Selfish Endevours

Selfish Endeavours

The collective success of sapiens is undeniable. To say we have conquered the world is, in no way, overstating our achievements. So why do we struggle so much as individuals? Our rapidly increasing intelligence generates as much ability to create problems as it does to solve them. The ability to think about why we do things and the ends that we hope to achieve can lead to questions with no solid answers and feelings of nihilism. Could it be that we weigh too much importance on the quality of individual experience? Perhaps we are only supposed to prosper as a collective like a colony of ants. Does it matter if I eat the same food every day? Does it matter if I travel widely and immerse myself in different cultures? You could argue that if people didn’t travel then the aircraft industry could die out along with any tourism dependent occupations, if people didn’t seek out different foods, farming, catering or food production industries wouldn’t be as prolific but what are people taking from these experiences?

Bearing in mind that many of our endeavours are now known to be detrimental – intensive farming, burning thousands of litres of jet fuel into the atmosphere – and members of our unnecessarily large population partaking in them are only doing so to find some metaphysical fulfilment and enrichment in their otherwise unenriched and unfulfilling lives, why do we plough on regardless? There is a school of thought that we are now so entrenched in the way we live that we have no other alternative. Generations of development have left us with a self-perpetuating machine that will break down if the hamsters stop running on the wheel so us hamsters better keep running if we want the machine to keep going even though emissions from the machine are toxic and getting worse all the time as the machine and the number of hamsters gets bigger.

Most of our experiences as individuals are completely unnecessary for us to survive and, in many cases, harmful to ourselves and those around us. We are, for the most part, aware of this but we do it anyway and therein lies the problem. Pursuing individual pleasures doesn’t actually create the feelings of satisfaction that the pursuer would like, or was lead to believe would be achieved by the, oh so clever, marketing of said pleasures and because it was undertaken for individual gain it carries a side serving of guilt and egocentric feelings.

Initially man wanted to fly because we couldn’t and it was a challenge. Now there are planes filling the skies. Intially man wanted to prepare a delicious multifarious range of foods because leaves, berries and raw meat were dull. Now almost any type of food can be easily bought and prepared by walking five minutes to a shop and Googling a recipe. The point is that doing things that are easy and require no effort generally offer small – if any – amounts of satisfaction and fulfillment. A good analogy is when a film does really well in the cinema and becomes an international hit so the film makers assume this is something people really like and go on to make a sequel, and then another, and then another and each time they generally get worse. Humans need things that are challenging and fresh to keep their minds focused and engaged and also to feel a deep level of fulfillment in what they do. Doing things that are easy and repetitive delivers a constantly deteriorating level of satisfaction.

We have reached a stage of stagnation now in our evolution where we sit and watch our TV as it encourages us to make ourselves feel good by buying some brightly coloured shiny shit or lying on our lazy backs in the sun while some poor sod on a meagre wage brings us drinks and food as he or she watches their country become a playground for people with more money than them to live like kings and offer very little in return. We need to start living in far more communal manner and realising that performing challenging tasks for the good of the many will ultimately make us feel much better in ourselves than being able to access our apps wirelessly on our car’s touch screen.
Dopamine is the motivator our brain provides to make us take action towards our goals and it rewards us with surges of pleasure when we achieve them but like any high you can also get a dopamine hangover when goals are achieved and effort levels drop back down. This can be counteracted with good old moderation. This means breaking your goals down into smaller pieces and receiving constant small surges of pleasure and minimal hangovers. So by remaining proactive and doing things that require thought and endeavour you allow yourself to be constantly rewarded by little chemical surges of pleasure in your brain that you do not get from lethargy and consumption. Those feelings of pleasure are also delivered via positive interactions and reactions from other people when your endeavours deliver rewards for them as well as for yourself and can have the knock on effect of supplying the motivation in them to seek out their own chemical rewards and feelings of happiness by helping you achieve your goals and subsequently adopting corresponding goals for themselves. This is how groups of people bond together with common objectives and overcome adversities, form relationships and build communities. None of this is possible through selfish consumption and games of one-upmanship. Making yourself richer, having more trinkets and feeling that you are superior than others in your locality leads to feelings of jealousy, paranoia and resentment and drive us apart instead of together.

