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People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


(Artwork by: Pascal Campion)
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The human race is a herd. Here we are, unique, eternal aspects of consciousness with an infinity of potential, and we have allowed ourselves to become an unthinking, unquestioning blob of conformity and uniformity. A herd. Once we concede to the herd mentality, we can be controlled and directed by a tiny few. And we are.
~ David Icke

(Artwork by: Vladimir Kush)
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The Relativity of Happiness

A women lay in a hospital bed recovering from multiple surgeries, the result of a horrible car wreck. Her lower left leg had been removed. Yet her nurses remained baffled.

Despite experiencing what should have been tremendous pain, and facing a life that was never going to be the same, the look on her face radiated nothing short of pure elation. This woman was undeniably happy.

She wasn't delirious. She had merely learned that both her children, one who just awoke from a coma, the other who had broken his arm in the back of the car, would both make full recoveries. What better news could have been delivered to the woman that day?

What's evident here is that in this situation, the woman's happiness was entirely relative. Had her children been safe and sound at home instead of in the back of her car, the news of their good health would have been meaningless.

Context

Happiness is often just a matter of relativity. If you won five million dollars in a lottery, you'd be elated. Yet if three weeks later you were informed that due to a system error, you'd instead be awarded only $22,000, you'd no doubt be crushed. 

But why should that matter? If you had merely won $22,000 from the start, you would have been elated the entire time. 

Yet its not just about timing. Socrates is said to have made the following observation:

“If all misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart.”

When you put things into a global perspective, it suddenly seems a bit shallow to bellyache over many of the typical things we all complain about. Oh the horror, we have to sit in traffic. How about having to worry about finding your next cup of clean drinking water.

Relatively speaking, we have an incredible assortment of reasons to be happy. But we don't like to compare globally. We like to measure our own stock against those around us.

How much of your happiness is based on what you have compared to what your friends, family, and coworkers have? If you think none, you need to consider a point Ben Franklin once raised::

“The eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us.  If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture.”

None of us can deny that our priorities wouldn't change if everyone else was blind.

A Matter of Mindset

The message here is that you don't need reasons to be happy. You can be happy for no good reason at all. It's your attitude that matters, and the moment you realize this your life will change.

Whether you're generally cheerful or cynical is up to you. There's always those who like to smell the roses and those who prefer to obsess over thorns. You just need to decide what type of person you want to be.

There's no right answer, but never forget that the way you view life directly affects your state of mind. Abe Lincoln may have said it best:

"People are as happy as they make up their minds to be." 

Seems like an easy decision to me. What's your choice?


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(Artwork by: Vladimir Kush)
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Noam Chomsky on Propaganda...

The point of public relations slogans like "Support Our Troops" is that they don't mean anything ... that's the whole point of good propaganda.

You want to create a slogan that nobody is going to be against and I suppose everybody will be for, because nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything.

But its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something ... Do you support our policy?


(Artwork by: Vladimir Kush)
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"​The world isn’t getting worse — our information is getting better."

"People think the world is getting worse. … That’s the perception. What’s actually happening is our information about what’s wrong in the world is getting better. A century ago, there would be a battle that wiped out the next village, you’d never even hear about it. Now there’s an incident halfway around the globe and we not only hear about it, we experience it.​"

~ Ray Kurzweil



(Artwork by: Rob Gonsalves)
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We now understand how very complex and even apparently intelligent phenomena, such as genetic coding, the immune system, and low-level visual processing, can be accomplished without a trace of consciousness.

But this seems to uncover an enormous puzzle of just what, if anything, consciousness is for. Can a conscious entity do anything for itself that an unconscious (but cleverly wired up) simulation of that entity couldn't do for itself?

~ Dan Dennett



(Artwork by: Jonathan Wolstenholme)
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A Two-Minute Case for Optimism
by Steven Pinker

"It’s easy to get discouraged by the ceaseless news of violence, poverty, and disease. But the news presents a distorted view of the world. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. You never see a TV crew reporting that a country isn’t at war, or that a city hasn’t had a mass shooting that day, or that millions of 80-year-olds are alive and well."

"The only way to appreciate that state of the world is to count. How many incidents of violence, or starvation, or disease are there as a proportion of the number of people in the world? And the only way to know whether things are getting better or worse is to compare those numbers at different times: over the centuries and decades, do the trend lines go up or down?"

"As it happens, the numbers tell a surprisingly happy story. Violent crime has fallen by half since 1992, and fiftyfold since the Middle Ages. Over the past 60 years the number of wars and number of people killed in wars have plummeted. Worldwide, fewer babies die, more children go to school, more people live in democracies, more can afford simple luxuries, fewer get sick, and more live to old age."

" 'Better' does not mean 'perfect.' Too many people still live in misery and die prematurely, and new challenges, such as climate change, confront us. But measuring the progress we’ve made in the past emboldens us to strive for more in the future. Problems that look hopeless may not be; human ingenuity can chip away at them. We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one."

(Artwork by: Lars Meyer)
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A Brief Thought Experiment - The Vacation

(Paraphrased from the work of Daniel Kahneman)
("Thinking Fast and Slow")

You have been given the option to take a vacation. For the price of only two weeks of your earnings, you can go anywhere you choose for two weeks. You will not have to spend a single penny more no matter how extravagant your choice.

The caveat is that when you return, all pictures and videos will be destroyed. You will take a pill that will remove the entirety of the vacation from your memory. You will have no recollection of the vacation.

Weighing Options

So you must face the question - is it worthwhile to spend the money knowing that you will have an amazing time at a considerable bargain, even though after the fact, the only thing you will be aware of is that some decision you made cost you two weeks of your earnings?

There is no question that after the fact, the elimination of memories of this vacation significantly reduces the value. Yet if you could leave tomorrow for two weeks of bliss, even knowing you will forget all of it, you would likely have a difficult time passing on the opportunity.

Tale of Two Selves

You have two distinct interpretations to consider. Though you may enjoy the next two weeks immensely, you also will certainly not enjoy losing your money with nothing to recall in return.

You are forced to weigh the pros and cons of two versions of yourself - your "experiencing self" versus your "remembering self" Yet paradoxically you are the same person.

The Operation

There is an inverse scenario based on the same struggle between ideas that drives home the difficulty of this choice.

Suppose you are facing a major operation. You are offered the equivalent of two weeks earnings if you are willing to remain conscious during your operation.

You will experience all the extreme pain and agony that accompanies the operation. Like before, you will take a pill and not remember any part of the experience once the operation is complete.

Yet again, you are left having to compare the pros and cons of two versions of yourself. Are you willing to let your present self suffer to benefit your future amnesic self? Do you recognize the oddity of treating both selves as though they were strangers to each other?

Real World

You may have passed off such questions as unrealistic, but that isn't so. There are people living with Alzheimer's disease who actively participate in life yet do not recall what they experience.

If you were to reach old age, would you prefer to have a lifetime of memories, yet be physically unable to do anything? Or would you prefer to be physically able, yet remember nothing.

Is it better to experience life or remember life?


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If you like Thought Experiments - You'll Love this Whole Book of them: https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Games-Thought-Experiments-Imagination-ebook/dp/B01862TMWA

(Painting by: Dominic Piperata)
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We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.
~ Ben Franklin


(Artwork by: Alex Shatohin)
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For as we all wish to live, we are obligated by reason to take as much care for our future as our present happiness and not build one on the ruins of the other.
~ Ben Franklin


(Artwork by: Pez)
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