Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The GOOD (Kamran K): "NOT Our Area"

"Hold it in, dear, let's go dancing
I do believe we're only passing through
Wired again now look who's laughing, 
Me again, oh you, oh you, oh you."
(Song of the Year!! = Ben Howard, Time is Dancing)

(1) We begin with further tales of our GOOD hero, Ronnie Look. After being stung by a wasp in his head a few months back (requiring a trip to the ER), Ronnie discovered he was allergic to bee, wasp, yellow-jacket, and hornet venom. These stinging insects are collectively found within the Hymenoptera family. When provoked, Nature has given these creatures the defense of injecting poisonous venom into the blood stream of human beings. Man has his guns, knives, and pesticides; hymenoptera have their venom.

Ronnie learned from his doctor that additional Hymenoptera stings could cause additional dangerous systemic (all over the body) allergic reactions. These reactions could range anywhere from hives, itching, redness, difficulty breathing, and even death when airways swell and close up, blood pressure plummets, and the heart stops beating. Ronnie discovered that indeed some 100-300 people a year die within the US from the venom inflicted by Hymenoptera. The absolute absurdity of a tiny stinging insect killing a grown man in peak physical condition was not lost on Ronnie.

(2) Learning all of this, Ronnie came to the only sensible conclusion he could: he must avoid areas where non-trivial numbers of Hymenoptera "like" to stay and sting. After his reaction, Ronnie was not too keen on the idea of cycling in remote locations, summer BBQs, extensive gardening, and marathon golf rounds in the peak of summer. Ever vigilant like a hawk for any visible sign of Hymenoptera, Ronnie would immediately distance himself from all such areas known to have Hymenoptera. Knowing that one sting could cost his life, Ronnie rightly concluded that areas where Hymenoptera congregated were NOT HIS AREA. His internal mind chatter was something like this: "ohh crap, do you see that Hymenoptera over there? That thing is pretty darn close. This is NOT OUR AREA. This is THEIR AREA. We must avoid this area."

While Ronnie always carried EpiPen with him (the only known treatment for such venom stings), he STILL believed that his best strategy was to AVOID Hymenoptera areas. Ronnie reasoned and concluded the obvious: where there are no Hymenoptera, there can be no Hymenoptera sting! His best strategy was not to venture into these areas, get stung, and then hope the EpiPen would "save" him. This is the strategy of a fool.

(3) Very few of us are severely allergic to Hymenoptera venom. But the tale of Ronnie Look is instructive in a deep way. For all men and women seeking, pursuing, and hoping to actually achieve the GOOD, there are many thousands of environments that are "not their area." Men and women everywhere have only a temporarily finite opportunity within reality to reach the GOOD: "Let's go dancing I do believe we're only passing through..." (Ben Howard, Time is Dancing) Decisions must constantly be made to ensure one is spending this brief moment in OUR areas and getting out of areas that are NOT OUR AREA.

(4) Let us pose the question starkly: for the lover of the GOOD, what makes a human environment "our area" and what makes it "not our area?" The following questions are usually dispositive:
  • How regularly does this area deliver the GOOD to persons like me? Has even one person achieved the GOOD in this area? Is there a visible, identifiable path to the GOOD in this area?
  • What would it even mean to reach the GOOD in this area?
  • What am I doing in this area?
  • What areas am I neglecting by being in this area?
  • Is this area dominated by social programming and conformity? ("Not that I would have a grudge against such...ones on that account; they are well enough for laughter to me!" Nietzsche, Zarathustra)
  • Is this area affected by racism and other stupid prejudices?
  • Does this area permit real or total honesty?
  • Does this area permit real or total freedom?
  • Is this area infected by money and success worship?
  • Are individual results in this area unaffected by one's merit or ethical character? ("There is no sorer misfortune in all human destiny than when the mighty of the earth are not also the first men. Then everything becometh false and distorted and monstrous.") (Nietzsche, Zarathustra)
  • Does this area tend to foster friendship between persons?
  • Does this area foster appreciation of and actual growth of mind understanding as to the most important human realities?
  • Is this an area dominated by persons under the near total grip of fear, anxiety, and the endless search for narcissistic supply?
  • Is this area doomed by a maze of bureacracy, procedures, and rules that make getting anything done extremely tedious and time-consuming? ("Where doth one at present learn better to wait than at courts? And the whole virtue of kings that hath remained unto them- is it not called to-day: ABILITY to wait?" (Nietzsche, Zarathustra)
(5) In the same way that Ronnie Look avoided areas known to have Hymenoptera, the lover of GOOD will avoid areas generating negative answers to 6-8 of the questions above. Areas generating negative responses to 10 or more questions will be avoided almost totally and immediately. Areas generating positive responses to most questions will be THE area for lovers of GOOD, who will return again and again to these areas over years, decades of life: "with both feet stand I secure on this ground. On an eternal ground, on hard primary rock, on this highest, hardest, primary mountain-ridge, unto which all winds come..." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Freedom (Kamran K): Want Total Freedom? Go "Total" Herr Albin.

"Here is the list of the most common pathological shoulds:
I should be the epitome of generosity and unselfishness.
I should be the perfect lover, friend, parent, teacher, student, spouse, and so on.
I should be able to find a quick solution to every problem.
I should never feel hurt. I should always feel happy and serene.
I should be completely competent.
I should know, understand, and forsee everything.
I should never make mistakes
I should have achievements that bring me status, wealth, or power.
I should always be busy; to relax is to waste my time and my life.
I should be unfailingly kind.
I should make enough money so my family can afford....
I should not take time just for my own pleasure."

(Matthew McKay & Patrick Fanning, Self-Esteem)

(1) We will explain why we've chosen an insignificant barely three page chapter from Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain as one of four central motivational spurs for the continued writing of this blog, now some 3.5 years/1.5 MILLION+ words "old." What is it about this chapter- and specifically its star character Herr Albin- that allows us to rank it near the entirety of the corpus of great philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Nietzsche?

(2) Mann introduces Herr Albin out of nowhere near the beginning of Magic Mountain and then never mentions him again. Herr Albin is basically a nobody and Mann treats him as such, devoting only three pages of a monumental 706 page novel to this most enigmatic character. The hero of Magic Mountain is not Herr Albin; it's Hans Castrop. The hero is indeed Hans, the same Hans Castrop that Mann initially portrays as thoroughly normal, healthy, and optimistic, thoroughly conventional, thoroughly "common sensical," thoroughly average in almost every way: (a) "An ordinary young man was on his way from his hometown of Hamburg to Davos-Platz..." (b) "he had been totally caught up in his normal train of thoughts, preoccupied with what had just occurred, his exams, and with what was about to occur, his joining the firm of Tunder and Wilms..." (c) "he added that, thank God, he was perfectly healthy." (d) "trusting that the world would take care of him one way or the other..." (e) "For he had the greatest respect for work...As things stood, work had to be regarded as unconditionally the most estimable thing in the world...His respect for work was, in its way, religious and, so far as he knew, unquestioning." Hearing that his neighbors at the sanatorium are having sex, Hans reacts with conventional socially programmed disapproval, "muttering something very disparaging about them."

