thelerner

The Strange and Bitter Wisdom of Wong (long composite article)

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Frankly my first reaction to most of the riots happening in American cities was Fuck those rioters.   The lawless ones are burning down there own neighborhoods and acting out the worst stereotypes of the haters.   While there's a truth to that there are other truths going on as well.  And that Fuck the rioters brand of truth is gonna lead me to a darker place, away from neutrality, where there's heat and some power but its expression usually makes matters worse. 

 

An article like above is an antidote to that, my own rationals.  A tap on the shoulder saying look at this point of view. 

 

If we get caught in a riot situation, which truth we pull out of pocket will have a lot to do with how we react.  The very best of us will be able to express 'I understand, but lets keep it peaceful and keep the neighborhood from burning down'.  Sympathize with the people on the street and the cops and work towards peace even its only through a calm demeanor and helping someone up. 

Edited by thelerner

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Frankly my first reaction to most of the riots happening in American cities was Fuck those rioters.   The lawless ones are burning down there own neighborhoods and acting out the worst stereotypes of the haters.   While there's a truth to that there are other truths going on as well.  And that Fuck the rioters brand of truth is gonna lead me to a darker place, away from neutrality where there's heat and some power but its expression usually makes matters worse. 

 

An article like above is an antidote to that, my own rationals.  A tap on the shoulder saying look at this point of view. 

 

If we get caught in a riot situation, which truth we pull out of pocket will have a lot to do with how we react.  The very best of us will be able to express 'I understand, but lets keep it peaceful and keep the neighborhood from burning down'.  Sympathize with the people on the street and the cops and work towards peace even its only through a calm demeanor and helping someone up. 

There ain't nothing you can do about any of it, no one is benefited by your upset. No one , nada ,nobody , nohow !  I don't pay any attention whatsoever to the news anymore. Guess what ! its all still the same.  I don't need to consult my moral compass , I don't have to take sides , have an opinion, express outrage etc etc.  At this point in your life the only thing that can really change your mind is what information its fed.

Seriously, you'd make a fine moral decision if it came to your doorstep , you are confident about that ,aren't you? So you don't need to explore, nor do you need vindication.   IMO its a wiser move to worry if you want mayo or mustard on your sandwich. 

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a> There ain't nothing you can do about any of it, no one is benefited by your upset. No one , nada ,nobody , nohow !  I don't pay any attention whatsoever to the news anymore. Guess what ! its all still the same.  I don't need to consult my moral compass , I don't have to take sides , have an opinion, express outrage etc etc.  At this point in your life the only thing that can really change your mind is what information its fed.

 

b> Seriously, you'd make a fine moral decision if it came to your doorstep , you are confident about that ,aren't you? So you don't need to explore, nor do you need vindication.   IMO its a wiser move to worry if you want mayo or mustard on your sandwich. 

To a> wise.

To b> Might not make a good decision, but I'd be slowed down making a bad one. 

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This isn't a David Wong article but I find it similar and very relevant to our age of 'manufactured' outrage.

 

5 Ways You're Tricking Yourself Into Not Being Happy

 

By Winston Rowntree | November 14, 2015

 

Are you not happy? Is it for reasons other than external forces out of your control? Do you already hate me for asking? Then read on. Because having stared at the Internet for a while now, nothing is more obvious to me than the sheer number of viciously angry, angry people online. And anger is only a symptom of unhappiness, and there are two paths leading from it, and you don't want to take the wrong one.

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Of course, some people never sucked, but we don't talk about them.

 

You know how I know you suck and are miserable? Because you're about to read the rest of this article, for one thing. Beyond that, here are a few more reasons you're an unhappy mess ...

 

#5. Comments And Social Media Posts Are A Counterproductive Way To Express Yourself

Happiness comes from accomplishment and purpose, and those come from Doing Shit. And we get shit done and accomplish things because we have to, and I know you're not happy because you haven't been forced to accomplish anything. And the best example of this is the angry comment you're already writing, despite not having read this entire article. You don't need to write articles to have your say online, because you can simply write comments. As a result, a website might have, like, 20 columnists but thousands of commenters.

 

But what if there were no comment sections? Well, you'd have put the time in to turn your thoughts into an article, then try to get it published, and then maybe you'd get paid, and that might lead to other things or give you the confidence to try something else, and then you might end up successful and/or happy. But we do have comments, and Twitter, and so on, and so we have a release valve for people who HAVE to say something. But that valve prevents the buildup of the internal pressure necessary to drive you to have your say in a more fulfilling manner.

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Look how sad you're making the dog in this metaphor.

 

Everyone leaves a few Internet comments here and there, but if you're doing it INSTEAD OF writing articles or books or screenplays or crazy manifestos, then I know you're not happy, because there are only so many hours in the day (more on that later) and so many ideas in your head. If a comment tree gets 1,000 upvotes, does it make a sound? Media and the arts are ultimately the comment section of real life ...

 

... so anything below that is probably doing you a disservice if you spend too much energy on it. Or think of it this way: If everything you've ever said can be blinked out of existence by a browser extension, then you may not have that much of a voice. Is the Internet preventing YOU from being happy by not forcing you to work to be heard? Let me know in the comments ...

 

#4. You Think You're The Same As Successful People

The worst way to get anywhere is to think you're already there (I showed my imaginary girlfriend that line and she loved it!). And one reason you suck is that you think you're generally on the same level as actually successful people. You know how I can tell you're not happy and productive?

 

Well, for one thing, you get mad about stuff that should be ten millionth on one's list of personal priorities. (Have you ever unironically typed the phrase "anti-consumer" in a comment? Here's a simple test: Get out your birth certificate and check what it says under "Name." Unless it reads "Ralph Nader," you're a dumbass.) For another thing, you accuse successful people of doing things that YOU do. You, who notably suck and are a failure.

