Are You Psychologically Fit?

Psychologically Fit

We hear a lot about physical fitness. Every town has at least one, and probably several, gyms. You see people jogging around town and television infomercials are filled with the latest workout program or gadget to help you get into shape. There is no question that physical fitness is important. But, what about psychological fitness? Are you psychologically fit?

Physical fitness can be measured in terms of weight, body fat, muscle tone, strength, flexibility, stamina, endurance, etc. How does one measure psychological fitness? Psychological fitness, or mental health, can be measured to a degree by assessing the levels of anxiety, depression, stress, self-esteem, satisfaction, positive relationships, responsibility and competence, to name a few. Clearly, a person with high anxiety levels and poor relationships is not as psychologically fit as someone with low anxiety levels and rich relationships. And, just as there are ‘workouts’ which improve physical fitness, so too there are exercises, which can improve psychological fitness.

The key characteristic of the mind is thinking. Our psychological fitness is largely determined by the ways in which we think about things. Thinking is often at the basis of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, violence, post-traumatic stress, low self-esteem and poor interpersonal relationships. Learning how to think accurately and effectively is one of the major components in psychological well-being, or fitness. Effectual thinking can promote psychological flexibility, adaptability, resilience comfort, ease and composure, all of which are ingredients of mental health. But, what is thinking? And, how do we ‘exercise’ it to make it more fit?

The first thing to recognize is that, to quote Albert Einstein, ‘we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’ In other words, psychological fitness requires a different kind of thinking than the kind we may be familiar with, especially if we are not psychologically fit. Secondly, we can understand thinking simply from the words of Plato: ‘when the mind is thinking it is talking to itself.’ The first task in any psychological fitness then is to listen to yourself talking to yourself. This may seem silly but it becomes critically important for it is in those simple sentences of our internal dialogue, or ‘self-talk’ where we find psychological fatness or unwell-being.

The content of our internal dialogue is often terribly illogical, irrational, inaccurate, invalid and faulty. But, that doesn’t matter. As the mind hears itself talking to itself in these ways, it accepts what it hears, factual or not, accurate or not. It is up to our critical consciousness to question what we might be telling ourselves and to then make adjustments to more reality based thinking. In other words, we have to begin talking to ourselves more realistically, more accurately, more truthfully. If we happen to fail in some endeavor and then start telling ourselves that we are no good, worthless, incompetent and stupid, the mind says ‘ok.’ But, those generalizations are not accurate. We may have failed in one specific task, but that in no way means we are a complete worthless incompetent failure in life! To fail at one thing does not equate to failing at everything.

Just as being overweight is often a springboard to get physically fit, so too depression, anxiety, stress, anger and generally poor interpersonal relationships can be a springboard to get psychologically fit. And, just as a coach or trainer is helpful in starting out with a physical fitness routine, so too is a counselor or therapist conversant in psychological fitness a good idea if you want to be psychologically fit.


 

The Happiness Trap

Happiness is something we all want. And yet, we have been programmed to seek it in places where it does not exist and in ways that do not work. We have been funneled into what is called ‘The Rat Race.’ This short animated video showcases our maddening rush for what we have been told is happiness, and is not.


HOW CAN WE GUARD OURSELVES FROM THE HAPPINESS TRAP?

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” (Edward Bernays aka “The Father of Public Relations”)

“Unfortunately for us, our backwards society uses the world’s best psychologists to exploit our precious minds through advertising and marketing, and instead of educating us on how we might defend ourselves from these insidious influences — that we will obviously encounter at some point in our lives — the education system is too busy teaching us how to do math equations that we will never have to even use, amongst other frivolous tasks.

Corporations manipulate our minds through a variety of different methods, but all of them are invariably rooted in the fact that they know we aren’t content and truly happy within, so they find a way to exploit that. In fact, this is the root cause of many problems we face in our society today, people are simply not happy and content with their lives. They pretend, they lie to themselves, they distract themselves, and they bullshit themselves for years and years, sometimes decades, and sometimes even an entire life time —  but they know deep down they aren’t happy.

WHAT WE NEED

So what we need to actually be focusing on, is how we can simply achieve happiness, contentment and self confidence my friends. Unfortunately the education system, again, does not focus on this, and that’s because — to be frank — the education system is a bunch of bullshit. It’s merely a prepping facility to get us ready for the proverbial Rat Race. And that’s because the main prerequisite for running the Rat Race, is being discontent and unhappy. You cannot sell people crap they do not need, unless they feel empty inside. You cannot exploit a mentally strong human being. In other words, self confidence is bad for this economy because the economy is actually built on consumerism.

