Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happiness (Kamran K): The Middle (Doomed) Ground.

(1) Why is happiness, let alone genuine exhilaration, such a rare sight on Earth today? All manner of complicated explanations could be offered but the most fundamental answer is much simpler.

(2) There is a path to happiness, perfection, and exhilaration through BOTH pure form and pure substance. We have the freedom to choose either, or both, or one at one point in our lives and one at another.

(3) We also have the freedom to choose neither, to turn our back on BOTH pure form and pure substance. In this middle ground doomed state, we pursue neither the perfection of pure substance nor the perfection of pure form. Our actions, behaviors, and values are indifferent to the attainment of either pure substance perfection and pure form perfection. To the extent we do either, we are passive spectators or otherwise not devoting maximum effort to attain the relevant pure form or pure substance perfection.

This middle ground state is only doomed in so far as its potential to regularly provide perfection, happiness, and exhilaration. It can supply many other things, including a stable sense of self, a good job, financial security, emotional stability, and so on and on. It just simply can't take us to the promised land of human perfection, happiness, and exhilaration.

(4) Attaining happiness, perfection, and exhilaration through either pure form or pure substance is demanding and- almost always- a lengthy process. Years, often decades of effort are required to reach a state where one is "in the zone" of mastering the pure substance or pure form activity.

Super star athletes of all sorts are the most obvious examples of persons attaining pure substance perfection. Nearly all of them devote their entire youths and early adult years to mastering the activity in such a way that they are able to reach the pure substance perfection for a brief period when they are at the "height of their powers." Senna captures this peak brilliantly for all athletes who have (however briefly) reached the absolute peak of their sport: "Suddenly I realized...I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was kind of driving by instinct, only I was in a different dimension. I was way over the limit, but still I was able to find even more." Musicians and artists at the top of their craft reach a similar peak of pure substance perfection. Whether musician, artist, or athlete, the person experiencing pure substance perfection always reaches it through personal effort of a sort that can't be purchased anywhere. The actual landing in pure substance perfection is always done in an individual manner that no one else can later duplicate.

Lawyers, CEOs, writers, comedians, and basically anyone that spends most of their day writing have the ability to pursue pure form perfection. By dedicating themselves earnestly to their writing activities, they can also attain pure form perfection by making their writings better and better and better.

(5) Happiness is in such rare supply because nearly everyone simply can't gather and maintain the effort required to attain either pure form or pure substance perfection. A year's worth of genuine earnest commitment is often too much for many, let alone several decades worth of this commitment. It has become much too simple, much too convenient to simply rely on the efforts of others to entertain oneself, occupy one's time, get things done at work, and all the rest. Each such reliance is ultimately happiness limiting no matter what other benefits it provides. We must be absolutely clear that many things can benefit us, serve pragmatic utility interests WITHOUT generating long-term happiness, perfection, and exhilaration.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Love (Kamran K): Go DEEP!

(1) We have made numerous observations regarding the deplorable state of love in this country and others. Floundering loveless marriages where one or both parties engage in adultery, 50% divorce rates, "relationships" that can barely survive three months, dates that are perpetually cancelled, rescheduled, or forgotten, partnerships of economic convenience everywhere one looks, and violence, apathy, deception, and outright lies providing the "glue" for many partnership are just some of the depressing realities blighting the romantic landscape everywhere. We unflinchingly stand by these observations. 

Young men and women increasingly are observing these depressing realities around them. They are despairing of the potential for love and lasting relationships, and reverting to the convenience of extremely short "encounters" (one REALLY hesitates to call these things relationships) where sex- not wisdom, not empathy, not joy, not intelligent conversation, not compassion, not personal growth and development- is the main thing being exchanged. The situation has gotten so bad that virtually the only thing that many fully-grown adult men and women can do for each other is simply engage in the rudimentary sex acts that teenagers can do just as well as them. This is an astonishing realization when one considers it fully, reflecting zero development of one's romantic character and soul over the span of several decades.

(2) Despite the above, the path for anyone seeking love and romantic perfection has interestingly becoming easier to navigate, more visible, more certain. Two simultaneous trends have brought this about.

