(Yes, this is a rather long piece, but it is worth studying all the way through and then following through on it, for it will massively change your life. It is the only way that will work!)
THE HEIGHT OF NAIVETE
"I couldn't help doing it. Something made me do it. I can't control it."
This is profoundly untrue. There is always a cause and a process that is understandable and discoverable - and therefore solvable. There is no "something" inside us, no entity that is at the cause. And you absolutely, once you understand, can control "it".
To believe the lead in statement means we are unknowledgeable but that we have inserted a false belief to explain our failures (read The Believing Brain - Summary to see how we make these up!) - this false explanation perpetuates the failure process. This failure process and experiencing the bad results over and over is not at all necessary!
The cost of allowing this, though we are innocent and naive in the matter, is being overweight, unhealthy (high blood pressure, sugar imbalance), emotionally reactive, unsatisfied, and far less happy than we could be.
The Definition Of Psychology, With A Crucial Distinction Added
The Mechanics We Must Understand And Deal With
How Well We Are Dealing With This Is Indicated By The Amount Of "Relief" Time
The ineffective seek relief from anxiety by escaping
The best indicator of happiness
Creating Truly Satisfying Happiness On Purpose Is The Key
Acquire/Enhance The Knowledge In These Areas
"There is no shame, no blame, no make-wrong, no badness in what we do. We are simply doing the best we can to create what we think we need in the moment. We all seek the same thing for ourselves and we can only do that at the level of whatever awareness (knowledge) we have. The problem is never the person (the biomechanical being), but the lack of awareness. There is no shame in the lack of awareness, only a challenge - to close the gap, to increase our awareness to a high functioning level. So, the challenge now, is to focus with all the effort you have in your spare time on creating, with some guidance and order, that great level of awareness that has you being happy and effective in life. Happy learning to you! And may you know great joy!"
Two paths to choose from:
Brain selects → Automatic (habit)
a path is easiest path ↘
Emotional need/want ↗ Behavior
(chemical cause) ↘ occurs
Engage higher → Consciously ↗
To explain the two paths illustrated above, we have either the choice of letting our lower brain select the path to go or we consciously choose what is to be done.
However, in the middle, in a sense, we can consciously choose to create and install a new habit that will replace the automatically selected habit with that chosen one. As we install the new ones, our lives not only get better and better but they also become more automatic and effortless. We will have, in a sense, programmed all that we can, to happen on its own, so that we can use our freed up time and attention and brain power to live a higher better life.
These are the definitions/concepts we are dealing with:
Habit = Effortless, automatic, pre-wired path
Change habit = Select replacement, install (practice, repeat), visualize, motivate
Our job lies in selecting and forming habits that are positive to form the easiest path to living an effortlessly happy life.
You either do this or you base life on luck and perhaps some random learnings or you follow the look, learn, engage higher brain, select, replace strategy. If you know of another one, besides magic or mind over matter or pushing the mystical willpower button, let me know. I am telling you that this is the only way. Though there is initial time and effort required, if you follow the path I've set for you life will become much better fairly soon and then it will accelerate upward from there.
THE DEFINITION OF PSYCHOLOGY, WITH A CRUCIAL DISTINCTION ADDED:
The science dealing with the mind and with mental and emotional processes...
(plus the distinction, which is)
For the purpose of creating greater well-being!
THE MECHANICS WE MUST UNDERSTAND AND DEAL WITH
Since "well-being" is the sum net of positive enduring feelings minus pain feelings, we must understand what these feelings are based on and then how to intervene and/or produce the feelings of well-being that we want. ("Net" is always defined as what is left over after subtracting out the negatives we don't want.)
Humans are a mechanism (a system of parts that work together and are physical). It is true that we have the ability to add meaning to things, so that we think we have a "spirit" in addition to the physical. But we are actually just a very highly sophisticated mechanism. Though we are the highest level mechanism in the universe (as far as we know), we still are not "perfect" in the sense of having no "flaws" or having no things we cannot do. (It is critical that you understand this fully, or you will not be able to have a fully effective life!)
Idealizing a "should", versus acknowledging a reality
Accepting that we are not as perfect or as evolved as we prefer is essential for us to stop creating unhappiness through unreasonable expectations (including unduly high, unrealistic standards!). It is, indeed, highly unintelligent and/or ignorant, to unreasonaly fault oneself for having "faults"; the happy person has stopped that.
When you read how the mind works (see Mind Management section), you'll see that the key traits that succeeded in being passed on were, quite logically, the ones that helped us survive. Accordingly, the biggest emotions are those around avoiding not-surviving (and those around those things that lead to procreating and other means contributing to our survival, such as being ok with the tribe). The chemicals that are associated with threats to our survival are potent in that they cause immediate and strong reaction, such as fight or flight and even our "gagging" response. Those chemicals are associated in our minds with "pain", so we interpret them as pain (whereas they are actually only discomfort). In most cases, since we experience physical pain less often, these represent "emotional pain" (uncomfortable chemical balances that cause us to re-seek balance).
