for the afterlife. Others, feel they need to live this life to its fullest, because this is their one go-around.
Some learn about the stars and our universe and think of infinite opportunity. Others feel that because there’s a lot more to life than themselves, they think their life now means nothing.
Some study physics and see opportunity for widespread cures for disease, hunger, and exploration of new fronteirs. Others only see this new technology with fear, as they believe it’s only going to be used by someone incredibly evil to kill us all.
Some study finance and make lots of money only to be miserable. Others make lots of money and are happy as can be. Then there’s the outsiders looking at the rich either rooting them on, or completely jealous.
Some study mathematics and see it as a key to everything. Others think it’s a pedantic waste of time.
Some look at a painting and it takes them to a wonderful place. Others see the same exact painting and only notice an old woman in outdated clothing.
I don’t think anyone sees the same thing. When I’m with a group of people, I keep a close eye out, and I listen intently, because I love to hear how people view things.
You can take a walk through the city with anyone, and I like to just walk alongside a group of people I know, and simply listen to the conversation. Some people only notice the trash around them. You can walk through a beautiful city and they won’t say a word until you find one plastic cup on the ground along the curb. Then they start to rant on how people just don’t appreciate the city. It’s like the trash is the only thing they notice. Others only see beauty all around them, talking about the buildings, the neat stores around them, or how nice the breeze feels. They’ll just walk right by a piece of trash along the curb and not even notice it.
Others it’s women. All they see is women and sex. The surroundings around you are irrelevant. All that matters is how attractive the women are around you. They notice nothing else.
Some people walk through a big city, like Chicago and New York, and see a big mass of ‘lost and lonely people’, while others see a thriving metropolis, full of opportunity, and excitement.
What is going on here? I’ll tell you, it’s their philosophy toward their life, the people around them, and their education. It’s all in how they think about the things around them, the people around them, and what they know.
Religions are not all equal, I have to tell you. Some lead people into misery and stupidity. Others lead them to great and wonderful places.
I literally think that what reality a person experiences is completely based on their mindset. How they think. There’s a huge flood of information coming into the senses, and the mind has a system to where the things coming in can be routed and examined in all kinds of ways, based on what you want to do with everything. Your mind can even block out content if you want it to.
Some people live in fear of the world. Life is completley blocked out from them. Others have found so many good things the only enemy they seem to have is time itself, as they don’t have time to experience all they would love to do.
Some people are critics and try to control everything around them. Others are laid-back and just let it flow.
A person’s mindset is literally everything. Your life, right now, every aspect of it, is a product of your own mindset. How much of life you will experience, and in what way, is how you choose to view things.
Every mindset has a corresponding reality that it produces. Reflection is one of the by-products of a chosen mindset. Some mindsets lead to no reflection, others to extreme reflection, and there’s everything inbetween. The content reflected on, and whether this reflection is a joyous or burdenful experience is based on the mindset.
VI. Reflecting On What Exists
One of the greatest things I’ve found to reflect on is things that exist. I’m not referring to all things that exist. Mainly I’m referring to reflecting on the things that you have, that you are pleased with.
I like to reflect on my family and how good it is. I know all people cannot say this, but I have lived a very sheltered life. I’ve always been loved, never had any fights of any sort with anyone in my family, and have lived in a home where there is peace at all times.
I can remember watching an Axe television commercial a while back, and it has some sort of sexual message to it. My older brother laughed at me when I was like… “Am I the only one in which that commercial made no sense?” Rusty said, “Ah, the naive mind.”
I personally am quite glad that my mind is not tormented with half of the filth that exists out there. I grew up in a Christian home, where I was taught integrity and goodness, and honestly, I prefer that life to the garbage I see so many living in.
I like to reflect on my grandparents and how wonderful they are. I like to reflect on both of my parents, who I am quite proud of. I like to reflect on my friendships, and all the good things related to that.
I can remember a time when one of Phillip’s friends (Phillip is my cousin) came over with Phil to my grandparents house. My grandpa was giving everyone hugs as they came in the door. Though my grandpa didn’t even know this person, he said, “Oh come here. Everyone gets a hug around here.” That’s the kind of family I have, and it’s very nice to think about.
Other than that though, I tend to spend a lot of time reflecting on science. Science is a wonderful thing to reflect on. Any type of science will do.
If you ever pull out a botany book of any kind, study the vast array of flowers that exist, and start to learn just how beautiful the world is, you will be filled with wonder. Pull out a book on trees, and you’ll wonder just how God could have came up with such a variety.
Think on decorating and gardens and how you could arrange trees, flowers, plants, shrubs, etc, into a wonderful paradise.
