Just for Today Program

For those who are tired from their past. For those who are tired from their future. For those who are carrying over their shoulders the burden of anticipation. For all of those, and myself, I dedicate the below program called “Just for Today”, written by Sibyl F. Patridge in the late 19th century. Copy it and stick on your desk or on the wall and read it daily:

Just for Today

  1. Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.
  2. Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.
  3. Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.
  4. Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
  5. Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do as William James suggests, just for exercise.
  6. Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.
  7. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.
  8. Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurry and indecision.
  9. Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax. In this half hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.
  10. Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.

If we all have our worries from the past or to happen in the future; then, we all really need to live just for today.

How to cure your spiritual diseases?

A great deal of mankind psychological problems are in fact Spiritual problems. What’s the difference? Psychological problems have a link to physiological matters, represented in how brain neural circuitry and chemistry are impacting and directing you. Depression, for instance, is a psychological problem and a depressed human brain EEG or MRI imaging is differential from those not depressed. Physicians treat this with antidepressant pills; besides, in some cases, adopting psychological techniques such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to aid the process.

However, there are no pills to treat envy. No pills to treat arrogance. No pills to treat cowardice. No pills to treat unjustified fear or panic attacks resultant from, for instance, fear of death. Such are good examples of Spiritual Diseases. Scientifically or methodically, they are enrolled under psychology Personality Theories as personality or character disorders; however, I always seen them as illnesses attacking the spirit not the personality. They are impacting your own very core; rather than a mere representational layer called personality.

Spiritual diseases have only one fundamental root cause: being self-centered. If you want to get rid of 95% of your spiritual problems, stop being occupied by your self only. The less you are occupied with your self, the less you would face such diseases. How to break this pattern? Live for something outside you. Live for others. Don’t say that people around you don’t deserve that you live for them. Ironically, you live for them because YOU deserve to be healthy from spiritual disease. It’s as if this entire universe is designed that we connect. No other way. And it makes sense! If it wasn’t that forced by design, no life would be there – if we had the choice to get away from people we didn’t like or could survive by eliminating others. If you are interested in scientific proof of what I just said, I’d recommend you read Daniel Goleman’s Social Intelligence book. It contains latest neuroscience research about how our brains are designed to connect to the extent that the absence of which is denounced in structural changes in our brains.

And to connect does not mean you spend time on Facebook. To connect is more fundamental than this. It’s to connect with your externals. Here are some examples that you can use to connect – AND to cure your spiritual diseases:

  • Your Work. What you do and produce is a connection between you and people dependent on your output at work. It’s also a connection between you and all the clients impacted by your work. You connect to your colleagues and customers through the work you produce. From that end, think of your work everyday as being part of you getting out and linking to other people. Think of how you are tied to them. You work to connect.
  • Your Study. When you study, you read for other professionals. What you read is not just words. It’s other’s hard effort and sweat. An organism breathing with their blood and mental effort. You connect with them. Not only this, you become a connecting ring in the chain yourself as you propagate forward what you learned in form of practical work you do or knowledge you teach or transfer. You study to connect.
  • Your Commute. You go out everyday. Being light-weighted to those around you. A greeting. A smile. An assistance to old person or a relieve to a troubled person. You commute around people to connect.
  • Your environment. Everything around you has energy level (chemistry people know this). You connect with your environment by being in the same energy band. Want an example of how that feels? Remember that day when you heard good news of being promoted or the good news of being accepted in a scholarship or that job offer or hearing a love word for the first time from the person you loved. Remember how you walked in the streets back then. It felt like everything around you is in alignment with you. It felt like you are extremely harmonized inside that you no longer perceive what’s around you as something separate from you. This is being in the same energy band with your external environment. Feel the air breathe, the birds singing, the sun rays on your face. You look around to connect.

Don’t ever have fear of living for others around you through your work or just living; concerned by living for them you would be oppressing your own self or denying her the attention or care needed. Contrarily, your own self would come to you in a perfect recollection from what you do to other. Connect and you become a better you. A person without Spiritual diseases.