So we are conditioned from a young age to replace our enthusiastic imaginations with blind conformity to authority. We are indoctrinated to surrender our curiosity and self belief in pursuing the impossible, to obedience to the status quo and what we are told we should and shouldn’t do. And we are taught to follow the intelligence of the crowd, and not the intelligence of the heart. In short, we are conditioned to sacrifice our happiness to serve this exploitive system.

Then, as we try to navigate our way through this insane asylum we call society, we learn that buying things is not really going to bring us happiness, at least not long term happiness. We discover that drinking alcohol, or taking pharmaceutical pills is not the answer either. And we search and search and search, but because we are drowning in a world of manipulation and skulduggery — that is literally thriving off of our ignorance and insecurity — many of us never find it. Some of us even commit suicide out of desperation to escape our internal pain.

As my readers know, I come from a background of alcoholism, addiction, depression, anxiety and even contended with suicide in my mind. I have experienced great sadness and unhappiness in my life, but more importantly, I have experienced the journey of finding happiness and purpose. And that key lies in first realizing that we live in a society that wants to actually keep us ignorant, weak and easy to manipulate and control.

Once you become aware of this ill intent, you can begin to defend yourself intelligently.

Stop watching their programming through network television, and start watching documentaries that are going to educate and empower you instead. Stop listening to their radio broadcasts, and start listening to motivational speakers that have overcome adversity. Stop eating their bullshit foods, and start investing in your health by consuming organic based products. Stop hanging around people who are unthinking zombies that only indulge in gossip, ignorance and other forms of stupidity, and spend time with people who actually want to grow more, learn more, and see you grow and learn too. Stop consuming energy drinks and soda cans filled with bullshit, and start drinking non fluoridated water or raw juices. Stop getting shit faced on the weekends, and start spending time in Nature which has therapeutic effects. Stop polluting your brain and lungs with their toxic cigarettes, and start exercising and feeding yourself oxygen. Stop wasting your time mindlessly surfing the internet and start using it to educate yourself. Stop focusing your precious mind on all the problems in your life, and start focusing it on the solutions. Stop feeding the power of fear, insecurity and shyness by hiding from the world, and instead find an organization like Toastmasters to practice communicating and public speaking. In short, we must start making conscious choices that strengthen our minds and develop our intrinsic characters, because by default the system is setup to use us and exploit us.

CONCLUSION

So happiness is found through the development of self my friends, not in chasing material things. Stress, heart ache, and difficult circumstances are a part of life and the only thing that will keep you happy and able to overcome those things is a strong mind, which can only be built through lifestyle changes. ” (Taken from stevecutts.com)

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both….
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
                                                             -Robert Frost

happiness trap

 


 

What is Truth?

what is truth

 

“There is no truth. There is only perception.”

                                                                    -Gustave Flaubert

What is truth? It depends, perhaps, on who you ask. John Keats, in his poem Ode on a Grecian Urn, states that ‘truth is beauty, beauty truth.’ If we introduce the adage that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ then truth becomes a very personal subjective assessment. Two people can behold very different truths. Because I experienced it, it is therefore true? But, is that then really truth, even if another finds it not so? There are many biblical passages which suggest God is truth. If beauty is truth, and truth is God, would that mean God is beauty? Is God in the eye of the beholder?

The Greek word for “truth” is aletheia, which translates to English as “to un-hide” or “hiding nothing.” It conveys the thought that truth is always there, always open and available for all to see, with nothing being hidden or obscured. The Hebrew word for “truth” is emeth, which means “firmness,” “constancy” and “duration.” Such a definition implies an everlasting substance and something that can be relied upon.

The modern word ‘true’ as used today comes from Middle English trewthe, from Old English trēowth and translates as ‘fidelity.’ Now, there’s a word with a lot of meanings! The word fidelity comes from the Latin fidēlis which translates as ‘faithful, loyal, trustworthy” As in the adage one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist, this definition of truth as fidelity is ripe for conflict. What is the relationship between truth and conflict? How many arguments, fights, and even wars, are based on opposing views of ‘truth?’

A general Internet search on the term ‘what is truth?’ brings up over 600,000,000 listings. Perhaps the most honest statement about that question is taken from the first listing‘…it’s difficult to define because as soon as you think you have it pinned down, some case or counterexample immediately shows deficiencies.’ (philosophynews.com). How is one to answer the question? It is generally the domain of philosophy and philosophers from around the world and through time have struggled with trying to both understand and convey the nature of truth.

