Binary Happiness

For all that is out there in writing and speeches about the secret to happiness, and for all the time, effort, and energy spent on its pursuit, I don’t know that the question, “How do I know when I’m happy?” has been adequately discussed.
This is a dangerous question to ask. If, after reflection and some introspective moments, I find that the answer is no, I’ll realize that I need to make some changes in my life to continue the chase. However, the real danger in this question lies in another answer: Yes.

If the question is “Am I happy?” and my answer is “Yes.” what then? Is the chase over? Is it now all about just fighting to keep what I have? Maybe. But answering yes to that universal human pursuit does not mean the pursuit has to be over.

Another scary answer would be “Well, I used to be?” This cryptic answer reveals, or at least implies, a loss of some sort. I don’t think I used to be happy, and I’m pretty sure I’m happy now.
However, I don’t think it’s a simple binary equation. That’s the difference between people and computers. There is never a simple off/on answer.
I think I’m happier now than I’ve every been, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road or that it’s all down hill from here. Every day is an opportunity to grow and become more of what I know I can and should be. That makes me closer, but I plan to never arrive and be finished.
Still, I’m not positive that it makes it happiness. What is it really? A feeling? A state of being? Something physical?
Why, with all the effort and pursuit of the secrets to happiness, is it so difficult to say what it is?

The Blog…A Few Introductory Notes

I’d write more about myself, but I’m really not that interested in the subject. I’m worried that will show up in my writing and bore my readers. So, rather than take that risk, I’ll stick to a wider range of subjects to deliberately exclude talking about me. What will those subjects be? That is still to be determined. But, by avoiding talking about myself, I think I’ll be able to keep things interesting and keep the audience engaged.

That’s rule one. Until I become an interesting subject, there’s no use writing about me. Maybe in the course of writing about other subjects I’ll emerge as a subject of my own. However, I’m not counting on it and neither should you.

Something else I’ve been trying to accomplish is to develop a list of rules for this blog. These are something that I’ll want my readers (or at least my wife for now) to hold me to. Breaking rules is all well and good, but unless I have have boundaries, I can’t push them, and unless I have rules, well, I just won’t get anything done. So here it goes an attempt at some rules (read ‘guidelines’) for me to follow (read ‘fail at’).

The first one has already been covered: don’t bore the readers by talking about a boring person. So don’t try to be clever and point out that the rules are numbered incorrectly. The rest follows…

Blog Rules:

2. Post my big article every week before midnight on Sunday.
Having a schedule is important to me. If this blog has any readers, I fully expect them to post mean comments calling me a lazy, good for nothing bum if the post comes out on Monday morning. With difficulty,

3. The big weekly article will be over 1,000 words.
This isn’t to show off how many words I can write, or to write for it’s own sake. But if a picture is worth a thousand, then a completed post should be as well. This will also keep me from cheating, and cutting corners by publishing an 12:55 p.m. post about what I had for lunch. Unless, that is, the composition of my sandwich revealed to me some deeper revelation into the nature of God and the meaning of the universe. I don’t think I’m shooting too high with going for a particular number. I just want to make sure that each time I put my mind to an idea that I will cover it adequately. There are many subjects that can be covered in far fewer words, but many more where 1,000 words will not even scratch the surface.

4. Each article will have a clearly defined and focused topic.
1,000 words is easy if they’re not all about the same subject. This will continue to be one of the most challenging aspects of this work. Keeping my mind on one topic for any period of time is nearly impossible.

5. Don’t be boring.
What does it take to be a witty writer? Wit, I suppose, for starters. But behind the pen or keyboard I can fake it. I may take three days to perfect a line, but when you, dear reader, pass your eyes across the page it will appear that I am quick and clever…Or you’ll see me trying to hard to be liked and accepted by the Internet.

There so many flashes of information and inputs from every corner of the web that it can be intimidating to try to join in the conversation. I worry at times that I’ll just be adding to the noise rather than contributing anything new.

That’s where you come in. From time to time I do struggle to come up with interesting topics to write about, so any feedback and suggestions will be welcome and well received. And also, if I write about thing of which you have no interest, let me know.

This blog is not for everyone. Really, everyone does not exist. There is no subject suited to the whole population of the world. I would much rather have the right people reading, than have the whole world tuning in each week.

Who is the right audience? People who can read English, for starters. It not that I have anything against other languages. I’m just not confident that Google Translate can pick up on my cultural nuances and make a clean switch between English and Belarusian. Still, that’s far to broad.

But rather than try to tell you if you should be reading this or not, I’ll leave it up to you. All I can ask is that you give it a chance. Maybe read a few posts and see if it’s right. If not, my feelings won’t be hurt. It’s a big Internet and I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Right now my wife is my only reader, so far. I haven’t even told my mom about it yet. It’s difficult enough to explain the technology and the medium, much less to let her know why I’d want to spend my time on it. I can’t say either why, exactly, I find this to be something worth spending my leisure hours with.

It’s probably not worth it–unless I can convince other bloggers that I can teach them how to make money on their blogs, and pay me for my secrets. I’m thoroughly convinced that that is the best way to make money as a blogger. The demand is certainly there.