Death’s Sensational Defeat

 

Have you ever wondered how humans are able to live peacefully though all the potential dangers and bad outcomes that could happen to us? What dangers and what bad outcomes? Well, we don’t know – there are just plenty of them from illnesses to relationship failure to death. All are unknown; either by case or by timing.

Hope is a characteristic paired with the unknown. It’s the unknown with its potential outcomes of good or bad that make us hope for the good to happen rather than the bad. If life’s incidents are pre-known to us, there wouldn’t be any need for hope. As such, one of Hope workings is the must of projecting into the future. You cannot hope for something for the moment; you have to throw it off one or two points in the sphere of future; then, sling to it with your hope. The other part of the process is that as you project it into the future, you envision that the good part is the one that keeps happening, indefinitely. This is basically what we mean by “I Hope”. To summarize, Hope is something about the future, not the past nor the present, and it’s about the good thing always happening as the outcome. I boldfaced ‘indefinitely’ above because it’s very interesting feature of hope: there is no end for your imagination of the good always happening. Hope is an indefinite sensation. Want a proof? Easy. Without this indefinite feature of hope, no human being would be able to live with the fact of Death.

Hope is the Sensational Defeat for Death.

It is hope that makes you expecting to live for tomorrow; you cannot be possibly dying tomorrow, not after a month, not after a year….. It keeps going indefinitely. Everybody has an internal hope to live for tomorrow, every day!

With the unknown lying at a distance, you cannot help imaging that the bad is the option to happen that you “hope” for the good to happen; then, you live up for that day. That’s how you keep going.

But hope is nothing negative. It decorates our life and gives us something to live for. It only becomes negative when hope is paired with inactivity. This is when the student doesn’t study for the exam and hopes that he still passes it. This is when hope becomes a painkiller for our inactivity and a conscience silencer for our ill-doings. And here is opens a very interesting thing about human beings: Honest action with total faith vanishes hope.

Faithful action for itself dispels hope.

When you love for itself. When you write for itself. When you work for itself. When you live your life with all what’s in it faithfully for itself, you cease to need hope because there won’t be any unknown you care for. In itself emphasizes the now; the unknown that lies at a distance is not longer important. There is no future state for which you are doing what you are doing now. Thus, you don’t need hope anymore.

Living faithfully and honestly for whatever in your life for itself is the mother of all healthy living, void of fear or expectations. It’s not living in the now as much as believing in whatever you are doing now. Stop hoping for your life. Just live that life, for now and for itself.

How you live?

How much from your life is on the Autopilot?

A disruptive question that I usually ask to shake the peaceful equilibrium deep inside. This is because, in fact, your life, well, could be run on the autopilot most of the time.

Let me first attempt to put a definition first. A life run on auto-pilot is a life lived reactively. Except for the deliberate thinking activities you may be doing in your job, you live your life always responding to life’s situations; without deliberate thought. Typical examples of auto-pilot affairs are like culture, norms, social beliefs…etc. While having some of your actions/thoughts automated is something good for living efficiently, the other side of the same coin is drastic – actions and decisions taken reactively are prone to mistakes and regrets.

Auto-pilot living is not a fiction nor what I am warning you of above is something metaphorical. It’s now something we could tract and prove scientifically. Neuroscience has made a feat in increasing our understanding of our mental lives. Consider the below figure and answer the following question:

 

mullerlyer-illusia

 

Which line is longer?

You most certainly answered that the top one is longer than the bottom one. If you got a ruler and measured both lines, you would find that both lines are of exact same length. Worse, even after you have measured it with the ruler and confirmed that they are of equal length, your feeling will keep telling you that the top one is really longer.

