Assiduous anxiety

Anxiety is giving a definitive interpretation of an ambiguous event.

Example,

You attempt to give change to a cashier and drop everywhere. They roll around on the floor and you spend an embarrassing 15 seconds picking them up. Immediately you infer that this person thinks you are an idiot who can’t even perform simple tasks correctly. You believe this without a doubt.

Why?

It’s one thing to be embarrassed about a situation, but to wholeheartedly believe you know what this person thinks of you is another. Constantly I recall embarrassing situations in which I behave like some mind reader, assuming I know what people thought both then and now.

So what’s the solution?

It’s arrogant to have total confidence in your interpretation of events. Most rational people don’t hold such strong convictions in other contexts, so why believe them regarding others perceptions?

Familiarity and friendship

You know when you hear a song for the first time and think nothing of it? You may even criticize it. Too repetitive, boring instrumentation and a lack of rhythm. Then you hear it 5 more times and begin to enjoy it. None of those things seem to bother you and you may intentionally play it.

I reckon familiarity is the key behind this. When something is new it requires effort to understand. Listening to something for the first time puts a challenge for you to question yourself. Do I like this? Why? Why not?

Eventually when you hear something regularly it becomes welcoming. No need to exert any brain power hearing a song you know back to front. The song is something you can choose at any time and know the experience you’ll get.

I believe the same principles apply to friendship. For me personally I’ll meet someone for the first time and usually think nothing of them. Maybe I’ll even focus on their flaws to justify my beliefs. Too loud, opinionated and boring. Then I meet them on other occasions and these prejudices slip away. Hey, they aren’t that bad after all.

Familiarity. Hanging around someone you know is a lot like listening to a song you’ve heard dozens of times. You know what you’re going to get and you can relax. No need to watch what you say, you understand how they will behave and the potential for surprises is minimal.

Another application is hearing a new artist, enjoying one song, downloading their album and feeling uncomfortable hearing their other songs. Most people prefer listening to the one they already know, despite the potential for their other songs to be better. Contrast that with meeting a new friend and being apprehensive in meeting their friendship group. They are the one song you know, their friends the ambiguous 11 tracks.

What do you think? Can friendship and human interaction really be boiled down to a poor analogy about music taste?

Ignorance is bliss, knowledge is agony

If you believe you know everything (ignorant) you don’t need to question your beliefs. Everything is known and there’s no need to strain yourself trying to learn more. New information bounces off an impenetrable wall of confirmation bias built up over the years. People can happily close off their minds once they have cultivated a belief system, which assists them in interpreting life.

On the flip side if you try to have an open mind it’s difficult to sift through information. Constantly comparing how new knowledge stacks up against old is draining. It takes effort not to dismiss something as bullshit because it doesn’t coincide with what you think you know. It’s also uncomfortable hearing new contradictory information, in the fear that you’ve been caught believing something that isn’t infallible.

Usually people double down on their beliefs once threatened. They cede deeper into echo chambers and read information that appeals to them to get away from this nasty feeling. The internet accommodates this, with websites that seek to undermine other ideas and promote theirs.

I’m so sick of watching people get into political arguments. All they do is spout something they have read/heard without critically thinking about it. These people aren’t interested in discovering solutions to problems, they want to feel smart berating others.

If you’re confident in what you know, chances are you don’t know anything.*1233123.png

Source: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2475

*Unless you are exceptionally educated on it, in which case you have internalized opposing views and have appropriate counter arguments.

Two rights make a wrong

Imagine an argument. Two people and their unique ”truths”. Both believe they are right and are unwilling to change. Both will argue for hours and get nowhere, creating a wrong.

On a side note: A trend I’ve noticed lately is people changing the nature of an argument once they feel uncertain, in an attempt to maintain the illusion they are constantly correct.

In my mind a good argument should proceed as:

Point > Counterpoint > Resolution

Both parties establish their views, hear either side and come to a conclusion.

However in reality:

Point > Change Subject > Change Subject > Change Subject > Change Subject….

