Category Archives: Mind

Irrational people

Every now and then I hear (or read) something that is so unbelievably moronic/stupid/irrational/etc, that after a moment passes by, I actually say to myself the following: “Hold on, did I actually just hear that? Did that really happen or did I somehow twist the events?” And I hate that I’m questioning my reality, questioning my mind in such a way that suggests I have no confidence in my mind. I quickly ‘snap out of it’ and realise that yes, it did happen, and no, I’m not twisting the events in some subconscious way. It’s just that, what was done or said, the severity of that action, the level of irrationality strikes at me in such a way that I guess I can’t help but to question whether it was what I perceived. And I’m not talking about foolish things, or something that someone said out of ignorance, but rather, a statement said or action done using nothing but the thinking faculty of your mind, and relying on nothing else but your mind, no knowledge of anything, just a simple statement/action that requires a process of mental thought.

I won’t get into examples, because I honestly don’t want to think about them. This entry is more of a rant as I found myself thinking about certain things, as I do. For instance, I came to the realisation a short while ago that there’s perhaps a subconscious reason as to why I’ve always been drawn towards the likes of science and maths. That fact that there’s so much order, all these laws/identities that can’t be broken or contradicted, the fact that this computer I’m using is functioning on technology that was made in an absolute reality, technology brought about by human minds applying reason, applying their knowledge to bring about order; it’s this that I admire most about engineering.

There was a time where I tried to involve myself in the “Arts” side of things, mainly in senior high school (and a bit after), and I’ve wondered why I never picked up on a lot of the stuff that was being taught. Was it because I just simply could not understand the book/play that we were reading? Or could it be that there is such a lack of order, of contradictions in the humanities, that I was just put off it all? I remember reading a statistic somewhere, that the vast majority of college students in America who have either experimented or are regular users of drugs (so the likes of marijuana, ecstasy, etc) are from the humanities departments. I’m not surprised and I can see why. It’s a shame that the arts/humanities is so low today, where a series of books about a teenage girl who wants to become a vampire sells more than actual quality novels. Or how a lot of people end up reading a book after they’ve seen the movie adaptation, because they wouldn’t have heard of it otherwise (better late than never hey?)

If I can get into an electrical/electronics engineering firm with mostly rational, intelligent people, then I’ll be happy (although going from what I’ve heard, it’s not usually the case). Otherwise I think I’ll just establish a lab of my own and live out my life amongst oscilloscopes, function generators, voltage sources, PCBs and countless components. At least I know what to expect when working with those devices (and when I don’t, the results are always pleasing), or what response I’ll get out of a circuit if a number of components are positioned in a certain way. I can see why scientists are stereotypically portrayed as staying indoors, away from other people, having no ‘lives’ (according to todays standards), etc, because there’s an element of truth to that stereotype. And the reason why such people would have lived detached from ‘society’ may as well be that they couldn’t stand the irrationality of the world, and perhaps they couldn’t identify the nature of this irrationality, so the natural response is to immerse yourself into a world of order.

Well I might not go so far as to become some sort of a ‘recluse’, just that at times the idea is so tempting. /End rant.


Living in fear and the cycle it brings about

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. But I’ve come to the realisation that a lot of us (including myself) live in fear. It’s not a direct type of fear that you can immediately identify (for instance, fear for your life), but it’s more of a subconscious type.

I’ve observed that all of my friends (and other acquaintances) live in this state of fear where they dig out this niche for themselves in their own life, and reach a level of contentedness, having avoided all risks and opportunities (plus obligations). I know that they don’t like changing their surroundings if they’re already comfortable with their life; even if it’s living at home, on welfare, or working at a coffee shop, or working in your chosen field, yet living your life as if you expect to be homeless at any moment (keep in mind they all have degrees and live at home). I know that they’re afraid to make big decisions that will put them on a completely different track of self-development, career development and ultimately life-development. They’re the type who say “Think of what could go wrong” where they always focus on the negative, on their fear.

