The Purpose Of Life
What Is "Feeling" Good Or Bad, Really?
So Many More Stimulants And Possibilities
We Add More Feel Bad
Changing The "Net" Feel Goods
Decreasing The Feel Bads
Avoiding Being Passive About It; No Victimhood Allowed
Just Do The Opposite!!!
Physical Rewiring Of The Brain(!)
Using "What Works" As One's Chief Criterion
Disappearing What Gets In The Way
The Final Formula
THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
The purpose of life is happiness. Happiness is "feeling good" about life and oneself and what occurs in the world. So, some say, the purpose of life is to "feel good". I say it is happiness, which is "feeling good" about life. No matter. Let's get on to discussing how to achieve the purpose of life in a practical sense.
This is the determinant of the quality of your life, so I'd recommend you learn it! (Duh!)
WHAT IS "FEELING" GOOD OR BAD, REALLY?
Feeling good or feeling bad are both from chemical signals from the brain system. They evolved to have us do what was necessary to survive and/or survive better. (See the Development Of The Mind.)
Danger is detected, the brain's programs go into effect to deal with it.
Possible mating is detected, the brain's programs go into effect to encourage it. We "feel" very good. Our bodies "feel" good, nice chemicals. We tell ourselves "this is good", which adds more feel good chemicals, and so on.
So, obviously we would seek the feel goods and try to avoid the feel bads if we have in mind that it is bad to feel bad and we don't realize that it is only just a feeling. Some people feel bad about feeling bad, so they add another feel bad to the original feel bad that was designed just to have us survive. The discomfort and the desire to alleviate it was what motivated us into action. Realizing the "feel bad" is not threatening and is "bearable" is a mark of maturity and wisdom.
SO MANY MORE STIMULANTS AND POSSIBILITIES
The difference between the caveman days where there was high functionality in the feel goods and the feel bads and now is that we have so many more stimuluses to interpret and screen out. We're not naturally equipped for so many stimuluses, so we need to develop an ability to "manage" them so that we don't end up flapping in the breeze every time a possible negative pops up.
WE ADD MORE FEEL BAD
As humans, we not only get the initial "feel bad" but we also can add more "feel bad" to it. We essentially feel bad about feeling bad, instead of just having the one initial feel bad. And we can even cascade these into more feel bads, ad infinitum.
This is what the depressed person has done, essentially triggering the body's defense system so that all those excessive signals are dampened (by depressing, or lowering, the body/mind's ability to feel them).
Almost all "bad feelings" come from the effect of false, dysfunctional beliefs. They are an alert to write down the beliefs, examine them for actual truth, and to rewrite them, for a much better "feeliing good" life!
CHANGING THE "NET" FEEL GOODS
We can raise our average of "feel goods" minus "feel bads" (or what we call "net" feel goods) by doing three things. Here, though, we are not as interested in short term "hits" of chemicals, but in long term ways of operating that produce a natural flow of feel goods that are enduring and not temporary.
It is obvious that we would prefer good circumstances and outcomes and to have everybody love us.
But if our feel goods depend on that and our feel bads thrive on the misery of not getting them, then we do not have a reliable source of feel goods.
In fact, we have been culturally and erroneously programmed (scientifically proven) to think that those must be the source of our feel goods - so we essentially become a victim waiting for stuff outside of ourselves to make us feel good. That is stupid! (To put it bluntly. No criticism intended, just an objective observation.)
Anyway, in our formula for "net" feel goods, to increase the net, we can increase the feel goods or we can decrease the feel bads or we can do both.
DECREASING THE FEEL BADS
In order to decrease the feel bads, we must identify the sources. (Duh!) Then we must see what we can do to alter the sources or ameliorate (lessen) their effects. (Duh!)
As a part of all of this, we must realize that our brains have circuits that run both directions.
A signal can come from a particular part of the brain and we can send a signal to that particular part of the brain.
All signals are processed in some way, either consciously (we are aware of it) or not consciously.
By learning, we can learn to process the more important signals through our reasoning higher brain - which will get us better results than just letting Dumb and Dumber (our two lower brains) run the show. This will reduce the number of danger signals from untrue thoughts and beliefs. This accomplishes reducing the danger signals.
AVOIDING BEING PASSIVE ABOUT IT; NO VICTIMHOOD ALLOWED
One not so obvious example is when we are into a victim mentality versus a take charge mentality.
In a victim mentality, we'll be in a rush or we'll feel overwhelmed by the number of unfinished tasks and danger signals will be sent to the brain, which will implement the program. We will start gearing up to meet danger by cutting off the flow to our non-essential functions and hyping the essential functions - we'll start tensing and hyperventilating (breathing short shallow breaths).
After we've run from the bear and burned all of the motivating chemicals off, we collapse and rest.
Oops, we forgot that part in modern society.
We just get a danger signal, react, get another danger signal, react, tell ourselves this is awful (which is another danger signal)...and so on, into stress oblivion, often physical exhaustion or low energy, and into a danger oblivion - that feels like hell because it keeps generating the feel bad chemicals, to which we add despair or discouragement or 'this is bad' thoughts to get more bad chemicals. And our poor little amygdala and its helpers are hopping around like cats on a hot tin roof!
