Category: books

Chasing Unicorns: Chapter 2, Zombie Theory, Part 1

Tap cover, to read.

This is the latest installation of a 27-part series, featuring my book, Chasing Unicorns. To read the previous installation, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next post in this series, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. To read the entire book at once, tap the book cover. Thanks for reading!

RECAP: The previous chapter ended with me sticking an otoscope in your ear, to gander at the mental machinery of your mind, and how it produces happiness. Now that I’ve maneuvered past all the wax, let’s see what we’ve discovered:

Zombie Theory, Part 1

Life is change, and life is automatically enjoyed. But not all change is automatically experienced. So the key to finding more enjoyment in life is to discover how to experience more change.

Wait, what did he say?

The first paragraph of this chapter encompasses, in a nutshell, how your mind produces happiness. You might want to read it a couple of times to kind of get a feel for it. I don’t expect you to understand it completely at this point. It’s complicated, you see. So I’m going to break it down in a way that makes it simple to understand. It’s just going to require a few thousand more words than I used in the first paragraph.

So let’s kill a tree and move on . . .

Zombie Theory

First of all, let’s take on those preposterous sounding first three words: Life is change. Well life is a lot of things. Everyone seems to have their own definition. Some say that life is anything organic and biological (such as cow manure?). Some folks get real scientific and say that life must have the following things: homeostasis, organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, stimuli response, and reproduction. Whew! You think my first paragraph was complicated?

The Buddha defined it by saying that life is suffering. Christ claimed to be the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6. Really, it’s in there.).

And then there are some philosophers who are so stupid, they say that everything is alive. What a bunch of ignoramuses!

Actually, I follow the philosophers who say everything is alive. That’s because I make a preposterous claim. I say that life is change. And that paints me into a corner, because everything is constantly changing. Therefore I have to admit that if life is change, and if everything is constantly changing, then everything must be alive.

This logic is like a herd of elephants connected trunk-to-tail. One behemoth follows the other, and no one survives who gets in their way. Likewise no argument survives that says there can be lifelessness in an environment where life is defined as change.

Just glance around, and you’ll see nothing but life. And that’s because everything occupying your visual field is constantly changing (unless you need glasses). Whether it be a mountain or a titmouse, it never stays the same for longer than an instant. Mountains are constantly eroding or growing, and a titmouse, well, just what is a titmouse anyway?

No, it’s not a rodent with a big nipple and long tail scampering around your cupboards stealing your cheese and crackers. Actually it’s a bird—a little chickadee. And if it’s not constantly changing by flitting about pecking at seeds and berries, then it’s probably dead. And if it’s dead, then it’s decomposing. And that’s change, too.

Yeah, so that means even the dead body of a bird is alive. Or any dead body for that matter. It’s constantly decomposing, so it’s constantly changing. Since it’s constantly changing, it’s constantly alive.

Which pushes me to an extreme when I discuss this philosophy. Before I teeter off the very edge of this limb I’ve gone out on, I’m going to have to give my philosophy some credence by christening it with a name. It’s well known amongst the academic world of intellectuals that when you label a paradigm of thought with a name, it lends credence and commands respectability.

So I’m going to name my philosophy Zombie Theory. By giving it this name, it allows that even dead bodies must be alive, and it commands that all intellectuals pay respectful homage to such a notion.

And when you think about it, if even a dead body is alive, then maybe there’s some truth to that movie, Night of the Living Dead. I watched it many years ago when I was a child. And it still keeps me awake at night. That’s because some of the people I associate with leave me wondering if the movie is based on fact.

Zombie Theory, in short, states that life is change. Therefore even dead bodies are alive, because they are constantly changing through the process of decomposition.

[Tomorrow I’ll delve more into deciphering the first paragraph of this chapter. And maybe I’ll get some help with my secret, decoder ring.]

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Chasing Unicorns: Chapter 1, Happiness Isn’t Fun, Part 2

Tap cover, to read.

This is the latest installation of a 27-part series, featuring my book, Chasing Unicorns. To read the previous installation, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next post in this series, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. To read the entire book at once, tap the book cover. Thanks for reading!

RECAP: In the previous installation, I pompously asserted that there are wrong ways to seek extra happiness, that aren’t effective. The final paragraph read as follows:

“But where there’s a wrong way there’s also a right way. And it’s simple. I’ll show you. I’m going to describe a worry-free way to turn around. U-turns are only stressful when there’s a cop watching. But right now they’re all on a donut break, so you can relax and spin that steering wheel. And even do a few donuts of your own, in the process.”

