Table of Contents
1. The First Thing You Want
Here’s what everybody wants: peace.
In fact, it’s all that we want. Most of us just want to relax and be safe. Forget about dreams1even those who are chasing “dreams”…after some point, they’re looking for relief (at the end of their journeys); people gave up a long time ago. The biggest, most popular aspiration is peace.
People aren’t motivated by happiness; people are motivated by the relief from misery.
Peace is 0. It’s neither +/-. It’s nothing!
We birth from 0, we die to 0. Peace(0) is the default state. Yet, we live in the negatives.
Is peace such a big ask? No way, it can’t be! It’s nothing. Can’t we have nothing?
Because we’ve been lied to.
You want that thing. You get it. You’re delighted. Then you’re not.
You want the next thing. You get it. You’re delighted. Then you’re not…it’s an eternal cycle.
“Nothing will make you happy forever.”
You’d agree. Yet, you don’t understand.6You’re still thinking, “man, if I get that thing, I’d be delirious.”You’re still in that cycle. You’re still chasing. If you truly understood, you’d have peace.
You’re confused. Why.
For one: everyone is chasing. For example, everyone is trying to make more money.7Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing.Even those who tell you, “money can’t buy happiness”, are desperate to make money.8Quite the irony. “Words” ≠ “Actions”. Are these people lying, or not understanding, or something else?
If you leave that cycle, you’re an “outlier”. It’s almost uncomfortable to be at (emotional) rest because un-peace is the norm.9And, because it’s the norm, it’s not publically acceptable to be peaceful (like being rich). People don’t like it; they’re not peaceful themselves.Hence, peaceful people are hard to find.10Rare, and hiding (from the public).
For two: you’re being told the opposite, 24/7. Every (media) content provokes desires. Instagram posts make you want to become more attractive. Tweets make you want social change. Etc. Etc. Etc.
On top of that, marketing. People are constantly selling you stuff11“they’ll fulfill your desires” -every ad. So that they can buy stuff, from the other sellers. Then, those sellers go buy stuff. Then…12I think this is the most powerful critique of capitalism. People are buying/selling more and more stuff, yet aren’t getting happier.13I’m not a socialist, or anything, anyways.
Don’t forget about the ‘ego’.
Loneliness ≠ Unpeace, Loneliness = Sign of Unpeace
If you can’t stand being alone, something is wrong. It means you’re avoiding/ignoring problems; when you’re alone, you have no choice but to face them.
“Your mental state when nothing is happening” is an indicator of your mental health. If you’re at peace, you have peace. If you’re not, you’re not.
Are you using others as a distraction?
2. Peace, How-To
Remember: peace is neutral feelings. Coming to peace = Coming to neutral feelings.
There are two major ways to attain peace:
Becoming a Monk
Straight-up, you give up everything. You give up your possessions, your goals, your relationships, everything. You go into a forest17or a temple, or something else., you do nothing. You basically renounce all desires.
This way, you’ll have peace18mental, maybe not physical (I’m not sure).
The problem is that you’re not living.19“Not doing anything”: sounds like death to me.You’re avoiding the sufferings of life by not participating. If you’re not participating, what’s the point of living in the first place?
(Maybe you can become enlightened20I have no idea what this is.in “temple training” and go back to life, idk.)
This is what I call: “earning your peace.” ‘Ownership’ isn’t peace per se; peace is a side effect of ownership.
‘Ownership’ comes with the ability to become peaceful at any moment.21This is what you actually want.(Explained below)It’s “owning” peace; the ability to pick up & drop desires as you wish.
In summary, you’re having full control over your ‘self’. And ‘feelings’ are only part of the ‘self’.
That’s what we truly want: the “optionality” for peace, not peace per se.
But, instead of giving up literally everything, thoughtlessly, you’re selectively keeping a few desires; you’re (consciously) choosing which ones to suffer over, while being at peace for the most part.22Keeping a “low-desire” status.
That means self-examination: asking yourself, “what do I truly want?”, for days.23By yourself, in a quiet place.
That means self-reflection: asking yourself: “why was I angry/sad/anxious/etc. that time?”24That “time” may be yesterday, last week, or even 10 years ago. Perhaps, now.
It’s understanding yourself. Deeply. Honestly.
The more you understand yourself, the more peace you have.25The understanding process is quite enjoyable. Every moment of “ah-ha” instantly becomes extra-peace.
What really works: modifying the ‘self-image’.
Say, “I’m a low-stress person now.” Don’t just say it; believe it. Don’t just believe it; be it.
It works because it’s a choice. You won’t be a buddha, but you will be low-stress. Negative emotions fade quickly when you don’t feed them.26E.g. When you’re angry, watch yourself: after some point, “you” are fueling the anger. The event isn’t there anymore, but in the past. Yet, you’re still suffering; you’re giving yourself suffering.
Being emotionless is a skill. You can practice, and get better at it.