 

For example, if one foolishly spends enough time online, one will quickly pick up on the absolute plague of idiots accusing video game designers of "laziness" when it comes to some trivial aspect of their work. It's

modern cliche of online dumbassery. But semantics matter, and any working creative professional is officially living in the Post-Lazy Realm, because laziness is the thing which prevents people from becoming working professionals in the first place -- that thing you're doing right now.

 

 

Working pros can be compromised, or run out of time or resources, or simply make mistakes, but professionalism precludes laziness as you think of it -- that's the deal. And so accusing professionals of laziness is so very revealing, because we assume of others what we know of ourselves, and laziness is why YOU would do it.  See you later, extrapolator.

 

People who have put the time in to make something of themselves are not like you, but you erroneously think professionals do things for the same reason you would, in the same way that your cat thinks that you're also a cat.

 

You see laziness in others because you just sit around and think you're entitled to have an equal voice in the public sphere with no actual effort on your part. So you don't put in the effort, so you don't accomplish anything, so you're not happy. Because you're fucking lazy.

 

#3. It's Not Cool To Be Happy

This isn't all your fault. One of the impediments to happiness is an absence of inspiration, and one of the impediments to inspiration is how, for whatever reason, the Inspiration section of any bookstore is by far the least inspiring thing in there. You may not be happy because the language of telling people things will be okay seems to have long ago been co-opted by idiots, the insincere, Hallmark, and Chicken Soup For The Money-Liking Fucking Liar Who Wrote This Best-Selling Book.

 

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Pictured: Poe's law.

 

Inspiration as we know it seems to work on the theory that you can simply tell people what to do and they will instantly do it, which is frankly not even true of dogs. It's empty phrases and easy answers and telling people to quit their job and become a _______, because that sure is easy to say when you don't have to do it. Most inspiration is just the IDEA of inspiration, as opposed to meaningful advice. You likely fucking noticed all this shit and learned to ignore it long ago. You may be miserable, but you're not an idiot.

 

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There's a reason these things are like 40 percent of the Internet.

 

So due to its tiresome association with glibness and moronity, is it easy to see happiness as kind of ... lame? Possibly? It does feel like the only people trying to sell happiness are also selling books and posters and fucking Scientology, so it's unsurprising that cynical people seem to stay cynical. What the rest of us can do is try to lead by example, and by god Make Stuff which inspires by example rather than by artificially trying to Be Inspirational, and give advice that takes, uh, reality into account, and try to sell success better, and not make people hate themselves by making it sound as if happiness is the fucking absence of misery, because it's not -- it's when you sometimes have a really bad day, as opposed to the opposite. You know how I know you're not happy? Because a lot of the people telling you about happiness are lame as shit.

 
#2. You Think You'll Live Forever

People occasionally make the mistake of asking me for artistic advice, but there's only one hint you'll ever need to be a good artist (or a good anything else): Nobody who knows they're going to die is capable of not trying their best. You know why nobody is reading your comic strip about two dudes who sit on a couch and play video games?

 

Because that's been done ten trillion times before, and nobody who knows they don't have forever spends their time on something that doesn't prove they existed as an individual. You know how I know you're not happy? Because considering how unlikely it was for you to exist in the first place, you are now wasting the few short decades of that existence, and nobody who wastes their time ends up being happy about it.

470608_v1.jpg
The skeleton represents death.

 

I remember being younger and reading about a photo exhibit about people before and after their deaths, and things just kind of terrifyingly clicking for me that like sands through the hourglass, so are the, uh, something of our lives. And while I don't think that being relentlessly haunted by a terrifying hyper-awareness of the looming horror of mortality is essential to being fulfilled in your daily life, there are way too many people writing about nothing, and way too many people not being inspired by it.

 

So by contrast, let me posit the following metaphor. You're in a movie theater. You've got your seat and snacks and everything (which is more than a lot of people get, incidentally). The curtain has gone up and the show has started. You're sitting there enjoying the show, and it's only been like half an hour and it feels like there's just tons of movie left. But at the same time, you know it's going to end eventually. That is you, now. The curtain went up a while ago and the previews ended and we're well into Act 1, and you're still just sitting there eating snacks, even though the clock is ticking and this is not a double feature (unless you're a Buddhist, I guess).

 

That's you, and all of us. We're all in here together, and it seems like it's gonna last forever, but it fucking isn't. You look to your left and some people are scribbling stories and journaling furiously on pads of paper before the movie ends. You look to your right and people are screwing like mad so their kids can take over their seats. You look at the back of the seat in front of you, and whoever was sitting here before you has etched something about how he wasn't happy until he realized he had to make some kind of lasting mark while he still had time.

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Bette also wishes you'd used your time.

 

#1. You're Supposed To Be Unhappy

I think there are two kinds of lives that most of us are likely to have. There's the one where you start happy and the one that's the opposite, and the latter is of course bitterly envious of the former all through high school. But each has its pros and cons, and the good part of being a late bloomer is that you give yourself a chance to bloom. So if you're young and Not Happy, then don't be too jealous, because at least the one thing you'll never do is get entrenched in a life you then outgrow.

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Of course, some people were always content, but we don't talk about them.

 

I think that for most of us, the ONLY way to happiness is through The Shit. That's why it's happiness, and why it's so rewarding and hard to lose it once you have it. There are only two shortcuts for people who want to feel good all the time, but don't have the patience to play the same game that the rest of society does. They are hard drugs and organized crime, and those have terrible entry fees. There are no legitimate shortcuts, in other words. Which is the entire point. As a wise man once said, nothing worth having is easy to get.