Happiness Isn’t Fun, Part 2

If you know what you’re doing, genuine, extra happiness is as simple to find as breathing fresh air on a mountaintop. And it’s much more impressive. When you’re genuinely more happy, no one will doubt that you’ve met society’s mandate to always have a nice day. They might doubt your sanity sometimes, but they won’t doubt your positive frame of mind. It will be obvious. And in fact it may be so obvious that some may actually become jealous. They’ll say “Oh Shit!” when you say, “Bingo!” Then you’ll be very happy, while they’ll be very mad.

So relax. Open up your mind. Don’t sweat. You’ll feel relieved to know that the method for finding more and more happiness is such an easy-to-learn method. And so natural. It involves a process that is as natural as the movement of your bowels after a steady diet of prunes and refried beans.

And when you find it you’ll be able to flush that unnatural fake smile of yours right down the toilet.

And think of what you will save:

Put away your credit card. You’ll save money, because it won’t cost you a cent. You’ll save time, because the simple method to boosting your happiness can be followed as you go about the business of your everyday life. You won’t have to do anything embarrassing, so you’ll save face. And the effort you make will be a natural and productive effort. It will require some extra energy, but you’ll save energy in the long run.

More importantly, the durable smile you’ll paint on your face will be as genuine as the beaming visage of someone who just inherited their great-aunt’s vast estate. So you’ll save yourself from the mental effort of trying to prove to others that you’re happy.

The key is in understanding how your mind produces happiness. Once you solve this mystery you’ll know what you must do in order to increase its productivity levels. No one will be able to fool you anymore. You’ll see how to loosen and release yourself from the fetters of unreliable methods and suspicious sources. Expensive psychologists (who often shrink minds, rather than expand them), demanding religious institutions (where the virtue of generosity seems to be preached in every other sermon), mind-altering substances (where the Stone Age is romanticized), and other dead-ends to delight will lose their power over you.

Enjoyment can come from nowhere except your own mind. You’ve probably heard something like this before, usually from someone with a smarmy, know-it-all attitude. “Happiness comes from within,” they might chime, like some wise guru expostulating on a mountaintop. This is a cliché that we’re all familiar with. But it can be a maddening cliché when you don’t understand how that happiness is produced from within.

No one likes re-runs. But when you don’t know how happiness is produced, there’s a temptation to try to repeat an enjoyable experience, to lift your sagging spirits. Maybe you do this—maybe you try to recreate the circumstances that were present at the time of the experience. But if you try this often enough, you’ll learn how impossible it is to succeed.

So for instance, let’s say you’ve had a rip roarin’ good time in a whorehouse. In order to repeat the feeling, you might try going back to that same bordello and finding the same prostitute to do business with. But the second time may not be the same as the first. Maybe the hoebag doesn’t work there anymore. Or perhaps she’s in a bad mood, or feeling real tired. Or maybe your own mood has turned. Or perhaps the ambiance of the facilities has changed.

It’s impossible to exactly recreate the circumstances of any prior experience. But even when you come close, the amount of happiness produced may still be very different.

This is because happiness depends mainly upon the inner workings of your mind, and not upon external circumstances. What triggers happiness in you today may not trigger the same amount of happiness tomorrow. So if you try to recreate an experience, it’s just like dropping a few quarters into a defective vending machine. Last time, you liked the Doritos. So you push the button for the Doritos again, but alas, they fail to fall to the bottom. So then you shake the machine, but alas, it tips over and squashes you.

No, don’t depend on defective vending machines. There’s another kind of machine that’s much more reliable. It’s the machinery of your own mind. And it has cogs, flywheels, pulleys, and belts that won’t fail you. As long as you understand how they work. You’ll learn in the next three chapters how these machinations of your mind produce happiness. And in the final three chapters, you’ll learn about things you can do to better operate this machinery. It has something to do with hunting unicorns, but that’s all I’m saying about that for now. I want to avoid confusing everyone by getting too far ahead of myself.

After you read the next three chapters, you’ll be like an engineer following a blueprint. You’ll realize what must be done to up your mind’s happiness production. And you’ll discover that the task is surprisingly simple, even when not obvious. In fact, you may discover that all of your best efforts you’re currently employing are actually just throwing a monkey wrench into the works. And so you’ll be able to drop those efforts like a hot anvil, and stop toiling so hard.

And this is a very natural way to become happier, this cessation from fruitless toiling. Especially if you’re as lazy as me.

Let’s take a look at this mental machinery right now. Let me stick this otoscope in your ear. And let’s have a gander at the inner workings of your mind . . .