The problem with this mind-set is that, once a person grounds it in themselves that they won’t make any major decisions that will derail from their mediocre existence (and possibly lead to an exceptional existence), based on the premise that “something could go wrong”, you enter this cycle of thought. Perhaps every now and then you’ll make a small step in a direction that requires you to take risks, and if something doesn’t work out the way you expected, you quickly retreat back into that niche, into that familiar shell, and you (sub)consciously reaffirm that thought to yourself, that something will go wrong, and because it did, it’s best to stay where you are; thus the cycle ensues. Or if you know someone who ends up taking those risks that you’d never see yourself doing, you might think “that’s crazy, don’t they see how risky that is?” and if it turns out that things didn’t go to plan for that person (a business start up fails for instance), you enter that cycle again where you reaffirm that thought pattern to yourself, of avoiding anything that takes you away from your comfortable, mediocre life.

I know that this mindset isn’t limited to my friends, but to many other people. I once harboured such fear driven thoughts, “think of what could go wrong”, and looking back it was silly of me to think in such a way because now I see what opportunities I have missed out on. But I’m not the type to dwell on the past. I don’t like this type of mindset, and I know that it’s hard to change your surroundings, to throw yourself into something unknown, but isn’t that what everyone’s life should be about?

These days it’s all about getting that secure job (we all want stability, but at what price to our inner freedom?), all about pleasing everyone else (at what price to our integrity and confidence?), all about getting into that monotonous routine that will guarantee you a safe, near stable life, where you won’t have to venture outside of your comfort zone, because by then the breaks you applied to your mind years ago have completely stopped any progress and all there is left to do for you is wait and die.

Another fear driven action is doing a job that you hate, but you’re afraid to quit because of the pay, because it brings you financial stability, security, etc. Aren’t you better off to be doing something that you genuinely love to do, and not doing it out of fear? I realise people have mortages to pay off, families, and so on, and in those instances there isn’t a whole lot I can say, but I’m mainly talking about people who are mostly independent of such obligations (or who have the choice before they take on such obligations).

We shouldn’t have to do things because of fear, rather because of the happiness that comes about. Another example is pursuing a relationship with someone because of the fear of being alone. I won’t get into explanations on this one but it revolves around the whole idea of living in fear. Basing your life actions/choices on fear will ultimately lead to unhappiness and this is the reason why I think a lot of people these days are unhappy. They’re either in a job they hate (but it’s too late to quit or make a dramatic change if they have a mortage/family) or they’re in a relationship with a person whom they know isn’t right for them, but are afraid to be ‘alone’. There’s also another fear driven lifestyle; people who are afraid of what others will think of them, so they act accordingly, they don’t show their true selves, and by the time they realise this, they don’t even know who their true self is.

Edit:

I just want to add this great quote by Theodore Roosevelt. It relates to my post because it shows what it means to live a life as a fearless human:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

It’s from a longer speech of his, which you can read here.

 

 


What it means to have an active mind

Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means for a person to have an active mind that is constantly thinking and questioning (as opposed to a passive one).

For example: we’ve all heard in some form or another that “coffee is good for you…coffee is bad for you” and it’s always backed by some sort of ‘study’ done up by some ‘scientists’. I think that most people would just accept which ever conclusion suited to their own beliefs and reaffirm it to themselves with the claim that the study was conducted by a group of scientists. Most people wouldn’t even question the validity of the study nor question the actual scientists because the general view is that they’re all rational, intelligent people who are not swayed by personal beliefs and as such one can leave all the thinking up to them.

Now someone with an active mind would take the time to research into the effects of coffee, look into these studies and form a conclusion on their own, based on their understanding. A passive type of person wouldn’t think about it, but would say “if it was done by scientists, then that’s good enough for me” and they go about their usual routine of seeking out distractions rather than exercising their mind. Now I don’t mean to say that any person who doesn’t go out of their way to research into a study (such as the consumption of coffee) about some topic, doesn’t have an active mind. Seeking out an answer for something as trivial as coffee consumption doesn’t determine whether you have an active mind; rather my point is that a person with an active mind is someone who seeks answers and the truth in any facet of their life (even if it’s about one topic of interest).