We can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness. ~ Daniel Kahneman

This is an example for auto-pilot living. You live judging things and observing them without invoking much thought; without using the parts in your brain responsible for in-depth analysis of things. You snap judge things reactively and through appearances. This is my true friend, this is my true love, this is my true job; you auto-pilot these choices and your feeling of their truth is just as real as you felt the top line in the above figure is really longer. Welcome to the world of Illusions, that only shows us how flawed our ability to engage our true faculty of mind into reasoning about things. The above figure is called Muller Illusion; and it (among many other  illusions) demonstrates the conflict between two divisions in your brain, psychologists call System 1 and System 2; with System 1 being responsible for making impressions, feelings, and automated responses while System 2 being responsible for in-depth analysis and reasoning. In the basic sense, System 1 handles running your basic daily operations; however, System 2 takes over when deliberate mental effort is engaged like when you are solving mathematical problem or taking an exam or analyzing a situation in-depth.

This is no offense for System 1. Without it, after all, our lives would be like hell; and without it, failure is inevitable. The harmony of interplay with the in-depth System 2 is also a mark of success. However, the problem lies when affairs of your life are not handled by the right system; that is, when the switch doesn’t happen and you live always with System 1 that lacks in-depth analysis of things when you need one. At that time, you would see falseness in reality and swear of it – like you would swear that the top line is longer; and like you would swear that this is your best friend or true person to you.

Knowing you have two competing systems in your mental life and their purposes is a leap in understanding more about how you mentally take in things. It takes just a deliberate will to do the switch and you engage System2 as it should in conducting your life affairs. And it’s not about wrong decisions. If you weigh up things with your System2 and decide that this wrong decision is what you want; then, be it. The most important thing is that you are mentally engaged as the matter calls for and that you are true to yourself accordingly.

How much do you live on auto-pilot? That’s my question to you that when you ask yourself you will be no longer on auto-pilot.

Multitasking

We live in a period (and society) in which being able to do multiple things is a skill appreciated. If you tried to search Google the topic multitasking, you will find different bloggers and online content generators competing in proposing different techniques. In workspace, if you are not a multitasker, you are called inefficient or an employee of limited capabilities.

However, Neuroscience got another word – well, something scientific: the human brain is NOT designed to multitask. Simply put, your brain simply cannot multi-task. If it isn’t, then, you would say, so how I am able to multitask all that time? Well, you deluded that you are multitasking. What happens neurologically is that you brain is simply switching between tasks; however, it fools you that you are multitasking because the human brain is highly quick in doing these switches. Very well, some would say, if my brain does not support multitasking yet is able to effectively switching between different tasks; then, fair enough I am still multitasking who cares how this is being handled neurologically inside the brain. Well, no. The operation of switching between tasks comes with high cost. It’s in fact a highly resource consuming activity to juggle between multiple tasks. The human brain uses Glucose as its primary nutrition and such exhaustive switching of tasks causes your brain to burn Glucose at rapid rate. This leaves you feeling exhausted and deplete your overall energy. Furthermore, on the mental level, the human brain works via networking neurons in different patters. For example, performing a specific task would cause a specific set of neurons to fire together in a neural network. What happens when you juggle between tasks is that this neural circuity is never established to its stable form. It remains suseptible to interference over the course of time. That’s why jugglers and people who attempts to learn multiple things concurrently or over short timeframes are never masters of anything from what they learn. Thus what you think is multitasking is not only depleting your bodily and mental energy quickly, but it also hinders your mental development in what you do.

Having talk about the mental dimension and neurological dimension, the delusion of multitasking also kills another dimension, the existential and psychological. You have to see focusing and doing one thing sufficiently at a time as a bliss and joy you are missing. When you let yourself get absorbed in a task you do, this acts as an effective way of healing life’s stresses (remember, your brain can’t do two things at a time – so focusing in one task means you won’t think of other problems). It also rewards you by feeding the human natural inclination to understand and gain knowledge. You feel that you are in more control over your task when you are fully focused in it without having to attend to others at the same time. This mental control feeds your inner mental satisfaction.

Next time, try it yourself. And remember the science: your brain can never multitask. Live in everything you do; for you breath in what you do only when you are fully engaged in it with all your senses.

Time

You are not your acquaintances. You are not your body. You are not your clothes. You are not your job… You are not even your thoughts!