Importantly, Hans is not thoroughly normal, conventional, and average by nature, inherently, by DNA. Also, he has not arrived at normality by examining Nicht Normal (NOT normal) and concluding that normality is a superior mode of life. One could do this very thing and compare and rank Normal and Nicht Normal across a whole range of behaviors and determine which is better for one given one's particular talents and life circumstances; Hans doesn't do anything of the sort.

The situation is precisely the opposite. Mann emphasizes that Hans has half-heartedly unthinkingly embraced normality to his detriment, even to the detriment of his physical health. His natural inclinations and longings point strongly/consistently toward Nicht Normal but he feels compelled and pressured to constantly do Normal. For Hans, one of life's greatest pleasures is enjoying a good cigar; in this condition he feels "home safe, nothing, literally nothing, literally nothing can happen to him. It's the same as when you're lying on the beach, because there you lie on the beach, you know? and you don't need anything else- no work, no other amusements." Hans also loves "music with all his heart." This man that naturally enjoys cigars, music, beaches, and idling, this same Hans Castrop decides to become an engineer in an engineering firm? Huh? Although he had the "greatest respect for work" (which respect was "unquestioning") Hans is (like most of us) not very good at working either long or hard: "the exertion of hard work was a strain on his nerves, tiring him quickly, and he quite candidly admitted that he much preferred his leisure- when time passed easily, unencumbered by the leaden weight of toil, lay open before you..."

(3) It is this particular Hans Castrop that Mann then forces to listen to the Herr Albin diatribe. The hero Hans is not directly involved in the conversation centering around Herr Albin; Herr Albin and Hans never exchange a single word.

(4) Toying with the idea of suicide and playing with a knife and revolver, Herr Albin is implored by two ladies surrounding him to put his knife and revolver away, forget about suicide, and turn his thoughts to "enjoying life again in a circle of friends who love you." Herr Albin is not moved by the protestations and notes his preference for suicide by way of a single gun shot to the brain. The women surrounding Herr Albin continue imploring him to put the revolver down and stop smoking; they urge him to do this for the sake of his "young, precious life!"

(5) Herr Albin listens to the women but is unmoved by anything they say: "But Herr Albin was implacable." Herr Albin has certainly done normal ("I have never refused a lady's request before now, but you'll see") but he will do normal no more. Having done normal for so long (at least for the three years he's been in the sanatorium) he has decided to STOP doing normal: "This is my third year here- and I'm fed up with it. I'm not going to play along anymore- can you blame me?"

What does Herr Albin prefer to an existence where he continues to struggle to do normality, continues to put on appearances and abide by lady's requests, continues to believe that life consists- and consists simply- of an unrelenting positive optimistic push forward, where one is surrounded by (aww, how cute!) a circle of loving friends? Herr Albin prefers, in two words, Total Freedom: "To live as I incline, or not to live at all' so do I wish; so wisheth also the holiest." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra) In the span of just four short sentences, Herr Albin unleashes a remarkably direct, honest, and unabashed declaration of personal freedom. This torrent of words send shivers down our spine, every time:

You simply must grant me the license that results from my condition. It's much the same as in high school when you know you'll be held back- they don't bother to ask you questions, you don't bother to do any work. And now I've finally come to such a pretty pass again. I don't need to do anything anymore, I'm no longer in the running- and I can laugh at the whole thing.

Mann emphasizes that there is no response from anyone to these devastating four sentences Herr Albin has "let go": "Then it grew quiet in the lounging area- as quiet as if a nightmare or ghost had been routed. And any word spoken sounded strange in the silence." Indeed, the proponents of Normal hardly ever have any persuasive response when proponents of Nicht Normal let loose freedom-based justifications for new behavior.  

(6) After doing the behavior of normal social programming and conformity for three long years, Herr Albin reaches the freedom moment. The freedom moment arrives for each person throughout life; the choice presented in those moments is whether to continue doing the approved social programming and conformity or "bust out" of it and achieve and realize one's personal freedom. Most decline freedom under the pretense that they have no choice but to continue doing Normal. Gripped by fear, many believe they will be broke, hungry, and homeless if they venture one step beyond the rigid confines of Normal. 

For Herr Albin, the freedom moment arrives with the realization that he's "fed up" with unfreedom and that he absolutely refuses to "play along anymore" with the behaviors and attitudes of unfreedom. Herr Albin removes himself from all of the contests in the arena of Normality; competitive contests for wealth, fame, power, reputation, sex, and social popularity are all spurned by Herr Albin. He will not strive for these things ("you don't bother to do any work") and, accordingly, he will not get these things ("they don't bother to ask you questions") Herr Albin prefers freedom and "license" and compares this moment of personal freedom achieved to the high school student who is held back and no longer has to compete with everyone else for grades, teacher's and coach's approval(s), girlfriends, friends, prestigious college acceptances, and all the rest. Herr Albin will no longer sacrifice his freedom for these things.

The freedom achieved by Herr Albin is appreciated by no one but Herr Albin himself. Herr Albin does certainly experience his freedom as good, perhaps supremely GOOD: "And now I've finally come to such a pretty pass again....I don't need to do anything anymore...and I can laugh at the whole thing." But he also recognizes that such freedom is gained at the expense of social popularity, social approval, and even simple social acceptance: "I'm no longer in the running." A decent society permits all to excercise any and all legitimate freedoms (the freedom to murder another is illegitimate) without a huge blow to one's social approval, acceptance, and popularity. Herr Albin does not live in such a society; neither do we.  

(7) Listening to Herr Albin speak, Hans Castrop is deeply moved by the evocation of freedom. He, too, had been held back in high school and remembered the "pleasantly untidy state of affairs that he enjoyed...once he had given up even trying and was able to laugh at the whole thing." For the first time, Hans recognizes that "honor had its advantages" but- in a very important insight- "so, too, did disgrace, and that indeed the advantages of the latter were almost boundless." The rewards that society offers persons doing the social programming and conformity well are not nothing; but they are limited and ultimately dwarfed by the "boundless" rewards freedom enables once one accepts a certain amount of social disgrace as the penalty for violating the social programming and conformity Normal demands. Moved by the stirrings of freedom in his heart, Hans tries to place himself in Herr Albin's shoes and see what it is like to "finally be free of all the pressures honor brings and endlessly enjoy the unbounded advantages of disgrace."  The chapter ends with Hans "terrified by a sense of dissolute sweetness" that pumps his heart rate through the roof. 