Both parties change the topic every second to avoid any refutation.

How can you score when the goals keep moving?

I feel as if arguments are nothing more than cheap tools for people to get emotional thrills. Instead of actually trying to debate they just want to get riled up at opposing opinions.

It’s a game of emotional tug of war rather than an exchange of ideas.

Disappointment is the reverse of gratitude

It’s not nice to put other people down to feel good about yourself, yet that’s what being grateful is. Gratitude is looking at others flaws and saying, ”glad that’s not me!” It’s the same principle executed in a different manner. Funny how different methods that lead to the same conclusions can be considered acceptable or unacceptable.

For instance, it would be socially unacceptable to go around insulting other people to feel good about oneself. However gratitude is doing exactly that, just not in a sinister manner. Take for example these two scenario:

  1. A man walks past a hobo with no legs. He looks him and says ”Nice day for a walk”!
  2. A man walks past a hobo with no legs. He thinks to himself ”Glad that’s not me!”

BOTH examples focus on the negative and create a positive. 1) creates a positive through insults and humiliation, whereas 2) uses empathy to achieve gratitude. Pretty interesting.

Relating back to the title,  disappointment is not having your expectations met, gratitude is having low expectations. This was the next thing I thought about.

It’s a funny word cited as many as the key for happiness. What do you think?

Loserdom

Everybody is a loser in some way. Random thought I had the other day, and I think it’s purpose was to bolster my self-esteem. In a sense it’s putting others down to make yourself feel better, but there’s merit to it.

Everybody has something they are really shit at, therefore making them a loser. If you adopt this belief you can walk around, look at people and know they can’t do X (X being any random activity). It’s a negative way perceive the world.

You can’t get away with this mindset for long. Going around believing everyone is really shit in some way is a cheap way to get confident, but wont last long. Quick and easy fixes that feel good are essentially junk food for your brain. I think it stems from inability to deal with uncomfortable feelings, so you resort to negative thought patterns to ego boost.

Funny how the solution to these problems are always boring. Acknowledge that people have both positive / negative traits and see them with an open mind. Basic, fundamental information that you read, nod, then never utilize.

Maybe that’s wrong. People do utilize it but it comes at an effort, as your default setting is always the path of least resistance. Essentially trying to feel good all the time, pleasure seeking.

It’s a constant struggle to be a good person.

Mediocrity

Nobody ever wants to admit that they are mediocre. People always want to present themselves as terrible at something, or really good. Nobody wants to be stuck in that average phase of kind of being good at something while still fucking up a lot. They find it uncomfortable and awkward.

Honesty vs Politeness

Say you are engaged in a conversation with a friend. He begins telling you about something that you have no interest in. You are zoning out, yet put up a facade of listening. He continues and drones on as you nod with mild enthusiasm and insert positive comments when necessary. All the while you have put forth at best %10 of your conscious capacity to engage with him, and are doing the bare minimum.

In our world this is considered polite.

You are lying to your ”friends” face under the guise of politeness. It’s more socially acceptable to pretend to be interested while taking in the bare minimum, as opposed to honestly stating your point of view. Initially I thought it would be more sincere to tell your friend that you don’t care about what he’s saying. This comes across as rude, blunt, abrasive, whatever. At least it’s honest.

My concern with these conversations in which these facades are placed is that they are not kind interactions. They are a set of traffic lights. While my friend is talking it’s a big red light in which I am forced to sit in my car patiently diddling with the radio, before I can floor the accelerator and talk about what I want to. Once I get to go, the roles are reversed.

My first attempt at an analogy. I think it’s okay, nothing special. They are fucking hard to come up with so please appreciate the effort. Or don’t and call me a retard.

A colleague raised a good point though. If someone is droning on about something I don’t find particularly interesting, it’s up to me to make it interesting by asking engaging questions. Obviously emphasizing is the solution to many of these faux pas, however I’d argue that the majority of people in this world are assholes who don’t empathize.