You are time. You are like the Hourglass; as one grain of sand passes through, it’s part of it went away. Each grain of sand is like a day in your life, an hour. As the time passes, it’s part of you that is passed. It’s weird after that to see people trying to accomplish something independent of that awareness; independent of the dimension of time. The best they do is to add the dimension of time as a target date or a deadline; however, this is still not adding time in the equation. Aiming for a target or creating a timelined plan about yourself or your life is not like considering how you spend your hour of time. Timelined plans can make you see what you do with the days or months or years, but not the fleeting hours of your own Today. The result could be accomplished life per plan, but a life that always missed the Today, the present. That is to add: You are not your achievements. You are the time you have taken to do these achievements.

What you do in life yes is what defines you; your actions and achievements. However, underlying these is your time. How many persons we know of high achievements who still missed their time. If you will spend 80% of your lifetime on achievements, be sure that the other 20% are aligned with your achievements. And that your time, you, is well spent. Live in Today and care for how you are spent… For that you are nothing but hours.

Recreate Yourself

The incentive of recreation is loss not gain; failure rather than success. You recreate yourself to adapt to a situation or a condition, characterized by loss or shortage. Recreation is a chance given to you to rise from your loss; not necessarily by removing the loss, but mostly by adapting yourself to it thus compensating for it. This is something important to realize because some people think that you create yourself based on gain so they keep waiting for the best times in their lives to come so that they recreate themselves. This (based on gains) is not recreation, but arrogance. For example, when buying a Mercedes or relocating to an expensive neighbourhood to stop knowing your old neighbourhood friends and start bonding with new one.

Recreation is something different. You first realize the shortage or the negative part. Then, for each shortage or negative set an objective or a goal – that is, define what would be the opposite side of that negative part. I said the opposite side because not every negative in our lives would necessarily have a possible positive accessible to us. However, every negative would have an opposite side, which is your adaptation to it. Take for example the blind. There is no positive, but there is an opposite side, which could be nurturing other senses to compensate for loss of sight. Whatever your shortage or negatives, there is always an opposite side. It’s you how defines that opposite side.

Once you have realized the shortage or the negative and you defined an opposite side for each, start defining and taking daily steps to achieve that opposite side – this is the Mean. You need to know what is the suitable vehicle that would take you from the starting point to the destination potion. The mean could be a change of a habit or a change of attitude or a change of perception. Some destinations are reached by attitude change, some by exercise…etc. Choosing the wrong mean could mislead you. Based on your full understanding of what is your problem and what’s the desired end you want, the suitable mean would be clear to you.

These three elements you must reflect on and write down: The negatives in your life, what is the opposite side you which to achieve for each, and what’s the suitable mean that would carry you to there. Once you have them written down, act. Act and review on them daily before you sleep. Recreate yourself!

Terminal Illness

It’s brutal; the fact of hearing one’s death sentence. However, it’s still contradictory to logic. We all know that we’re sentenced to death. This then begs the question: why do we yearn, cry, and rebel over the knowledge of having a terminal illness and going to die while we know that we are going to die?

Death is the only unshakable must destination we are all heading to yet it’s the most kept hidden, by design. Societies and activities keep death several steps away that we almost forget about it. The sudden knowledge of one’s impending death due to a terminal illness is thus disruptive to this motion. Now, he sees death starring him in the eye; without a layer of isolation presented in the daily busyness and the society. Therefore, the yearn over the piece of knowledge is not due to the newness of the knowledge or that it wasn’t known beforehand. It’s due to not thinking about death; meaning one wasn’t thinking about it at all before that, or it just passes in front of him with the news of someone else’s death or maybe remembering it from time to time yet without the intensity of the one who’s waiting for his death per a terminal illness. This takes us to the answer of the question.

Death antidote is hope. And hope is an excellent ingredient for procrastination. Everyone has a hope for tomorrow, for next year, for next decade. Everyone procrastinates his own death to the long future. We have abundance of time. That way we can live happily and comfortably with the inevitable fact. That way we can live even with our wrongness. Terminal illness and explicit knowledge just cut the hope and define a deadline. Now the soothers are gone that’s why one cannot withstand the fact without the painkiller.