The essential teaching of Buddhism states that truth is emptiness. Emptiness is, by definition, nondescript. You cannot describe it or define it. Perhaps that is the genius of this insight. Truth exists, out of conceptual reach. Does that mean truth does not exist? No. It simply means it cannot be contained, grasped or comprehended in traditional ways and means of understanding. It would be like a mind only capable of linear thought, comprehending simultaneity.

The concept of emptiness as truth comes from a realization that all material forms are composite, compound collections of parts. For example, a car is made up of many, many parts. If you take away all the parts, there is no car. There is no inherent car, it is only a composition of component parts put and held together for a while. A tree is no different; it is a composite of components. There is no inherent tree-ness. And, of course, the same holds for all conceptualizations of a ‘self’ which, like the car and the tree, is void of any inherent ‘self-ness.’ The self is a collection of components, which eventually disperse. Modern physics has itself come upon this realization that at the core of all things, there is nothing, no-thing. From solid objects, to molecules, to atoms, to sub-atomic particles to a quantum field, which itself is indeterminate, the material world is seen as ultimately empty of any inherent individual core. Emptiness equates to this quantum field beyond the reach of linguistic conception. Emptiness is no-thing. And, if  no-thing  is perfect, if no-thing is sacred, if no-thing is forever, then it may well be that no-thing is truth for we may easily agree that truth is perfect, sacred and forever.

In the science of Yoga, truth is defined as the purity of consciousness the nature of which is blissfulness. If we apply that definition of truth, how much of your experience is truthful? It’s a lot easier, and healthier, to acknowledge that individual experience, and the ways in which we codify and express that experience, is not blissful, it is not emptiness, it is not beauty, and it is not God. Our personal experience is not durable and it is not constant. Our personal experience is not truth. We can allow our individual experience to exist as it is and speak from that direct experience, as our personal reality, which may be a subset of a collective reality, and distinguish that from truth. For quite some time, truth was the earth is flat, until that changed. The Language, culture, geology, biology, time, circumstances all contribute components to that which we are convinced is truth; and yet, several generations later, that truth is cast aside as ignorance. Is truth so temporary? One of the hallmarks of the human species is learning, changing, adapting, letting go of perspectives, points of view, assumptions and conclusions which are not longer valid. Truth encompasses the evolution of consciousness from one level to another, each with their own set of perspectives, their own set of personal and collective realities. Truth is to realities as the ocean is to the waves. Truth is to the cosmos as realities are to our planet.

Truth has no specific, distinctive, definitive or descriptive form; as such, it cannot be conceptualized. And yet, out of this quantum field of no-thing, of emptiness, arise all things, past, present and future. Truth is, the transcendental essence of all existence; everything else appears as…some-thing, either subjective as in thoughts, emotions, memories and imagination, or objective as in, others, objects, actions and the world ‘out there’, what we might call ‘relative realities’. Our individual experience may well be grounded in and permeated by undefined, nondescript truth, but then, so is that of our opponent, our nemesis, our enemy, our foe. Truth encompasses the pair of opposites, without bias. We, on the other hand, do not. Our individual experience is not truth, it is a combination of personal and collective realities, loaded with biases and preferences, likes and dislikes, built largely upon the culture in which we exist at the time. Let us not debase or trivialize truth as we do with love; most all of what we say we love, we just really like; and most all of what we say is truth is really just our personal and collective perspective or point of view. That perspective and point of view may well be arrived at through objective, measured evidence, and then referred to as ‘fact.’ A fact is not truth. A fact is a consensus gained from reliable, valid information. Even then, that reliable, valid information may be found invalid and unreliable decades, or centuries, later. Truth, on the other hand, would remain intact and valid, decades, centuries, and even ages, later. Truth encompasses more than the entirety of humanity.

Many years ago a young man was a witness in a court hearing. At the witness stand, before being seated…..

Bailiff: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Witness: With all due respect, it is not possible for an individual to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; the best we can hope for is an accurate presentation of individual experience.

Prosecutor: I object! This is the only way we have of knowing if a witness is telling the truth.

It’s a sad day for the mind of man when the only way of knowing if one is telling the truth is by affirming a false statement.

For more blog posts relevant to this topic, visit Quantum Psychology and Mental Health is Contained in Language.

 

“There are only two things. Truth and lies.

Truth is indivisible, hence it cannot recognize itself;

anyone who wants to recognize it has to be a lie.”

