Learn To Setting Systems, Not Goals

I thought the below video was great and several years ago I sort of abandoned goal setting and starting the process I call ‘learning to live’, or as the video says “Setting systems”.  As we age we begin to see that life has this sort of pulse feeling to it.  We set a goal and achieve it but soon after we feel empty again.

The idea that I construct is I somehow think that once I arrive at a particular point then I will have made it, then I will feel satisfied, or then I can rest; however, this is one of the greatest lies. The lie persists in our society that it is money or obtaining a particular material wealth. I found myself achieving my personal goals as well as the societal goals; however, I still had this permanent uneasy unsatisfied feeling. Why? (If anyone reading might now think this is about bashing on our current system/culture but I don’t believe so.)

Over the past several years I started to teach myself to enjoy the process. I can set goals but this is merely one aspect of the process; learning how to enjoy where I am now is another; learning how to be ok with this uneasy feeling within is a part; learning how to connect spiritually; learning how to connect culturally. Lastly, and this is for me the most important part, learning that ITS ALL LIFE!

An example in my own life right now is that I’m learning to play the piano.

1) I want to learn how to play and I have an idea of where I’d like to be; this for me is setting the goal.

2) I now set sail on that journey; now I must understand and be OK with exactly where I am in this process. This part is very important to practice. As we practice this step, and this might sound weird, but it get intergraded with our entire being. A flowing with life begins to emerge.

3) There have been days that I don’t want to practice but I do it anyway. This is being ok with feeling uneasy and knowing that these feelings are fleeting.

4) I learn that I never really arrive. It is always a series of journeys. Its a process of learning to be fully in where I am are AND being able to move forward. I begin to see that all these daily practices and daily investments in being is an opportunity for me to finally start living my life and while also moving forward at the same time. I’m learning to understand how to properly and see this friction and move with it, adapt if you will.

5) Some days are good and some aren’t. I see more clearly that it is all life! I move, I practice, I feel, I practice, I enjoy, I practice, I hurt, I practice, I set goals, I practice, I listen, I practice. I see that it has never been me, I practice. I added 5 which might seem off topic but really isn’t. It’s all connected. I’m not just practicing playing the piano when I’m sitting in front of it. Habits don’t really care.

Just learning (my thoughts)

I struggled when I search for meaning outside of whats happening. It is all life, I’ll never arrive, and when I forget that  a host of, usually, negative emotions (self created due to the paradigm I constructed) become present. My particular path is learning to enjoy all of it as I do not see another way to get satisfaction out of life. When I believe that once I get a particular object and ‘then I’ll be happy’ or ‘then I can rest’ is only a deceit that I use to fool myself. In the past I was unaware of such trickery. I know all things will not create the same feelings and emotions but this is a great source of joy as I can experience them fulling without wishing I was someplace else; I can strive, journey and accomplish all in a non striving manner, a striving manner that flows, a striving manner that is fluid.

When I see the obversion arriving I must reorientate myself to truth, which is, ‘there is no where to go and there is nothing to do.’

Individualism: The Me Paradigm

Has the value we’ve place on individualism actually made us less happy and view the world with more contempt?

Has this value actually made us more isolated and brought forth a bounty of depression, anxiety and suicides?

Has this value divided our relationships, our family and our communities?

Has this value been a contributor to all the polarization that we’ve been seeing in our country?

His this value made us indifferent to those around us because it is all about me, the individual? “Fuck you! Do you know what you did to me?”

Has this value caused us to place excessive emphasis on feelings/our own feelings?

Has this value eroded other values such as free speech?

Is it this value that has been caused the breakdown of the more wholesome societal  norms?

Is it even ok for me to even question such a thing without being branded and labeled as some sort of collective extremist?

Probabilistic States (updated@3:12 pm)

Ok, I really need some help here with this thought.

Yesterday I was thinking what is a probability? Do probabilities really exist? The famous slit experiment shows that light is both a wave and a partial and the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics says that it will remain in a probabilistic state until its observed, which is what the slit experiment verifies. Schrodinger’s thought experiment points to the paradox of this to reality (Schrodinger’s cat). Something is not in a probabilistic state, it is either is or isn’t. I know these are excessively simple explanations and if you want to learn more hop on youtube or a good book on the subject is: The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

I need some help with this thought, so I see both views as correct. Life cannot exist in a state that has happened but our current moment is the state of completion. If this probabilistic state did not exist everything would be over, period. It would be this “on” followed by an intimidate “off”. To me it seems unfathomable how quickly the entire birth and death of of our universe would occur. The entire process would be over the exact moment it began, liken it to never existing. So we open the box and the cat is alive (or dead for the more morbid:) ) it cannot exist in a probabilistic: something either is or isn’t but there is a cat and we are here. Let me try one more illustration, as I am driving I will either turn left or go straight (going right isn’t an option) now this is undetermined until I do, or make up my mind and before then it is impossible to know what will occur. We can make very accurate educated guess using the latest scientific equipment and our understanding in human behavior but in the end it either is or isn’t, it happens or it doesn’t. There isn’t such a thing as probably turning after or as it occurs. Where does this state exist then? We know it does from personal experience and through scientific observation.