(8) In Western societies ruled by money, career, fame, achievement, sex, and success worship, there are precious few Herr Albins to be found. Today's culture of pathological obsession with achievement ("they have no reverence for great misfortune, great ugliness, great failure" Nietzsche, Zarathustra), with being nice and kind all the time, with making money through hard work, with relentless optimism, with relentless sex, with confident (though fake) self-confidence and assertion, with the rejection of real, genuine, prolonged leisure because it conflicts with making money through hard work, and all related attitudes is in need of correction through an attitude not too far from the radical one embraced by Herr Albin. The obsession with these things is pathological because all achievements related to money, career, success, sex, and so on are nowhere near as good as they would need to be to justify the tremendous efforts/sacrifices required to get these things. Herr Albin is remarkable for recognizing this in a moment of extreme lucidity, captured by Thomas Mann in four sentences for eternity.

Within this environment of unfreedom, the lover of GOOD will often go total Herr Albin with the single exception that he or she will not do so when this creates the condition previously identified as malignant Nicht Normal: "With thee have I wandered about in the remotest, coldest worlds...With thee have I pushed into all the forbidden, all the worst and the furthest...With thee have I broken up whatever my heart revered: all boundary-stones and statutes have I overthrown..." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra)

Moderation (Kamran K): Toward a Non-hysterical Critique of Vice.

(1) Thinkers everywhere - including the blog author- have condemned the addictive habitual ("over and over and over again") return to vice in language much too severe to do anyone any good. The severity of the language employed creates FEAR and not understanding in the MIND. For this reason, such critiques serve no GOOD purpose; it is mature, complete, full MIND understanding- not FEAR- that generates long-term reliable improvements in human behavior.

(2) Addictive vices certainly include the traditional ones of addictive sex activities (porn, mastrubation, prostitution & strip clubs, one-night stands), gambling (including day-trading), alcohol, smoking, and other substance abuse. But an addictive vice can develop anywhere. One can become addicted to one's detriment (this being the definition of an addictive vice) to watching sports, eating junk food, traveling, restaurants, golf and exercise, talking, texting and other smartphone use, posting on social media, cable TV, being in a romantic relationship (a normal distribution of "in" and "out" of a romantic relationship would certainly not look like "in" all the time), and literally almost any other human activity. In each case, the compulsive engagement in the activity harms one's functioning in other important areas of human life/personality development and fails to deliver corresponding benefits to make up for such harm. The vice is, "all in all" a pretty bad deal, one that you would never "buy" in a store.

Are you someone lacking any addictive vices? Almost certainly not. One's inability to STOP an activity completely is the clearest indication that an addiction has developed. If you aren't addicted to something, you can easily and totally stop the activity for one month; if you are somewhat addicted you can stop for a month but it will be very difficult on you; if you are totally addicted, you won't be able to stop for more than a few weeks.

(3) Nearly all the time, the resort to compulsive addictive vice activity is driven by the aimless wanderings of a low self-esteem/injured self that seeks to "cover up" emotional or narcissistic pain, trauma, and injury somehow or the other. Something, anything is found that temporarily does "cover up"- or at least distract one's attention from- the emotional and narcissistic pain, trauma, and injury that human reality inevitably generates. A young 20 something lad that always felt small on account of harsh parenting turns to gambling and feels "big" hitting the jackpot, nailing the Super Bowl winner, and all the rest; the middle-aged man that has no luck with the ladies turns to porn and feels sexually attractive for a brief moment; the overworked lawyer or I-banker watches TV all the time simply to distract himself from the miserably stressful/inhumane working environment he is "trapped within." A child that feels guilty- but shouldn't- for all of the failings of his parents and his miserably poor family life will be a prime candidate for addictive vice activity; he or she will feel a need to punish himself for "contributing" (or failing to correct) the rotten family life and the failings of the parents.

(4) Accordingly, we must admit the addictive vices DO serve a purpose, role, and function for some time. They do involve some pleasurable spikes of feeling which do temporarily boost self-esteem and self-worth and reduce human emotions we all hate (fear, anxiety, depression). In the case of those turning to vice on account of feelings of guilt that were never resolved, the vices do inflict punishment that reduces the feeling of guilt. For all this, the seeker and lover of GOOD must move beyond the addictive vices to reach the GOOD.

(5) Because each of the vices significantly arrest the full development of human personality and human understanding, they become ineffective long-term low self-esteem/low self-worth coping strategies: "Beware lest in the end a narrow faith capture thee, a hard, rigorous delusion! For now everything that is narrow and fixed seduceth and tempeth thee." (Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra) All of us with any vice should arrive at the following non-hysterical GOOD realization. From now on, this will be our SAY NO TO ADDICTIVE VICE creed:

For a brief moment in the past, these vices actually served as activities that made me feel better about myself. They made me feel more powerful, more intelligent, less anxious, less fearful, less depressed, and less guilty about my failings. When I examine the matter soberly and honestly, I can see that they don't serve this function anymore and that I never should have had such a low self-esteem/self-worth to begin with. These addictive vices are not delivering these (or any other) benefits anymore, as proven by the fact that I often still feel fearful, anxious, depressed, uncertain even after years of the vice activity. Had the addictive vice activity been working, these emotions should have been eliminated entirely by this point; this hasn't been the case. At this point, these addictive vices are just the skeletons of an old self, a skeleton I must bury. Absorbing much time and money in the process, these activities now largely produce yet further guilt, anxiety, reinforcement of failure feelings which I've always wanted to rise above, not succumb to. And so I must come to a complete stop with respect to these addictive vice activities because they don't fit within my long term GOOD. The pleasure I get from them, what little I still do, must be moved beyond because ultimately it's not in my longer term GOOD interests. At this point in my life, the overcoming of these addictive vices is more likely to generate positive feelings of self-worth, self-power, self-esteem and the corresponding reduction of fear, anxiety, guilt, and depression. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Moderation (Kamran K): Hitting the RESET on Malignant Nicht Normal

(1) "Normality" has been- and will continue to be- a key battle ground between intellectually thoughtful liberals and conservatives seeking to articulate the good life. Liberals encourage and embrace difference and diversity at every turn, even and especially when it veers from tradition; conservatives usually believe the good life has already been discovered and consists of the unremarkable habitual compliance with a few behaviors and lifestyle choices that are "normal" everywhere.