(3) Trend 1. (Mainly) women are increasingly becoming virtually indistinguishable in terms of their physical and sexual attraction and beauty. They are all reading the same fashion magazines, they all buy and use the same makeup, they all get the same boob jobs and other plastic surgeries, they all imitate the fashions and hair styles of a few Hollywood celebrities, they all are perpetually on a diet and eating organic foods and sushi, and (increasingly) they all are eager to parade, display, and show their butt, breasts, and legs to (literally) anyone on the street or anyone on the World Wide Web. Nothing is being left to the imagination anymore; as much of the female butt, breasts, and legs is shown as possible without violating laws on public nudity and indecency. There is a perpetual outdoing of one women over the next to see how much more skin can be shown without being arrested.

The combination of women's very heavy makeup use and revealing clothing deserves further commentary. This combination has allowed a women that is naturally not beautiful at all to appear in public like a total knockout. You see her on the street and she looks almost like a model. IF- you won't- but IF you were to see her the next morning without any makeup you would have a very different perception of her beauty and sexual attractiveness. She would look like a woman, with all of the natural imperfections and unremarkable body features that goes along with being an "average" woman.

(4) The upshot of trend 1 is it's become virtually impossible to select women on the basis of beauty, sexual attractiveness and appeal because almost all of them are able to present in public as very beautiful and very sexy, almost like models. If this is your metric for selecting a partner, you will spend many decades in a maze of endless dating where you pursue one attractive girl after the next. Because you are mainly just dating these women,  you will only see them at their tip-top shape with lots of makeup and revealing clothing. And you will basically never be able to choose anyone because- just as you are ready to choose one- you will see another just as hot as her walking right by you. At best, you will make a random decision and stick with it out of the stubborn refusal to admit you made a "mistake."

(5) Trend 2. Inner beauty of soul, personality, and character is becoming very RARE in modernity. The reasons for this have all been detailed in other posts and will not be regurgitated here. Suffice it to say that to find a kind, generous, loyal, honest, friendly, attentive, trustworthy, non self-absorbed, genuinely funny, intelligent, thoughtful, non money-worshiping person in modernity is a VERY challenging exercise.

Because of this second trend, the use of these DEEPER character-based considerations as romantic evaluation criteria will make romantic selection much more straightforward and obvious for anyone wise enough to use them. External beauty and sex appeal can increasingly be "faked" with enough money, enough plastic surgery and makeup, and enough expensive revealing clothing. And it is being faked so that external beauty and sex appeal is becoming very common. And its very commonness makes it a terrible tool for romantic selection because it does not eliminate many from consideration, leaving you with a bewildering number of choices. Faced with unlimited choice in any area, you can either choose none of the above, all of the above, or a random above- all of which are bad strategies. Much better is to use evaluation criteria that significantly narrows the field so that you are left with perhaps a handful of persons to choose from, rather than millions or billions.

Work (Kamran K): The Fluffiest Area of All

(1) What has work become today? Simply put, work is what people do during working hours when they are not otherwise occupied with personal (non work-related) smartphone usage and texting, web surfing (primarily on social media sites) or online shopping, or chit-chat and gossip with coworkers. With but very few exceptions, most workers today spend most of the working hours in personal activities unrelated to the work they are actually supposed to be performing. If the workday is nominally 8 hours, the employer is lucky, does well to receive 3 hours of actual concentrated serious work from his or her employee.

Even when actual work is being performed, the actual work done is usually not doing anything. Emails are exchanged endlessly without any conclusion being reached or progress being made.

(2) In light of the above social reality, all of the old- whether Communist or otherwise- critiques of work are no longer as valid or relevant as they once were, during that "golden age" when workers arrived at work and actually worked without constant tending to electronic distractions of one form or another.

(3) No wonder that this country's economy is not accelerating, real wages are not rising, the Middle Class is going nowhere, etc. Note that the Dow Jones industrial average is virtually unchanged since 2000, reflecting almost no REAL economic growth in the intervening period. It's true the index is some 2,000 points higher than it was in 2000 but that is almost entirely due to the Federal Reserve's printing and pumping trillions of dollars into the economy in 2008-2010.