                                                                                                                                                                                            -Franz Kafka

 


 

The English Prime Challenge

English Prime

English Prime looks and sounds just like the everyday English language we use with family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers, with one major exception, the verb ‘to be’ and all it’s variants, i.e., is, was, am, will be, etc., are removed. By using English Prime, often referred to as E-Prime, one can communicate more clearly and realistically than otherwise. The verb ‘to be’ creates the illusion of absolute certainty and unequivocal truths. Sometimes, this is appropriate, such as the statement, the flower is planted in the pot, or when describing certain properties or qualities, such as the dog is hairy. Even then, the word ‘hairy’ can have many levels of meaning and as such is not terribly clear. When used in the context of identity, the word ‘is’ becomes very problematic. For example, the simple sentence ‘John is a troublemaker’ would appear to suggest that John makes trouble all the time everywhere. Moreover, it suggests that one’s own perception of the situation should be taken as truth, which it is not. Another person may perceive John as a goof off, but not a troublemaker.

A more accurate and realistic statement about John’s behavior might be something like, ‘the way I see it, John appears to behave as a troublemaker when at school.’ This conveys a point of view, in a given context, not an absolute universal truth; it presents an appearance of behaviors which are interpreted by the observer as being that of a troublemaker, in a particular setting; it does not imply equality between John the person and a specific set of behaviors, in a specific set of conditions. John may behave in a very helpful and compliant way with friends outside of school. John is very helpful would contradict John is a troublemaker. Which one true? Which one false? It depends on the observer, and on the context, the conditions under which those behaviors are being observed.

Let’s take another simple example: The sky is blue. Although this may seem the common experience, and does describe a property or quality of the sky, one would agree that the sky exhibits many shades of blue, at different times of the day; at night one would say the sky is black. E-Prime would remove the ‘is’ and replace it with something like ‘appears as.’ The sky does only appear as blue at some times, for many people, but not all people, at all times. By stating the sky is blue, the presumption becomes that it appears as blue for all people at all times, which it does not.

English Prime arose in the mid 1960’s out of General Semantics. Here is the main idea of General Semantics: ‘people can only know what they observe and experience when they see, hear, touch, taste, smell, think, and feel, and furthermore, that what they observe and experience can affect how they observe and experience in the future. Because each person has different experiences throughout their lives, they interpret their experiences differently’ (wikipedia.org). This way of understanding semantics (i.e., the science of meaning in language) aligns with modern quantum physics, in that the observer and the observed influence each other, that which we perceive becomes colored by the very act of perception itself. We don’t really experience an object as much as we experience our interaction with an object. Just about everything we call reality exists as a point of view, a perspective.

Another example, simple in structure and yet potent in effect, ‘I am depressed’ becomes ‘I feel depressed.’ There is a huge difference between being depressed and feeling depressed. In the former, we are identified as depressed; in the latter, we are experiencing a feeling or state of mind. Or, better yet, ‘I feel depressed when I make a mistake’ adding a context, a condition to that state of mind. And, even better than that, ‘I experience feelings I label as depressing when I make a mistake.’ The statement ‘I am depressed’ has an unrealistic absoluteness about it. Some proponents of E-Prime have stated that improper use of the verb ‘to be’ creates a kind of ‘deity mode of speech’ which allows “even the most ignorant to transform their opinions magically into god-like pronouncements on the nature of things” (wikipedia.org). Our point of view, our perspective, the ways in which we as an individual interact with our world, may appear to us as ‘our truth’ but, in fact, falls far short of Truth. Individual truth does not exist. Individual perception, interpretation, point of view and meaning does exist. Truth is; everything else: appears as. So, when you find yourself saying something like so and so is a such and such, or that I am such and such. Stop. Consider how you might phrase that using E-Prime. Take into account this idea of personal perspective, point of view, context and conditions, not an absolute, eternal fact. Up your game. Consider applying English Prime to your written and spoken words. It will require some rethinking, and rewording, of common phrases. The benefits include improved clarity of thought, speech and communication. It even has benefits in the realms of mental health. For some more information on the relationship of language and mental health, check out the blog posts Mental Health is Contained in Language, and Find The Meaning Of Your Life (In Simple Sentences).


 

Do You Need To Be Loved, Or Love To Be Needed?

love to be needed

We need to be loved. And, we love to be needed. I’m sure you have heard couple’s of all ages say to each other “I love you.” You would probably like hearing it said to you, if it’s not already. Sometimes when one person says “I love you” to another person, the response is “me too.” I find that an absurd response. What does it mean? That I love me too? A more appropriate response would be “I love you too” and even that isn’t terribly poignant. It’s kind of like someone asking “how are you” and you say “fine.” It’s automatic and somewhat meaningless. If someone significant in your life says to you “I love you” a good response is “to hear you say that makes me feel wonderful” or “I believe you and when I hear you say that I feel so good.”