You'll note that there are some positive chemicals that stayed in the evolution system because they caused us to procreate (so those procreation seeking genes would be passed on), to group with others in cooperation (a tribe or family) to survive better, and to nurture our young (teaching them how to survive). Those genes helped us to live and do what was necessary to pass on our genes, so they survived. Note how "sex" is compelling, how "love" is compelling, and how nurturing is compelling, especially for the primary caregiver (the female). The motivation to hunt (to survive) became associated with a chemical that helped encourage success, a "feeling" that is "exuberant" (which is a great chemical).
Of all of these, the strongest chemicals are those that related to handling threats to our survival. Since the brain remembers most strongly the events that created strong threats (in our minds) and then compares those to what comes up in life, we are "naturally" most prone to be negative, to worry, to experience emotional pain, whereas the pleasure emotions are not nearly as strong.
We have to make it happen - it won't happen naturally!
So, if we want to live a happy life, we cannot depend on the primitive or natural brain functions to generate the positives for us. We must consciously do that. And a key part of "netting" more happiness from our lives is reducing the unhappiness ("emotional pain"). (See the Happiness section.) It's simply what we must do, though it does take getting our systems and actions down to an excellent, sound basis. All of it is simply:
Know what they are, or you don't stand much of a chance!
This site is committed to doing that which works, but in an enduring way where one is virtually constantly thinking well of oneself and thinking that life is good. (Yes, it can be done. And the process is well worth the effort since it reduces the wasted time and gets one vastly more time to create what one wants - there is no contest - those who think it isn't worth it are using erroneous thinking and/or inadequate knowledge.)
HOW WELL WE ARE DEALING WITH THIS IS INDICATED BY THE AMOUNT OF TIME NEEDED FOR "RELIEF"
Since we are naturally more prone to pay attention to and heed the danger signals, note that we are often seeking "relief" from the danger signals. We often feel that we have no choice as the need to relieve the pain and the intensity of the pain compel us to do something.
While it is better to do something directly that helps solve the problem so it doesn't occur again, this seems painful for some people. Those who are "mature" chose to wait until the higher brain is working fully and then they "solve" the recurring problem so that it no longer recurs. They also use pre-decided responses to the initial signals, so that the pain is reduced and dealt with more effectively.
Those who have not figured out how to do the effective dealing will often waste much of their lives seeking escape, whereas they could instead devote that energy to getting what they want!
The ineffective seek relief from anxiety by escaping:
The substance addictions: (all of these are escape)
Eating for chemical comfort and reducing the negative chemical balance
Smoking to relieve anxiety and get a "hit" of dopamine
Drinking to dull one's senses or to "relax" (relax from what? Tension, from the
tensing to handle the danger signals in their thinking process)
The other escapes
TV (to escape; I'm not referring to the positive use of the TV)
Computer use to escape tension, essentially distracting oneself
Excessive time in one hobby or activity to the exclusion of other beneficial
Denial ("I didn't know I had emotions...", says one addict. Works to some
degree, as do the others,but the loss in the ability to feel the good parts is too
great a sacrifice!)
Lack of emotional control (anger, anxiety, depression, defensiveness...)
Excess of anything
Anger/upset/resentment (all diversions that avoid facing things squarely)
(We have not listed many others. For more, either look at the addictions section of this site for a more detailed overview or for a book's worth see The Soft Addiction Solution, by Judith Wright, a follow up to her best selling There Must Be More Than This: Finding More Life, Love, and Meaning By Overcoming Your Soft Addictions.)
The best indicator of happiness
Surveys ask people how happy they are, but it turns out that there assessments are incorrect. Since every effect (result) is from a cause, we can look at the effect and know the cause (in most cases).
How much time is spent doing the relief activities is a direct correlation with tension and anxiety, both of which are "unhappy chemical" indicators. How much time is spend doing the life-giving activities is, in turn, a direct indicator of the happiness that is experienced in life.
There is, also, a connector to these: The number of happy thoughts to the number of unhappy thoughts.
Most people will find that the percentage of thoughts that are negative is more than 80%. Anything above 10% is unhealthy. Changing one's beliefs, along with changing one's habits of thinking, lies at the core of creating a happy life where there is virtually no need for "relief" and where one happily goes for experiencing what "feels good" and right for the long term. (Most people think that the "relief" activities are happiness activities, because they feel better than the anxiety or tension. But they are mistaken.