Let us shrink the moment I made up my mind to turn to the smallest moment of time our measly minds can comprehend, I believe this illustration points to something. I am thinking it points to consciousness itself the ‘now’ as it occurs, or the slightest moment before it occurs. This space seems so small. So small in fact that it seems to both exist and not exist simultaneously. Our consciousness is this slightest moment or bridge between or maybe, in other words, our consciousness is the probabilistic state itself (the thing we call life) but we can only see the completed state. I’m not quite sure how else to explain it which is why I need some help. So I wouldn’t mind ideas to help formulate this thought (perhaps this really is an old thought and has been discussed many times before) or you can tell me how whacked I am.

The Tale of the Blue Fox

One day a fox fell into the cauldron of a dyer and came out a beautiful blue color. When he returned to the country, the other animals, not recognizing him, took him for a divine being and showed him the greatest marks of respect, to the point that he was soon made king of beasts. One full moon while the fox sat proudly in his court, other foxes began to yelp in the distance. Unfortunately, the blue king could not help but yelp too. Unmasked, the impostor had barely time to flee to save his life. — Taken from the footnote at the bottom of page 234 in On the Path to Enlightenment

To Know and To Not Do

Yesterday my wife, son and I went downtown to this little art/car show. We invited my mom, and she never declines an opportunity to go, go, go! As we were out my mom was complaining about her knee, and I reminded her, with a smile, that she knew we were going to be out walking around. She said, “I know and I’m sorry for complaining. It’s not really my knee. I’ve just had a bunch of frustrating things on my mind the past week.”

We began talking and my mom was concerned about (I will call this person Ab) Ab and there current situation in life. She said, “I just don’t understand why Ab just can’t get it.”
I then quoted one of my favorite quotes, “To know and to not do is to not really know.” by Stephen Covey.  We then spoke about all various programs they have undergone, counselings, and books read. We chatted for awhile about the different type of knowledge one can posses, and also touched on how Ab’s life has has been in a disarray for some time. It was a nice afternoon.

This morning I was thinking about our conversation, Ab, and the to know and not do quote. I think this quote is correct but I approached it from a different angle. This is the new angle: To know and to not do is to not have developed the habit. This is more of an Aristotelian approach/thought.

We are in an age of information. We can access the most profound wisdom known to mankind. However, this information is actually pointless. This information changes nothing. We merely reflect the habits we cultivate in our life. A lot of the time we let life, people, culture, norms, and our inner impulses cultivate us. We are the pin ball inside the machine destined to get launched by whatever we rub up against. Thus, as time passes, a gap emerges  between what we know and what we do and inverse for those that practice intentionally.

Build new habits. Sounds easy enough. Often we confuse excitement with habit but the moment the newness wears off we are left standing  with all the old urges, impulses, feelings and habits we spent a lifetime cultivating, a lot of the time unknowingly. This new building habits business isn’t as easy as the books like to tell us its. Those of us who have tired to “start anew” know the strength of our old ways.

Solution? I don’t really have one but I can share how I starting practicing mindfulness 3 years ago. How can I remember to be mindful when I’m not mindful, I thought. For my first couple of weeks I tried this mindfulness stuff but I was usually lost for the whole day before I’d remember to be mindful. I wanted to step my game up so I downloaded an application (insight timer) so I could have a reminder bell. For the first year of my practice I set a bell to chime every 10 minutes, I am not laying and I do know this is sort of extreme. 99 percent people thought I was weird, and may people would say things like, “what the hell is that noise?”, “Is that you dinging all the time?” “Oh my god, that is so annoying!”

But, hey, nothing changes if nothing changes. This is what I will continue to say to Ab and the advice I would give to anyone looking to change. There is research, and I know for my practice, that thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges only last 90 seconds (I never timed but I know they arise and fade quickly) if you do not “feed the beast”. So your only 90 seconds away from to reinforcing your new habit and slowly cultivating over the years will change many things.

Below is a book I read about 3 years ago that I really enjoyed. The link is for an amazonsmile which gives a small percentage of the purchase to a charity at no cost to you. In this case it is a local food bank called Harry Chapin Food Bank.

The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner

Response To The Minimalists #60

Hi Guys,

I wanted to quickly take a moment to address the journalist in episode #60, a critic, for which I know your response is crickets chirping. The problem with the journalist, and many other critics, is minimalism doesn’t fit their narrative as to what the problem actually is. Additionally, the degree to which they believe in their narrative and the degree to which they accept your message is the degree to which they have to admit they are wrong. This is a tough pill to swallow when your identity is deeply embedded in your world view. Here is an interesting article regarding : Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence.

You have done a superfluous job at staying out, and I would argue above, the political arena and the reason being is simple. You have kept your message fixated on what you value and intentional by cutting out the excess, all with razor precision which is exactly what minimalism is about. Ryan alluded to this in the podcast as well. Thanks guys for all your hard work and the message you bring forth; keep up the great work!