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Steps to an Integrity of Mind

During this social media moratorium* I've been doing a wealth of reading - mostly re-reading psychology books such as Drs. Ellis and Harper's A Guide to Rational Living (I started re-reading it yesterday and am almost finished - It's incredible what can be accomplished when you decide to walk away from a computer!) I'm also re-reading much of my "useful resource" library that can be accessed here.

In addition I'm getting out of the house more - just because!

The ability to silence one's chatter to allow one to think, challenge and pose new questions is severely hampered by the "Niagara of words" as Samuel I. Hayakawa once noted. Twitter and Facebook updates with a frequency that is twice or even three times as quick than the human nervous system could possibly parse and understand. If our abstraction processes are routinely incomplete then surely social media networks are passing around discrete packages of shortened information that are whittled down into something almost nonsensical (insofar we are unable to extract meaning from them via our senses.) So why is our mind being littered with tiny tracts and tidbits? Where is our mindfulness in this instance?

In my view, mindfulness is being conscious of your abstraction and subvocalization process - also known as metacognition or "thinking about thinking." You are most likely not reading this post aloud and thus subvocalizing the words. But how often do we sit back and think about what we are telling ourselves about the world?

Usually we are unaware of our own thoughts. These are powerful - they impact on our emotions and behaviors. If the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and researches of Count Korzybski are held to be valid, our reality is inferred and created by what we tell ourselves and how we derive meaning from the outside world. If we tell ourselves we are a "piece of shit" or unable to handle certain situations we feel we have been trapped in a cage built by our reactions to a largely self-constructed semantic environment.

It is true - we only have limited choice when considering the vastness of the cosmos and the immediate macrocosm that we see. Standing on the corner of the street we can choose what direction to travel and whether to peruse a shop, book a holiday or even chat up a girl we find attractive but causality remains. But there are some things we cannot prevent and other things we are completely incapable of. But that does not make life unlivable, harrowing or awful. We adapt to our environment as best as possible and carve out happiness within it.

The universe is indifferent but the way we choose to see it is up to us entirely. Even if one is a cognitive neuroscientist, a believer in the eight-circuit model of consciousness or a strict religionist or somewhere in between, we all choose to adapt to these methods of thinking - no one forces us. At the end of the day we are alone in how we conduct ourselves and how we perceive the outside world. Belief is the death of intelligence. Belief in the irrational is the death of one's agency and one's mental freedom.

Much like Marcus Aurelius says - Do you not possess reason? With reason doing its job, what else could you possibly want or need? It can feel like a struggle to become rational in an increasingly irrational world - but, at least in my opinion, it is one of the most worthwhile endeavors one can ever take.

*I am aware that some of my non-social media activities on the web cause automated tweets to be sent, such as posting this blog or "loving" tracks on, etc. This does not constitute a "breaking" of the moratorium according to my criterion.

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