Rewards through self obsessive consumption seem appealing to those who have the means as they require very little effort and they enable the participants to achieve a subjective pretense of being someone who is enjoying the chemical rewards and fulfillment that a happy life brings. They can post pictures of them driving their new car or enjoying their Caribbean holiday on social media and tell their friends about it making them appear to be happier than the person who desires what they have. In reality though they are actually becoming bound by the things that they own and the debts they are accumulating. They are restricting their own personal freedoms and constructing a personality that depends on them constantly renewing and maintaining this lifestyle in order to continue appearing to be happier and more fulfilled than their peers. They are also driving others further away from themselves and nurturing feelings of superiority and entitlement that they don’t deserve. Ever noticed how very wealthy people often look angry and stressed? I wonder why….

As I spoke about in a previous blog, the human brain is lazy in nature and seeks out easy ways around things – the path of least resistance. I believe it is this that makes us look for quick and easy ways to achieve good feelings. It is up to the individual to suppress this desire to take the easy road and be aware that, often, the more challenging options deliver the greatest rewards and the deepest levels of satisfaction and emotional fulfillment and acting in an altruistic way enhances those feelings and extends the desire to seek them out to others too and builds more connected and engaged communities for us all to live in.

Transcendence

Transcendence-2014-Trailer.mp4.0018

We all know that our cognitive thought processes seem to be disconnected in some way from the actual matter that makes up our physical being and the world around us. We all know that in our heads we still think and feel like the child we used be but feel compelled to become the adults we are supposed to be. Life seems to pass us by too quickly and we reach the point where, even though our minds are still willing, our bodies become incapable of facilitating their instruction. Couple that to the now, increasingly, obvious fact that our world of physical matter is definitely finite and our, increasingly, complex understanding of how this physical world works and how we can manipulate it to our advantage could be accelerating this process, we find ourselves in a bit of a predicament. The imminence of our potential apocalypse seems to be getting ever more real and seems to be becoming unavoidable as the threats we have to face are growing exponentially and have reached a point where they might be too far gone and too large for us to solve.

This could be a terrifying and very real worry or it could be the necessary end to this very simple physical world our minds have created to sustain us while we evolve enough to move to the next stage. The human spirit or soul – whatever we want to call it – is obviously hindered significantly by this short living, decomposing physical form that we all dwell within. A human’s lifetime is very brief and the relative time scale of our mental evolution to this point has also been, relatively, short and it does, now, seem that the constraints of our physical environment are going to kill us. With so much potential still to be realised, maybe this could mean that we are on the cusp of moving to someting much greater. Transcendence. Existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level.

No! That’s daft surely!

Think about it. Look at what quantum mechanics is starting to teach us. What we see, hear, feel and smell is a very simplified and subjective comprehension of the energies and forces that are zipping around us all the time. For centuries religion has tried to teach us that our ‘spirit’ goes on to a better place after it’s primitive meat vehicle breaks down. Now it seems like our whole physical environment is starting to break down.

French philosopher Rene Descartes theorised,

…firmly implanted in my mind is the long-standing opinion that there is an omnipotent God who made me the kind of creature that I am. How do I know that he has not brought it about that there is no earth, no sky, no extended thing, no shape, no size, no place, while at the same time ensuring that all these things appear to me to exist just as they do now?”.

This led him to conclude that the only thing he did not doubt was his own existence because the reality of doubting and thinking about the reality of his perceptions was confirmation of this.

“I think therefore I am”

The Matrix films were based on this philosophical question.

You only have to look around you to see the crude limitations of our intellect being encased in a shell of biodegradable physical matter. We have to feed it for a start and some people struggle with that! We have to dress ourselves, entertain ourselves, transport ourselves around. We spend most of our time being either employees or consumers. In this current physical environment it is nearly impossible for us to truly experience existence in it’s purest form because of the constraints that stand in our way and the constant servicing that our physicality requires not to mention the incredibly limited time restrictions imposed on us because of the speedy molecular decomposition of ourselves and all of the things around us. The importance we weigh on our physicality is also hindering our mental evolution as we waste processing power on things like our physical appearance, our possessions, our pets, our gardens and, of course, our jobs. It seems entirly possible that our perception of the world around us could be created by our brain and our vanity and materialism is a metaphorical way of us trying to enhance and better ourselves in the only way we know how to in our current situation.