(4) What are most people doing at work most of the time? They are doing NOTHING. They are passing time till the end of the workday with personal distractions with the smartphone now providing a 24-7 infinite distraction outlet for all. Just enough bare minimum work is done so that one could give an account of oneself if one was asked "what did you do all day?" When one considers all of the time absorbed in commuting to and from work, the various lunch and restroom breaks, work appears as one great big exercise in collective social futility. It is THIS futility that robs so many workers of a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.

(5) Consider if workers worked fewer hours and then used all of the time previously fiddeled away in personal distractions to activities of concentrated personal self-betterment. Such workers may make less money but the self-growth and development achieved would (probably) dwarf the income loss. Such personal growth and development would likely be such that they would naturally/organically develop a different relationship to money and (likely) need far less of it anyways.

(6) The above social reality should not entirely be blamed on lazy workers that simply don't want to work. It's highly doubtful that the average human mind can remain fully engaged in most work activities for anywhere close to 8-10 hours a day. That is a massive amount of time for the mind to focus on anything- whether it be a movie, a game, a sporting activity, even a cherished style of music or cherished hobby. Think if Hollywood producers started making eight hour movies! What would be the reaction? Everyone would unanimously complain that the movies were too long for human attention spans. Work is no different.

(7) The conclusion naturally resulting from the above considerations is we need shorter working hours and more attention and productivity devoted to work in those reduced hours. Forty or fifty hours of work per week is simply an arbitrary convention. Like any convention, it needs to be examined by each generation to see if it still makes sense or not. Such an evaluation today would likely result in a finding that 20 or so hours of REAL FOCUSED CONCENTRATED WORK per week would be more than enough to complete the activities required for most jobs.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Humor (Kamran K): Get Mad? or Get Funny?

(1) Modernity has proven irrefutably that human fallibility (the human tendency to make errors) is real, omnipresent, and absolutely inescapable. Although the human brain is errorless in regulating relatively simple activities of sense perception/biological homeostasis, the human mind is often error-prone in its activities of value-formation, behavior and habit regulation, risk management, and interpersonal relations, communication, and presentation.

(2) This error-prone "natural" tendency of the human mind can be reduced through the most earnest, relentless, and genuine program of self-criticism, self-betterment, and self-honesty, one in which absolutely no behavior, attitude, or value is immune from inspection and evaluation. The situation is the exact same with the body: take almost anyone under the age of 45 and place them on a strict regimen of cardiovascular exercise, optimal diet, resistance training, and reduction of stress/increase of leisure and within a year or two they will look like a hot model.

(3) Most persons today are not interested in any program containing even slight self-criticism, self-betterment, and self-honesty, let alone relentless self-criticism, etc. The worldwide dominant culture of relentless positivity does not reward these things but instead rewards and requires agreeable "good-natured" praise of others for whatever they do, whether or not what they have done is genuinely worthy of praise or not, whether or not what they have done is worthy of respect or not, whether or not what they have done is worthy of even slight admiration or not. Even the slightest tiniest criticism of another person can set off a hostile argument or end whatever relationship you had with that person. There is probably no faster way to get fired in America today than to go into the office of your boss and criticize him or her, even if those criticisms are totally legitimate.

(4) In light of the above, the social environment for proliferating human error is favorable. Error will continue to increase and grow with few headwinds in its way.

(5) In any era where human error is dominant and growing, there are two possible responses. Anger or comedy. Anger at the error is initially useful because in the very becoming angry at some sort of error one deepens one's conviction that one is indeed dealing with error and will not want to incorporate this error into one's own life. Remaining angry at the error, always fuming about it, always in a foul mood because of it or eaten up by negativity because of it is ultimately ineffectual and damaging to one's own self-development and self-betterment.

The anger is ineffectual because your anger does not change the consciousness of persons you have never met and probably never will. Just look at all of the anger generated by social critics, intellectuals, philosophers, thinkers, politicians, and many others over human errors ranging from money worship, the total and dominant power of large corporations, the distraction, isolation, and short-term attention span and insufferable narcissism caused by smartphones and social media, the environmental harm caused by global warming, the proliferation of pornography and unbelievably easy access to it, the arms race occurring in so many areas of life where people compete endlessly for nothing but the trivial ego pleasure gained from outdoing each other in some trivial activity or another.


