Once upon a time a king went to his wise men and made an extraordinary request.
“I would like you to make me something that will bring me joy when I am sad.”
A ring was then crafted, and engraved upon it was the simple Persian phrase:
“This too shall pass,” which did exactly what the king wanted it to. It reminded him in the difficult times that there was an ending in sight to the suffering. However, what he failed to realize at the time of his request, that the phrase would also do the opposite. When you are in times of joy and jubilation, “this too shall pass”.
Everything in life is transitory. All the sorrow and the joy that you experience are things that will pass you by, no matter how powerful they seem at the time. That isn’t how people see things, however. They strive for the notion of “being happy”, as though it was some state of being in which they can dwell all the time.
It’s impossible. Its very value is in the fact that it is not forever. If it were, it would be meaningless to you. This may in part be the reason that psychopaths are often extremely bored. It may be from a lack of actual suffering. I am in a state of constant contentedness. Granted, there is some fluctuation down, such as being annoyed or irritated, but neither of these is an emotion, instead, they are a mood. Moods don’t have the power that emotions in neurotypicals do. In fact, they are very short-lived, and not particularly powerful. They may dictate that I take action to solve a problem, but they aren’t going to determine my outlook on things.
From what I see in other people, there is a veritable ocean of emotional experiences that they may go through on a daily basis. The ups are countered heavily with the downs, and often I think that the downs get more attention than the upswings. This seems to cause a lot of problems for many people, and what I can say without question is that mindset has a great deal to do with this.
Let’s say you have a chore that you have to do tomorrow. You don’t want to do it, and you know that it may be arduous. You have a few ways you can handle this, and I would like to discuss those ways to maybe give you some insight on how your outlook can change the experience of your life.
You procrastinate and avoid the chore. You dread it and find every little reason to keep yourself from having to do whatever it is. You don’t go to bed until much later than you usually do. You oversleep. You find eighteen different things that suddenly require your immediate attention. Anything from having to do whatever that thing is that you are avoiding. Finally, when you know you have no choice, you do whatever it is, and you do so grudgingly.
Another option may be that you aren’t the type to procrastinate. You know what has to be done, you don’t want to do it, but it is better to get it out of the way than to have to dread doing it all day. You go to bed on time, you get up early and drink your coffee, then you are ready to get it over and done with. The sooner the better, this is more like ripping off a bandage than it is anything else. The chore gets done, and you are glad to have it over with. Now you can go on with your day.
It seems that a lot of times people fall into one of these two categories. I am more the second one because I don’t have the emotional availability to dread and brood over something that simply needs to be down. I know a lot of people that fall into the first category, and a few that fall into the second. They all, however, seem to be missing something that would make life a little bit easier.
The mindset of both options is one of seeing the needed work as something that they would rather not have anything to do with. I get it, who wants to shovel all that?
That sort of looks like hell on earth. However, if that is how you think of it, that is how it will be for you. It will be a slog.
How you think about something, before you ever endeavor to undertake it, will decide for you how that event will transpire. If you think of it as something to dread, then you will want to avoid doing it. If you think about it as something to get over and done with, you may rush through it and make mistakes that you will have to spend the time to correct later on.
This too shall pass.
No matter what it is that you have to do, be it a good thing, or something that you would rather have dental surgery than getting involved with, those things won’t last forever. They are blips in a much larger picture that makes up your life. There are always going to be things that you have to do that aren’t “fun”, but are necessary actions that we all must do. They are an inevitable part of daily life.
If you spend all day every day avoiding things that aren’t enjoyable or despising the things that you do, but hate, your life will be markedly worse off for it. You either will end up with a laundry list of things that you have put off, and allowed to pile up to the point that they now seem overwhelming, or you will just be white-knuckling it to get through a daily grind.
People think that there is this state that they will get to one day in which they will be happy all the time. They will love their body, their mind, their bank account, their family and friends won’t annoy them anymore, they will be in a state of great joy. That’s not the way life works though. Life is a series of struggles with good things laced along the way.
If you always had everything easily handed to you, you would be bored. You wouldn't enjoy those high notes as much as you do. I get it, you would like many more high notes and far less sour ones, but that is largely dependant on you. Your mindset, how you see things, how you approach things all heavily play into your enjoyment of your own life.