For a rational person then, it doesn’t matter terminal illness or anything else. These are all routes to the same destination. And I have an argument that Terminal Illness or one’s knowledge of its impending death, while brutal yet has one extreme benefit – even at the thinking level rather than actuality: You have a chance to finish well. Who would hate to have the time to amend relationships, to comfort beloved, to organize things, to apologize for those offended, or to finish up a pending task of importance? Given the fact that one would die anyway, then, you would prefer to know about it beforehand, right? At least so that you prepare your leave; better than to be gone all of a sudden without a goodbye and with your affairs cluttered. This is an extreme benefit from this.

But how to prepare yourself emotionally so that you don’t extreme shock one day if you ever was put in this situation (or from obsessing about it, if you are OCDed or Hypochondriac) AND also benefit if you didn’t ever encounter this and died on your own? Here is how:

  1. Who needs hope if one would live in Today? If there is no tomorrow, there is no need for hope. Hope is futuristic; it cannot be there in the Present. Live and enjoy your today and you won’t feel worried about not catching tomorrow.
  2. The notion of Time Abundance is society made. Everything is set into motion. No one is talking about death. Act out of urgency. You have a limited time compared to what you would want to do in a typical life. Time is not abundant and soon your time will be gone. Thus, make sure you live a rich life.
  3. Your role as a human is to work and do life; not guarantee your lifetime survival. Keep busy with your life in the right way.
  4. Every way is a way to the same end. It doesn’t matter how each one would die. It’s that everyone is dying regardless he was sick or sleeping. The sick is actually having the benefit over the sleeping: he can prepare and say goodbye. The sleeping one is just gone at the current state. When all ways lead to the same destination; then. the way of your knowledge would be the best one.

Get busy with what you should do and how you should live your life. This will make your life productive and will protect your sanity if you ever came to know about your own death.

The Regret Paradox

Regret is a painful feeling, differential from the rest of other painful sensations. What makes Regret more painful than other negative sensations is that it comes associated with a confirmed sight or perception of what’s right, the right thing that was supposed to be done at the moment we did the thing that we are regretting now. The source of pain in this sensation is thus due to finally seeing the truth or the correct thing that we were suppose to do, but now with no revert. That’s why dropping something in the past that we still have the time to do now does not yield the Regret sensation even if what we kept doing in the past was wrong and now we see the right. This is because we still have the time to do the right; we learn to forgive our past easily that now we can wash it by doing the right going forward. Regret is painful because we finally see what we supposed to do YET time to do it is gone and there is no revert. Both of these elements are must to yield the sensation of Regret.

When I reflect on events or actions in the past and see that something was supposed to be done, the right thing subjectively, instead of what was done, I find that at that time when I did the thing the way I already did, I was still seeing the other way of doing it, but still chose to do it the way I did; the way I am basically regretting now. This refines the past paragraph description of regret a bit: regret is not always associated with a SUDDEN realization of the right thing we ought to do instead of what we already did. In many cases, we choose to do something that way while being in full perception of the other way. In this specific case, when we come to regret the thing now after the time has passed, Regret becomes compounded with the Feel of Guilt. So you regret not seeing or doing the right thing and now the time is gone + the sensation of being guilty for not doing what you had to do because you were fully aware of it but chose to neglect.

In this latter case of Regret, I find Regret a bit paradoxical. I am confronted with a situation. I am aware of two options X and Y. I tend to do X, but at the same time I am inclined to Y. I choose to do X anyways – for whatever reason (being easy, being close to my mood…etc.) Now years later, basically when one suffers the consequences of doing X, Regret happens. This is one scenario and it’s straightforward. The second scenario happens when you do X and then realize that no, you should do Y – here the time is still with you to revert your action. You start to think about making the move from X to Y in order not to regret it in the future. However, you start to feel that shifting to Y will make you regret leaving X. Here is the paradox, Regret in X and Regret in Y. What happened? Why when we still have the time to do X or Y, we are chased by the ghost of regret in both?