A person with active mind will know to be alert and to always be questioning and formulating answers, not evading them. Having said this, I don’t think that many people (at least the many people I’ve had encounters with) have this type of active mind where they’re always questioning and seeking answers. Sure you have your varying levels when it comes to the type of (active or passive) mind you have, but I think that most people lean towards the passive side.

I’ve noticed that with a lot of people that  I know (ranging from friends to co-workers, to acquaintences), when ever they have some spare time (so whether it’s on a lunch break, on public transport, or just a free day) they don’t use that time to be productive, rather they usually have a smartphone in their hands or a Nintendo DS or watch some TV show or some other form of entertainment that’s designed to assist you in seeking out those everyday distractions that don’t require any serious thought. It’s so easy to take the ‘easy way out’ when given the option of exercising your mind or playing a game on your phone. All my friends are like that and I’ve noticed that there’s only so far I can take an intellectual type of conversation with them.

I think that if you spend most of your free time (so by free time I mean any time outside of work, university, or whatever your daily routine is) preoccupying your mind with mindless entertainment (so anything that requires next to no effort from your mind), you put a halt on the development of your intellectual self (this is particularly true of children, then again most adults who take this path started off like that as children) and you reach a certain mental level where you subconsciously go for the easy way out when there’s no immediate benefit to you (as opposed to thinking about the long term benefits, for instance: actively working every day to better yourself in a chosen field, whilst painstakingly difficult at the time, rewarding in the long run). I know it’s hard to change certain aspects of yourself after years of making such habits, but I don’t think the majority of people realise what this does to your mind.

Since you’ve allowed yourself to think only about the immediate benefits, on the short-range, you condition your mind in such a way where you actively seek out anything to preoccupy your mind with, and that doesn’t always contribute to the advancement of your life/career. You won’t know how to challenge certain ideas, how to challenge politicians and other people who are more knowledgeable than you. There’s a saying that goes “knowledge is power” and it’s very true. Those who don’t possess any knowledge are leaving their minds at the mercy of anyone who can identify their vulnerability and use it against them by persuading/convincing them to adopt their views. Once someone comes onto the stage who seems to know what they’re talking about, who shows some form of confidence, well who is the average person who has never bothered to exercise their mind to question them? How would they know to question them? What questions would they bring up? etc.

The type of society that the Western world has reduced itself to encourages this type of thinking, of taking the easy way out, of turning to your smartphone to play that game, of doing anything that will preoccupy your mind for that moment, and this is all so easy to do owing to the countless TV shows, electronic devices and other products that we have (I’m not attacking technology though). This all reminds me of an interesting ‘comic’ I read a while ago entitled “Huxley vs. Orwell” and I think that it’s very much true. Then again hasn’t humanity always been like this? Thinking back to the Roman empire where they had those gladiator games that would get the local population worked up and have them something to look forward to. In a way it is a form of control and the Roman leaders knew this all too well that pacifying a people is the best way to rule them. These days it isn’t the government that’s doing that, but the culture and the so called ‘intellectuals’ who seek to undermine what the Western world really represents. The worse part about it all is that I truly believe that any Western government could care less, that it wants its population to preoccupy itself with mindless entertainment, to leave everything up to the government, to not bother themselves with thinking, but to leave that up to politicians and ‘intellectuals’.

I’ve even found myself giving in to such mindless distractions every now and then, and I understand how hard it can be to get yourself out of such habits when you’ve conditioned your mind to such an extent. But that’s when I remind myself to ‘step out’ and take a look at myself from the outside, see what I’m doing wrong and how I should go about to rectify it. Whilst I’ve always focused mostly on exercising my mind, on reading a book on a topic that interests me, reading a magazine on engineering related topics, or anything else that makes me think, I’ve only just identified the nature of this ‘habit’ or ‘thought pattern’, within the past year or so, and I’m glad that I have since I realised how easy it is to find yourself wound up in your life, in obligations, paying bills, trying to make ends meet, etc. I realise that once you get into the cycle of preoccupying your mind with mindless entertainment, once you’ve conditioned your mind to only expect that, it’s incredibly difficult to change.

Pretty long post so I’ll leave it there.