Could it be that the imminent end of our subjective and simple physical perception of what surrounds us is not something to be feared but rather the logical next step in the evolution of our complex, brilliant, inventive and inquisitive minds. Going to work to pay for things that we require to enable us to go to work seems like a massive waste of the potential that this miraculous consciousness, that we all have, is capable of.

It’s time for Neo to unplug.

Power

Power-Control.jpg

What is it in a person’s make up that makes them want to be in charge of others and is it a quality that should be revered or feared?

Some people want to lead for constructive reasons like guiding their employees in a direction that will make a successful company or leading a team of volunteers to distribute help to the needy. Some people want to be in power to take control and push their agenda onto others so they can control and manipulate them. Some people are given positions of power so they can help to carry out the agenda of people above them whose task has become too large and needs to be sub-contracted.

There have always been leaders and followers for as far back as history goes and many would argue that this is reason enough for it to continue but I think as we continue to evolve that having people in control is starting to appear old-fashioned and the people in many of these positions are abusing them. Even elected representatives don’t seem to represent the electorate.

Rightly or wrongly I have always tried to have a diplomatic outlook on life and I enjoy feeding off others input. I rarely feel the need to ‘put my foot down’ and try to take control of a situation. I think that I get a kick out of things being unpredictable and I enjoy letting life just carry me along and letting things unfold naturally. I constantly hear from people who think that this approach doesn’t work and that you have to ‘take the bull by the horns’ and drive your life in certain directions to get what you want from it, which is admirable, I guess, but I don’t really “want” anything out of life, per se, I’m just here for the ride. I really can’t see the point in pressuring myself or others to “achieve”. Ultimately we’re all going to die and when we do we’re all equal again so enjoy the bit before you die in whatever way you see fit. A friend recently said to me that I’m like a fly on the wall of life watching it all happen around me. I like that analogy.

Goal driven people seem to have a different outlook. They have life mapped out and have different objectives that they need to meet along the way with each one linking to the next one to ultimately achieve the end result. In our modern society that ‘end result’ so often seems to be lots of nice shiny possessions, a stack of money, a family and a successful career, usually meaning that you have people in your command or, at least, that you are seen as being superior, in some way, to others around you. Putting you in a position where you can enjoy ‘the finer things in life’. As you achieve these things and climb higher up the ladder it is easy to start looking at those ‘below’ you as needing your guidance to try to get to where you are. This is great for the people who do aspire to be like you. They will love your input and guidance to help them along but the danger is that you start to assume that everyone aspires to be where you are. Or worse still, that you can convince those who don’t think like you do that they should.

As we evolve I think we are starting to see now that powerful people are, often, just normal people lucky enough to fall into privileged positions. They achieve their life goals much more easily because of their enhanced starting point and often already have positions of power waiting for them when they come of age. Because of this, they don’t necessarily deserve their position through any kind of merit and the way that they play their position will make this strikingly clear. You then end up with a situation of resentment from those below as they feel decisions are being made on their behalf by people who don’t really know what they are doing. They are simply enjoying the spoils they have been given, trying their best to look the part and expecting respect without ever having earned it. The royal family is a classic example of this phenomenon. They still seem to just spend their days shaking people’s hands and making public appearances. Not a massive contribution to the bettering of mankind is it? And yet they are still driven around in luxury cars with a team of security personnel keeping them safe and have huge publicly funded residences and powerful positions in society. We need to start looking at people in power and their motives and reasons for being there.

We have been led to believe that we need leaders but I think giving too much power to one individual is always going to be a recipe for corruption. The temptation at that level is too strong. We certainly need innovators, inventors, thinkers and pioneers to push things forward and better our plight but I am not convinced that we need leaders, as such. Modern civilised society can run quite well without hierarchy. I’m convinced of it. There is no need for us all to answer to a single leader we need input and debate from many sources and there is no need for a single definitive solution to each problem. Different problems in different places require tailored solutions not just a list of rules to follow that are generated miles away by people who have ENTIRELY different lifestyles and viewpoints to the majority of those they are trying to lead and especially not from those who are trying to feather their own nests with corruption and greed at the expense those they are leading.