A blog of yet another quirky guy out there

100DaysToOffload

I believe this is a futile and energy-draining activity. Spend time criticising what others do and don't do is merely an excuse to avoid looking inwards—which demands effort and it's sometimes gut-wrenching.

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My mother-in-law does not eat chicken; why? as a little girl, she had chickens as pets—the same goes for rabbits. I know others who stopped eating meat—or drastically reduce its consumption—after visiting a slaughterhouse.

Whenever I look, I find people who don't want to face reality because they avoid negativity; I respect that view, but I strongly disagree with it.

It is easy to go on with your life, avoiding information (or people) that question your consumption habits. When someone shows you what happens behind the scenes, what takes to bring tonight's dinner to your plate, or the hidden costs of ordering things online and having them delivered at home the next day, that might make you feel extremely uncomfortable—and that's good. You call it negativity, I prefer the term reality.

You can eat chicken soup, but you must see the chicken die first.

P.S. I'm not vegetarian, and this post is not about becoming one.

#100DaysToOffload #Negativity (68/100) P.S. This post is part of an experiment about negativity (read about it).

If you are old enough, you probably have experienced disappointment in your personal relationships, like the romantic ones, for example. The loved one is just perfect at the beginning, your mental model of this person might include a great personality, high intellectuality, a good sense of humour, and even be a good-looking one. After a while—a few months most likely—the illusion starts to fade away. She or he has changed, you tell yourself. A great personality is now unbearable, high intellect became pedantry, sense of humour is irritating and, well, not great looking anymore; it is time to walk away. If you have gone through this cycle several times, you eventually realize that you must do hard work—which starts with disappointment—to make it work with someone in the long term—alternatively, you could keep searching for the “perfect one” your whole life.

The real problem here is that our first impression of someone is always inaccurate. When we fall in love—which is a great English phrase, because we fall, quite literally—our lover is idealized, and even though it feels great while the illusion lasts, it's painful when it ends—and it will end.

But romantic relationships is not the main topic of this post.

This year I've discovered that there is another, more positive aspect of this problem. When we dislike someone (or something), that first impression is always inaccurate as well. If we stay long enough, we see things more clearly.

My mind fiercely clings to first impressions. Even though evidence shows me later that I was wrong (at least partially wrong), once I've come to a conclusion, it is hard for me to change my mind. This inflexibility causes me suffering.

As part of this personal experiment on negativity, I have forced myself to seek discomfort by not avoiding people and things I dislike. Similar to the illusion of love, the “illusion of hate” (or dislike) naturally vanishes as well. This came as a surprise to me.

I've adjusted many aspects of my life to develop a more flexible mindset. For instance, I used to have a curated RSS feed with only things I liked, that's not the case anymore. It requires no intellectual effort to embrace like-minded people and mute or ignore everyone else—this is particularly easy to do in virtual communities—I find this practice quite toxic and harmful. I read things I like but also things I dislike (or I disagree with). Even here at read.write.as, although I have clear preferences, I also spend time on blogs which I'd rather do not read. That might sound stupid, but I've found this practice quite beneficial, it is like a recovery treatment for my like addiction.

After spending some time on some of my non-favourite blogs, this is what I've found:

  • I might disagree with other people ideas, but after a while, I'm able to see their point—even if I still disagree with them.
  • I might not be interested in the topic, but I appreciate their wordmanship. I always learn something from a good piece of text, even though I don't really care about the topic.
  • Even when I neither agree with their ideas nor like how they are written, after a while, I feel a certain camaraderie with or even appreciation for the writer. It is like your non-favourite aunt, the same who used to pinch your cheeks as a kid; in the end, you know, she's family.

In short, if I don't avoid what I dislike, after a while I realize it is not that bad, actually.

#100DaysToOffload #Negativity (67/100) P.S. This post is part of an experiment about negativity (read about it).

“What worries you masters you.”

Unknown

#100DaysToOffload #Negativity (66/100) P.S. This post is part of an experiment about negativity (read about it).

Yesterday was a shitty day. Shittyness encompassed almost every aspect of the day, from work, home, and even commute — one-hour cycling under the cold rain was not particularly pleasant. With the exception of morning coffee, I would've preferred that everything else unfolded differently.

As an uncommonness on my end-of-the-day routine, I sat down on my blue couch for about 10 minutes to observe my negative feelings, to face the (auto-infringed) pain caused by my rumination. I purposefully sat there with no other goal than thinking my thoughts and feeling my feelings, in absolute silence. Then I left the couch, had dinner alone, cleaned the kitchen and prepared everything for today.