How much are you giving displeasure and unhappiness power in your life? If you find life to be a rather miserable experience, a great deal of that has to do with how you have shifted your mindset to focus on the things that make you unhappy. I don’t know you, and I don’t know what you are going through, but I do know this. Suffering is unavoidable. You will suffer in life, and there is no way around it. How you think about that suffering can change a lot for your perceptions.
Being around neurotypicals as long as I have, I have noticed something. There is a feedback loop that is very addicting when it comes to negativity. If you focus on it, it grows in strength. The more you feed it, the stronger it gets. Once you have trained your mind to find the negative in things, that is what it will do without fail, every single time. You are providing for yourself a well-worn trail of suffering, and every day you widen it, reinforce it, and make it easier to traverse.
Back to those chores that you didn’t want to do in the morning. Next time that you are facing this situation, try adjusting how you are considering it. Instead of feeding the dread or the procrastination, instead, try thinking about it in a way that gives it a positive light. This is much like the notion of silver linings. There are positive sides to everything in the world. You have to find what they are, and you have to make them what you are going to focus on. Once you do this, you will be able to get your mind to look for them more automatically.
From what I can tell there is something very powerful about being a victim. This seems to be a mentality that isn’t going to get people anywhere in life, but it certainly can generate some sympathy. Why that is something that anyone would want escapes me entirely. I have never liked sympathy or pity of any kind. It appears to me to feedback into that negative loop and does nothing to correct or even assist with the issue at hand.
How you approach hard things, or unwanted things, will change how those things turn out for you. If you are so focused on being negative about it or avoiding it, you are cheating yourself and those around you. You model that for your children if you have any, and you entrench yourself in a place that is nearly impossible to get out of.
When you program your brain to take on things with vigor or even cheerfulness, you are giving yourself a real advantage in life. It can also separate you from the impact of bad things. They are going to happen. There is nothing that can be done about that. You are going to have to do things that you don’t particularly like doing. There is nothing that you can do about that either.
You can decide however to not give any more power to those things than they already have. You have to do them, sure, but you can find something about them that makes them less terrible. Mindset has everything to do with that. If you are always stuck thinking that this sucks, it will suck. It will suck forevermore, and you will still have to deal with it. Which would you prefer? Going through your day dreading everything about it and waiting for that flash of happiness? Or would you rather approach things in a way that encourages you to feel happy even while doing things that aren’t your favorite?
You can’t banish tedious things, but you can banish the mindset that they are tedious. Good things, bad things, they come and go. Your mind is constant, and you are in charge of it. I know, you have things to contend with that I do not comprehend. Emotions make things difficult, but they can be trained. Train them to provide you a mindset, don’t reward them for keeping you in a bad one.
Kevin Dutton wrote an article some years ago that he titled, “The Psychopath Manifesto”, in which he offered tips for being in a more psychopathic-like mindset for your own benefit. The tips were:
Focus on the positive.
Practice realistic optimism by focusing on the positive in every situation. It will help you to stay motivated and find the ability to spot new opportunities all around you to learn, grow & be challenged.
Have the courage to stick to your beliefs.
Commit to what you believe in and don’t let others’ opinions or “should’s” influence your behaviour (as long as your beliefs are not having a negative impact on your health & happiness, or the health & happiness of those around you).
Don’t take things personally.
Associate setbacks or challenges with unfortunate circumstances, not as something tied to your inability to perform. Reposition rejections as learning opportunities and as something which simply wasn’t meant to be at that point in time.
Don’t overly analyse or criticise yourself.
Learn to be self-compassionate. It’s great to learn from the feedback you receive but don’t overdo it. Naturally humans already have the negativity bias which means negativity sticks longer & stronger than the positive, so really make an effort to find the good in what you do by asking, “What did go right? What did I do well?“.
Be fearless. Just do it.
Procrastination is one of the key drivers of being unproductive, which in turn drives frustration and other negative emotions. In the end, you’ve got to face your fears and the only way to overcome them is through action. So the quicker you adopt a fearless attitude, the quicker you’ll be able to act, and the more enjoyable your journey towards your dreams will be.
Stay in the present.
Be mindful of where are you are and what you do. The more you are able to live in the moment, the more you will be able to cherish the positive emotions and keep hold of them for longer.
I will be doing a longer post on these tips, plus a few more that he has said at other times, but I am including them now because they are exactly what I am speaking about in this post. He did a very nice job of summing up how psychopaths see the world in just a few short suggestions.
How you see the world will absolutely adjust your experience in it. If you are always looking for the bad, it will most definitely find you. Look for the good, and you will have a much more pleasant life.