Discover more from A Better Life
Sunday Self-Scaler 12
Why the world is just a great mirror, an amazing book I've been reading, and a powerful mental exercise to eliminate disappointment.
As my brother and I are having dinner, I am chewing over an interesting idea. I suddenly blurt out, “You know what, you are truly in control of your world. I then add, “Heck! This will make an amazing article.”
My brother, with a spoon in his mouth, looks up. “Wait, what? Your world? It’s the world right?”
“No, there is no “the” world, it is your world and my world and they are different from each other.”
Visibly intrigued, he says, “But the physical world is real, right? I mean, the spoon I am holding is real, the food I’m eating is real, you are real, so am I.” and mutes the TV.
“No, they aren’t and that’s the beauty of it.”
“Yes but “our world” isn’t the physical world. It is just our perception of it.”
“Bah! they are the same, what’s the difference then?”, he retorts with a triumphant look on his face.
A smile forms on my face as I slowly say, “No, they aren’t and that’s the beauty of it.”
There Is No Objective Reality
I ask, “Let’s say you were color blind. How would the world seem to you?” to which he almost instantly replies, “Well, maybe like a black and white movie?”.
“Spot on. Now let’s take it up a notch. What if you were blind?”, I play on.
“Umm, pitch dark, something like the dead of night with all the lights out?”
“Now the extreme. What if you lost all five senses?”, I say with a gleam in my eyes.
After a momentary pause, “Well, wow! I see what you are getting at. A complete void and absolute nothingness.”, he says with a look of awe and realization.
What Our Worlds Really Are
“Bingo! If you think about it, our worlds are nothing but what our minds spit out as output after receiving the information from our senses as input.”, I articulate with an elaborate gesture of my free hand.
“We think we cease to exist when we die when it’s actually the other way around, our world ceases to exist when we die.”
“Well, that’s a rather crude way to put it but yes I guess so. Now let me get back to the movie.”, he says and proceeds to unmute and tune into the TV.
Left with quite some food for thought, I ruminate.
I chuckle in silence as I realize something pithy — We think we cease to exist when we die when it’s actually the other way around, our world ceases to exist when we die.
A Powerful Realization
Heck! This was a powerful line of thinking. The fact that my world was nothing but the result of my senses and my mind meant that I could control my world!
“The senses are physical and not controllable but the mind is.”
The senses are physical and not controllable but the mind is. If I overhear someone bad-mouthing me behind my back, I can’t control or change what I hear but I am in complete control over how I decided to interpret it.
So no matter the situation in life, we are completely in control of how we perceive it. As Viktor Frankl said,
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
The Inside Dictates the Outside
When I was bullied in middle school, the world seemed dark, ugly, and meaningless. When I fell in love, the world seemed carefree, colorful, and beautiful. When I experienced heartbreak, the world seemed drained of color.
“As much as the outside world affects our internal state, our internal state affects the outside world.”
How I felt inside dictated how the world seemed to me. It’s the same for the rest of us.
When feeling unhappy, miserable, ashamed, or anything negative, the world also seems dark and negative, and when feeling happy, elated, loved, or anything positive, the world also seems bright and positive.
It’s just that as much as the outside world affects our internal state, our internal state affects the outside world.
Through causality or “cause-effect”. The entire world works based on cause and effect. The first cause was the creation of the universe by God and its effect became the cause for other things, the effects of which became causes for yet other things and so on.
“The entire world works on the basis of cause and effect.”
It’s just a theory and neither can it be proved nor can it be disproved — as with any other thing that tries to explain creation.
Karma Is Real
In my first relationship, I made a lot of mistakes with the major ones being staying in it just for the physical aspect and making false promises. When I finally jilted her, I left her in a mental mess that took a long time to recover from.
In my last relationship, I found myself on the other side, not exactly but close enough. I was head over heels in love with her while she was uncertain and it seemed like she was in it for only the physical aspect.
“She moved on pretty quick, it was I that was left in a mental mess now.”
The breakup was painful, she cried, I cried. But it had to happen or at least she thought so. She was passing out of college and moving abroad while I was still in my sophomore year.
What about a long-distance relationship you ask? I asked and it was out of the question for her. She moved on pretty quick, it was I that was left in a mental mess now.
“It’s like sitting in a circle of dominoes and pushing the first domino. Each domino pushes down the next and before you know it, the last one comes crashing down on you.”
Karma is real. It’s simple in fact.
What I did in my first relationship was a bad cause that led to a bad effect that became the cause for some other bad effect, until it led to a bad effect with me as the victim.
A Circle of Dominoes
It’s like sitting in a circle of dominoes and pushing the first domino. Each domino pushes down the next and before you know it, the last one comes crashing down on you.
“Would I be fine with being on the receiving end of the same action or thought?””
Everything we say or do is reflected in some or other way back at us. Ever since I became a strong believer in causality, I started asking myself a simple question before doing or thinking something — “Would I be fine with being on the receiving end of the same action or thought?”
If the answer is “No”, then I won’t perform the action or harbor the thought. As simple as that. Am I being a saint? Heck no. I am being selfish.
The sole reason is that I don’t want to be on the receiving side of the action or thought.
“Am I being a saint? Heck no. I am being selfish.”
Why Pretending Won’t Work
Can you just pretend that you are good? Force yourself to harbor good thoughts and do good deeds? Fool causality?
So it’s akin to pushing not one but two dominoes upon yourself!