(6) Instead of anger or as an occasional substitute for it, each and every one of these errors provides a wealth of material for humor. The world has probably never had as much humorous material ripe for the plucking. When human decisionmaking gets worse and errors proliferate, so too does the opportunity for humor. The world is becoming more and more hilarious because human decision-making is becoming so piss-damn poor. 

(7) A few examples will be offered how one can readily and advantageously take a human error that generates anger and turn it into an opportunity for humor. 

(a)  Consider the narcissistic situation of fitness freaks, their obsession with their bodies, and, increasingly, their tendency to take thousands of selfies of their own bodies. Is it not hilarious to notice such a fitness freak in the gym checking out their bodies in the mirror some 2 or 3 times every minute!? Is it not ridiculous to notice how many mirrors are in every gym, how literally every nook and cranny of the gym must have a mirror? Could one not approach one of these fitness freaks and ask them: what are the chances u will look any different in the course of  this hour of working out? Do you need to look at yourself in the mirror that many times to feel comfortable with how u look? 

(b) What about the selfie culture or the social media culture of relentless positivity and image posting of one's favorite vacation spots, foods and drinks consumed at bars and restaurants, and literally thousands of pictures of a newborn son or daughter?  Is it not hilarious to see people whose goal in life seems to be taking selfies day after day with endlessly repetitive (or identical) facial expressions? Is it not hilarious to observe the behavior of an entire human generation who could be described thusly: "THEY WERE BORN, THEY SELFIED, AND THEN THEY DIED. THE REST IS MERE DETAILS." Is it not hilarious to observe a generation that literally gets off on total strangers- people they have often not seen for several years- "liking" their posted online photos, 

(c) Is the dominant worldwide culture of relentless positivity hilarious? Is it not hilarious to observe the workings of a culture that insists that everything you or anyone else does is neat nice cool awesome or great, that everyone only present a happy face in public, that everyone always be very excited about their upcoming plans and projects, that everyone always blame some external problem for any failure and never simply admit that one is just not good enough. 

Is it not funny to see everyone trying to outdoe each other in judging awesome or neat or amazing or tool totally boring bland or mediocre behaviors and achievements. Is it not funny to see human communication reduced to such insanely repetitive simplisitic loops? Is it not funny to see a waitress visibly flustered when you respond that the food she served you was "just ok" as if there would be something wrong or distressing with a simple turkey sandwich being "just ok." 

(d) Although the fitness freaks take it to a new level, the current human generation has never showed as much interest in how it looks, with artificial efforts (plastic surgery, super expensive clothing and makeup) to preserve beauty well beyond the point that Nature would otherwise allow. Is it not hilarious that so many care so much about how they look and so little about the condition of the entire planet Earth? Earth itself is in horrible shape with the relentless progression of global warming,  species being extincted at alarming levels, sea levels rising etc. But no one cares about any of this, getting Earth back into shape. But losing that last five pounds is a life and death matter to many, the earth be damned.

(e) What about the very prevalent heterosexual male behavior of attractive women worship (to be clear, men have not yet reached the point where they worship unattractive 53 year old women. 20-40 year old women in relatively decent shape and attractiveness are the ones receiving woman worship)? Is it not funny to observe grown mature men give up their time, money, freedom, emotional tranquility, mental health chasing women for one reason and one reason only...the five to seven minutes of pleasure generated from sex? Is it not humorous to observe men agreeing with every lame thing a pretty woman says and praising her for every mediocre thing she does, all for the pleasure of sex? 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Courage (Kamran K): The Herding into FORCED COOL & the Courage to Remain UNcool.

(1) Increasingly, the social programming and conformity we see everywhere is forcing everyone into a very narrow range of behaviors and attitudes deemed "cool." By no means is this range of attitudes and behaviors fully rational, let alone the very best human reason could formulate. By no means is it appropriate for all persons in their varying life circumstances. By no means does it serve the GOOD or strive after human excellence. By no means does it generate individual or social maturation or development.

