The Secret Of Happiness

I think the secret of happiness is that you’re not supposed to be happy.

Not for for very long at least.

Rather than striving for happiness, I think we should be striving for contentedness. I think happiness may be a byproduct that cannot be created directly, but can only be cultivated indirectly by developing contentedness.

The human mind (and likely more influential, our emotions) seem designed to generate dissatisfaction, apathy, taking things for granted, and generally being unappreciative of what you have, and as quickly as possible.

I don’t think we can change this. And I think trying to change this is what leads to a lot of unnecessary unhappiness. But I also think we can be aware that this is the way the mind-emotion system functions, and plan accordingly.

Advertisement

Meditation Is Like That Feeling You Get When Traveling Solo, All The Time

You know that excellent feeling you get when you’re traveling solo, and you’e on the first full day of the trip after the journey to get to your first destination?

You know how you realize, “Wait a minute, nobody here knows me or my past! They have no expectations of me. I can be whoever I want, and they will never know!”

It’s a massively liberating feeling. I think it may be a big factor in the “rush” people get from traveling.

I think these experiences help to release us from the illusion of believing we are somehow “required” to live up to our own subconscious expectations/requirements of having to be who other people expect us to be. As if there is a certain identity people expect from us, and we ourselves feel as if we are obligated to express and “be” that identity we imagine other expect from us.

My experience with meditation gives me that “liberation from identification” feeling all the time, even in familiar places, among familiar people.

I constantly feel like I am “traveling solo”, among people who do not expect any particular personality from me.

I no longer feel bound and obligated to be who I was yesterday, 3 years ago, or this morning.

I say things that people who “know” me might be surprised (or shocked) to hear me say. “That’s not ‘you'”, they tell me.

The ruts of identification run very deep. But I think the external social pressure of obligation to uphold and maintain those identifications is an even greater influence over one’s experience of “who I am”.

When the meditation literature speaks of “liberation”, this is currently what I think they refer to. Liberation from identification. Liberation from the obligation of identification, to be more precise.

Or perhaps even more precisely, liberation from the illusion of the obligation of identification.

Liberation is the perfect word for this experience. Because once you’ve been liberated, you can see the prison walls that were invisible up until now, and you were indeed trapped. It’s a liberation that can only be recognized as such once the liberation has taken place, because up until that point, you didn’t even know you were imprisoned.

Unfortunately, people who have not yet liberated themselves base a lot of their own identifications on the expectations of the identifications of those around them. Who they think they are relies upon you being who they think you are. And you are supposed to reciprocate and be who you’ve been, and who they think you are.

So when you’re “traveling solo” among familiar people and places, it won’t have the same flavor as when you’re actually traveling solo among strangers. You may have no ties to previous identities, but they will have expectations placed upon you.

But if you’ve been a solo traveler, and you know the feeling I am talking about, it’s a perfect analogy for the state of mind and experience of the world you’ll be cultivating if you maintain a daily practice of conscious focus and concentration mastery — meditation.

Meditation Analogy: The River Of Thoughts

I was talking to some people I’d just met while on a hike, and the conversation made it’s way to meditation. That tends to happen if you’re talking with me.

I was trying to find a simple analogy for someone to understand the experience of what one is trying to achieve from meditation, and to also contrast all the misinformation out there she had received just like I had (like trying to “clear your mind” and such).

We happened to be standing near a currently-dry river bed.

It occurred to me that the initial aim of meditation practice is similar to that of someone being swept away by a raging river. Your aim is not to stop the river, but to get out of the water!

The mind and its “river of thoughts” is constantly dragging you “downstream” with it, thrashing you about. Meditation practice will slowly cultivate the concentration and focus skills to allow you to realize you’re being swept along, then to get your bearings and find a branch on shore to grab on to, and eventually you’ll be able to pull yourself out of the river.

There is actually no need to stop the river.

Eventually, you might even want to take a boat back out on to the river. It’s way more enjoyable being on the river when you’re not being sloshed about, barely able to gasp for breaths.

Your goal with meditation should be to get out of the river, dry yourself off, and look back at the waterway from the perspective from on of the river banks.

Don’t try to stop the river!

Project Management in Apple Notes

I have been experimenting with using the built-in Notes app on iOS and macOS lately. I’ve found some unique capabilities that make it a pretty interesting project management app, in particular the ability on macOS to add links to files from the Finder, as well as drag in links to email messages and setup names as mailto hyperlinks.

Continue reading “Project Management in Apple Notes”

3 Signs That Your Meditation Sits Are Going Well

  1. Nothing much seems to be happening
  2. Your mind wanders constantly, and your thoughts keep taking your attention away from the object of focus (breath, etc.)
  3. Nothing “mystical” is happening

If any of the above — or better yet all three of these indicators has happened to you during your ongoing meditation sits, then it’s a sure sign that your meditation practice is on track and everything is going perfectly. Continue reading “3 Signs That Your Meditation Sits Are Going Well”

Minimalist Notification Sound

I don’t know how I stuck with the super annoying default notification sound for a successfully expanded Text Expander snippet for all these years, but I finally got around to finding a suitable and non-intrusive replacement.

Here’s the sound in .mp3 format, for previewing it; and the .aif sound file to download and drop into your ~/Library/Sounds/ folder (both are Dropbox links).

Notifications sounds on macOS have to be in .aif format, and it’s a bit convoluted to do it with iTunes.

I edited the original sound file, which I obtained here.