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Humans are the only animals that can conceptualize and think about themselves in an abstract manner. Happiness comes from caring about something greater than yourself.
There are two selves - the physical, and the conceptual. We try to keep our conceptual self alive past the death of our physical self - “immortality projects”, as all the meaning in our life is shaped by our innate desire to never truly die.
“The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.” says Mark Manson.
This is referred to as “the backwards law” by Alan Watts. One must be comfortable with being different, not being indifferent. It’s important not to put too much thought and care into adversity in the face of your own goals.
The hedonic treadmill - our innate tendency to revert to default levels of happiness despite temporary spikes in happiness - prevents us from being in a constant state of euphoria; in short, we are wired to be dissatisfied. In fact, without pain, we wouldn’t know what joy is, and without sadness, we wouldn’t know what happiness is.
We should pick problems that we enjoy solving to reach true happiness; once we know what we are willing to struggle for and what pains we want in our lives, we will be much more motivated to succeed. Our struggles determine our successes.
Tough as it may sound, one must not be delusional about one’s achievements - entitlement is a failed strategy.
There is a general fear of accepting of being average, while our lives are being filled with the extremes of the bell curve of human experience.
Many people are looking for short-term highs over long-term, profound happiness. Many have their lives centered around values such as material success, pleasure, always being right, or always staying positive.
These values can be socially destructive, not controllable nor immediate. Better values should be the opposite of that. And since self-improvement is about prioritizing better values, we must strive to make the right choices.
Being overburdened by incoming problems makes us feel victimized. The feeling that we are choosing our own problems, however, makes us feel empowered.
We don’t always control what is happening to us, but we can control how we choose to feel about it.
Our mind’s biggest priority when processing experiences is to interpret them in such a way that they will cohere with all of our previous experiences, feelings, and beliefs - what is known as “the false memory syndrome”.
Manson’s Law of Avoidance says that “the more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it”. We must consider that we might be wrong, our issues might not be as important as we may believe, and that our thoughts can be just thoughts, without having to accept them.
There is a pipeline which we can follow: action leads to inspiration, which leads to motivation.
The “do something” principle states that inspiration is seen as a reward, not as a prerequisite, and failure feels unimportant. Doing something can be your only metric of success; in the end, life is about not knowing and then doing something anyway.
To have an identity of our own, there are things which we must say no to.
There are, for example, toxic relationships, victim-saver pairs, which we must learn to reject. Without conflict, there can be no trust, and trust is like a china plate - break it once, you can put it back together with time and care. Break it again, and it becomes a big mess of tiny pieces.
Humans are the only animals that can conceptualize and think about themselves in an abstract manner.
Happiness comes from caring about something greater than yourself. There are two selves - the physical, and the conceptual.
We try to keep our conceptual self alive past the death of our physical self - “immortality projects”, as all the meaning in our life is shaped by our innate desire to never truly die.
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