By and large, the forcing of all into FORCED COOL perpetuates and furthers almost endless material consumption. As such, it is deeply supported by corporations which must continue to accelerate consumption to survive and thrive. Were persons courageous enough to resist FORCED COOL, reject it as valueless and beneath their human dignity, then material consumption would plunge, causing many companies to go bankrupt or lose significant market value. Persons generally lack such courage so consumption driven by FORCED COOL is unlikely to slow down. Even the global warming of the Earth and the potential catastrophic consequences resulting from it to all known life is INsufficient in the face of the pull of FORCED COOL. With increasing knowledge of how human consumption behaviors are accelerating global warming, persons continue to consume in the service of the ideal of FORCED COOL. Earth be damned, cool will I be!

(2) This forcing of all into FORCED COOL consists of a certain set of behaviors, characteristics, and attitudes that one must dutifully comply in order to remain cool. These attitudes and behaviors include:
  • Materially well-off in terms of income, housing situation, car, and so on. Forced cool requires one to live in an expensive trendy city like LA, Miami, SF, NYC, Chicago, or DC. To live in these cities one must usually maintain a rather high income to even rent a halfway decent apartment, let alone purchase a single family home. Forced cool does not permit one to live in a small town (e.g. Vonore, TN) with a very low cost of living. It also does not permit one to drive a very old practical car that still works but has no "curb appeal." 
  • Access to and ownership of the latest fashion (including body art) and technology. Forced cool does not permit one to wear whatever one wants or possess only minimal out-dated technology. The latest coolest fashions and technologies must be purchased and then discarded as soon as next year's models are released. 
  • Relatively attractive, physically fit, and healthy eater. Forced cool requires one to work out but not excessively, just enough to avoid being "fat" which is deemed uncool. Forced cool does not permit one to regularly eat junk or fast food; rather one must seek out expensive organic fruits and vegetables, expensive bars and restaurants, and increasingly expensive gyms, spas, and excercise classes. 
  • Nonjudgmental of others except those that are religious or socially conservative or otherwise committed to "values." Forced cool requires one not to judge how others are behaving or what they think. Everyone is to be respected for their uniqueness and difference. Only the deeply religious or socially conservative may be judged as "backward" and "uncool." 
  • Relentlessly positive, agreeable, upbeat, and nice. Forced cool requires one to relentlessly pronounce the behaviors, comments, or future plans of others as either awesome, cool, neat, fun, or nice. The mantra here is responses that begin with "how awesome" "that's so cool" "how nice." Forced cool does not permit one to be negative or pessimistic or skeptical or even realistic. 
  • Willing to indulge in occasional vices without becoming addicted to them. 
  • Disinterested in politics or the news or science. 
  • Doesn't really enjoy working or one's chosen career but sticks with it to make money and do fun things with the money earned. 
  • Disinterested in knowing how things work. Willing to pay to have things repaired, even if these repairs are the simplest ones imaginable.                                                                                    
(3) Beginning in the 60s the desire of persons to be "cool" was a very simple thing with few demands or requirements. One simply needed to reject money worship, incessant work, and return to Nature, the love of music and others, and appreciate the small pleasures of life. Over time, conceptions of coolness have becoming increasingly complex and burdensome, such that to be cool now is literally a full-time job and requires constant attention and projection of a certain public image and presentation. Unless one was magically born with all of the above behaviors, characteristics, and attitudes, then one usually must become inauthentic in order to attain forced cool and stay there. Being cool now requires a constant screening of what one is eating, saying, doing, earning. It requires a very high level of material consumption funded by a very high level of income to support that consumption. For those that don't have such income, FORCED COOL does often push them into debt to afford things they should go without. Because the desire to be cool has become so strong and so persistent, many do in fact choose debt rather than giving up on the dream of being cool.

(4) Here again, courage is shown to be (in modernity) much less about one's ability to fight in battle or take other physical risks and much more about resisting the pressures of herding behavior and remaining authentic to the core to the end.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Passion (Kamran K): The Passion- destroying DISEASE of Pure Form

(1) The very tiny sliver of Earth that humans inhabit has become one very large pure form factory. Wherever one looks persons are eager to engage in pure form in a manner that is infinitely repetitive and (ultimately) passion-destructive. They are eager to render (usually negative) judgments and opinions that are pure form, in which letters and words harshly judge a reality that can't be reduced in these simplistic ways. They are eager to pass laws or make contracts that are again nothing but pure form, containing provisions and clauses that no one can interpret nor understand. They are eager to live their entire lives on the basis of values and "virtues"(such as the "importance of success") that are again simply pure form. Most importantly and most detrimentally, they are eager to separate humanity into "better" and "worse" groups on the basis of judgments rooted almost entirely in pure form.