 

You know how I know you're not happy? Because you're young and virginy, and many a happy person started out as a miserable fuck who wanted something but didn't have it yet. And boy do I ever speak from experience, because no one was less happy than me when I was younger and online.

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To be fair, they were totally wrong about Tomb Raider.

 

But no one's more improved than me now, and that's the point here: It's fucking GREAT that you're not happy, because that's step one on the path to something way better. So fucking use it, because

, and if you're angry and in it for the long haul, then eventually it'll be YOU getting paid to lecture people in lieu of entertainment (instead of writing comments for free with just as valid an opinion).

 

I just want you to be happy, so i'll leave you with an actually useful bit of inspiration (aka Common Sense). It's the one thing that helped me out the most: If you want it bad enough, you'll get it. Because that's who gets shit. And judging by how unhappy you are, you probably want it pretty badly.

Edited by thelerner
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Winston probably wasnt doing himself any favor writing all that. A person has to actually choose that they want the embers to die down , so Id add another tip I didnt see, fury is animating and on some level, we either like it ,or feel its correct. The point of abandoning knowlege, is that one gets off the habit of figuring whether ones upset is correct, deserved or justified. With that obstacle abated, one is left judging whether the inflammation is desirable. If one just plain gets a kick out of the fuss , then they likely arent going to tone down for long. Railing over things may just be temporarily blowing off steam, but if it works, it works..... for a while at least. Winston probably enjoyed assembling his article but it doesnt represent a solution that its designed to inspire, because one doesnt really need to understand, one needs to choose..... Imo.

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Let's Briefly Stop to Notice Things Aren't Terrible by David Wong

http://www.cracked.com/blog/lets-briefly-stop-to-notice-things-that-arent-terrible/ #5. We Tend To Misunderstand The Awfulness Of Things

585050_v3.jpgMark Makela/Getty Images/Getty Images News

Humans are violent, selfish, and stupid.

 

I'm writing this in 2016 -- I don't even have to justify that statement, right? Even without the election, it's been wall-to-wall mass shootings, war, racism, and tragic celebrity deaths. The violent, selfish, and stupid nature of people is why things are always getting worse -- the more of us you cram onto the planet, the more our spiritual toxins pollute the stew. It's simple chemistry. Haven't they done experiments where if you just isolate a bunch of strangers in a room for a while, they'll eventually turn on each other like animals?

 

Well, they actually did a much larger version of that, in which a million and a half of these violent, selfish, and stupid primates were piled onto a cramped, filthy island ...

585038_v2.jpgGeorge Schlegel lithographers

... and based on what we know about people, shouldn't it only be a matter of time until that whole place is a charred, smoking ruin? Or a big pile of garbage and toppled buildings, like Idiocracy?

 

Yet, if we revisit those shit-flinging animals 150 years later, we find their island looking like this:

585037_v2.jpgSterilgutassistentin/Wiki Commons
This image is also the average apartment size.

Full of marvels of engineering and technology that would have absolutely looked like magic to those stinking, toothless dock workers in the first picture.

 

But ... how?

 

How in the hell can the violent, selfish, and stupid impulses of 1.5 million assholes result in a gleaming metropolis that not only has ten times the population, but a population so clean and healthy that they literally live twice as long and have so much food piled up that their most common health problem is fatness? If the average person in America is such a greedy, petty, misguided dipshit, who is producing all the cool stuff that makes the "Amount Of Cool Stuff Produced Per Year" graph over that same timespan looks like this?

 

585036_v3.jpgVisualizing Economics
Summation: Pretty good century.

If all governments are corrupt, if all corporations are just gangs of thieves, if all religions are just fearmongering cults, if most people don't give a shit about their jobs, if everyone is a secret racist, why aren't those buildings falling over, due to rampant defects? Why haven't feral savages torn them down for the scrap? Why hasn't tribal infighting reduced it all to rubble? When a model of cell phone starts spontaneously catching fire, why is that a shocking headline rather than the accepted norm?

How is it that any of this actually works?

#4. Problems Are Loud And Terrifying, Solutions Are BoringScott Olson/Getty Images/Getty Images News

I grew up in the 1980s, when crime was running rampant in the cities (if you think it's still running rampant, let's put it this way -- there was 300 percent more violent crime back then). Blood gushed from every headline -- we heard of rape and recreational executions and flamboyant gangs cutting children to pieces.

 

Our solutions, we assumed, would be even more spectacular -- give cops bigger guns and fewer rules, arm citizens to take back their streets with sheer firepower. We were absolutely obsessed with this idea, it was a staple in Hollywood for years. Go get 'em, guys!Paramount Pictures

585033_v2.jpgWarner Bros.

585034_v2.jpgOrion Pictures
For those born after the 80's, those are the four characters who would one day combine to form Liam Neeson.

Then, as I've mentioned before, the crime rate just started quietly dropping in the mid-90s. And I do want to emphasize that it happened quietly.

585029_v2.jpgGallup
Apparently headlines like "Post 9/11 World Kicks Everloving Shit Out Of 'Good Old Days'" didn't scan well.

There was no final battle, nobody stormed the fortress of the evil King of Crime and took him out. They didn't invent a RoboCop or fill the streets with gun-wielding vigilantes, much to my teenage disappointment. So what happened?

 

Nobody knows. It appears it was a combination of small measures and random social factors out of our control. Sure, tougher sentencing laws kept some criminals behind bars longer, but also the internet and video games got super popular and people just started spending more of their spare time at home. Crack cocaine got less popular (thanks to meth!) and there was less market share to fight over. The economy improved for a while, the population got a little bit older due to dropping birthrates ... there's even a theory that taking the lead out of gasoline made a big difference (lead causes brain problems). We got better at treating mental illness, policing techniques changed ...