In my opinion, in such cases, there is one event that is Real Regret and the other is the Fear of Regret, disguised in regret. We see regret in both because we are unable to differentiate between what’s the one that holds real regret and what’s the one that just holds the fear of regret, but not regret. If you are a regret-based thinker, then, you find it difficult to take decisions or choices in your life under these cases when there is no clear distinction. Admittedly, thinking of regret before the event takes place involves sort of prediction to the future; you are trying to anticipate some events that will take place in the future based on your present choice and you are evaluating whether these events are what you want (or want to avoid) or not. And we are not mistaken to fall a prey to such paradox. Because in many cases taking the decision to move from X to Y entails giving away something we cherish at the present – because if not, we wouldn’t have this paradox in the first place, that is, if X has nothing to cherish or give away, we would be happy to leave it altogether to Y with a lot of ease. Since we are evaluating leaving X to go to Y while X still holds something we like at the present, we become afraid of regretting leaving what we liked at the present to something that we perceive as having something we like too when we go to it, but fear that it turns out to be fake or at least less pleasant than what we gave away as a cost. This even becomes more misleading when Y has some rewards, but futuristic and that you choosing to revert to Y, you will still have to bear some hurdles at the beginning before you reach the rewards. Trading off something we like and have NOW (Instant Gratification) to something that we could be liking more but not now in the future is something sufficient to trigger that paradoxical feeling of Regret. We start to question what if what I anticipate that I will like in the future did not turn out as it should; in this case, I will futuristically regret leaving the pleasure of X for that thing. And at the same time, we think, what if I neglected this futuristic liking because I have what I like now, but in the future what I am liking now will fade away and at that time I will be regretting that I did not choose the event in the past that would have brought me the liking now. That is, the future for the now will be the present when you reach it in the future. We travel with our minds in the future and imagine ourselves there; thus, we become as if we are living two existences at the same time. Thinking ahead is one of the challenging humanly ability; unlike animals that are only concerned with the present moment.

Unfortunately, I won’t tend to put conclusions here because there seem to be no definite one, in the sense of putting something to theorize about. Some people say go and do what you have to do. Some Self Help books preaches for do what interests you whatever the case. But, you know, it’s not that easy. There are considerations that tie us always. And these preaches of some Self Help books under the theme of “Living your life at fullest” or “Living the life you want” contradicts Moral Philosophy theories in many ways. That we are moral agents guided also by duties and obligations. “Living the life you want” in the incomplete way Self Help books preaches for simply drops this Moral consideration. They are animals that can just go and live the life they want; because they don’t have moral obligations to any other thing. But for us, as humans, our moral obligations sometimes stand between us and what we want to do. In this case, as thinking humans, I am still not saying that we follow obligations on the account of how we want to live, but per the same Moral Philosophy theories, self-interest is still something of consideration. This is one point. The second point is that not always what contradicts us are obligation and duties. Sometimes it’s just us not knowing exactly what even would better represent our best self-interest. That is, if you have zero obligations to any other object except yourself, you will still witness to Paradox of Regret because you would be unsure which choice X or Y would really achieve your best Self-Interest. So the problem seems to be, in terms of the Paradox of Regret as I explained above, that in defining our real Self-Interest in event + resolving any clashes with Moral Obligations existent.

Thus, my only advise (or sort of conclusion, I would say) is whenever confronted by the Paradox of Regret, that is, being chased by the ghost of Regret in ALL the choices you got, try to 1) clearly define your best Self-Interest and 2) clearly define any possible clashes with Moral Obligations you are tied to. Then, analyze them against each choice you have. Which one would be meeting my best Self-Interest? And in doing so, what Moral Obligations that would collide with it? And are there any ways to resolve this collide? If yes, then, go ahead, choose, and resolve these clashes. If no resolutions to these clashes or middle-way, do I need to make specific sacrifices? And if yes, will the gain I will have outweighs these sacrifices? And if I made them, will I afford losing them? This is because in many cases the gain will outweigh, but one would not afford losing something in the journey till the gain is reached. For example, to lose having a respectable salary in order to be a university professor after some years – that is, living as a graduate student with low level university rank jobs on moderate stipend. When you become finally a professor (just as you wanted), yes it will outweigh the benefit of having good salary working in a company with no interest, but you may not afford living in pity short of money for some years. Again, self-help books would preach sacrifice for the ultimate goal, which is true; however, you are the person who would live it, so you must be aware of them so that you design your psyche, life, and expectations on such choice and your sacrifices for it. The above self-interrogation with questions I listed is a plausible line of assessing choices for the purpose of resolving the Paradox of Regret. Yet, we should be aware that Regret is an integral part of life and that whatever we do, we should be doing it to minimize it, but not to avoid it altogether.