(2) Because Earth has become one very large pure form factory, Earth is not a planet in which creatures are delighting in the exhiliration that results from appreciating pure substance and abandoning pure form. Earth is not a planet where human persons arrive at some experience interested in gathering pure substance before making any judgment memorialized in pure form (judgments have no other way of being "captured") BUT ON THE BASIS OF EXPERIENCED PURE SUBSTANCE.

(3) Persons are too lazy or distracted or simply disinterested in gathering pure substance and prefer the "easy" shortcut of pure form. Persons that have never been to a "rave" somehow know that the experience is "bad" "filled with drugs" and/or "not for them." What is permitting this assessment? The always ready-to-be-used machinery of PURE FORM.

Persons that have never lived a second in either California or Los Angeles somehow know that the people within this giant city of 15 million are all "superficial" "stupid" "shallow" or "narcissistic." What is permitting this assessment? The always ready-to-be-used machinery of PURE FORM.

Woman that have never dated a man of a certain race or ethnicity (say Hispanic or Middle Eastern) or of a certain income level (say low) somehow know that such a man would not be "right" for them. What is permitting this assessment? The always ready-to-be-used machinery of PURE FORM.

(4) In almost all of these cases, the machinery of pure form is rendering some negative judgment that prevents persons from actually behaving in ways that would allow them to gather pure substance relative to the activity, person, or place being judged. In some- perhaps many of these cases- we may find that there is PURE SUBSTANCE within the experience that would give us a genuine reason to be passionate, excited, delighted. But the machinery of PURE FORM blocks this from ever happening, blocks the journey from ever beginning?

(5) Ferryman's question is unusually direct and worth reconsidering. Let us pose the question again in Ferryman's words:

To ask the question precisely:  does life exist for a consciousness which imposes on itself the perfection of pure form at the expense of experiencing any substance, including being?

Ferryman's question identifies an issue each of us should "take up" with utmost seriousness. What sort of life are we living if we have abandoned pure substance for the "protection" of pure form? What sort of experiences are we likely to have from the perspective of pure form? How likely are we to mature and develop throughout life from the perspective of a pure form that is continually blocking the access to pure substance? What ultimate "profit" does pure form deliver vis a vis pure substance?

Happiness (Kamran K): The "Jackpot" of Pleasant Consciousness

Humor: If the blog writer's lifelong pretension to being considered a "philosopher" somehow fails, he may then entertain the possibility of becoming a male leg model, if such a job even exists.

"This last genre of the art of living is aestheticist. As in the acknowledged arts, there are no rules for producing new and exciting works. As in the acknowledged arts, there is no best work- no best life- by which all others can judged. As in the acknowledged arts, that does not imply that judgment is impossible, that every work is as good as every other. As in the acknowledged arts, the aim is to produce as many new and different type of works- as many different modes of life- as possible, since the proliferation of aesthetic difference and multiplicity, even though it is not often in the service of morality, enriches and improves human life."
Nehamas, 1998

(1) Our number one lifelong task is to continually reach a state of pleasant consciousness. All the bodily functions, all our possessions, all our social connections, any technology we use, literally everything we do SHOULD be aimed at reaching this state of pleasant consciousness. Each and every one of these things serves the ultimate end of pleasant consciousness and has little human value apart from it. We don't live in order to gain or stockpile any of these secondary things (e.g. money or social connections) and somehow hope that this will produce pleasant consciousness; rather we live seeking to use and/or abandon these secondary things with the primary intent to always reach and remain in pleasant consciousness. 

If one has reached and remains for months, years, decades at pleasant consciousness then one has "won" at Life. There is no bigger prize out "there" worth winning. While within pleasant consciousness, one still may be told that one "lacks" and should "work" to get certain things (e.g. a wife and kids, a nicer home or car, more luxurious vacations). One can shrug and laugh off everyone of these suggestions as they are rooted in ignorance of a FUNDAMENTAL nature.