Both "camps" are wrong. The good life does not simply consist of the veneration of a few habitual behaviors, habits, and thought practices articulated several thousand years ago. Liberals are correct that difference and diversity, being "Nicht Normal," (German for "not normal") and introducing NEWNESS into life, are generally desirable and worthy of encouraging . This is particularly so when the Nicht Normal behavior represents one's (1) break with ERRONEOUS dominant social programming and conformity and (2) replaces this error with superior behaviors and thoughts. Still, liberals are too dismissive of the notion that there is such a category- and perhaps a very large one- of MALIGNANT NICHT NORMAL behaviors and attitudes.

(2) For most adults thirty plus, two or more areas of functioning (intellectual, moral, emotional, social, career, relationship, aesthetic, financial, sexual, physical, everyday living) are usually in need of a large or total reset. The behaviors, attitudes, and habits in this area are so "off" that small changes will not do. A whole superstructure of bad habits, false views, ugly attitudes, and inane behaviors have debilitated functioning in this level. Functioning has reached the level of MALIGNANT NICHT NORMAL; as with all other malignancies, the prognosis is for things to get progressively worse, not magically improve overnight. A total reset, a total relearn of all behaviors, habits, and attitudes in this malignant area is the only way out. One must become childlike in this area of functioning so as to begin anew what was never correctly put together in the first place.

(3) MALIGNANT NICHT NORMAL represents a malignant/bad/woeful break from social programming and conformity. The break does not generate GOOD but destroys- more and more- one's shot at ever reaching the GOOD in that area of functioning. But what does it specifically mean for a behavior or attitude to be "malignant"?

(4) Malignant functioning serves no nontrivial discernible purpose and produces no nontrivial benefit for the person involved. Worse, it greatly complicates, burdens, and inconveniences the person doing the malignancy and those receiving the malignancy. Persons receiving the malignant nicht normal behavior are usually in the worst position, having the harm imposed on them without any consent whatsoever. The malignancy is usually not seen immediately for what it is but it becomes obvious and impossible to deny over the long run.

(5) Almost any laudable break from social programming and conformity can become malignant. Examples abound:
  • Ordinarily, thrift, frugality, and the rejection of vapid consumerism is a good break from programming and conformity. But one can go so far in this attitude that the break becomes malignant. A retired couple with several million bucks would be malignant NICHT NORMAL if they adopted the frugality habits of broke 20 year olds for no nontrviail reasons, and stayed at the most dangerous cheapest motels on vacation, ate at the cheapest restaurants in town, and aggressively sought every bargain or coupon available to them. For almost everyone else, seeking to save money on badly needed health care services or groceries would be another example of malignant NICHT NORMAL functioning.
  • Ordinarily, inquisitiveness and questioning asking of someone new in one's life is good. But asking these questions in an extremely haphazard, rude, thoughtless, continuous way would not be a virtue but rather a malignant NICHT NORMAL functioning. What would you say about someone that asked 20-30 trivial, banal, though still private questions of you for every detail they revealed about their life? What would you say about someone who could only conversate in this style, turning every conversation into a lengthy interview?
  • Hard work and thoroughness is usually good but even this can become malignant NICHT NORMAL functioning when one works too long on hopelessly impossible projects, and stresses over every last detail in an attempt to generate perfection on everything one has ever produced.
  • Even politeness and a warm demeanor toward others can become malignant if it interferes with the ability to communicate directly and transmit important truths to others. 
  • Ordinarily, spirited, righteous indignation at some attack on one's character that is totally undeserved also represents a break from today's programming and conformity of tepid business-like politeness to everyone at all times. Here, again, one can take this kind of thing so far that one literally "blows up" every time anyone negatively comments upon anything one does. 
(6) If a series of malignant NICHT NORMAL behaviors or attitudes congregate in a specific area of human functioning then the work to undo this malignancy is huge indeed. It is better at this point to simply erase and reset all one's functioning in that area and begin totally fresh relearning new habits, behaviors, thoughts, attitudes, and valuing in that functioning.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wealth (Kamran K): Getting it Right. Placing Wealth into the OPTIONAL category.

"And we in here and we talkin' about practice. I  mean listen we talkin' about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talkin' about practice. Not a game that I go out there and die for, play every game like it's my last. We talkin' about practice, I mean how silly is that...I know it's important, I do, I honestly do...but we talkin' about practice man, we talkin' about practice, we talkin' about practice, we ain't talkin' about the game, we talkin' about practice...I hear you, it's funny to me too. It's strange to me too, but we talkin' about practice. We ain't talkin' about the game, the actual game when it matters...we talkin' about practice..." Allen Iverson

"As the heron looketh contemptuously at shallow pools, with backward-bent head, so do I look at the throng of grey little waves and wills and souls." Nietzsche, Zarathustra

(1) For this or any other society to mature, to reach the GOOD, to achieve enlightenment, to get itself out of the cave of human animality, wealth, power, and success pursuit (particularly power and success pursuit desired for either $ or narcissistic supply) must be viewed as a PURELY OPTIONAL pursuit that one can legitimately pursue if one is so inclined in this direction. Without reputational, romantic, or other social backlash, one should be able to step forward and tell one's family, friends, and loved ones that one is not interested in wealth, power, or success pursuit just as one is already free today to tell one's family, friends, and loved ones that one is not interested in fishing, running, cycling, watching political convention speeches, drinking, crossword puzzle cracking, attending lopsided SEC football games, and all other purely optional activities.

Though this should be the operative social environment, we are very far from it being the actual social environment. The actual environment today is one where wealth, power, and success gathering is not viewed as an optional pursuit but rather as a "mandatory one," mandatory of anyone interested in being "somebody" and "doing something" and NOT becoming a "burn-out" "loser" "weirdo" or "creep."

(2) Today, hardly anyone looks down on someone that plainly admits they don't care to take up running, cycling, swimming, crossword puzzles, fishing, yoga, or a whole host of other purely optional activities. These activites may be good or have many good aspects but it doesn't matter; no sane person insists or demands that everyone do these activities. Anyone that did so insist would be considered INSANE or NOT NORMAL. We are, after all, talking about a purely optional activity that no one- strictly speaking- must "do"; we are not talking about eating, breathing, or sleeping.

When someone make this confession of disinterestedness in a purely optional activity, we immediately get that, for one reason or another, this person simply doesn't CARE to take up these activities. AND SO FRIGGIN WHAT. BIG FRIGGIN DEAL. Maybe this person has other pursuits, concerns, or activities that he reasonably values above running/fishing. Maybe this person has dabbled in running/fishing/yoga and found each terribly tedious. Maybe the person reasonably believes (from experience) they are not well suited to these activities for physical, mental, or other reasons. Maybe this person has a conscience and has located some moral bad in the activity that few others locate. Whatever the cause, the person has made a reasonable decision not to pursue a purely optional activity that, if pursued correctly and with some luck "along the way," may have benefited his life for the better. Of course, the person may also have pursued the purely optional activity in such a manner that he would be harmed- and not benefited in the least- by the activity or he just had really crummy luck and everything went to shit. It is false optimism- and viciously false optimism- to believe that all who enter the game of wealth, power, and success gathering are likely to "do well at it" as long as they "try hard" for "long enough." It is even falser to assume that many or most can successfully "get through" these pursuits in the CRAZY COMPETITIVE times of today in one psychologically healthy well-functioning sane "piece."