 

And already you've zoned out -- the problem was entertaining, the solution was boring as shit. Nobody was going to make a Charles Bronson movie about the wider availability of psychiatric medication among at-risk males.

585111_v2.jpgParamount Pictures
There's a reason Death Wish 6: Municipal Violence Reduction Initiative & Community Outreach never got green-lit.

As usual, the crisis was an ear-shattering blast, the improvement a dull, easily-ignored hum. This is a problem.

#3. You Are Programmed To Filter Everything But The Bad StuffDesiree Navarro/Getty Images/Getty Images News

 

Any of your caveman predecessors who stopped to appreciate a pretty flower while being pursued by a tiger didn't live long enough to reproduce. Your brain has thus evolved to notice problems and disregard the rest, because of course it has. Problems need your attention, the other shit doesn't. You have limited time, energy, and brain power -- you don't waste it sitting around contemplating all of the animals on earth that aren't chasing you. It's supposed to have a focusing effect.

 

But today, it does the opposite. The existence of mass media means you get to hear about the whole world's problems -- that part of your brain designed to say, "Focus on this, it's dangerous" is just stuck in the On position, all the time. That creates this exhausting, debilitating impression that the world is a string of successive disasters, the whole thing continuously flying apart at the seams.

 

That impression you're getting is objectively impossible, though. If society was just an endless string of mounting problems with no solutions, we wouldn't have advanced from grass huts to space stations. It would have been one step forward, ten thousand back. In reality, the ratio is closer to the opposite.

 

This basic flaw in how we perceive the world makes us take progress for granted, as if ever-advancing technology and longer lifespans are invisible forces like gravity, something that can be safely assumed. I mean, in some sense we are aware, because we complain when advancements don't come fast enough. We joke that there's no cure for cancer, ignoring the hard work of hundreds of thousands of smart people that dropped the cancer death rate 23 percent in just two decades.

Toa55/iStock
But at least the futuristic wonder treatments are still pretty unpleasant, so we've got something to fret over.

But, see, that wasn't due to some big miracle cure, there were no flashy headlines -- just a bunch of boring shit. Early detection, better screenings, better surgical techniques, wider availability of zzzzzzzz.

 

Likewise, you can thank thousands of small, completely uninteresting tweaks for the fact that your chances of dying in a car accident dropped in half over the last three decades. The chances of dying in a house fire dropped 66 percent in that same span, for reasons too dull to get into here that have to do with building codes and smoke detectors and blah blah blah who cares.

 
#2. Stopping To Appreciate The Good Stuff Helps You Understand How Problems Are Solved

585026_v3.jpgWin McNamee/Getty Images/Getty Images News

Which brings us back to Thanksgiving, and how every culture and religion seems obsessed with making people stop to "count their blessings." Trust me, they started doing it for a reason.

 

 

This flaw we have, this filtering for the negative, it can have a fatal side effect of making us eventually say, "Why bother?" We see millions of people driving themselves in cars and think, "look at those poor bastards stuck in traffic." Then we run into a friend too poor to afford a car and decide that surely we must have all died and that this is Hell. Everything is seen through that lens of corruption and decline to the point that when something good is destroyed, we can lose sight of how the good thing came to be in the first place ...

 

... and of how future good things will be made.

 

Some of you are worried now that progress on, say, gay marriage will be reversed in light of recent events. But for lots of us, our only reaction to the court case that legalized it was an exasperated, "What took so long?" It's easy to be so annoyed that it required a struggle that you forget to celebrate the struggle at all -- the grinding, frustrating, tedious effort by tens of thousands of activists, lawyers, and politicians who had to break that wall down one infuriating brick at a time, by repeatedly smashing their own fucking faces into it.

 

And they won.
 

 

Those people did not say, "Why bother?" Those people looked back at previous civil rights movements, drew joy and admiration from what they had done, and let it inspire them to get to work. But the first step was looking back without snark or irony and saying, "A wonderful thing happened, our world is actually built atop lots of similar wonderful things, let's do other wonderful things to overcome the current shittiness. If they can do it, so can we."

#1. The Danger Of Cynicism Is That It Can Paralyze You And that, kids, is why we dedicate holidays to heroes and build statues of reformers. It's why the ugly sweaters and songs tell us to stop and give thanks and acknowledge the good things in our lives. It's not some hippie bullshit, it's appreciating the fact that (for instance) you're reading this only because thousands of strangers spent sweat and blood digging trenches and laying fiber optic lines and mining ore that could be turned into computers and cell phones.

 

They did that because other people -- geniuses, in fact -- designed and endlessly tweaked a system that would create incentives for them to do it, and other people before them bled and died to make that possible. History remembers the big victories, but ignores the hundred million smaller ones along the way -- an innovation here, a process improvement there, a single mind changed over a cup of coffee. Microscopic yet crucial victories that simply don't occur if those people shake their heads and say, "Why bother?"

 

And, yes, I'm going to have to mention the fucking election now. With a freaking bar graph, no less:

585024_v3.jpgDavid Yanagizawa-Drott

 

That chart is thanks to David Yanagizawa-Drott, who pointed out that Donald Trump got fewer voters than the last two Republicans. All that happened was his opponent saw about ten million of her voters stay home. In an election in which I was told that every voter thought they were thwarting the apocalypse, turnout was its lowest in 20 years. The result:

 

26 percent Trump

26 percent Clinton

47 percent Why Bother?
And about one percent "Fuck both of them, but I still want one of those 'I Voted' stickers."

 

Well, if nothing else, some of you now know why you bother.