(2) Pleasant consciousness is a condition of consciousness that is between the extreme poles of depression and elation. UNLIKE absolute elation, it is capable of being maintained for months, years, and decades. It is closer to elation than depression but does make certain concessions to the banality, cruelty, and stupidity of much human behavior (including one's OWN stupidities) to allow for some temporary "down days" and the like.

A person in pleasant consciousness is generally pleasantly satisfied with his or her life and everything within it. The person's conduct and behavior and even manner of speaking is totally consistent with this state of consciousness. They are generally happy to engage in and improve upon the activities they hold most dear, they look forward to quality FACE TO FACE time with the social connections they value most, they appreciate the town they live in and its distinctive characteristics, they are eager to maintain their health at a sufficiently high level to prolong their life within pleasant consciousness as much as possible under the circumstances, they look back upon most of their days and honestly evaluate this time as "good," and so on. Lacking these objective indications that one has reached pleasant consciousness, a person is likely engaging in self-deception by telling themselves they are "happy," have "no complaints" or are "satisfied with life."

(3) The journey to pleasant consciousness begins with a realistic assessment of one's resources, talents, abilities, drives, interests. Included within this assessment is an honest admission of areas of life that one is not terribly interested in, one is not terribly talented at, one has little to no drive to excel. It is absolute and total error for one to believe they should be interested in or talented in EVERYTHING, or even the things that are most popular within a given society at a specific point in time. There is a sort of peer pressure starting to develop that forces everyone to act like they are interested in quite literally everything. This is totally preposterous and absurd: "But to participate in every temperament is to participate in none, to be blank, almost to have no face at all..." (Nehamas, 1998)

Absolutely no self-deception or "lazy thinking" can infect this assessment. One must actually look at one's behavior over many months, decades, and years and locate information establishing one's talents, interests, drives, etc. One should not simply assume one is either talented or terribly interested in something just because one has done it for a very long time. Similarly, one should not make the same assumptions as to things one has never attempted before because in these very things one may locate one's highest talents and interests.

(4) Once one has conducted the assessment, then the continual lifelong task is to attempt different configurations of activities, behaviors, thoughts, social relations, possessions, jobs, etc with the goal of reaching pleasant consciousness from one or more of these configurations. The analogy to a slot machine is useful. As we all know, most "spins" of the slot machine yield a loss, no payout, no win. Usually, three or more "slots" must come up perfectly for there to be a win of some sort. Even when this happens, a significant win is rare and trivial wins are much more common.

So too are things with us. We may have all manner of expectations about how some activity, behavior, social connection, city, and all the rest may finally allow us to reach pleasant consciousness. Reality has a way of complicating everyone of these expectations by introducing one or more unexpected undesirables into everyone of these things. Sometimes- indeed often- this undesirable is not seen immediately because the "newness" of the experience, behavior, or person is blocking our view of the undesirable. Over time, the newness will fade and recede and the undesirable will come very CLEARLY into view, in fact it will often DOMINATE our view. At this point, it is up to us to introduce some change into the mix, either abandoning the chosen thing or making some change to it.

Fear of admitting error complicates this task for many. Many wish to live their whole life in a state of assumed errorlessness, believing that they are "too good" to make the same errors they see everyone else around them making. They indeed convince themselves that everyone else BUT NOT ME can and does make errors as to chosen careers, romantic partners, hobby interests, vacation destinations, financial asset allocations, choice of friends, etc. BUT, somehow, I am immune from these errors and need not identify them in my OWN life. So such persons will not admit error and will continue in the less than ideal configuration they would be better off abandoning or modifying.

(5) The seeker of GOOD will think and act very differently. He will assume that, despite his best efforts to avoid it, error of some sort has arrived on the scene. He will be anxious to locate and admit this error to himself. He or she will tell himself something of this sort: "I thought this activity or person or place or career would make me happy and be in my best interest. I was wrong. I didn't appreciate certain aspects of the activity or person or place or career that are banal, cruel, dull, burdensome, uninspiring, and all the rest. Having now appreciated it, I will seek another configuration to give my self a better chance of reaching pleasant consciousness. I will keep trying configurations until I have STABLY reached something that seems like pleasant consciousness."