So, given that signals run both directions, we can choose to send signals back to the alarm system, saying "Hey, things are ok. We're safe!"
It can be as elementary as just verbalizing a comforting statement or a declaration of safety (see Empowering Statements section).
JUST DO THE OPPOSITE!!!!
It can also be as brilliant as the strategy of "just doing the opposite" of what is in the negative circuit process.
In other words, we can start breathing slowly and deeply, which tells the brain, since this is what is done normally during times we feel safe, that things aren't bad anymore, there is no danger, we are safe. (Remember Dumb and Dumber are very simple-minded, so we can use simple communication.)
We can intentionally relax the muscles (see relaxation main page). We can intentionally intervene in the thought process (stopping the danger thought is useful in and of itself) and then send an opposite thought or ameliorating thought, such as "all is well" or "I am capable of handling this, so no sweat!" or "this isn't so bad!" or "I don't believe the danger thought is true."
(The latter ameliorating thought is a major one, for if you see that not all thoughts are valid and that you can discriminate among them using your higher thinking brain, then you can remove the danger signal by seeing the falsehood of it [and identifying "what is so", in contrast]. Then we are taught that we can go from "what is so" to renewing our view of our goal or desire and then just figuring out how to get it.
When we get to the highest level, we also are able to see that there is no danger in not having the outcome we desire and that true dangers are only those that are life/limb threatening. [Perhaps even the "limb" threat is not really so bad, as paraplegics return to their normal happiness level within a year or as individuals adapt and see that they still have more than enough they are capable of, such as W. Mitchell after his crash and burn and later crash and cripple. See other examples on the Bad Past, Good Life page.] Sometimes we have to start this process with negative overgeneralizing people by teaching them to rate the danger level, so that they can spot the lower ones and begin to "see" "distinctions" about the danger levels and safety levels.)
PHYSICAL REWIRING OF THE BRAIN
Given the latest scientific studies, we can even physically reprogram the brain.
We can start repeating new beliefs and stop repeating old beliefs and the circuits will be created and strengthened for the new beliefs and weakened by disuse for the old beliefs (the brain starts dismantling things that are no longer in use so that it can use the material elsewhere where it is useful.
Also, rather astoundingly, I think, we've discovered a part of the brain (a mechanism) that increases the ability to be happy and increases the filtering ability of the brain (without having to think about it) to screen out and rework illogical (negative) messages that come almost randomly from the other parts of the brain - how's that for an incredible double-whammy.
Mathieu Ricard, one of the very top brain researchers, identifies the happiest people on earth as Tibetan Budhist monks - who have the largest "happy" segment of the brain. So, duh, it seems like we might want to consider figuring out and doing what they did. (Duh!) It was simply calming of the brain through meditation, which uses that part of the brain! And we develop that "muscle" by using it. (Duh!)
Of course, we don't have to meditate 2 hours a day, though some do recommend it, since it also reduces the sleep needs, thus freeing up time to do it! (Pretty good deal, huh!)
And the next question is how much time is "enough?". The greatest benefit per amount of time is at about 20 minutes. But even five has a huge benefit, that some argue is greater than the benefit per minute in the 20 minute meditation. They're probably right, logically. The reason for doing the 20 minute meditation is that the extra 15 minutes is more beneficial to you than virtually any other activity during the day.
USING "WHAT WORKS" AS ONE'S CHIEF CRITERION
Happiness in life is simply about "doing what works", with the emphasis on the "doing". It is not "trying to be positive", though that helps a bit, for that is a pretty big intangible and not as easy to "do." We are into "doables" that are simple and straightforward and very doable, without having to figure out alot of things or be a rocket scientist.
DISAPPEARING WHAT GETS IN THE WAY
When we revamp our beliefs so that we are no longer operating from "right/wrong/blame", "not good enough", or "there is lots of danger" dysfunctional beliefs, we are then only left with the freedom to live life as we choose, simply attempting to do "what works", learning (but without feeling bad about an undesired outcome from lack of awareness/knowledge), and then moving onward and upward in life learning the skills to enjoy and appreciate what is already in it - and basically the skills that lead us to ongoingly being happy.
THE FINAL FORMULA
FEELING GOODS MINUS FEELING BADS = NET FEEL GOODS
Note which you are already doing (cross them off if you've printed this sheet) and put a checkmark next to those you would like to do. Then implement them.
___ Sending calming signals to the lizard brain
___ Eliminating untrue, dysfunctional beliefs; replacing them (Duh!)
___ No longer expecting happiness to come from outcomes or circumstances or
___ Learning and accepting reality, not resisting it
___ Using "what works" as the only remaining criterion in life (no
"right/wrong/blame", "not good enough", or "there is lots of danger"
___ Focused processes
___ Meditation - To rewire the brain long term
___ Soothing, nurturing actions
___ Keeping oneself in a high state of resourcefulness
___ Staying in perspective, using the reasoning brain for decisions
___ Learning intensely about life, to increase one's appreciation of life!!!!!