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Crazy People

Posted on 2013.10.16 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114
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Ran across one of the best ever explanations of why assumptions make us look like crazy people and how assumptions are a quick and efficient tool to land us in a lifestyle we did not choose while lying to us about how we got there by making us believe make-believe things. For the not-smart in the audience, this is bad. We do want to chose our own life, we do want to know which decisions to make to get there, and we absolutely want to be grounded in reality because its that which makes the things we want obtainable.

For elucidation's sake, I've slightly re-worked the original in more easily digestible terms, and editorialized where appropriate. You're welcome.
When we assume we're right (about anything), we greatly increase our chances of losing everything we treasure. There are two kind of assumptions to be aware of, as both are equally destructive. These are direct assumptions, and indirect assumptions.

A direct assumption is something believed to be true even if it is not real or doesn't exist. There is another group of people we identify as believing in things disconnected from reality - crazy people. Crazy people believe all sorts of imaginary stuff. Even so, why is believing in something that's not real bad? Because the person who assumes the thought is true responds emotionally based on the thoughts. Here's a fun recap: Emotionally responding to something that does not exist makes one appear crazy. For the record, no one wants to be around crazy people. Crazy people are scary because no one knows what will set the crazy person off, or what the crazy person will do next. So rule number one - deconstruct all direct assumptions.

Indirect assumptions originate from an outside source; second-hand information we assume to be true (probably because we trust the source). Second hand information however, is usually inaccurate; wrong. Despite second-hand information being wrong, not-smart people believe it anyway. The reason second hand information is rarely accurate is because in conversations, people tend to hear only the parts that are most relevant to their emotional needs at that moment, and when they relay it to others, it’s entirely out of context, and only contains the information that they felt at the time. In short, nonsense. Fun recap: Its not healthy to believe nonsense. That's something crazy people do.

Thankfully all this crazy-talk can be offset with a proven litmus test of success - happiness. No, its not some sort of witchcraft, hoodoo or that voodoo you do as much as it is a choice. And that's where the one of the best ever explanations on happiness as a choice has greatly helped me understand the grievous error in the dichotomous person's broken brain:
Happiness is a choice. But it’s not one choice that you make. This is where people get confused. They think they can wish or think themselves to happiness by one choice, like a magic button or the right lottery ticket. One choice and they win! Well, life doesn’t work that way, just like the gym doesn’t work that way. One lift will not make you strong. One workout will not make you fit. One PR will not make you accomplished. And one good job will not make your kids love you, or your partner stay, or the dog come home. Happiness is a hundred choices. A thousand choices. A million choices. All day long. Every day. Every week. Every year of your life.

I understand that this could be challenging and uncomfortable for some people. I am often seeking new challenges of my own for personal growth. You cannot have growth without it. Life begins at the end of our comfort zone. We grow and adapt mostly because we have to - environmental challenges, emotional discomfort - we learn the tools necessary to deal and then move on to the next one. Those who withdraw from that discomfort or attempt to regulate the actions of others retard themselves by offloading that responsibility - they never learn to deal with the easy stuff and therefore are ill-equipped to even identify the more difficult challenges. Exactly HOW does choosing our response to every situation, every person, and everything. put us on track for happiness, or despair?
Specific thoughts elicit related feelings, which in turn influence our overall disposition and our propensity towards behaviors. So our thoughts create our stance within and towards our world and consequently our experience of the world—change your thoughts and you change your world. Now this doesn’t seem so new-agey… I take it that we all want more happiness, satisfaction and abundance in our lives, and if changing the way we think helps to bring that about, that’s something attainable over time.

For those who think the soft-science of psychology is the devil, maybe they'll believe hard psychoneuroimmunology?

Lastly, I saw my younger self in much of 7 Shortcuts You Will Regret Taking in Life and now see these same things in those who should know better by now. I suppose I should be thankful that I'm smart enough to acknowledge my shortcomings rather than getting offended by everything everyone has ever said, ever, in the history of the spoken word. I imagine that to be rather exhausting.

  1. Stop getting offended.

  2. Don't be a crazy person.

  3. Be happy.


Missus Emm
missus_emm at 2013-10-16 10:20 (UTC) (Link)
It's really interesting to read this because I was actually going to come onto LJ today to write about how much I detest the happiness-as-a-choice paradigm.

Perhaps that is because I've been a functioning depressive for so long and I know that it's really not that easy. I know what it takes to be happy in my life. I have a really optimistic world view so it is generally a case of sleep, exercise and eating right including an avoidance of sugar and alcohol. But I was happy last year and I saw that stripped away first by SAD then physical illness then grief. </p>

I absolutely take your post to heart and will in fact use it as a starting point for what I do next but I do so with the knowledge that I can choose to be happy but for me and for many others it is a gargantuan struggle.

michelle1963 at 2013-10-16 12:05 (UTC) (Link)
It certainly can be gargantuan struggle to be happy, even for those of us who don't have medical issues like depression. Everybody gets punched, and punched hard, by life. No one escapes. In my experience, while it does take an ongoing effort, that at times can be very challenging, to be happy, life is a far greater struggle when I don't choose to engage in happiness provoking thoughts and behaviors.