CREATING TRULY SATISFYING HAPPINESS ON PURPOSE IS THE KEY
Your primitive, natural brain will not do this for you, as its primary purpose is survival and keeping everything going. It will lead one to a continual bombardment of danger signals and tension, which in turn will train the mind to hyperreact to what is happening in life and to exaggerate its impact. Unless stopped, it will go into a self-perpetuating downward spiral which is physical in nature, in our wiring (neuronal pathways). See The Structure Of The Brain, and the Managing The Mind section.
The physical effects from the chemicals that are sent out in this mode are disastrous over time, compromising the immune system and upsetting the body's natural balance so that we can stay in protective mode. The protective mode reduces our higher brain thinking, cuts off digestion, changes breathing, readies the body for action (but with no burning off of the chemicals and tension), etc. - and we wonder why we have so much cancer and heart disease (besides what would be produced by what we consume). In turn, relaxation and the "good" chemicals cause the body to normalize and to increase the effectiveness of the immune system!
The idea here is that
1) the negative is so much stronger as a force in our life
2) the negative happens more often and automatically
3) the positive happens less often and not as automatically
And, therefore, we must create the positive ourselves, on purpose, using the higher brain and the learning tools and resources. Other than by luck and accident (or by an extremely fortunate training as a child), it is highly unlikely that this will happen on its own.
So, now, our task is to create the "good" chemicals and limit the "negative" (uncomfortable) chemicals to the minimum actually needed in actual threat situations. As we go through what we suggest that you do, think of what "chemical" effect it will have on you and how your machine will react. From this, we'll create a "memory" of what is good about life and of liking of oneself such that one is truly enduringly happy.
ACQUIRE/ENHANCE THE NECESSARY KNOWLEDGE IN THESE AREAS
As you go through the processes on this website, you'll acquire and/or enhance the areas that produce greater happiness and reduce the opposite, such as: (enter these in the search engine to go to them directly)
Increased wisdom (the ability to make excellent life decisions). The ability to think ahead and balance short term effect against long term benefits. Re-forming beliefs that don't work and formulating ones that do What produces happiness and what does not or does the opposite How to get what you want in less time and with less effort. ("Productivity")
We must "build" a life. Nothing else works. You can, once you have at least visited the links above, follow The Only Sure Path To The Greatest Life. It will lead you through the necessary learning and the set up to make it all work for you in your life.
Notes for possible re-write:
Clearer, right to the point, with more punch
Our brain and survival system is geared for protec ting us from danger - and therefore, the negative comes easier and often. Our brain will not, on its own, create happiness anywhere near the level of what is possible. The "why" of all of our behavior is "to feel good" (and to not "feel bad"). Period.
It is up to us to manage and change what makes us feel bad automatically and/or from false wiring/beliefs and to create powerful, valuable, lasting "feel good".
Yes, the equation is "positive minus negative = happiness", in a simplified sense.
Positive ↑, negative ↓
While that is the equation, what we're missing here is that what we think will have us feel better is often incorrect. We need to be clear on what actually works; that's the reason for this website. And we need to be able to put this in front of ourselves either through something that reminds us and/or through making the right behavior automatic.
When I'm down, I am stupid (my brain doesn't work as well when it is distracted with fears and "not feel goods". So I need to do two things: figure out how to get back up, so I'm intelligently running my life and remember and install more of what works in my life. Simple.
get rid of the systems that are based on "delusions", as what was suggested by the Buddha and replace that with a "what works" orientation. No more right/wrong, good/bad, blame, fears of what doesn't have a real impact. We would only ask and run our lives with one question: "what will work?"
What will work is a good question. But what does it mean? It means what will get me the result I want? (Less negative, more positive) If I can get myself greater value for the same amount of effort, wouldn't I want to do that first? Knowing what it will take to get the desired result is a key to determining the value per amount of time (time being the divider), but it is essential that we are clear on what the numerator (the number on the top of the divider) value is!
What do I value? What is of actual great value? Or, in combination, if I were fully informed, what would I value the most for my life?
Monkey motivation: Me see candy, me eat.
Human motivation: Me see candy, me eat. Me feel afraid like a child, me let it run me. Me just do what I learn (monkey see monkey do) as life goes, with misinterpretations and little thought.
Higher, the possible human, the enlightened human, the higher possible human: Find out what is of the greatest value. Do it. Learn all the obstacles, handle them, so that the subtractions (negatives) are dramatically reduced.
Read and do these steps:
I. Determine what is of greatest value and how to get it
This Is Of Basic Value, Plus
This Is What Works
II. Reduce the barriers and negatives dramatically
Reducing All The Negatives To The Minimum
III. Install it and keep it working
Systems To Keep Me On Track, To Make It All Work
Notes for inclusion in the final draft:
all the negatives to the minimum
Our only choice is to intervene in the inappropriate signals