Posts tagged perspectives
Posts tagged perspectives
On Wednesday, Brittany pointed out (fairly) that I can get a wee bit cranky sometimes. This post is all about my best efforts at thwarting that tendency.
High on the list of tragedies of modern life is our excessive apathy. The monotony of life dulls our consciousness to the miracle of existence, and we lose our ability to feel wonder. It’s important, I think, to remind ourselves every now and again of the simple and yet incredible fact that we exist, and that we can see the world with fresh eyes. Much of this happens by destroying the illusions our limited perceptions create for us. Here are some of my favorite mind games to play. The names are my own, but the ideas are all stolen from others:
1. Destroy the Sky
On a clear, starry night, go outside into an open field. If there’s not much ambient light in your neighborhood, a lawn or flat rooftop will work as well.
Lie down and stare up into the stars. Focus on the idea that you are lying on a giant ball called the earth. Think of the ground below you not as a floor, but as a wall. Imagine yourself stuck to that wall, and that the stars are not above you, but in front of you.
Here’s the really freaky part: it’s not a trick. You weren’t really looking “up” in the first place. That’s just a word we use to form a frame of reference for our world. It’s just as accurate to think of it as looking out.
2. Destroy the Codex
This trick helps us think about words more thoughtfully. It works for all languages, but we’re communicating in English right now, so we’ll stick with that.
This game comes in two parts. First, pick a mundane word you use every day, like “tree.” Say it over, and over, and over again. Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree…
After a while, the word ceases to feel like it has any meaning. It’s just a sound. Second, visualize an actual tree, and call it a nonsense word, like Snift. Create examples for yourself. “I sat under the snift. Later, I picked some apples off the apple snift and brought them home.”
You can almost feel the word “snift” coming to mean “tree” in your brain. All language is a human construct. That means every word we’ve ever said was invented by someone, and we have the power to invent new ones.
3. Destroy Indestructibility
Sometimes it’s good to remember that life and health are gifts. Go outside, take a deep breath, and run in a straight line, at full speed, while holding your breath. Note how quickly you run out of oxygen and your whole body begins to scream for air. That’s how easy it is to break the container for everything that you are. I really think if everyone had to do that once a day, then cigarette sales would crater.
4. Destroy the Ego
Lastly, and most relevantly to today’s topic, the Halo Effect is my preferred method of self-induced civility.
Begin by thinking about your soul. I don’t really care if you believe in God or an afterlife. Just focus on whatever you think makes you an intrinsically valuable being.
Imagine that your soul manifests itself by surrounding you in a blue glow. It’s very important to associate this glow with the fact that you have a soul. Tie the two ideas together in your mind.
Now, walk through a crowded area, such as your school, your office, or, if you live in a big city, just down the street. Imagine each person you pass is surrounded with a blue glow, just like yours.
Using this trick, I’ve tried to teach myself that other people are every bit as real as I am. They think and feel in the same way I do. Maybe it will work for you, too.
And if not, try lying down. Maybe the jerks will go flying off into space.