 

You bother because you have much to lose and the only way to keep that fixed in your mind is to occasionally stop and appreciate what you have. All of those boring little things that send you reeling if they're missing for just a day, the privileges you avoid acknowledging so much that it actually annoys you when someone brings them up. The freedoms you take as a universal constant, despite the fact that 95 percent of humans have lived without them.

 

(And note, I'm focusing on what you have to lose; I could write a whole separate article on how we fail to consider what other people have to lose, even if we don't).

 

But this isn't just about politics, which is important to remember because this matters just as much in between elections. This is about remembering why you get up in the morning, why you want to always learn new things, to keep taking those tiny boring steps forward that don't seem like much in isolation, in the sense that the Sistine Chapel wouldn't seem like much if you only watched Michelangelo paint Adam's tiny dick.

 

So, yeah, be thankful, because the entire earth is a hive of busy humans working on stuff that will make tomorrow better than today. Stuff like the recent discovery that we may massively cut greenhouse gases just by adding seaweed to animal feed (cows produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and seaweed breaks it down). The price of solar power is dropping so fast that it doesn't matter what the U.S. government thinks of it -- it's going to win on economics alone. And so on.

 

At some point, every single person who has ever been involved in anything great has suffered at least one gut-punch of a setback, has felt like the sun has fallen out of the sky. Some people feel like that all day, every day. So, every now and then we make you stop and eat a big meal and listen to corny nonsense about things that happened in the past. It's supposed to reorient you, to remind you that we overcame bad shit back then and we'll overcome it this time, too.

 

Then we give the future something to be thankful for and, well, that's how all of this works.

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OK, so yeah...I too have got a criticism of the aptly named Mr. Wong.  He starts out by asking us to name five impressive things about ourselves, and then says they can`t be thing we are (I`m a nice guy, I`m honest, I`m kind...etc) but must be things we can do (I can do open heart surgery).  He goes on to say that society only values us for the things we can do, not the things we are.  I`m paraphrasing here, but that`s the idea.  

 

But here`s the thing.  Those things we "are," they aren`t useless in the real world.  Kindness, for instance, is actually super practical.  Do you want to be a good parent?  Be in a healthy relationship?  Contribute to society in a way that will make you feel like you`ve done something with your life when you`re at death`s door? You`re gonna need that kindness.  It`s not namby-pamby airy-fairy hippie-talk, it`s why we`re all here.

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OK, so yeah...I too have got a criticism of the aptly named Mr. Wong.  He starts out by asking us to name five impressive things about ourselves, and then says they can`t be thing we are (I`m a nice guy, I`m honest, I`m kind...etc) but must be things we can do (I can do open heart surgery).  He goes on to say that society only values us for the things we can do, not the things we are.  I`m paraphrasing here, but that`s the idea.  

 

But here`s the thing.  Those things we "are," they aren`t useless in the real world.  Kindness, for instance, is actually super practical.  Do you want to be a good parent?  Be in a healthy relationship?  Contribute to society in a way that will make you feel like you`ve done something with your life when you`re at death`s door? You`re gonna need that kindness.  It`s not namby-pamby airy-fairy hippie-talk, it`s why we`re all here.

Social virtues (kindness, honesty, etc) are great... but who gets paid for them? Money is ultimately the tool we use to trade value for value with the greater society, and being such, it's how we can measure what society values.

 

It might be true that social virtues sweeten the deal...a very kind and honest business owner might get more customers, whereas a very rude employee will probably get fired for something they say to the customer. But in terms of a person striving to be the paragon of kindness...do they get paid for it?

 

If kindness is the greatest thing in life (it arguably is), then why don't people get paid for it? Why doesn't society value it as much as other things?

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Social currency isnt considered a quid pro quo situation, as you point out. . maybe it should be considered more like a barter system, which would be an even older tradition, which presents certain advantages. Some people amass large amounts of it, and some studies have shown that theres a huge benefit to doing that..... think insurance policy. :)

Edited by Stosh

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OK, so yeah...I too have got a criticism of the aptly named Mr. Wong.  He starts out by asking us to name five impressive things about ourselves, and then says they can`t be thing we are (I`m a nice guy, I`m honest, I`m kind...etc) but must be things we can do (I can do open heart surgery).  He goes on to say that society only values us for the things we can do, not the things we are.  I`m paraphrasing here, but that`s the idea.  

 

But here`s the thing.  Those things we "are," they aren`t useless in the real world.  Kindness, for instance, is actually super practical.  Do you want to be a good parent?  Be in a healthy relationship?  Contribute to society in a way that will make you feel like you`ve done something with your life when you`re at death`s door? You`re gonna need that kindness.  It`s not namby-pamby airy-fairy hippie-talk, it`s why we`re all here.

I hear what you're saying and you've got a good point.  Wong's stuff comes off harsh and unapologetic.  Still in the young adult/get a job segment of life, that hits the majority of people, the first article here, is important. 

 

We may be setting up students as lambs going out to the slaughter, after years of being somewhat coddled at home and in school, being in the real job world, where results are expected and sympathy is rare; it states- what can you do for me?  And demands- skills worthy of payment.  

 

From that perspective its an important read.    Still, if you need to earn a living, you need skills.  There is more to life then earning a living, but its not inconsequential.  Having earnable skills can make or break ones future.   You can have them and be a good person too.  Its not mutually exclusive. 

 

As a father, its important to me that my kids have balance.  And in our culture, part of that balance is skills that will allow them to earn a living.  Living in a forest setting it'd be hunting and gathering and a touch shamanic healing.  In either case being a loving caring wise individual is also needed. 

 

 

addon> So its sorta like 'a' wisdom to have in a pocket, but not ultimate wisdom, to wear on your Tshirt.