I like to reflect on animals as well. I have a special fondness for underwater creatures. Not much compares to seahorses, dolphins, and the wide variety of exotic fish out there.
I’ll admit I’m in novice in these studies, but I still love to think about it, and love to observe nature around me.
I particularly have fallen in love with Physics and Astronomy. Thinking on Einstein’s realtivity, and weird space time dilemmas will give plenty for your mind to crunch on for quite some time, and you’ll only leave the thought process amazed and in awe at how wonderfully things are put together.
I love to think on mathematics. Books like Bertrand Russell’s Principles of Mathematics keep me captivated in thought for countless hours, thinking on concepts such as “what is a number exactly?”, “What is order?”, “What is a series?”.
I particularly love to reflect on philosophical dilemmas. I love to think on all the various virtues. I continually think on what Love is, Peace, Joy, Responsibility, Goodness, Patience…
Of course I love to think on mindsets and what they lead to. I continually read religious texts of every sort, compare them, and think of the consequences they lead to.
It’s nice whenever you think for a long time on something wonderful, then you open your eyes, and there it is right there in front of you to hold in your hands.
Better yet, it’s not only there to hold, but it’s there for you to put in place in your life. You study the mathematics, the physics, the sciences, the botany, the wildlife, etc, and you learn how to manage your affairs even better. You study money, you think about how to make it, how to manage your company, and more and more money comes in.
I notice the more I put my mental energies toward living a life well lived, the better my life becomes. I learn more about money and investing, I get more financially independent. The more I learn about physics, the more everything just makes sense.
Greg and I discussed mindsets so much, and we cannot tell you how much power there is to knowing mindsets. You can set yourself free from countless, and I mean countless problems. You can free yourself from unwarranted depression. You can become wealthy. You can enjoy music more. You can enjoy the world around you more. Weird taboos and fears go away. Fear of spirits, or poverty, and phobias… all gone. You learn how to get along with people you couldn’t get along with before. You learn the proper ways to think about women and relationships, and you just don’t sit around moping anymore… No more sitting in depression if your love life isn’t going well, because you have a different view on life and now that doesn’t even bother you anymore.
With proper mindsets, you not only appreciate everything around you more, but you enjoy it more. You enjoy every moment more and more. Little things become wonderful. You get so many interests in life that you’re never, and I mean never, bored.
You learn how to think about poetry. How to think about art. How to think about movies and film. How to think about stories. How to think about Physics and mathematics. How to think about Philosophy. How to think about politics. How to think about everything!
You form new views toward these things and all of the sudden they jump out at you in a whole new way. What was once boring is now exciting. That’s the power of mindset studies. There’s a reason why people can read strange poetry and literature and ponder on it for hours. It’s because they don’t think about it like you do! They see poetry in a whole different way than you do, and because your mindset is blocking it from manifesting itself to you, you’ll never enjoy poetry.
VII. Reflecting On What You Want
The last notion to be covered, is reflection on what you want out of life. This gets to the most difficult notion in the history of mankind: What is the good life? What should a man desire.
What you desire is everything. If you desire some things, you’ll be left miserable. If you desire other things, you’ll find they are very good and worth your time.
What I can say on this notion is that thinking on good goals, and where they are going to take you is a fabulous thing to think about. I have several goals. One is my DVD company.
I continually practice lecturing as I walk through the woods, on the subjects I wish to create DVDs for. It’s a wonderful feeling. It doesn’t neccessarily exist, but it’s going to exist, and that’s why whenever you open your eyes, you still feel good when it’s over. It’s actually practicing for a reality that is coming up in the future!
I also continually envision myself in the place I want to be. I continually dream about my ideal study I plan to build. Where all my books are accessible, my film area is in the corner for creating DVD lectures… It’s so perfect. So wonderful.
That’s hope. That’s a dream. That’s a vision.
If you keep dreaming of being famous, or people showering you with accolades… That’s self-consciousness… If you dream about the past, and hoping to resurrect things that need to be just left dead… That’s bad.
The reason those are bad is because you’re leaving your future success up to someone else’s decision. If they don’t like you, and they don’t view things how you view things, your life doesn’t succeed.
The only desires you should have is for physical things, or knowledge of the things around you. Abstract feelings of wanting to be ‘happy’ have no meaning. Happiness is a by-product of a life well lived. Don’t seek happiness, seek life, and learn more about everything around you, and happiness will be right behind.
Relationships with others is something you can desire, but you have to learn to be happy even without that. People cannot be forced to like you, and if everyone else decides they don’t like you, you’re going to have to be able to love life even without them.
If life is better with a special someone in your life, than without him or her, then do it. But life still should be good even without someone in your life. There are so many good things out there other than a relationship with the opposite sex.