If I am going to struggle anyway, I may as well do the work that will reap some benefit.

I hope you find your balance again.

Edited at 2013-10-16 12:07 pm (UTC)
Missus Emm
missus_emm at 2013-10-16 12:31 (UTC) (Link)
That's really important, isn't it Michelle. Perhaps I'm on a plateau at the moment but despite the imbalance, I've not resorted to any actually harmful activities. So I'm not doing anything to make me unhappy but am just biding my time until I can pursue that which makes me happy.
michelle1963 at 2013-10-16 14:07 (UTC) (Link)
I'd say not resorting to harmful behaviors is a huge step in the right direction!
ehowton at 2013-10-16 14:28 (UTC) (Link)
I'm right there with you on the happineess-as-a-choice crowd as most I've run across have the tendency to assume I'm too dumb to know this stuff and only present it at a high-level, "Don't worry, be happy" sickly-sweet mantra without anything I can really sink my teeth into. Sometimes it really is a struggle, and admitting that its a choice in no way alleviates that struggle. Sometimes its both.

Given the limitations of empiricism and my own embarrassingly shallow data pool (yourself included); In my experience, smart people recognize and comprehend the differences in their demeanor, brain-chemistry, and both intrinsic and extrinsic stressors. You've been both places and understand what's going on is going on with you. Not-smart people seem to believe the entire world and all its intricacies has somehow morphed into a different reality, and they're bolstered by the knowledge they have magically remained unchanged. That scares me.
Missus Emm
missus_emm at 2013-10-16 14:37 (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely. Throughout your post I was reminded of both the blindly religious and militant atheists. I was cornered by a religious person at work the other day and had to explain that his prophesies of doom didn't apply to me because I didn't believe in them. He could have got into a lot of trouble too - you're meant to be religiously tolerant in the UK and he wasn't being that. But most importantly, he was judging my life in terms of his reality.
ehowton at 2013-10-16 20:09 (UTC) (Link)
Interesting example as its always awkward when I'm discussing the some topical similarity between the blindly religious and the militant atheist only to discover my audience disagrees. Usually vehemently. Because of course they belong to one camp or the other and therefore emotionally vested in perpetuating dissimilarities.

Edited at 2013-10-16 08:26 pm (UTC)
Missus Emm
missus_emm at 2013-10-17 05:24 (UTC) (Link)
Ha. Yeah, I'm not really sure how my beliefs would be classed. I don't subscribe to organised religion in any form but I am not an atheist.
quicksilvermad at 2013-10-17 06:53 (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. I suppose I'm coming at it from a different angle, what with my depression. I don't agree with the idea that it's this simple. I've had people tell me: "Be happy. There are people worse off than you." And that just sends me back to feeling worse. Because my feelings don't seem important anymore when the perspective is given to me. Yes, people have it worse than me. But at the moment I'm told to consider this, I might be feeling like I'm not worth anything. And that's a hard feeling to overcome.

When I'm in that unhappy mindset, it isn't a choice. The chemicals in my brain are misfiring and creating an awful reaction that forces me to feel like I'm worthless. I don't have a say in the matter. I'm not choosing to feel like this. Why would I? I can try to police my thoughts to control my emotions, but it's pretty much an exercise in futility. Even now, with the upturn in my life in general, I still have emotions on the insidious side of the spectrum feeding off of my brain and leaving me with nothing but uncertainty and self-loathing.

So, I have a very hard time imagining what it would be like to have the luxury of choice in this instance.
ehowton at 2013-10-17 08:23 (UTC) (Link)
Of course. I'm not saying people with clinical depression can just turn that frown upside down and in fact should clearly state I intimately know the difference between compensating for irrational brain chemicals and being happy. You're right, they are two very different things. [In my case at least] one is a modification of behavior while feeling incomprehensibly underwhelmed at the idea behind, "life" (or somesuch apathetic nihilism) and the other is being truly intrinsically bedazzled with wonder. No matter how hard I try I cannot force one upon the other.

I guess what it keeps boiling down to is there are those who are not clinically depressed that don't seek, let alone pursue the silver lining, and those who are smart enough to identify and/or compensate for their clinical depression, which - agreed - falls outside the subject of this post.

Thanks for bringing me back to center.
thesweetestnote at 2013-10-20 19:28 (UTC) (Link)

Crazy Person

And he said "Yeah, but ain't it a blessin' To do what you wanna do"
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