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Here's a piece of the latest David Wong articles on Brainwashing.  I found it interesting, reminding me that one of the first exercises in Franz Bardon's IIH practice is building the Magic Mirror, a journal with lists of your good and bad qualities, broken down elementally.

 

http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-creepy-things-that-secretly-control-your-personality_p2/

#1. You Have Probably Brainwashed Yourself Into A Completely False Idea Of Who You Are

Here's an important question almost no one thinks to ask: Do cult leaders believe what they're saying? After all, L. Ron Hubbard clearly knew his new religion was a scam at first -- he borrowed its mythology from his own sci-fi stories, which he wrote to make a quick buck. But by all accounts, he later spent endless hours "auditing" himself to try to purge his soul of the evil alien spirits -- you know, the ones he had invented years earlier. It's almost as if by repeating his ludicrous lies, he indoctrinated himself.

 

That, it appears, is exactly what happened. And almost every deranged cult leader in history followed that exact path. Do you remember that weird terror attack that happened in Tokyo in 1995? A Japanese doomsday cult unleashed nerve gas on a subway, killing a dozen people (which would have been thousands if they hadn't fucked up the release of the gas).

 

The cult was led by a guy named Shoko Asahara, who had been a small-time con artist going back to his teenage years, running a number of scams which he eventually expanded into lucrative businesses. He sold snake oil cures out of an acupuncture shop for a while, then started putting ads in sci-fi magazines offering to teach mind powers like telepathy and levitation -- for a reasonable fee, of course. In less than a decade, he went from telling silly lies to get cash from gullible dupes to unleashing nerve gas in order to trigger Armageddon, believing that he and his followers would then ascend to inherit the Earth.

 

That's weird, right? That garden-variety shitheads wind up joining their own cults in suicide pacts to fulfill some "prophecy" that they themselves wrote late at night over a bottle of wine? But that, my friends, is the magic of the human brain. Not only can it be reprogrammed by anyone who knows the method, but it can also reprogram itself, unintentionally, without realizing it. But that could never happen to you and me, right? Haha. Ha.

 

OK, let's now think about all of the little self-deceptions we pile up through the day -- like how nearly everyone thinks they're an above-average driver, even though that's obviously impossible. Well, you remember George Costanza's rule that the key to lying is making yourself believe it? There's a theory that humans evolved self-deception specifically because it helps us deceive others. In order to survive, you need other humans to cooperate with you. In order to make sure they do that, you need to be able to convince them you're great. In order to convincingly tell that outrageous lie, you need to make yourself belief you're great.

 

You lie to yourself, then you believe the lie, then you make others believe the lie which you now believe is true. It's lies all the way down. This is why if you go to a primitive tribe without access to mirrors or clear reflective surfaces of water and show them a reflection of their own faces, they freak the fuck out. ("They were paralyzed; after the first startled response -- covering their mouths and ducking their heads -- they stood transfixed ...")

 

Living their lives without a clear reflection as a reference, they each had built up in their minds an idea of what they surely must look like. Maybe they always secretly assumed they were among the most attractive, despite their public shows of humility. Then bam, the disgusting reality was suddenly staring back at them. "That's what I look like?"

 

Well, if you had a magic mirror that could reflect back upon you exactly how others see your attitudes, mannerisms, emotions, habits, etc, it would be the same, only about a hundred times stronger. A hand clasped over your mouth, feeling sick, staring at the "reflection" of a total stranger.

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3 hours ago, thelerner said:

You lie to yourself, then you believe the lie, then you make others believe the lie which you now believe is true. It's lies all the way down. This is why if you go to a primitive tribe without access to mirrors or clear reflective surfaces of water and show them a reflection of their own faces, they freak the fuck out. ("They were paralyzed; after the first startled response -- covering their mouths and ducking their heads -- they stood transfixed ...")

 

does not make a bit of common sense for me.

 

I do not believe that would be the response.....

 

sounds illogical.

 

 

Edited by sagebrush
becasue I felt like it

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3 hours ago, sagebrush said:

 

does not make a bit of common sense for me.

I do not believe that would be the response.....

sounds illogical.

 

doesn't make sense to me either which is why he added the link to the explorer who reported the phenomena.  The question is, has the reaction been duplicated?   Western explorers and traders would carry mirrors as well as beads, thimbles, trinkets for trade.  <searching google>  Like photography, to some tribes mirrors had the ability to 'see the soul' which also could freak people out. 

So imo legit, but hard to say how wide spread, especially since there was historically propagandic impetus to make newfound tribes seem stupid, savage and naive. 

 

The author isn't always right, but I find him very thought provoking.   I've read a couple on cults, and against common sense, they tend to get smart intellectuals, much more then you'd think.  Once you get a little buy in, people minds fill in the rest. 

 

During the Korean war brain washing wasn't some exotic drug induced phenomena, often it was done little by little, an extra ration, a sympathetic ear.. getting a person to say a little bit what they didn't like about the states.. and soon some soldiers would convince themselves, that they were on the wrong side.  And our side used it too, during WWII, softer friendlier interrogation to 'turn' the enemy. 

 

An axiom I live with is Man is more a rationalizing animal, then a rational one.  And until we realize that, we're vulnerable; to our bias's, to friends, family, social pressure.. and especially our ego; that this is what Real smart believe, not the sheep.  That one's often irresistible bait for the intellectual.  Good book on the subject, Life 102; What to Do when your Guru sues you. 

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas and another article (Christmasy from David Wong)

We've Survived Another Year! Make It Count.