With respect to all of the above activities, it is only in the most extreme cases that we "step in" and say the person SHOULD get serious about an otherwise optional activity. If someone is so obese that they are likely to have a heart attack within the near term future, then this person BETTER get serious about running (or some equivalent calorie burning activity). If one's spouse adores fishing, then one BETTER try it out and enjoy it at least a few times a year.

 (3) As an activity, wealth, power, and success pursuit is absolutely no different. At any juncture of spacetime, a person that has maturely considered the matter should be able to step forward and announce they have no great interest in wealth, power, and success pursuit beyond that needed for mere survival. Maybe this person has other pursuits, concerns, or activities that he reasonably values above wealth and success gathering (persons can be wrong in this assessment so the highest most honest use of reason must always be brought to bear on this comparison). Maybe this person has tried out wealth and success gathering and found these things terribly tedious and unrewarding, if not destructive of psychological well-being. Maybe the person reasonably believes they are not well suited to wealth and success gathering for physical, emotional, or even spiritual reasons. Maybe this person has a conscience and has located some moral bad in wealth and success gathering (above all, the stunting of the free and full development of one's human character, personality, and identity) that few others locate or "can see." Maybe this person has met countless persons that HAVE made wealth and success gathering the main goals of their ONE life on a planet as grand as Earth, only to wind up disappointed with "what they got" in one way (no $ and no success ultimately generated) or the other (no happiness generated despite tons of $ and success gathering).

(4) Whatever the specific cause or motivational impetus, persons today have a right to desist from the purely optional activity of wealth and success gathering in EXACTLY the same way as persons today have a right to refrain from the purely optional activities of running, fishing, yoga, and social media profile updating. If EVERYONE made this decision the world would come to a stand-still and so, at that point, this "right" would have to be revisited. The INSANELY STRONG animality drive of human DNA would never permit everyone to make this decision as there would always be many persons that simply could not refrain or help themselves from seeking to boost their fragile self-esteem through money and success gathering. The men of the world could, tomorrow, go on strike and refuse to play by the rules set by woman for courting and the like. But there would always be many many more men that would not strike as they would view the strike (and the exiting of many men from the courtship running) as an even better opportunity to attract woman their way.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Silence (Kamran K): The Relentless Onslaught of Words...Continues...and Continues...and Continues.

(1) Never has a human generation unleashed as many words on each other as the current one. Humanity's current onslaught of words is relentless and increasing exponentially; it's perhaps the greatest increase in anything ever. While this verbal onslaught has been proceeding, it has also been true that no human generation has ever confused words and reality so spectacularly. Words are valued and preferred; reality is not. Why and how has all of this happened? Why is humanity doing words so often, so ridiculously often?

(2) Human behavior and action has succumbed- more and more- to all the time ON social programming/conformity and self-inflicted stupidity untied to the GOOD: "Some of them injure themselves by evil deeds; others keep the midway between good and evil; and others, by the permission of God, outstrip in goodness; this is the great merit!" (Holy Koran) The relentless neo-liberal capitalistic social programming and conformity has landed us here: almost everyone, regardless of profession, has become a businessman eager to "promote" and "advertise" their goods, services, and reputation "to the moon" while- at all times- carefully exercising politically-correct judgment and discretion so as to alienate as few people (i.e. potential customers) in the process: "Status and self-promotion and the wish to be celebrated and famous are all that matters...they invest their efforts to advertise themselves and to brag about achievements, substantive or fraudulent." (Theodore Millon PhD. 1998) Men and women everywhere chase pedestrian social goods (big home, beautiful wife, latest gadgets, bling, and other toys, ample 401k account): "they show little interest in ethical, aesthetic, or intellectual values; their values are childish, aimed at protecting self-esteem and pride. Their inordinate dependency on external admiration indirectly reflects their immature superego functioning...They also have a remarkable incapacity for empathy and emotional investment in others." (Otto Kernberg 1998) Everyone quickly realizes that- to get these things- their behavior must- for many DECADES- be carefully contained within a very narrow region of NICE, DECENT, HARD WORKING, DULL, OPTIMISTIC, and LEGAL behavior.

In response to this nauseating reality that lacks inherent purpose or meaning, many have sought refuge in an endless torrent of words to express their frustration with the endless BAYNAHL (banal) social programming and conformity relentlessly expected of them. Although it is the best solution to the puzzle, a total and complete STOP from doing the programming/conformity/self-inflicted stupidity, a total and complete decision to remove oneself from environments permeated by programming/conformity/self-inflicted stupidity are never imagined as possible responses to the programming/conformity/self-inflicted stupidity; instead, verbally complaining about the programming/conformity/self-inflicted stupidity is preferred, resulting in hours of recitation of lengthy complaints about basically everything but, above all, the miserable condition of one's work, marriage/family, and social life.

These complaints are usually infantile; persons stupidly place themselves in an environment KNOWN TO ALL sober-minded persons to be saturated to the core with programming and conformity and then have the audacity to complain that the environment is indeed (big surprise!) rife with programming and conformity. This is simply ABSURD, really really friggin' ABSURD. Why on Earth would you watch a cheap C-rated thriller and then complain that the plot was formulaic? Why on Earth would you go to bars and clubs and complain that the men and women there are superficial and driven by animality? Why on Earth would you pursue a career in one of the BIG THREE lucrative professions (business, medicine, and law) and then complain that endless work and stress is required of you merely to "survive?" Why on Earth would you choose to live in one of the most expensive cities on the planet and then complain that you can barely make ends meet? Why on Earth would you sign up for a social media website and then complain that everyone on it was projecting a falsely positive image of their life or inundating the world with trivial details/images of their life that not a single person on the planet gives a damn about? Why? Why? Why! These complaints should never exist in the first place because no one should ever expect these environments to be anything other than the disappointing environments that they almost always are.

(3) Another large human group is also fed up with the social programming and conformity. However, this frustration cannot be admitted consciously or publicly as these persons are too invested financially, reputationally, and otherwise in the programming and conformity. Working parents with young kids are the predominant members of this group. For these persons, the preferred route is to verbally convince themselves that the programming and conformity is actually good or great for them and all others. This demonstration requires many thousands, millions of words (obviously not in one day but over months and years) as it flies so violently in the face of the truth. If you seek to play with reality through words, you will usually need many thousands, millions of words because reality is such an overwhelming thing to overcome.