The problem with pretending is that it requires self-deception and self-deception is the worst kind of deception — you are both on the giving and receiving ends of it.
By deceiving yourself, you introduce a bad cause into the system and by being deceived by yourself, you introduce a bad effect into the system so it’s akin to pushing not one but two dominoes upon yourself!
“Self-deception is the worst kind of deception — you are both on the giving and receiving ends of it.”
Genuinely harbor positive feelings and emotions. Genuinely desire to and do good deeds.
Introduce good deeds and thoughts into the system, push the right kind of dominoes. There’s nothing saintly about it, it’s all for yourself, for your own selfish end.
A Tiny Deed Can Go a Long Way
One of the habits I have had for quite a few years is greeting, asking after, and making small talk with people, especially the working class, and in college, this included — the security guards, sweepers, bathroom cleaners, mess cooks, etc.
“Introduce good deeds and thoughts into the system, push the right kind of dominoes.”
It would make their day brighter and I would be rewarded with the occasional slight curfew time laxations, a tad cleaner room, and an extra ladle of the special dessert.
A win-win situation.
One day it so happened that late in the night, well past the curfew time, I arrived at the college gate. I had lost my wallet so didn’t have any ID or money on me. I tried to beg my way through but I was repeatedly denied entry. To make matters worse, it started drizzling.
“Sometimes, a small domino can trigger the topple of a much larger one.”
As I stood, shivering in the cold and at a complete loss as to what to do, another guard, a familiar one arrives, recognizes me, greets me, upbraids me, and then lets me in. A tiny habit had acted as an almost lifesaver!
Sometimes, a small domino can trigger the topple of a much larger one. So even a tiny good deed can return as a massive favor.
It Ain’t a Perfect Mirror
While I am sitting in the comfort of my home and writing this, there are kids dying of starvation, babies being born with disabilities, pre-pubescent girls being sexually abused, etc.
And most of them facing these effects have done nothing to trigger its cause. The world is a mirror but not a perfect one, in fact far from perfect.
The Need to Be Grateful
Most of us are born able, decently gifted, and into well-off families that make sure that we never go a day without food, shelter, or love. Some are born extremely gifted and into ridiculously wealthy families.
“It’s only when we look at those less fortunate than us that we can truly appreciate how fortunate we are.”
Some are born disabled, into dysfunctional families that make their lives hell, or into poor families that can barely make a living.
We have absolutely zero control over the consequences surrounding our birth and that’s exactly why we need to be grateful for them. It’s only when we look at those less fortunate than us that we can truly appreciate how fortunate we are.
The Faulty Domino Game
Some people wallow in wrong deeds all their life and yet seem to live a happy and long life while some only good deeds but live short unhappy lives. Life is unfair that way.
“The only thing we can control is the kind of dominoes we push.”
Sometimes a good domino can trigger a bad one, a bad one can trigger a good one, or both the good and bad dominoes fizz out without triggering anything. Sometimes the dominoes can’t catch up with life.
So an entire life of only wrong or good deeds can whizz by and the person dies before getting to experience the consequences.
How life or “the dominoes game” plays out isn’t in our control. The only thing we can control is the kind of dominoes we push.
Maybe that’s all that matters,
Just pushing the right dominoes and not caring about the rest.
An Amazing Book I’ve Been Reading
Well, I am always reading, fiction for the most part but the occasional nonfiction as well - such as the one I’m reading right now. It is Homo Deus: A History Of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari.
As the name suggests, it’s a comprehensive study of our present, a light brief of what led to the present, and a deep dive into the uncertain waters of the future.
Most nonfiction makes me yawn, some are bearable, a few are decently interesting and only a handful are engrossing to the level of reading with bated breath. This book falls into the last category.
This can be read as a stand-alone book but in case you haven’t already, I recommend reading Homo Sapiens: A Brief History Of Mankind which is by the same author first.
A Powerful Mental Exercise to Eliminate Disappointment
The root of all disappointment is expectation. Since much of our lives are dictated by factors outside our control, things don’t always turn out the way we want them to.
And we get disappointment. The Stoics had a way to counteract this - Premeditatio Malorum or ‘The Premeditation of Evils’. In simple words - expecting and visualizing the worst possible outcome or turn of things.
In a world of “Be optimistic”, this might sound ridiculous but it works. Works really well. The reason is simple - it kills the source of disappointment - expectation.
When you visualize and accept the worst possible outcomes, any outcome would yield you happiness. So, every morning, think of all the things that can go wrong, and in everything you do, try to visualize and see the positives in even the worst possible outcome.
“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil.”
- Marcus Aurelius
That’s all for today! Based on the responses I received in the survey form I sent out, a lot of you seem to:
Prefer the scaler to be long and personal. This is exactly what I’ve done with this one.
Love the “Mental exercise or Thought to ponder over” section most and the “Books I’m reading” section next. So I’ll make sure to include at least one of these sections in each scaler.
And lastly, would love to receive one article in addition to the scaler every week. So I’ll do just that as well.
As always, hope you enjoyed the scaler, and feel free to leave a comment regarding any appreciation/ ideas/ criticism/ or feedback.
Before you go, there’s an amazing newsletter I personally love and can’t recommend enough - Be Your Best Friend with Anangsha. It’s a weekly newsletter with tips on creativity, productivity, and self-improvement to help you become the best version of yourself.
Okay then, cya in next week’s scaler!