A person's approach to his life.

by Duane Bristow

The existence of a person is limited in time and space. This means that there is a long period of time both before and after a person's existence. It also means that there are a very large number of places where the person is not.

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:

The important decisions you make in life involve Who, What and Where.
Who do you want to spend your life with?
What do you want to do in life?
Where do you want to live your life?

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.

The Stages of Life
  1. Student - the first stage of life is from birth to about 20 or 25 years of age. This is the learning phase. It starts before and for a few years after birth when the neural pathways in the brain are formed. This process is very rapid at first, slowing and pretty much complete by somewhere between 5 and 10 years old. Learning of the main parts of the culture from others takes place throughout but mostly during the school years from about 5 years old until it is interrupted or thrown into turmoil or, perhaps, enhanced by the onset of puberty usually from about 12 to 14 years of age until the end of the first stage at age 20 to 25.
  2. Reproduction and productive - The second stage of life is from about 18 years of age until about 60 to 65. This is the stage of life when the person looks for a mate to provide companionship and to reproduce and this stage of life is spent mostly working, making a living and caring for a family. During this stage life changes once again by the responsibility of caring for and learning to live with another person or persons and the experience of entering the workforce and the immense stress of raising children.
  3. Wisdom - The third stage of life begins after the children are grown and, hopefully, after retirement from the work force. This is the reflective stage in which the person, in contemplation of the approach of the end of life, begins to reflect on life and its meaning and to study and to think about the nature of the world he lives in and his place in it. For many it involves more study and perhaps writing or thinking of other ways in which the person will leave a legacy for the future.

Major changes in life:

Ten things to make you live longer and healthier.
  1. Don't worry, be happy.
    It is important that one feel he has a purpose to his life and his life has value. Some feel that some people die at a certain age because they expect to die at that age. Live in the present moment not in fear of the future. If you can't have what you want then make the most of and be happy with what you have. The origin of unhappiness is attachment. One is attached to property and to other beings. Things and beings are transient.
  2. Laugh and enjoy life.
  3. Live in an environment conducive to life.
    Sources of emotional and physical stress due to the environment include the economic, political, social and religious culture and environmental poisons from pollution of the land, air and water. Avoid such stress.
  4. Mental stimulation - knowledge, skills, experiences, mental exercise, travel.
  5. Get a pet.
  6. More sex, friends and social life.
  7. No Smoking but a daily aspirin and drink plenty of water.
  8. Exercise daily and get adequate sleep to feel rested each day.
  9. Control your weight with diet and exercise.
  10. A low carb, low calorie diet.
    Small portions of the right foods:
    black and red beans, peas, blueberries and other berries, fruits, dark chocolate, nuts, red wine.
    milk and milk products, greek yogurt, meat and eggs.
    salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, rainbow trout, tuna, and other fish.
    coffee, tea.
    spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beets, egg plant, brussels sprouts, tomatoes.
    oatmeal, brown rice.
    fresh virgin olive oil, soybean oil, canola oil and peanut oils.
    flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, insects, fungi.
    avoid processed grains, potatoes, sugar and sweets.
    eat more fat and fiber and protein and less carbs and especially less high fructose corn syrup and sugars and processed oils (trans fats).


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 and not everything that counts can be counted.
Albert Einstein

Remember yesterday. Plan for tomorrow. Sleep this afternoon.

Activities which cause pleasure and happiness, at least in the present moment, for human animals.

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.

A few rules for living a well rounded life:

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.

An outline for living:

  1. First write a bucket list, a list of goals you hope to accomplish during your lifetime.

    This list may include the following types of things.

    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:

    1. Get Mary Jones to marry me before I am 25 years old.
    2. Have three kids with her and raise them until they give me grandchildren.

    or under the heading "have fun":

    1. Learn to skydive and go skydiving at least once a month.

    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."

  2. On the first of each year review your bucket list and from it create a list of specific goals for the coming year, each of which will lead to the larger goals from your bucket list.
  3. On the first of each month review your list for the year and make a sub list for that month.
  4. On the first of each week review your monthly list and make a sub list for that week.
  5. Each morning review your weekly list and make a sub list for that day with the items on that list ordered as to urgency and importance and include any individual living items for that day such as "Pick up the laundry." or "Shop for groceries."

    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.