 

Let's say we find out an asteroid is going to hit the Earth at some point over the next three months. It may kill all of us, it may kill some of us, it may splash harmlessly into the ocean, but there is no stopping it. All we can do is hunker down and see what happens. How would you react? How would humanity as a whole react? Well, I know how: We would prepare as best we could, and then we would surround ourselves with the people we love most and party our asses off. We would do this because we would realize it might be our last chance. I know this because we have Christmas. 

Allow me to explain.
 

This is the time of year when my Christian friends remind me via Facebook image macros that Christ is the reason for the season, and my atheist friends remind everyone that "Christmas" is at best a renamed pagan orgy and at worst a crass hybrid of religious conditioning and economic stimulus. ("God became a man to save us from sin, so let's get into a fistfight over the last PlayStation 4 at Target!") Well, let me take the bold stance that if you're using Christmas as an excuse to be a dick to somebody, you're probably doing it wrong. The real origins of this holiday are amazing, sacred, and etched into your very DNA. There's enough magic here for everybody, dammit.

 

It's hard to understand why Christmas came to be a big deal even for people who have never stepped foot inside a church without understanding the context. And the context -- which does predate Christianity by thousands of years -- is that December kicks off winter in the Northern Hemisphere. And for most of human history, winter meant a bunch of us were going to freaking die. So like this, but with corpses piled up under the tree instead of gifts.

 

We're so detached from that idea today, when the cold means nothing more than mild annoyance and sometimes slippery roads, that it's hard to grasp how recent this was, and that this was the way of things for virtually all of human history. Every year, you headed into winter with just enough stored food and fuel to get by. The old and the sick knew they might not make it through, and an especially harsh winter could mean that no one would feel the sun's warmth ever again. Every year, you watched all of the plants turn brown and shrivel into husks, followed by an unrelenting darkness and cold that threatened to swallow you and everything you love.

 

And looking back at that, we see an awesome little portrait of exactly how much humans kick ass. Every year, you see, winter arrived with a short day followed by the longest night of the year (aka the winter solstice), and since before recorded history, humans have been celebrating that day with a feast, or festival, or outright debauchery. On that longest night before the frozen mini-apocalypse, in all times and places, you would find light and song and dancing and food. Cattle would be slaughtered (to avoid having to feed all of them through the winter), families would travel to be together, and wine would flow. Precious supplies were dedicated to making decorations and gifts -- frivolous things, good for nothing other than making people happy.


Sure, some of the kid toys ended up looking like fetish gear, but the spirit and intent were pure.  These celebrations went by many names over the millennia, and everyone did it their own way. But deep down, I think the message was always the same: "We made it through another year, some of us won't see spring, so let's spend a few days reminding each other of what's good about humanity."

 

Or I'll just let you read my favorite Christmas quote, from esteemed essayist Dan Harmon:

No matter how black, white, male, female, Irish, German, tall, short, ugly or pretty you felt this year, you are part of a family that has been targeted by an unforgiving cosmos since its inception but has, regardless, survived ... humanity, warts and all, is an inherently heroic species that has spent about 99.99% of its short lifetime as an underdog. And If you see no billboards telling you that, it's not because it's not true. It's because there's little to no profit to be made telling you.

 

I could go on and on about the suffering we've endured and the adaptations we've made, but to me, our species' crowning jewel is that on the shortest day of the year, when the sun spends most of its time swallowed, when everything is frozen, when nothing can grow, when the air is so cold our voices stop right in front of our faces ... we put a string of lights on a universe that is currently doing nothing to earn it. We not only salvage an otherwise desolate time of year, we make it the best time of year.

 

"Wait," you might say, "so your inspirational 'true meaning of Christmas' is that we should remember how our filthy ancestors used to freeze to death on a regular basis?" No, Christmas isn't magical because of what it was or where it came from. It's magical because that's what it still is.

 

See, around this time of year, my social media also fills with friends and acquaintances half-joking about having to tolerate the holidays around their extended family, people they only see once or twice a year with whom they have nothing in common and don't like talking to (especially if politics comes up). It all seems so arbitrary to them, a holiday which as a kid meant free toys and as an adult means travel, shopping, and trying to remember the name of your cousin's new wife while the two of you make awkward conversation around the eggnog fountain. But that's only because we're separated from that ancient, unspoken truth, which is that this festive gathering around the fire might be the last time you see those faces.

And that part hasn't changed.


Though, admittedly, some of the particulars are a bit different.

This will be read by tens of thousands of people, and statistically, some of you are in fact traveling to see your grandparents, or parents, or siblings for the very last time. You don't know it's their last Christmas, of course -- if you somehow knew, you'd do it differently. You'd try to stretch out those moments. You wouldn't spend conversations nervously looking for an exit point. You'd spend a little more time digging up old memories and laughing about your shared past. You'd spend less time worrying about the gifts and the budget, and more about how we're spending the precious little time we have left.

 

Once upon a time, nobody needed that reminder that life was short -- the holiday was the reminder. You hugged your family extra tight because, to quote the HBO series all the kids are watching these days, "Winter is coming."  Joke all you want, but you have no idea how much Tinder mileage I've gotten out of that line.

 

So in my mind, the Christians complaining about people losing sight of the real meaning of the holiday are right, in the sense that people do forget that it's supposed to be about generosity, redemption, forgiveness, and clinging to hope in a world turned dark, cold, and cruel. But it stood for those things before it was called Christmas.

 

It stood for those things back when religion wasn't just something you did out of obligation to some tradition, or a set of ceremonies you performed in order to join a tribe or political party. No, back then, if the sun didn't shine on your crops, you had to watch your children slowly die. So you got on your knees and begged the sun to shine. You pleaded for the rain to fall, for the plague to pass your family by, for the winter to go easy on you this year. It was a time when it was so much harder to pretend that the Universe was under our control, when all you could do was look up at the sky and beg it for mercy.