###

Chasing Unicorns: Chapter 1, Happiness Isn’t Fun, Part 1

Tap cover, to read.

This is the latest installation of a 27-part series, featuring my book, Chasing Unicorns. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next post in this series, CLICK THIS LINK. To read the entire book at once, tap the book cover. Thanks for reading!

Happiness Isn’t Fun, Part 1

Happiness isn’t fun. Not during those times when we’re unhappy. Most people are generally happy, most of the time. But we do have our moments. We can’t always be happy, all the time.

But that’s no excuse. In our society, you MUST be happy ALL the time, or else people will think there’s something wrong with you. And they’ll badger the hell out of you until you paint a fake smile on your face, just to get rid of them.

This can leave you wondering if there really might be something wrong with you. And so even though you’re generally happy, you may seek ways to be happier. You may want happiness 24/7. Yes, you may want to be smiling, giggling, and chuckling, all day and all night long, just so you and everyone else will know that you’re not insane.

And yet, this is much easier said than done. Boosting your level of happiness can be hard work. Happiness is fickle, and depends on many variables, so you can’t just will it, and make it come true. In fact, you might rather try digging ditches, than work on improving your mood. Trying to be happier than you are, can be a dreadful chore.

People try many different techniques to improve their happiness. For instance, some search for their extra chuckles at the bottom of a beer bottle. Or at the sales aisle in a department store. Or in a church, as a bigshot volunteer. Yet extra happiness can be elusive, and they often come up empty-handed and frustrated.

They may even conclude that improving happiness is a myth.

Why, you’d think that all these frustrated happiness-seekers would give up searching. Especially the ones who think it’s a myth. But they don’t. They can’t. And neither can you.

You can’t give up on your search for more happiness. Ever. You’re not allowed. People won’t let you. They mandate you to be happy all the time. Want to know what I mean? Well, just go shopping. It seems that even if you spend an outrageous amount of money for low-quality goods, some asshole at the checkout stand is going to tell you to “Have a nice day!”

And if you’re feeling blue and want to be left alone, you’d better paint a smile on your face. Otherwise everyone will be asking what’s wrong and giving you advice for improving your spirits.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone.”

Not true.

Actually, when you laugh everyone treats you like you’re nuts, and they start avoiding you. Especially when you laugh incessantly while walking down a busy sidewalk, holding your ear, and staring at the ground. You’re given a wide berth.

But if you want to attract a crowd, just start crying. Then a bunch of well-meaning folks will surround you and ask what’s wrong. It could be anything. Maybe you just lost the lotto. Or perhaps you broke a shoelace. Tell them what’s wrong and then they’ll give you all kinds of helpful and unhelpful tips on how to “cure” your distraught state of mind. They might even slap you around a bit. No one can stand having an unhappy person in their midst. They’ve got to cure it and make you happy, even if it kills you.

Sometimes you have to really try hard to prove that you’re happy. That’s how you keep people off your case, so they don’t pester you like a swarm of gadflies. Like, if you want to keep your wife from interrogating you over suspected dissatisfaction with the marriage, you’d better smile as you stuff that warmed-up tamale pie casserole down your throat and listen to her gab away about whatever it is she’s talking about.

Or if you want to stay employed and move up the ladder, you’d better smile at your mean-spirited boss. No one wants to keep a disgruntled employee around. Especially mean-spirited bosses. They expect you to be happy all the time, no matter how lousy they treat you.

And it helps to learn the weather report every morning. That way you can spend the rest of the day updating bozos about the next cold front coming in. That gives you an opportunity to smile and appear happy and interested with life, so they’ll stay off your case.

Yeah happiness can be a real drag.

That is if you go about it the wrong way and wind up having to fake it.

But you don’t have to fake it. The only reason why you’d want to paint an artificial smile on your face is because you keep failing, time after time, to find genuine, extra happiness. It’s because such happiness seems to be nearly impossible, or maybe you’ve concluded that it’s an outright myth.

But that’s only because you’ve gone about your work in all the wrong ways. You’ve left town without a map. You’ve gotten a bum steer. You’ve bought a secret tip from a huckster in a raincoat. Or for some other reason you’ve headed the wrong way down a four-lane freeway.

But where there’s a wrong way there’s also a right way. And it’s simple. I’ll show you. I’m going to describe a worry-free way to turn around. U-turns are only stressful when there’s a cop watching. But right now they’re all on a donut break, so you can relax and spin that steering wheel. And even do a few donuts of your own, in the process.

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