Each person is unique because of the unique set of genes inherited from their parents and because of the environment in which they live and because of their life experiences. When one considers all the gene combinations possible from their parents union or even the other people that their parents might have married, they should realize how unique is their existence. When they consider all the other people who might have existed in their place and who due to fortune never will, then they have even greater cause for gratitude for their existence.
Many animals and humans die before they get a chance to reproduce.
The fact that you and I exist means that our parents did not do that.
It also means that their parents didn't either.
So it means that we come from an unbroken line of fathers and mothers stretching back into the mists of time.
Scientists believe that about 74,000 years ago the human race had dwindled down to a population of about 11,000 people living in the area that is now Yemen. That means that among those 11,000 people were yours and my several great grandfathers and grandmothers.
It also means that when the dinosaurs roamed the earth 70 million years ago, the first mammals, tiny inoffensive creatures, rarely more than a few inches long and a few ounces in weight scurrying around trying to survive and to avoid the dinosaurs, included ancestors of you and me.
And it means that when the first life moved onto the land from the seas about 450 million years ago, our ancestors were there.
We resist our mortality by giving meaning to our lives. We enhance our self esteem by interacting with others who have similar world views to ourselves. We defend our own world views and attack opposing world views.
We are to a large extent formed by those who came before us and they, in that sense, still live in us. In the same way we will survive to some degree in that we have helped to form those who come after us.
Because a person is a living animal and not either a non living being or a plant, the person has some ability to move or change his location in space. The person's location in time also changes but in a direction and at a rate that is not under his control.
A person also has some ability to move and rearrange other things in his environment. So the person can be said to have a slight amount of power over both the conglomeration of organic cells which makes up his own body and over other things around him.
Although many of his choices in life are predetermined or limited by his genetic blueprint and by the environment in which he exists and by things which happen in his life by accident or by the vagaries of fate, he still has many options and he should try to choose those which will give him the best chance of accomplishing whatever goals he hopes to achieve between the beginning and the end of his life.
By the nature of his life he can anticipate several stages and several drives in life. The stages include the student phase, the reproductive and production or creation phase, and the social and wisdom phase.
Basically he is driven to learn and to reproduce and to form social relationships and to work or create to support the existence of himself and his family and to develop a philosophy to come to terms with the nature of his existence.
Usually a human's main activity is learning from birth until well after the onset of puberty. Beginning at puberty and until near the end of middle age the social and reproductive drives kick in and after this comes the contemplative drive or drive to obtain some sort of wisdom as well as to be involved in social relationships and relationships with his offspring.
A person's life consists of the emotions he feels at the moments of his life. His goal should be to make as many of these as possible good or pleasant emotions such as happiness rather than unpleasant emotions such as fear or anger or sadness.
This goal can be accomplished by work to achieve goals and by relationships to produce a feeling of accomplishment and self esteem.
The purpose of life can thus be considered to be to maximize satisfaction with the brain's perception of the events of life. Different people tend to get more satisfaction from different things. For instance:
These must be prioritized. Is the more important thing to you who you spend your life with or where you spend it or what you do?
For some people it is who. These people want to spend their life near their family or with that special someone or in a group such as a church or a military unit or around some particular type of people.
For some people it is what. They want to be a soldier or a professor or a farmer or a businessman or a doctor or a lawyer or some other occupation.
For some people it is where. They want to live in the city or in the mountains or near the sea or at their ancestral home place or at some other particular place.
If the most important thing is who, then you must live in the place that those who you want to live with live and you must find work you can do there.
If the most important thing is what, then you must get the training you need for your chosen profession and live in the best place to practice your profession and form social relationships there.
If the most important thing is where then you must move to or stay in the chosen area in which you would like to live and find work there and form social relationships there.
The perfect life would be lived in a place one loves with people one loves doing the things that one enjoys.
Very few people get to live such a life because these three things do not exist in the same place or because of fate. The place you would like to live may not have work available that you would like to do or the people you would like to be with may not live or want to live in the same place that you do. You may have a physical or mental or emotional aptitude which prevents you following your chosen occupation. The people you like may not like you. For many reasons you may have to settle for a life that is a little less than the perfect life you have envisioned.
However, the human mind has a remarkable ability to synthesize happiness and to be happy, whatever the circumstance. So it is your job to try to get as close as you can to your ideal and then adjust your expectations.
Major changes in life:
To be happy live the simple life at a slow pace focused on the present moment usually with friends and family and work at a satisfying rewarding job.
If you can't have what you want then make the most of and be happy with what you have. Be grateful for what you do have, not depressed because of what you don't have. If you can't be with the one you love then love the one you're with. Variety is the spice of life. Variety is your neighbor's wife. The origin of unhappiness is attachment. One is attached to property and to other beings. Things and beings are transient.
Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for unhappiness are desire, passion, ardour, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus unhappiness will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.
What is is. Accept that and go on from there.
Happiness is most closely tied to our daily life experiences rather than to our overall situation in life. We are happiest when we are living and focused in the moment rather than thinking about the past or the future or daydreaming. Use of the right or creative side of the brain is more associated with happiness than is use of the left or analytical side of the brain.
In the pursuit of happiness people try self help books, drugs, and possessions but depression and anxiety increases. We have a negativity bias which increases stress but we also have a tendency to be happy even in dire circumstances.
sources of happiness:
Happiness is not just a feeling of pleasure. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment that underlies all other feelings. Most of life is temporary and illusion. We are conscious and aware of this illusion. Meditation helps us to become familiar with this new way of preceiving reality, as an illusion.
Lust, attachment and romance are not the same thing.
Not everything that can be counted counts
not everything that counts can be counted.
Remember yesterday. Plan for tomorrow. Sleep this afternoon.
In general it is pleasurable and good to increase order and complexity; physical, mental and social; and distressful and bad to increase disorder and chaos.
Physical - stay in good physical health with exercise and proper diet.
Mental - Learn, study, exercise the mind and stay curious.
Moral - Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.
Respect others. (people, organisms, the environment.)
Try to be constructive, not destructive.
Social - cultivate social and family relationships. Man is a social animal.
The bucket list should be detailed listing individual items in enough detail that you will know when you have accomplished that goal and then you can mark it off your list.
For instance proper goals under the heading "marry and raise a family" might include:
or under the heading "have fun":
Other goals might be written as in the following examples:
Of course each individual's bucket list will be unique to that person and it will not be set in stone but will be constantly amended as life happens.
The idea is that when you become older and more aware of your mortality, you can say, "It has been a life well lived."
Try your best each day to complete all the goals or items on that daily list particularly those that are most urgent and/or important.
The Middle Way
There is a middle way of living life. It is based on the Tantric way and Zen. The concerns of this way are not the serious or consequential things of the first way nor are they the trivial or inconsequential things of the third way. Rather this life is based on maximizing the joys and experiences of the immediate present with friends and family nearby.
One following the middle way does not worry about the future or live in the past but rather savors the moment. It is a sensual life.
Some of the activities in which one who follows the middle way may be engaged could include such things as:
To find out more about your life try answering these Questionaires.
Last revised December 2013.
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All contents copyright (C) 2013, Duane Bristow. All rights reserved.