Rather than allowing the reality of the social programming and conformity to be honestly evaluated for what it is, this group wishes to skew or rig the result with words, whether or not reality gives them the "right" to these words. Perhaps the programming and conformity has a few virtues and benefits here and there alongside the many bads. Yet this cannot be admitted. What is needed is an insane amount of words to convince oneself and others that ALL of the programming and conformity is good, needed, in our "long term" best interests of ideal physical health, robust financial security, and calm emotional disposition, and all the rest.  Using words as their most preferred "weapons," members of this group are always on the prowl to convince themselves and others that they are living the best life, are happy, are upstanding citizens, and all the rest: "Thou, however, MUST deceive: so far do I know thee! Thou must ever be equivocal, trivocal, quadrivocal, and quinquivocal! Even what thou hasnt now confessed is not nearly enough nor false enough for me!" (Nietzsche, Zarathustra)

(4) The conclusion is clear. The use of words are strictly not necessary to remove oneself from a bad social environment permeated with conformity and programming. One must simply get out; period, end of story. Words are required to perpetually complain about a poor social environment and programming but this complaining does nothing to alter the reality that you yourself are continuing to "do" that environment and programming. You are even in a worse condition than the person that thoughtlessly/willingly does the programming because your complaints demonstrate (a) you are conscious of flaws in the programming and conformity but (b) are too weak to do anything about it.

Words are also not strictly necessary to enjoy and appreciate a genuinely good behavior not permeated by programming and conformity. A great run, bike ride, round of golf etc. does not become great through the use of even a single word; at all times, the experience is great because of unspoken aspects of the experience that have inherent non-verbal value. Words, and many thousands or millions of them, are required to transform (strictly within the human mind) an actually bad or neutral environment into a perceived good one (such words don't change a speck of reality outside the mind).  Once one appreciates both of these truths, one's need to speak will plummet some 80-90%. The resulting speech that one produces will be drastically reduced but elevated in quality.

Justice (Kamran K): That Stubborn Rahcizm

(1) Theze dayz, there is lots of empty self-congratulation and webs of trivial UNDT bayhnaaal webs of words churned out by respectable politicians, social leaders, university presidents, and even corporate elites about the "remarkable" racial progress achieved in America and other western societies. Despite the intentions of these speakers, these words can't conceal nor wish away the brutal reality: racism is alive, well, and even strengthening across the globe. The broad racial progress so many imagine has arrived may not be "progress" at all as it often encourages too many persons to quickly deny or wish away the racist prejudices they harbor but refuse to admit. Eliminating racism takes serious mental effort, attention, consciousness, and honesty over many years and precious few are taking time out from money, sex, self, and success worship to engage in this project today. Much more common is the person that imagines himself to be "NOT racist" because "racist" is one of the worst things one can be and, well, one is surely not as bad as that, right? Because one is imagined to be inherently GOOD in ALL ways, one could never harbor racist prejudices that are the staple of ignorant, cruel, stupid, and vicious persons that lived hundreds of years ago, right? Right? Right??

(2) What is racism? Racism is the reality whereby a human allows the skin color of another human being to play a role- usually a significant determinative one- in any decision involving that person. As skin color is totally dictated by sequences of human DNA over which the person has no conscious choice, it's unjust to let this consideration play any role in how one evaluates, treats, and relates to another human being in any sphere of life. Persons should be evaluated on whether they are good, decent, reliable, intelligent, courageous, and, perhaps even more importantly, whether they possess genuine breadth and depth of character and personality; one's race TRULY has nothing to do with any of these qualities of character and mind.

(3) Racism is an extremely superficial worldview. It's always been the worldview of choice for the intellectually lazy who refuse to evaluate persons individually (which requires much mental time, attention, and care which the intellectually lazy lack). Racism also thrives in competitive environments permeated by fear and anxiety among human beings. As we live in tremendously superficial, intellectually lazy, and competitive times, it would not be surprising if racism was still booming. And it is.

(4) Like masturbation, pornography, and many other taboo sexual practices, racism is universally common but never publicly acknowledged in respectable circles because of the potential career and reputational backlash such admission would IMMEDIATELY "bring on." An admission of a racist prejudice would get a worker fired from his job within minutes of making the admission; this worker would then have to explain this firing to all future potential employers, with each one rejecting him for the same reason that he lost job 1. Theze dayz, anyone with any aspiration to climb the socio-economic ladder must publicly present as tolerant, open, progressive, and totally free of racist (or any other) prejudices. Racism is NOT NICE and one must always publicly present as TOTALLY NICE to climb the socio-economic ladder today. This public demonstration of race blindness is demanded of the many and the many don't disappoint in ceremonial inauthentic false public displays of race blindness. With a bit of training, almost all members of the many can always "go through the motions" and present exactly as they need to present in order to "survive" the next week, month, or year. Such presentation is adopted by the many for reasons other than the belief that the attitude (in this case race blindness) is true, good, and noble.

(5) We submit the truth is rarely found in self-congratulatory public webs of words paraded about in business, political, or other respectable institutionalized life. The truth is found in private intimate life where true selves display their deepest irrational inclinations, fears, favorings/tastes, and prejudices. At the level of American private intimate life, racism is there for all to see. Just open your eyes and you will see.

(6) At the level of serious romantic relationship and marriage, one sees very little in the way of interracial mixing (this excludes the category of white man-Asian female relationships in the states of California and NY). The observed interracial relationships and marriages fall dramatically short of what one would expect if dating and marriage were truly color blind. Almost all defenses in this area for this phenomenon (defenses that refuse to admit racism is what is "at play") are totally specious.

At the level of close friendships, one again finds little in the way of interracial mixing. Attend a wedding of middle to upper class white Americans and you will immediately see how few minorities are in attendance.

At the level of neighborhood and community associates, one again mostly finds racial sameness.

(7) As between these behavioral choices in reality and the empty public rhetoric of race blindness we credit these choices as being infinitely more reflective of actual racial dynamics in a city, state, or nation.

(8) The lover of GOOD must again and again evaluate his irrational inclinations, fears, and favorings/tastes in his private life to determine where and when racism is playing a role. Rather than starting this process with the empty defense of "IM NOT RACIST" one should acknowledge that one was raised in an environment and a nation with a history tainted by racism and so it would not be unusual if racism somehow still resides at the level of MIND's conscious or subconscious functioning. Day by day one should undo any and all racist inclinations, fears, and favorings/tastes to then experience the GOOD of race blindness in its pure native form.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Freedom (Kamran K): How many "moves"?

