Random Rant: What is good or bad?
Disclaimer: Random Rants have minimal editing and a general disregard for flow
Most events are either slightly good or bad, it's only our shortsightedness that makes it seem otherwise. How many things piss us off in the moment but in a week from now seem so trivial. In this life of trying to get more good than bad I view it like a scale with all the good on one side and bad on the other.
That "bad" (or good) event like being late for work, is probably given a lot of weight in the moment, enough to completely tip the scales. How big is that event a week from now, a month, a year?
Hasn't that item shrunk in size. Or is it just that we add so much stuff to the scale that it looks small in comparison. We live our life on a day to day basis and as a result incur all this variance. The ups and downs, the craziness. This perpetual rollercoaster.
Even big events seem small if you widen the scope. How bad has that awful event that happened to you a year ago seem now? Perhaps it has even changed into a positive thing. Bad events can be opportunities for strength and growth. They are oddly what makes a life interesting and they are an integral part of it. There is no interesting biography out there where nothing "bad" happened and they just lived their lives in total happiness. You need that contrast. That experience.
Which begs the question how bad is that bad event that's happening to us? In the long run I mean? Can we ever know? Because a bad event can just as easily cripple your life and change it permanently for the worse. Is it just about mindset? If you realize that in every loss there is a gain and a potential unrealized gain as well. If you lose or lack friends it isn't all negative, you gain more time for other things; perhaps other friends, perhaps you'd appreciate friends more and perhaps acquiring new friends feels better after you lost some. Billionaires have a lot to lose financially, broke people don't. If a billionaire goes down to 10million he might kill himself. The poor person would be elated.
If you have shitty friends you set the bar lower and are open to more people, you learn to see the good in them and perhaps can accept faults more readily. People who have only great friends, lose more if they lose their friends and conversely set the bar higher for future friends. If you're used to banging 1's, banging a 5 feels great and vice versa if you're used to 10s. People who are having amazing experiences, lets call them 10's will be less happy with experiences that are 8's, vice versa for people who typically have experiences that are 5s.
There is always this compensation. Nothing is exactly neutral, all events are either good or bad but only time will tell. The true impact of an event can't be known in the short term. It has long term affects. Sometimes it can switch from good to bad and back to good again. Every good outcome slightly increases your expectation of future events and vice versa. Isn't that all experience is, how good something is compared to our previous experiences and expectations?
This seems like such a silly mindset to me. It makes the game (of life) impossible to win. Since I've been thinking about this I just don't know if what's happening to me is good or bad. I walk around a little confused but also not caring nearly as much about events. I executed this well though during my trip to the world series of poker. I played without a care for what happened and I just tried to be happy and interested in what's going on regardless of the outcome. I had decent results financially but was probably happier and more peaceful than I've ever been while playing.
This isn't to say I didn't get angry, have people upset me or was completely unphased by bad beats. I felt insecurity, sadness, anger, boredom, whatever it is you name it at the table. Instead of holding onto these feelings, feeling bad about how I felt, I just noticed it. I watched the thoughts detached and with interest. I thought about the thoughts I was having and analyzed them detached. I noticed my body and the physical response I was having to emotional stress. I took it all in, the good and the bad equally.
I haven't been able to sustain that though. I've been doing what I usually do - what we all do. Feeling sad about being sad, anxious about being anxious etc.. Caught in the trap. Rather than detaching and leaning in with interest, I escape with TV, video games and sleep. Relatively healthy forms of escapism I guess.
Is a good life all about mindset, is what happens to you irrelevant? All these thoughts above had led to these questions. It has been months and I haven't answered it. It's led me to not caring nearly as much about anything. It's been weird. If what happens doesn't matter why strive to accomplish anything, why help anyone with anything but mindset? I can make someone better at poker or any other skill but does that really make them happier or more peaceful?
Has being good at poker made me happier? Happier than what? You can never know the results of another path. Every path probably has infinite different outcomes as well, it only seems like one path leads to one outcome. Randomness and variance dictates the actual path we take.