Before falling asleep but already in bed, I opened brainpickings.org on my tablet and read a heartening post titled: “Alan Watts on the Meaning of Freedom, the Only Real Antidote to Fear, and the Deepest Wellspring of Love”. After I finished that exquisite piece of writing I felt more at ease and realized the deep appreciation I have for this website. Brainpickings has been an oasis for me for quite some years now. I even believe that what I have with Maria Popova (the solo writer behind this site) can be described as (unidirectional) platonic love — one that only increases each time I read her work.

( back to the blog post in turn )

Alan Watts is one of the few who had managed to capture the essence of Eastern culture and write about it in Western terms. Even though I found Watt's work relatively late in my life, I have read (and re-read) most of his work and each time I can find something new, something which encouraged me to look at things from a fresher perspective. The doors to Eastern philosophy (specifically to Buddhist philosophy) were open to me by D.T. Suzuki's writings though — something that changed my life entirely. Contrary to Alan Watts, Suzuki's style is not intended to make the Western reader so comfortable, and thus it is not surprising that nowadays many people from this side of the world don't find his writings extremely appealing—fortunately, that was not my case. The second burst of gratitude sprang out after being aware of how fortunate I am for discovering (or for being discovered by) Buddhism very early in my life.

The third blissful moment came after thinking about this blog and the opportunity of writing what you are reading right now. For so many years I've had an acute frustration for not being able to express myself freely. At first, I blamed others (from parents to that girl in elementary school that systematically ignored every poem I wrote for her), but at some point in my life, I accepted full responsibility for it. This blog (and writing, in general) is becoming a cure for that shortcoming.

So, that was my day, a shitty one and three beautiful moments in the end — with a breathtaking Popova's post in between.

#100DaysToOffload #Negativity (65/100) P.S. This post is part of an experiment about negativity (read about it).

“People are persuaded to spend money we don't have, on things we don't need, to create impressions that won't last, on people we don't care about.”

― Tim Jackson

#100DaysToOffload #Negativity (64/100) P.S. This post is part of an experiment about negativity (read about it).

The new motto says: “If you experience something — record it. If you record something — upload it. If you upload something — share it.”

Dear reader, please resist.

#100DaysToOffload #Negativity (63/100) P.S. This post is part of an experiment about negativity (read about it).

I reply to all the messages I receive, that's a self-imposed rule. It does not matter if I like the message or not, if I agree or disagree with it, I always answer. Of course, I don't pay attention to all the messages aimed at me, quite the opposite. For instance, some of my email accounts are used as “sign up” emails, and I know in advance they are full of crap — which is systematically ignored. On the other hand, the email available in this blog, which is exclusively used to receive messages from my (very few) readers, is one I take care of.

I try to reach some writers using whatever contact medium they provide. Looking at historical data, I would say the odds of getting a reply is 50/50. At first, unanswered messages made me really sad; nowadays, I feel a subtle disappointment. Contact someone (who supposedly wants to be contacted) and then never hear back feels like passing by a door with a big sign that says: “Welcome! Come in”, and once inside, you read the adverse of the sign that says: “Unless you are Muslim, homosexual or a woman” — I'm none of those, it was an example. Although I feel that disrespectful, everyone has freedom of choice; your home, your rules.

This experiment about negativity is giving me a wider perspective on all these situations. I won't pretend I don't care, or that I feel nothing. I do care. When my attempts to contact someone are ignored, it sucks, but I don't feel miserable. As humans, we need to have the sensation of being accepted, rejection never feels nice (and for good evolutionary reasons). Rejection discomfort is okay, I don't want to feel desensitized to the point of being dehumanized, I don't want a fake smile on my face the whole time.

Two things I have found useful in reducing the negative impact of unanswered messages: considering different reasons for not getting an answer and reflect on my own expectations when I send a message. Instead of (only) thinking: “Oh, he/she never got back to me, that's mean”, I also consider other options such as: “He/she is too busy”, or “Probably, he/she did not see my message for whatever reason”. Second, why am I doing this? Am I sending this message only to get a nice reply with a happy face :)? If the answer is yes, I don't click on the send button. Sometimes I wait a few days to see if my answer changes, othertimes I simply delete the message. Only if the answer is no, I send it. By doing so I can, to some extend, let it go — i.e., no answer expected. I said to some extend because deep in my heart I keep a small hope of getting a reply, but that's minimal, and that's why the disappointment is subtle when it does not happen.

#100DaysToOffload #Negativity (62/100) P.S. This post is part of an experiment about negativity (read about it).

"Endure boredom"

#100DaysToOffload #Negativity (61/100) P.S. This post is part of an experiment about negativity (read about it).

"Seek discomfort"

#100DaysToOffload #Negativity (59/100) P.S. This post is part of an experiment about negativity (read about it).