Saturday, September 29, 2012

Not so fearless

Okay, I confess, there is one thing that terrifies me:  happiness.

Or more precisely, the need for happiness.  It is in the pursuit of happiness or to attempt to avoid losing current happiness that nearly all crimes or 'sins' have been committed.

Happiness is a high, a great feeling that makes you temporarily forget all your woes, that tints your glasses rose colored and shrinks your perspective to the dimensions of your elation.  It is the most addictive substance on earth, and is available to everyone in the world.

But, like all addictive substances, it has its price.  Some lucky ones get it 'on the house', but many others have to fight for it, have to sacrifice other things for it, other parts of their lives, other parts of who they are.  And that...that last one, is the thing I am most afraid of.  I don't know if I believe in a 'soul' in the conventional sense, but if I think of a 'soul' as the parts of me that are the essence, the necessary and sufficient aspects that make me who I am, then I am afraid of wanting to 'sell out my soul' for happiness.

One example of this is what I style my "Mary-Jane Watson phobia" fear of being, or at least, believing you are so in love with someone that you are willing to give up your unique kickass gift and the responsibilities that come with it for them, like Peter Parker was willing to in Spider-man 2.  Sure, being Spider-man was hard, but it was also, well, amazing.  Being the best you can be, being the person only you can be, living up to your unique potential (yes, there's that term again ;)), that is what I believe in, and I never want to stop, in the pursuit of happiness or otherwise.

Monday, August 27, 2012


I style my personal philosophy of life as 'somewhat neo-Nietzchien'.  I will go into more detail about the 'tenants' at a future date *cough* (yes, I know I say that a lot...and then disappear for a year...but...hey, I never specified a statute of limitations...), but here I want to say I really do believe, in every fiber of my being, despite the pop music scene's best efforts to commandeer and manipulate the concept, that "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger".

It's pretty much scientifically proven to be true physiologically.  You need to push yourself to improve your cardiovascular capacity and heart function.  You need to push your muscles to the point of tearing so that they fix themselves and come back stronger.  You need to do weight-bearing exercises to maintain your bone health.

Of course, there are ethical prohibitions on experimenting on this concept mentally and emotionally, but the empirical data strongly suggests its true here as well, albeit it needs to be qualified to "what doesn't break you only makes you stronger", since "breaking" seems to be the emotional equivalent of death.

Hence I am not afraid of bad things happening, of challenges, of obstacles, of taking on things that are seemingly beyond my capabilities.  I think that as long as I push myself as hard as I can, and take whatever results in perspective (i.e. use my failures as learning experiences rather than emotional baggage and fuel for self-destructive behaviors), then in the end, I will 'come out ahead', or, in terms of social calculus, the result will be a positive change.  Conversely, this means that you can always make your failures have a positive effect, on your mental/emotional strength at least, as long as you always try your best and analyze and learn from your mistakes :).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Helping to help

A lot of people espouse a desire to "help others" or "help the world", myself included.  However, what does it mean to "help"?  What does it mean for a person as an individual to "help the best that he/she can"?

Sure, there are obvious ways for the individual to 'help', such as volunteering for a soup kitchen, donating money, clothes, books, etc, taking on some form of counseling role (i.e. priest).

But I believe that to best help the world, one must be the best they can be.  In terms of 'social calculus', this means finding the path that maximizes the difference between (the state of the world when I follow this path) and (the state of the world when I do not follow this path).  This is not only dependent on what actions the individual takes and how much they affect the world, but more so on what unique potential the individual has.

For example, say Bob decides to be a priest.  Sure he'll help some people with their problems, but the questions that he should ask himself are:  1)  Will me counseling these people help others more than the average priest counseling these people, and by how much?  and 2)  Will me counseling these people help the world more than me taking on some other role?

If Bob's best fit is as a counselor, and he is one of the best, then by taking this path he is helping the world.  However, if he is also, say, a brilliant scientist and he could have helped to find the cure for cancer a few years before it was actually found, thereby saving thousands of lives, and instead he 'cops out' due to stress and decides to be a priest, then I would say he is NOT helping the world by being a priest rather than fulfilling his unique potential.

Generally I think unique potential is a very important factor in deciding a life path, and more on this will definitely be discussed later.  ;P