Join Date: May 2010
Location: England, UK
| | Feeling Good: Tying it all together (Part II)
Feeling Good: Tying it all together (Part II)
The second most important realization in this post is the idea that feeling good is a choice we MAKE.
I was thinking about this this weekend after going out on Friday night, and having a really good time. It seems like this kind of night out, of spontaneous joy, flow, presence and good feelings, has seemed to happen less and less the more I've got into mindfulness and what not. The self-knowledge we discussed earlier has a tendency to actually make me focus on the bad things and my reactions to them. But meditation and stuff is supposed to make you feel better about the world, so what's going on?
Well if you aren't actually feeling good about stuff, you won't be feeling good, since the kinaesthetic is the final arbiter of your personal experience. That means if you're focusing on anything other than feeling good, your experience becomes whatever you are focusing on. Focusing on bad reactions? You become your bad reactions. Your experience is whatever's in your awareness.
I thought back and realized that almost every good time I've ever had was preceded by the intention to ACTUALLY HAVE A GOOD TIME.
I am barring just a handful of experiences from that, and those are first-time drug trips whereby experience is indistinguishable from the reward effects of the drug, as I explained earlier. However, even then, I at least approached the drug with an open mind during those first trips, rather than obsessing over possible negativities beforehand. I know of at least one guy in real life who has taken MDMA many times and never seen what all the fuss was about, even on his first trip with it. My thoughts are that these people's ability to focus on the negative is so extremely well practised that even extremely strong drugs cannot force them to judge an experience as "good".
The good news about this last point however is that I am confident the reverse can also be practised: focusing on the positive to the effect that even negative events are not even noticed or do not perturb the state of feeling GOOD.
This is what I believe Buddhists are doing when they focus on things like loving compassion. They are training themselves to release reward neurotransmitters even in response to events usually considered negative by most people.
On Friday before I went out, I was thinking about all the usual contingencies, of what I was going to do if X, Y or Z happened, when I finally just noticed myself doing this and said to myself "Do you know what? I'm not going to do this today. I am going to leave all these things to one side and just have a good time tonight, and not plan anything." I had a very good time and ended up bringing a girl back home. I didn't sleep with her, because I found out she was really good at piano and we stayed up all night playing piano together, which looking back is insane from the perspective of pickup and seduction, but from the perspective of going with the flow and enjoying oneself regardless of contingency, that is exactly what happened and I felt good about it either way.
On the nights where I instead do NOT put focusing on contingencies and reactions to one side, I can expect nothing to happen 99% of the time.
I realized from this that whatever you do regarding your own personal experience, feeling good is a choice we make. And when you feel good, all the other stuff doesn't matter any more. And when you feel good, other people feel good, and want to be around you.
Now this idea of making the choice is important, because if we go back to the triggers above (drugs, exercise, reward and mind-body exercises) we realize that all of those can fail IF we still choose to focus on the negative during our experience. We have all done things like taken drugs or drank too much and had "It didn't work!" moments where even that did not make us have a good time. In other words, the only thing tying the success of all these things together is the CHOICE to have a good time. The last trigger I mentioned, about working all day and deciding "I've earned it" is a prime example of this. So many of these things we do are simply EXCUSES which enable us to turn on "feeling good". Think about something like "If I just run this extra mile" or "If I just finish this project". Also think about tapping, NLP, and all this investment we make in mumbo-jumbo. Do they actually work, or do they just give us an EXCUSE to enter this state of feeling good? It should be clear from this post that I believe they are just an excuse.
The conclusion is that we should all come up with our own ways to create good feelings on purpose, and then CHOOSE to CONTINUE to feel good, and ignore anything except feeling good. Obviously some things are indeed important to think critically about, such as your finances and what not, but I am talking about general everyday vibes here, and particularly socializing, since feeling good simply turns off all anxieties and turns on charisma.
I have found that I can feel really good via some specific meditation I do where I close my eyes, sit perfectly still, then look for dark spots in my awareness and imagine them being filled in with white light till my entire awareness is lit up. There are several of these neurotransmitter releases that happen during this process which I know are happening because I get floods of white light, and start feeling really good. After this I choose to remain feeling good, and focus on the present so as not to focus on any imagined negativities.
When you are feeling good already, the state becomes easier and easier to maintain. The same way negative states are easy to maintain when they have a momentum; the inverse is also true. This is great news.
Another important thing I noticed I did on nights out and things when I was feeling good, is that in between talking and stuff, I would actually just focus on the good feelings in my body, and even close my eyes and just enjoy them. On the nights out where I wasn't feeling good, I would look for contingencies and focus on the negatives to find out why. Don't do this. Focus on the good feelings in your body instead. It makes them grow. This is why drugs are extremely helpful I believe. They give you strong good feelings to "latch onto". When you are stressed it can be hard to find some good feelings in your mind-body to latch onto and focus on. But if you do one of the triggers above (drugs, exercise, reward or mind-body exercises), you can find good feelings easily and focus on them. You can also do things like draw them up into your head and make them grow, and just start feeling really good. Importantly, the triggers should be done BEFORE you go out or whatever, so you already have some good feelings present to latch onto. I recommend we all have some triggers that come from the mind-body link so we don't need to rely on externalities for good feelings.
This, I now believe, is Circuit V in full. I feel like I understand Circuit V properly now, and whatever I wrote about it before was kind of like pieces of the puzzle.
1) Find reliable triggers for feeling good, preferably mind-body link so as not to rely on externalities.
2) Do the trigger while on your own, until you have a lot of good feelings in your mind-body. This is important, because if you go out already feeling good, it is a lot easier to latch onto those good feelings and maintain them. SMILE.
3) Make the CHOICE to just focus on feeling good. So anything else except the good feelings in your mind-body should just be ignored. This is a CHOICE. When in doubt, come back to the good feelings in your mind-body, and focus on them. I find breathing in through your nose while choosing to feel good makes these feelings even stronger. Feeling good will cause you to smile, stand up straight, and do all these other attractive, high-status behaviours. Completely go with the flow of feeling good, and do not resist these things. Allowing them to fully bloom causes this state to become extremely strong and long-lasting. SMILE.
4) Stay present in between focusing on good feelings. Since anything that happens while you are feeling good will be interpreted as also being good, it makes no sense to daydream.
When I am having a good time I am purposely avoiding things like mindfulness and equanimity because frankly these things make me feel like crap and LIFE IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.