"A lot of you have your whole life in front of you and it is a book full of empty pages. And you get to write that book. And you write that book with every choice you make. If you decide that you are meant to be something special then that is the book you will write. If you decide that you were meant to be nobody then that's the book you're gonna write. And I'm not here to talk you out of it or tell you what kind of book you should write...I'm just here to tell you that you can write whatever you want, want, want, want, want, want, want..."
Unknown track, Sander Kleinenberg, Live @ Kennedy, Tampa, Florida 2010 

(1) The seeker of human good must continually evaluate all human social environments (whether a friendship, a job, a city one lives, a hobby activity involving other persons, a dating environment, etc.) he is now in and all those he could potentially enter in the not too distant future.

(2) These environments can be evaluated under different metrics. One of THE most important metrics is the freedom permitted by this environment.

(3) As an abstract ideal, freedom is universally celebrated everywhere on this planet. Within reality, this celebration proceeds in lockstep with people everywhere making a mockery of what freedom they have, abandoning their freedom without a second thought in service of money, success, and sex worship, and failing to make sustained effort to increase their freedom in any area of life.

(4) We face difficulties here in that freedom is an exceedingly vague word, concept, and ideal. What does it mean for a human being to be free or unfree while embedded within a human social environment? (Freedom is not even a virtue outside of a human social environment where it's automatic and never struggled for.)

(5) However formulated, this answer must involve a sober-minded evaluation of how many permissible behaviors or thought moves can this environment realistically handle, permit, tolerate. If a behavior or thought move within an environment is likely to cause a person severe or serious financial, bodily, reputational, or social harm then that move is one the environment can't or won't handle nor tolerate. The person is- strictly speaking- not free to make such a move within that environment within reality. His freedom is not tolerated by the environment but rather rejected and punished.

(6) If an environment is such that a very large number of potential behavior and thought moves can be tolerated, then the environment is a very free one and likely to generate great good for all involved. The freest environment of all would obviously be one where everyone could ask and have answered any question or concern that struck consciousness and could then act out a wide range of behaviors consistent with what was learned from this mental freedom. Such an environment has never existed in human history but the hope must be that it will exist somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

(7) Most human social environments today are not even close to being free under this framework. At any given time, the permissible moves that the dominant social programming of an environment can handle or tolerate is usually 1 or 2, but usually only 1. That one permissible move is often simply the choice to do what most other people typically do within than environment under the same or similar circumstances. Moves outside of these approved 1 or 2 moves are technically permitted but almost instantly result in some serious financial, social, reputational, physical, or emotional harm to the person engaging in the move. This repercussion- almost always artificially imposed and undeserved- effectively blocks, hinders, and impedes the growth of human freedom almost totally. It is absolutely absurd to expect freedom to grow or bloom (or conformity and rigid obedience to social programming to decrease) when freedom's excercise is punished from every angle nearly every time. Given this framework, only the most exceptionally stoic, courageous, moderate, and philosophical nature will even have a chance of maintaining a free spirited disposition well into mature adulthood. Such persons are exceedingly rare, perhaps less than 1,000 in the current US. 

(8) For example, a man on a first date is free to truthfully share with a lady that he's not very interested in making lots of money, views many things pessimistically, detests social media websites, is somewhat fond of the odor of various parts of his body, and enjoys the food served at gas stations, McDonald's, and 7-11. But this move will immediately result in the lady shutting down and giving this man no shot at further intimacy. The dominant dating environment and its attendant social programming couldn't handle this totally legitimate behavior thought move on the part of this man.

Similarly, someone on a job interview could honestly share that his/her dominant motivation for seeking the position was the money offered by the position, the need to pay bills, and one's worsening financial condition (my money's "tight" ALL the time, baby!). The person could admit that beyond these reasons he or she feels no real attraction for this job nor believes he possesses any particular talent for it but simply must "do the job" to survive. While this move is "available" and the person is free to use it in the interview as a potential move, this move would not be tolerated by the employment environment and its dominant social programming so this move too would result in the job applicant being immediately rejected for the position.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Love (Kamran K): Building Bridges to the GOOD.

(1) Within the four corners of a perfectuating life, one's dominant focus and effort remains fixated on gradual, non-trivial, and sustained progress across the five categories of human well-being (intellectual, physical, aesthetic, moral, everyday living). This sustained progress can be visualized as building a bridge to the GOOD. Man everywhere is born within the non-GOOD and must build a bridge to the GOOD through the highest active use of the human MIND: "What is great is so alien to your souls that the overman would be terrifying to you in his goodness." (Nietzsche, Ecce Homo) This bridge must be built- trial and error- over an entire life, albeit not every single moment must be so consumed. Even a perfectuating life can contain a few months (e.g. not years) where one basically goofs off amidst various non-GOOD things. During these periods, however, it must be actually and fully understood that one is dealing with non-GOOD things.

(2) This building activity can happen alone or with a romantic partner. Let us emphasize here that the GOOD can be achieved totally alone, albeit this is rare and requires an exceptionally driven courageous free-spirited person with some innate talents spread across the five categories of well-being. Importantly, human loneliness is not GOOD but there an infinity of ways to defeat it OUTSIDE of marriage and serious relationships. Those who seek to defeat human loneliness primarily through serious relationships and marriage often get this victory at the price of many greater evils: "but as to that which they themselves devised as a remedy for this morbidity- must one not assert that it has ultimately proved itself a hundred times more dangerous in its effects than the sickness it was supposed to cure." (Nietzsche, Ecce Homo)

(3) Within romantic love, this building activity can either be improved, unaffected, or destroyed through the behavior, attitudes, and thoughts of the other. If the building activity is destroyed by the other, the romantic love felt for that other is very bad and an impediment to the GOOD: "Deficient development in this area will lead to the many forms of tension regulatory problems, such as addictions, perversions, and certain forms of criminality as well as lack of enthusiasm, empty depression, and chronic despair." (Paul Ornstein, M.D. 1998) If the building activity is unaffected by the other, the romantic love felt for that other is neutral and valueless. If the building activity is improved by the other, romantic love is the greatest of goods for both persons: "the development of the self- its cohesiveness, vitality or enfeeblement and proneness to fragmentation- became concern." (Paul Ornstein, M.D. 1998)

(4) It's unclear what men and women what from each other in today's society. Whatever THAT IS, it's usually not the case that they desire a partner who will help them form a bridge to the GOOD. Men generally want sex and simple companionship from women. Women generally want financial security and social-status based power and validation in their male partner (many women wish to "latch on" to the man's power and merge with it to overcome personal weakness).  Both sexes are generally miserable romantically because none of these things is closely tied to the GOOD, or tied at all.

(5) Physical attraction for a romantic partner is somewhat important but is no predictor whatsoever of a person's ability to conduct this bridge to the GOOD. The animality drive found in human DNA bids us to seek out attractive romantic partners. This is a very strong persistent drive but, ultimately, it is rather valueless all in all.

