“I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen.” – Winnie the Pooh
Wake up and smell the coffee. We can row our boats gently down the stream, but life is no dream.
If there is one thing I know it is that our brains are hardwired to slip into unconscious patterns unless we make a conscious effort to create patterns that we want in our thinking and in our lives.
In choose-your-own-adventure I talked about the adventure that is our lives, and in that rambling post mostly I was just trying to get at was how important it is to deconstruct our unconscious patterns in order to experience real life and all that it has to offer.
Think about it this way, if we walk the same trail on a hillside, after awhile it will began to erode and slowly the hill will disappear. If we choose many paths over time, our hill stays put, and in a sense the same principle could be applied to our minds. We don’t want our minds to erode.
I see this in many landscapes. We do one thing, we get stuck in it, we do it over and over because it became comfortable, the thing we know, and finally we have a dysfunctional landscape but now we’re used to it. It can make us insane, but we stay there and keep doing the same things.
On the other hand, if we create a really good path and maintain it consciously, we can avoid that erosion.
There appears to be an inverse relationship between patterns we fall into and patterns we create. When we fall into patterns we don’t fall out. When we make the conscious effort to create patterns we have that consciousness instilled within our minds. To become aware of the world is to be aware of the magical powers of the will.
There is a difference in creating unconsciousness patterns and creating conscious routine. Routine seems to be the key to developing mastery in a particular art or practice, whereas unconscious repetitious behavior seems to lead to the erosion of the will. Nietzsche says “A living being wants above all else to release its strength; life itself is the will to power.” He has a point, but in themselves beautiful words can lead to ugly things, as was the case of the glorious Neitzshean idea of the Ubermensch becoming perverted in the mind of a madman, Hitler, to create a literal hell on earth.
The door between action and inaction is consciousness. Many people stay on one side or the either. My concept of a healthy life is a balance in all things, and so I step through that door a lot. Consciousness is the key to this balance. Heuristics is an approach to problem solving using methods that lead to a satisfactory but not optimal outcome, essentially a mental shortcut. The word itself is Greek for “find” or “discover”, but really the term explores the way we as humans don’t tend to see the whole picture and then make decisions based on simplistic reactive algorithms instead of a fully conscious analysis. Perhaps that is why “becoming conscious again” is such a big deal for us as a species, in that we have evolved in this modern age to use so many heuristics simply to get by that we barely let our minds process the realities of our real life situation.
An example of a heuristic is the “availability heuristic”, which simply states that we tend to expect a certain outcome based on what has happened in the past, irregardless of present circumstances. So for example I might expect my girlfriend to get mad at me for not doing the dishes after a day of dishes in the sink, because of experiences with an ex in my past who did get mad after a day, but in reality my present girlfriend actually doesn’t have the same expectations or reactions. In this way we can make big mistakes in our relationships with everybody from our loved ones to our neighbors and business partners and so on. Our mind is so clogged with heuristics, mental shortcuts, that we can’t necessarily see anything for what it really truly is.
I will go into more detail in the coming days on “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of heuristics, but suffice it to say that our monkey minds are really clogged up with decision-making shortcuts, distorted lenses, nagging voices, and magical thinking. Our one main clean-up tool is consciousness, and cultivating it is the focus of my adventure.
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