Oops. It looks like more of this has been about me than I intended. In spite of my promises at the beginning of this post to not talk too much about myself, looking back over what I’ve written, I see I’ve still revealed some things. I guess that means I’ll have to make up one more rule. I do promise to try to be myself because, like Oscar Wilde observed, I’ll have to be myself because no one else is available.

Well, it looks like I’m getting to that 1,000 word minimum. Better to cut things off now than let things get out of control. There’s no use rambling. At least not if I want you to read again.

Learning to Live with the Noise

My brain is a loud place, like a high school cafeteria, a constant clamor of activity screaming for my attention. It’s not that I have so much going on in my head because when it’s just me, I can hear the echo of a pin drop.

The reason for the noise is the endless stream of information pouring in through all five channels at once. Even sitting here writing this, there’s the sound of my son playing on his blanket and squirming around on the floor like a squid and singing in in experimental shrieks. and my wife on the phone giving advice to her sister.
But noise is not just sound. There is also the visual distractions of the content hidden on every other tab in my browser and window on my desktop. My curiosity of what I might find on those pages gets the better of me every few sentences.

All of this seems inevitable, and sometime uncontrollable for a young father of a new family in a small house. However, it doesn’t need to hinder what is happening inside. Life’s volume knob is always set at ten, but between the static and the flipping of the channels, peace can still break through, and I can still follow through on this idea.
The circumstance of life don’t need to change for me to change. Instead of trying to block out the noise, hide from it, or try to shut it up, I can embrace it, let it harmonize and let the music come through.
I’m learning to let the people around me come closer. Rather than trying to ignore the noise and distractions, I’m learning to let it be part of the work itself. By embracing my surroundings instead of trying to change or avoid them, I’ll be able to do more of what I love in whatever circumstances in which I find myself.

By indulging in a few distractions as the come up, I’m able to have the mental endurance to complete my work, and to finish what I begin. I’m undertaking an enormous challenge. I don’t know how it will look in the end or how the middle will be, but by accepting the first steps and getting started the rest will take shape with time.
Patience will not be optional or simply virtuous in learning to live with the noise. It will be the axle that supports and balances the whole load.

The importance of symbols

Why are symbols so important in cultures around the world? It is not for what they are but for where they point. It is incredible how reliant humans are on symbols, which are deeply embedded in every aspect of civilization. 
Words are symbols–representations of ideas or things. They can show the thing without being the thing in themselves.
However, symbols without an interpreter are useless.

Are humans still evolving?

If they are, it’s at a faster pace than every before. 

The world is changing faster than ever. Or at least, I assume it is. It could just be my perspective. It’s not every year that I get married, move to a new state, start a new job, and have a baby.

But maybe it’s not just me. Maybe the gradual change has decided enough with the slow and steady.

Now it seems that everyone’s lives are moving faster and faster and becoming fuller and fuller. So much so that there has been an entire movement starting to go against the tide.

Blogs like Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits and Mnmlist are some of the more mainstream expressions of this sentiment.

People’s lives are changing faster than ever, and now is the time to slow things down before it gets out of control.

Controlled Distractions

It turns out that I’m easily distracted. I know this because after I wrote the title to this blog, I took a break to check my email and read some other postings. 
Distractions are all around us every day, trying to rob the things we should be focused on of our attention. Distractions may after all be unavoidable. However, they can be managed. 
Controlled distractions sounds like an oxymoron, and it probably is. What I’m speaking of is developing an awareness of the things that distract you and limiting their access to your attention. 
It should be that when once you have started something you should be able to focus your attention on it until the time for that mind task is finished. This does not mean everything must be completed. It just means that there should be a set amount of time spent on one project until the next one is picked up. 
I am not a practitioner of this. 

More of More or More of Less

It could very well be that my attempts to do more are misguided. It could, perhaps, be that I need to do less, that I need to empty my life of the clutter so that the really good things can shine through. There is so much noise that I find it hard to think.

This noise is probably my number one impediment to writing. Writing is thinking–recording and organizing thinking. The noise keeps me from thinking. That is what has stopped me. I need to begin eliminating the noise, piece by piece.
This might be a long process. But that’s okay. The end results will be worth while. I want to get to the point where I have more things to write about than I have time. Where I can truly devote myself to thought.
Over the weekend, I spent 45 minutes browsing around on the computer. After I was finished, my wife asked me what I learned. Honestly, I couldn’t remember a single thing I had looked at. This isn’t because I have a poor memory. I actually think I have a very good memory. But when I look without thinking, nothing will stick.
The mind is a fertile place, but if ideas are not given the opportunity to take root, they won’t stick. They’ll wash away with the first new idea that comes along.
Enjoyment comes from experiencing something fully. Not experienceing lots of things. If I can learn to find the right channels to experience, and block out the noise. I’ll be a happier person.
Things I want to experience more fully:
Music
Poetry
Fiction
Photographs
Art
Everything in that list is art. Just in different mediums. Maybe that’s the thing. The enjoyment comes in art.
Appreciating art, taking it in slowly and enjoying it fully. This is a difficult thing on the internet. There is so much out there. It need to be slowed down, consumed bite by bite (bit by bit, since I’m on a computer) Slowing down and really observing will be the best way to learn what it is. Now how do I convince my readers to slow down with me and apreciate what I appreciate.
Really, before I can even begin to plan on drawing readers into seeing what I see.
This will take thought, real thought.