When you’re emotional, in a way that you don’t want…just watch yourself. Watch the emotions. If it’s irrational, it’ll go away.
(Personally, I’ve become great at this. To the point where I don’t have any emotional reaction when I stub my toes.27*Baam* “That hurts.” “…”)
Besides peace, what do we want?
We want ‘meaning’; something to live for; something that truly matters.
The whole desire for meaning doesn’t come until there’s peace; only after a person attains peace, he says: “actually, I’m bored” and starts looking.
Without peace, a person “would like some” meaning.29Not seriously. Just fine without it.With peace, a person looks for the things that (truly) matter30summary: intrigue…living the life he truly wants.
It’s extremely rare for someone, without peace, to develop a “true desire” for something. It’s impossibly difficult to not associate that desire with peace31where the achievements are for “feeling good”.
Only a few individuals “shoot for their dreams” without peace. They have an ambitious goal with such desire, that they leave peace aside.32The vast majority had the dreams since childhood; the goals came while they had peace as little kids.33Or, they’ve given up the idea of peace. A.k.a. CEOs
I don’t recommend this. The journey will be miserable, and failure will be devastating.
Instead, I prefer the model, “peace first.”
What Meaning is For
Meaning is powerful, indeed. If something matters enough, no ‘feeling’ is relevant; no pain can stop a person.34“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
(This is crazy because meaning is only conceptual.35You can’t see it, touch it, smell it, etc. It’s all in your head.Yet, it can be more important than sensory experiences, which are ‘absolutely’ real.36Opinion: it shows how significant ‘storylines’ are, in “life”. It’s as if sensory experiences are only “details” to the stories.)
Hence, to the question: “what’s the solution to misery?”, the natural answer is: “find meaning.”37“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”
Using meaning as a “means to endure suffering” is arbitrarily displacing peace(= something that matters). It’s ignoring peace and having some other thing that matters. It’s an incomplete fix.38Furthermore, believing that “life is suffering” makes your brain look for evidence. You’ll find more reasons to suffer.
“Without meaning, you can’t not eventually kill yourself” is untrue. Kids don’t have any meaning…they’re okay! Because kids have peace.39For the most part. They’re healthy, they’re mindless, they don’t have to make money, they…40Tell a little boy, “everything is meaningless.” He might cry, idk…but the next day, he’ll go out and play soccer–that’s enough for him.
‘Meaningless’ is a net-zero state. ‘Peace’ is a net-zero state. Combine them, you get 0. Not good, not bad. It’s just fine.
And…yes. With meaning, you can go through extreme suffering. But that doesn’t mean it “takes away” suffering. If anything, it creates more desires–more suffering!
Meaning is cool. But…just have peace first.
You don’t have to give up on peace. You can have it. Anyone can be peaceful. It’s the most natural state.41Before you were born, you were dead for quite a while…that was peaceful.
What’s amazing about “peace first”, is that the journeys become joyful. Because peace is a choice43as your feelings are voluntary, un-peace is also a choice. With “peace first”, you’re choosing un-peace for entertainment.44Like watching a movie.
You don’t need to win the game, to have (temporary) peace45or, as you might say, happiness. You can just enjoy the game. The losses hurt, but they make the wins more rewarding. There’s fun along the way.46Even the losses can be fun.You’re nervous, but not worried. Plus, you don’t “need” to play; you can quit, anytime.
(Something about “being forced” makes everything worse. E.g. When you “intentionally starve yourself to make the food taste better.”47People do that. Or other types of “intentionally suffering more.”If the starving part were to be forced, it becomes intolerable, all of the sudden.)
4. After Peace
Meaning of Life
Turns out, life is a movie; the meaning of life is entertainment.
Turns out, peace is boring. At peace, you don’t feel alive.48Practiced meditators “lose the sense of self”–dead, almost literally.The further you are from peace, the more alive you feel.49When do you feel alive, the most? In the most extremes of feelings.
If you’re at peace, doing nothing…you’re kind of wasting your time.50Fine, I guess.
Actually, you don’t even want to feel good all the time. That’s boring. You want to struggle. That’s interesting.
The worst movie is where “everyone was happy, everyone is happy, everyone will be happy, forever.” Contrast is what you’re looking for.
What You Really Want
What you want is the “safety bar” for peace; it’s the option to have peace at any moment.
Yes. Un-peace is rather fun. But it’s much more enjoyable if you can choose to have it.
Meaningful journey means:
- Something matters “a lot”;
- Lots of significant events happen to that something.
You’re meant to do great things. There’s no other reason to live.51I sincerely believe that no human is meant to live a peaceful, meaningless life (like animals).
Movie directors are forced to make things “plausible”. If not, the movie doesn’t feel legit. But you have life–it’s super legit! Make it as unrealistic as possible.
5. Related Posts
- Philosophy – Units of Happiness
- On Delight & Suffering
- What Matters
- Knowledge of the Head, Knowledge of the Heart
Questions & comments are welcome!