I think gene expression plays a role, you have to express who you are. Your life needs to be an expression of who you are rather. Understanding who you are is this never ending silly game though. We are a big mess of contradictions, hippocracys. Ever changing and unknown. Most of us are some mix of introvert and extrovert, fun and serious, laid back and uptight, independent and dependent, strong and weak and so on. These characteristics might shift on a day to day basis even.
Thinking about it in these terms is weird though. Is perfect knowledge of oneself equate to saying "I'm 82% independent and 18% dependent"? That seems silly. Identity is too difficult a subject. I think that's a big advantage of the intuitive types, they overthink less and are thus able to express themselves more accurately.
Expression is weird to me because it's easy to equate that to meaning only doing what you feel like doing. At some point you have to do things you don't want to do. At least I assume you do. I guess doing things you don't want to is a means of exploring oneself. Pushing oneself perhaps. You don't just get introspection from meditation, you can get it anywhere I suppose. At the gym pushing yourself to your limits, in a job, skill or hobby by playing and learning in a way that's an expression of who you are, in a relationship, through books or journaling, by doing things you hate or have never done before, whatever you can think of probably.
It's interesting to me that there is probably something in all of our lives that we never tried before, that's completely alien to us that we'd absolutely be enthralled with. Some side of ourselves left completely unexplored, untapped.
So I'm left in complete confusion, it seems silly to live life on a day to day basis judging events solely on how they're impacting you right now. But it also seems silly to go around viewing every event as unknown. It seems like a silly game to try to get more good than bad in life. Trying to get more on the good scale than on the bad. In a perfect world I'd guess we'd be satisfied with whatever happens to us but always striving for more. What we strive for should be a reflection of our values and genetics. Our values should constantly change and be refined, who we are should constantly change and be refined. We should be cognizant of who we are but shouldn't worry about the lack of knowledge.
I don't think expression and identity are "hippy" ideas either though. I think they are fundamentally based on genetics. Doing something against who you are is doing something against your genetic makeup. I'm not sure if this could ever be correct to going against your genetic expression. What does that even mean. I know in poker whenever I'd try to play the game in a way that copied someone else and was against who I was it was terrible. I felt completely lost, confused, I didn't enjoy the game and I lost a lot. In any profession there will be people more successful than you're and doing it in an entirely different way than you do. It's tempting to copy them and abandon your style. It's important to improve your weaknesses but the foundation of your game is always going to be your strengths. These will be little additions or wrinkles to your game rather than a total overhaul.
As concrete examples, in poker when I tried to copy people who played 15 tables at a time I had all these negative things happen I mentioned above. Playing 15 tables at a time requires an ability to create solid systems, juggle multiple hands, and have concrete plans for adjustments. Not my strong suit at all. My game was based on gathering information, doing unconventional plays and thinking deeply about hands. I tried to play GTO which means not caring about the players at your table. It's a purely mathematical strategy with the aim of playing unexploitably. For example, the unexploitable strategy in RPS is playing rock, paper and scissors all with a frequency of 1/3 and having it be completely randomized by a clock or random number generator. I tried to do this it took away all creativity from my game and put me at odds with myself. All my skills of watching opponents didn't matter anymore and what's weird about GTO strategy in poker is that there is no real correct play in one hand. With most hands you do a mixture of raising, calling and folding. Weird right? I was completely confused and lost all desire to play and lots of money.
I'm not sure where this leads to, I'm not sure we got closer to an answer really. I like this kind of thinking and writing without the worry about where it's going to lead. It's like art, where it's not about how it looks in the end, it's just about doing it and having fun. Of course you need techniques just like you do in art otherwise it's not fun though. Thinking doesn't have to be so serious and results orientated. I'll eventually write a part 2.
Emerson's essay compensation
Ads suck, and I plan to keep this site completely ad free. To do that though, I need your help. I spend 100s of hours of month on this and need to spend a lot of money to improve the site. I ask that if you enjoy what I'm doing on here to consider subscribing to recurring monthly donations or a one time donation. Any amount is appreciated, helpful and motivating. Use the button below to send a one-time or recurring donation via PayPal. All major credit cards accepted. After donating you will be returned to my blog. Thank you!