Lose Yourself In Action

“When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear of poverty no more, tremble no more at death…”

Thus says Machiavelli in a letter to Francesco Vettori, Italian diplomat and writer, in December 1513. Machiavelli, founder of modern Political Science and best known for his political masterpiece book, The Prince, was a gifted writer in making visual scenes out of his writings. When I read to him, though he could be describing a strategy for the ruler on how to organize his army, I feel as if I am seeing how the army is getting organized before my eyes. In the above quoted from his letter, Machiavelli is beautifully picturing the tiresomeness of the day life – in which he describes his workday clothes as “muddy” and “sweaty”, denoting that what he was doing involved movements and actions (sweaty) on the ground, not in a comfortable room (muddy). Besides the sense resultant from this condition, it also infers that the physical body must be tired after that day of actions.

However, the remarkable thing about the message here is losing one’s self in something worthwhile that one enjoys doing for itself – not for money, not for fame, not for the boss. Beware! This is different from losing one’s self in a task at hand, like filling accounting balance sheet or envisioning a tracking system for an inventory. Machiavelli here is describing a higher level of engagement in something at hand, which is more than just the traditional busyness of our day work or house duties, that maybe can take our minds, but not our souls, senses, feelings, and the intellect. This is described by Machiavelli in that when he gets to study, his soul is teleported to another world; that he feels as if he is one of them – sitting with them, clothed like them, eating with them, and even discussing matters with them. Not only this, but he also feels as if they are responding back to him and answering him. An interactive experience. Such vividness of experience of the invasive absorption of one into something that close to his soul and mind is an experience to be envied. It’s the experience of losing yourself, with all its sides, in action. It’s a bliss that one can have something in his life that can take him away from his life – even if it was a living person. It must not be a study, or a book. It could be a dream, a beloved person, a mission in life… The key is the transcendence of the experience, of going beyond one’s self into something else. This is because humans need transcendence in their lives – not to live self-centred all the way in their course of life. We need that feeling. Besides the beauty of such experience sufficient for itself, that experience is also important as a defence mechanism: losing oneself in action is a shield from depression, despair, and negative emotions. This is because our minds can only focus in one thing at a time and when our minds are vacuum, there comes the chances for negativity to occupy that empty space. As such, losing ourselves in action, best if it was something we enjoy for itself and something that grabs all our senses and mind, is a therapy to many psychological illnesses – in fact, it’s an actual technique in psychiatry, termed as ‘Occupational Therapy’, in which patients are treated by getting them busy in something that absorbs them. As Tennyson said “I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.”

Let’s not be dwelling into ourselves only all the time. Let’s give ourselves to something we deeply love and appreciate: a study, a mission, a memory, a beloved, or a thought … to give ourselves wholly so that, like Machiavelli had, we lose sense of our current world, our time, and even the clothes on our bodies and just transcends and be with that something – to tear the imprisonment of time and space and travel with our soul and mind to something beyond ourselves. If that something was of yielding a result, like a study or a writing or a mission in life, the outcome would be extraordinary if we did the thing with that level of transcendence rather than just doing it as a busy task absorbing only the mind. And if it was something that has no specific result, like a memory or a dream or a book we are reading or a thought about the beloved, enough with the outcome of losing ourselves and the exhaustion of our day into something we love – something/someone with which/whom we would just be happy being with with all of our soul and mind, even for a short time. This would the least bring us happiness and shield us from many psychological illnesses.