 

And then, receiving no immediate answer, we would gather around the fire and eat rich food and sing songs and give gifts. Because while we waited for the frozen gray skies to render a verdict, all we had was each other and the warmth of our generosity.

 

But that was a long time ago. Our problems are less dire and immediate these days, and as a result, we forget that we're still the same fragile creatures we were then. And if you think that's all a big downer, this idea that Christmas (or the solstice, or Saturnalia) was all about the last hurrah before a slow death by freezing or starvation, you're looking at it the wrong way. I mean ... look around you. This is humanity in a nutshell: When faced with the cold specter of death, we put on festive sweaters and eat cookies and sing songs about a jolly supernatural being who brought joy to our lives before the spring came along and he melted, leaving only his hat behind.

 

Soon, many of you will be sitting in a room with laughing kids who won't be kids much longer and proud grandparents who won't be around much longer, or friends who for one reason or another won't be in your life. It probably won't occur to you that all of it is as tenuous as a snowflake on a dog's nose. It won't occur to you that there will never be another Christmas exactly like this one, that time will move on and people will change and that some day your most treasured memories will be things that at the time you experienced with nothing more than detached, mild annoyance.

 

So if you're gathering with your family and friends this time of year, I personally don't care what you call the holiday, as long as you celebrate it with this in mind:  You don't get many of these. Make them count.

-- DW

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22 minutes ago, westenra said:

Damn, these are awesome. Will be coming back to 'em.

Thanks for the comment.  I hadn't read these in quite awhile and they are imo, thought provoking and insightful. 

I'll have to see if there anything new and worthy to add. 

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Haven't added anything here in awhile.  Too bad, I like the writing, its edgy controversial. 

This is less so and by a different author.  Going after the big one, the master tyrant..

 

Stop Spending So Much Time In Your Head, 99% of all thoughts are useless but they’re still controlling your life.Go to the profile of Darius Foroux

Aug 15, 2016

I know something about you without knowing you. I bet you spend A LOT of time in your head.

You know, thinking, worrying, stressing, freaking out — call it whatever you want. I call it a preoccupied mind. And with what?

99% of your thoughts are useless. William James put it best:

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

All my life I’ve been obsessed with practical things. Practical philosophy, practical knowledge, practical books, practical work, and practical advice.

That idea comes from Pragmatism, a philosophical tradition that started in the 19th century in America. Charles Sanders Peirce, who was a Harvard professor, is considered as the “father of Pragmatism.”

But it was William James, a trained physician turned philosopher, who really defined the philosophy.

About thoughts, worry, and stress, William James says:

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

Pragmatism believes that the mind is a tool. Your mind should work for you, not against you. People who don’t master their mind, don’t believe it’s possible.

They say: “I can’t help but thinking these things.”

Well, you can with enough practice. It’s a skill.

In other words: You have the ability to decide what you think. Or, you can choose NOT to think.

And that is one of the most important and most practical things you can learn in life. Before I learned that skill, I would spend hours and hours inside my head.

Just think about how much you think.

  • “I wonder what my boss thinks?”
  • “What happens if I screw up and lose my job?”
  • “Does she love me?”
  • “I think he doesn’t care about me.”
  • “I just keep failing.”
  • “Why does my life suck?”
  • “Why is my life awesome, and other people’s lives are not?”
  • “What if I get cancer?”
  • “I don’t care about my job. Is there something wrong with me?”
  • “I can’t finish anything. What’s wrong with me?”

And the list goes on. That is all REAL shit. That’s stuff people tell me when I ask them what they worry about.

You know what those thoughts do to you? Guilt, anger, suffering.

I just have one question for you: What’s the practical use of your thoughts?

Yes? I’m waiting. Still no answer? Exactly.

Thoughts have no use. 99% of them that is.

Which thoughts are useful?

  1. Thinking about how you can solve problems. A problem is just an unanswered question. Put your brain to use and think about how you can solve problems. There are a lot of those on this earth.
  2. Understanding knowledge. That mean this: Try to internalize knowledge and think about how you can use that knowledge to improve your life, career, work, relationships, etc.

That’s it. You can ignore every other thought.

If you’re constantly thinking, it’s because you haven’t trained your mind yet. You HAVE to get out of your head.

If not, you go mental. Everyone will. No exception.

Also, you’re probably thinking so much that you’re missing out of life. Did you notice the sunshine this morning when you woke up? Or the raindrops? Did you notice the smell of your coffee? Did you feel the texture of your cereals?

If your answer is no, you definitely need to get out of your head. Stop thinking and start feeling.

Now, you might think: “How do I train myself to stop thinking useless thoughts?”

Awareness.

That’s where it starts. Every time you start drifting off, become aware of it. Just observe your brain. Step outside yourself and just observe the crazy shit you’re thinking about.

Don’t judge. Don’t think you’re stupid. If you do that, you’re thinking again.

No, what you want to do is say this to yourself: “Ah that’s a cute thought. Now, let’s get back to reality.”

“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.” 
― William James

Are you back to reality? Do you feel your eyes reading the letters on your screen? Do you feel your phone in your hand? Are you thinking about how you’re going to apply this information to your life?

Great. You’re USING your mind, and it’s not the other way around. Now, keep using that brain of yours.

Because I’ll tell you this: It’s the most powerful tool on earth.


Originally posted on dariusforoux.com.

 

Me.  So is that our thought flow chart

Be Aware > Is thought Trivial > Stop

or Something Practical I can take action on > Consider and take action.

Don't be afraid of the silent mind.  Be friends and at peace with it. 

 

 

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