What makes matters worse is that our culture uses the word “love” extremely loosely. We love that movie and we love that car and we love that restaurant and we love that song and we love that book and we love that place and we love that pair of jeans or that shirt or that dress or those pair of shoes……We’re just so filled with love!! And yet we have the arrogance to think that we can actually make love! Love, like money, is not made, it is earned. The only place that makes money is the United States Mint. Everyone else earns it (or steals it which requires some effort, so it’s working for it). .

Our American culture is linguistically impoverished when it comes to love. We really only have that one word to convey something which is more than a feeling; love is more like a state of being – as in “being in love.” You can tell a spouse that you care for them, trust them, respect them, need them, want them…you could even tell them you would do anything for them, even die for them, and they won’t perk up until you say you love them. It’s as if the word “love” is a drug and unless we hear that word spoken to us, we continue to crave it. Nothing else will do. Traditionally, there are three types of love: Eros which is erotic love, Phileos which is brotherly love and Agape which is spiritual love. In modern America, all we have is love. And, although the popular Beatles song “all you need is love” may be true, we need to uplift love from its mundane, overused, misunderstood place in our culture to a recognition of its true stature.

Too often, when a person says “I love you” what they really want to hear in response is the same thing. They are actually saying “I want to hear you say you love me so I’m going to say I love you.” And then you are supposed to say “I love you too.” Or, the ridiculous “me too.” The phrase “I love you” though, is generally not true. It would be more honest to say “I like you a lot” or “I feel very compatible with you” or “I feel very comfortable with you.” However, a much more honest replacement statement for “I love you” is “I need you.” Of course, that doesn’t go over as well as “I love you.” Yet, it’s much more truthful. Our need to belong, to be connected, to be intimate is very strong. What we often love in the other person is that they are satisfying a need of ours to be connected to another person. Our need to be connected motivates a great deal of our late adolescent and adult behavior.

However, the satisfaction of that need to be connected is not necessarily love. Love is, by definition, unconditional positive acceptance of any person at any time under any condition who might be exhibiting any behavior. And, as a people, we’re not very good at that. We may not approve of the behavior; however, to love is to accept the person, without judgment, criticism or complaint. Although we can talk about “tough love” it might be better to call it “tough caring” as love is not tough – or rough. Nor is it bitter sweet. To quote I Corinthians (13:4-8a) “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

So, the question then arises, when we hear all these couples say “I love you” what’s really being said? The answer, I believe, is “I need you to need me.” And, there should be no shame or guilt or embarrassment in needing. Everybody needs others. No one likes being alone. We can deteriorate mentally and emotionally when alone in much the same way the body withers away without food. We need companionship, friendship, partners, colleagues and acquaintances. We need to belong, to be part of and contained within something larger than our individual self. We often mistakenly think that by hearing someone say to us “I love you” that all our needs for belonging and connectedness are met. They are not. This can become evident after several years of a relationship or a marriage when one or both parties find themselves needing more than the relationship can offer. Then, thinking another relationship will provide the satisfaction sought, we find ourselves entering another relationship only to find several years down the road that this new relationship by itself too does not satisfy the belonging needs.

If in fact we need to be loved, that need will be satisfied through belonging. We can belong to, and participate in, a family, a company, a community, a society and even global endeavors. By belonging and participating we will grow to feel loved by others (in the brotherly love sense of the word) and the need to be loved will be satisfied. If in fact we love to be needed, then we can have what we love through the very same activities as those that satisfied our need to be loved. For by participating in family, community, professional, social and global endeavors, we become a needed part of the larger whole. Participation in activities larger than our individual self satisfies our need to be needed by others.

The answer to the question that is the title of this article is both. We need both to be loved and we love to be needed – we need to be needed. Being needed makes us feel that we belong. Belonging makes us feel loved. We can achieve both by the single path of participation in something larger than our individual self. Whether it’s family, work, community volunteer work, social activism or a little bit of each, we can find our need to be loved and our love to be needed satisfied. From that satisfaction, we can begin to love others. We can even share that satisfaction with a significant other making our primary relationship based on belonging needs that are already at least in part satisfied rather than placing the entire burden of that satisfaction on the relationship itself. This kind of primary relationship can last a very long time and does contribute to happiness.