(6) The problem that this animality drive produces can be simply stated. The physical attributes of another person is the FIRST thing one sees. For many, it is also the LAST thing they see: "Any refined self-concern, any protection by some commanding instinct was lacking..." (Nietzsche, Ecce Homo) Many persons never get beyond the physical attributes of the other person to make mature evaluations of character on those dimensions of character that are tied to the GOOD: "To blunder to such an extent, not as individuals, not as a people, but as humanity!" (Nietzsche, Ecce Homo)

For those seeking the GOOD, it is imperative that one not be THROWN into hormonal orbit during the romantic evaluation period from the animality drive found in human DNA. Information about another person is always streaming in from all sources but we ignore this information when in hormonal orbit. Persons are thrown in hormonal orbit from different human body types and for different reasons but the dominant result is always the same: total ignorance of the most important information about another person and a rather poor choice of a romantic partner.

To avoid these pitfalls, one must ask and reask the following questions: what is attracting me to this person OTHER than the physicality animality drive for sex found in human DNA? What virtues of character does this person stably possess? How have those virtues manifested themselves in any behavior or accomplishment? What have they achieved of value so far in their adult life? What efforts has this person made to attain personal freedom and escape various forms of social programming and falsely induced human fears ("They call themselves the truthful...The root of the word coined for this, esthlos, signifies one who is, who possesses reality, who is actual, who is true..." (Nietzsche, Genealogy)? Does this person have any burning desire to reach human excellence? How has this person attempted to improve the lives of a single human being other than their own?

In the usual case, questions posed in this manner will result in few, if any, answers compelling enough for one to sacrifice a TREMENDOUS amount of personal freedom and authenticity required in either a serious relationship or marriage. As we have emphasized, most persons are not GOOD, are not seeking the GOOD, and would not know the GOOD if it hit them in the face:

My instinct for cleanliness is characterized by a perfectly uncanny sensitivity so that the entrails of every soul are physiologically perceived by me- smelled...the abundant hidden dirt at the bottom of many a character...enters my consciousness almost at the first contact. 
(Nietzsche, Ecce Homo

Monday, September 22, 2014

The GOOD (Kamran K): On GOOD changes

(1) GOOD changes are rare but deeply significant in altering human behavior: "we need for a new goal also a new means- namely, a new health, stronger, more seasoned, tougher, more audacious, and gayer than any previous health." (Nietzsche, Ecce Homo) Two to three GOOD changes a year- truly learned and experienced- would be an impressive accomplishment. GOOD changes often "kill" 5-10 "birds with one stone." These are changes that affect behavior across many aspects of life, over many decades. These changes ripple outwards rather than being confined to their small area.

Most changes are not GOOD changes. Most changes are trivial changes that don't stably affect even one aspect of a single human life, let alone 5-10 aspects. They are adopted at random and then abandoned at random, with no discernible purpose or point: "without meaning, without substance, without aim." (Nietzsche, Untimely Ones)

(2) GOOD changes are driven by MIND and usually involve some alteration of an infantile belief to a mature one that has a chance of surviving the requirements of the GOOD. Examples of GOOD changes driven by MIND include:
  • "I am the center of the world and the world should serve my needs" TO "I AIN'T MUCH. I am a very small part of this world and can hope to contribute to it only through the cultivation of human excellence"
  • "If I am nice and kind to other people the world will reward me in the end, in some way or another" TO "THE ALWAYS NICE AND KIND ARE A NAUSEATINGLY BORING HUMAN TYPE WHO EXCEL IN PUTTING EVERYONE AROUND THEM TO SLEEP. If I cultivate human excellence I can hope- but am never guaranteed- to make some non-trivial contribution to the world. Whether this contribution also involves reward- financial or otherwise- is always uncertain."
  • "I will be happy if I make lots of money, own lots of expensive things, have many people look up to me, and maintain a vibrant sex life." TO "GETTING BLING IS DAMN HARD AND MAY NOT DO A DAMN THING FOR ME IN THE END. I will be happy if I maintain balance AND depth across all my human needs, from material to sexual to reputational to aesthetic to moral to social to athletic. None of these needs contributes more to human happiness than the others. They are each equally important to cultivate and maintain across decades of life. I will be unhappy if I neglect many of these needs for one or two of them."
  • "I should get married and have kids because it's expected of me and everyone else seems to be doing it" to "I CAN DO MISERABLY UNHAPPY ALONE. I will ONLY get married and have kids if I believe I can build and maintain a better life with a partner and kids than I could on my own." 
  • "I will maintain relentless optimism in the face of any challenge or reality I face." TO "OPTIMISM WORKS FOR ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES. I will maintain optimism ONLY when the facts and circumstances of the situation warrant it, which is MUCH less than all the time. I will maintain pessimism in the face of realities that have always been negative and have given no indication that they are intent on changing for the GOOD."
  • "It is important that I make ALL my views known in public and communicate everything on my mind to everyone at all times. All of my views and public statements are articulate, coherent, and worthy of everyone's attention." TO "Most of my views are TRIVIAL UNDT BANAL. Accordingly, it is important that I listen to the views of those around me that communicate coherently and seriously and with concern that the statements they make are true. Public expression is important and a value but usually only to express some viewpoint that is either totally new or expressed so differently that it casts the issue in a different light. If there are infinite truths out there for all to discover, humanity- either as a species or as individuals- should feel no compulsion to continually repeat the same ones over and over again. 
  • "I wish to gain power, reputation, money, and other competitively pursued social goods without stress, without anxiety, without exhausting often non-fun "boring" hard work, without sacrifices to my health and relationships, without HUGE sacrifices to personal freedom and core authentic identity" TO "WAKE UP TO REALITY, SON! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? I must make a mature choice. Either I live a relatively obscure life lacking the competitively pursued social goods (above all, reputation and money) OR I pursue reputation and money knowing full well I will have to sacrifice many other equally good things merely in order to have a "shot" at getting money, reputation, and power."
While ALL of the above MIND-driven changes reflect important shifts in belief and are all serious and important in their own right, such MIND-driven changes can- and often should- be expressed in a tone and spirit of playful humor: "I do not know any other way of associating with great tasks than play: as a sign of greatness, this is an essential presupposition." (Nietzsche, Ecce Homo)

(3) All of the above changes in attitude do two independent things. First, they reduce human misery and aimless purposeless effort and toil by calibrating one's expectations with reality. Human expectations divorced from reality are one of the top reasons our nation and increasingly planet has become a "nook of disgruntled, arrogant, and offensive creatures filled with a profound disgust at themselves, at the earth, at all life, who inflict as much pain on themselves as they possibly can..." Second, these changes continue to orient one's focus toward the GOOD and subject nearly all decisions, choices, and values to its stringent requirements.