Perhaps such a state of being is a peaceful solution to living: it is sure to grant you at least some happiness, and sure to make you grow and learn from your mistakes in diverse ways. Consider school, though. Suppose you weren’t forced (in one way or another) to go to school as a child, and instead gave into easy childhood pleasures. While you would have a wealth of experience others didn’t have, you would be greatly stunted in the ability to learn. Learning seems to me to be a fundamental requirement for life and accomplishing whatever it is you want to do. Going to school may not be fun now, but if it serves your overall direction, it will provide a greater and more encompassing sense of satisfaction. Most of us are not angry with our parents for forcing us to go to school, because knowledge serves our overall purpose. In truth, subordinating immediate gratification for a greater value is ultimately fulfilling and liberating. Those who rely on acting impulsively often don’t know what they want or don’t know how to get there: they have never learned the value of commitment and dedicated work, or don’t know what they value.
This sense of direction is determined by our childhood experiences. In no way do I suggest that parents should force their children to immediately subordinate pleasure for work and accomplishment. On the contrary, they should encourage free choice among their children, but also allow them to accept the consequences. Such a process allows the children to understand cause and effect in the real world: by directly experiencing the consequences of their actions, they learn to weigh their options and think critically. In doing so, rather than being taught to work toward a greater goal, they learn it themselves and grow to appreciate it. People who experienced inconsistent parenting in childhood and had disrupted lives often do not feel delaying pleasure is worthwhile, because an opportunity can so easily be lost. Rather, they scrounge to satisfy themselves in various ways, such as with money or romantic and sexual relationships.
Most of us have learned to delay pleasure for one purpose or another. However, in order for us to properly weigh the consequences of our actions, we must know exactly what we value. We can only weigh these consequences relative to some scale, and this scale is dictated by our goals, dreams and hopes, which are under direct influence of our values. If, for instance, we desire a happy and peaceful life, money or “societal success” cannot be one of our values. Money is only temporarily and easily satisfying: we always want more, and it can easily be lost or lose value. Furthermore, acquiring large sums of money often requires moral flexibility, and a history of lies and deceit will prevent us from feeling at peace with ourselves. We cannot actually acquire or determine happiness or peace by outside means: no one can “complete” us, give us something or achieve something for us that will make us happy – no one can make you happy. The responsibility is exclusively ours. What will allow one person peace will not necessarily work for another; these feelings are subject to our own values. Thus, the first thing we must do is determine what we value and how we define success for ourselves.
And that leads us back to thinking – knowing what we value is knowing ourselves, and self-knowledge requires the immense effort, courage and self-discipline to think about and analyze our self. If we care for ourselves, we will have the discipline to make time for taking care of ourselves and growing. The sense of being a valuable person – one worth caring for – is once again acquired during childhood, and it is a direct result of parental love and time dedicated by parents.
In the main, the point of this blog will be to explore the self. What makes us want to do things? What makes us productive? How do you achieve peace? Why do we repress our desires, and how do we find and understand them? What can our unconscious mind tell us about ourselves?
Our psyche is a relatively unknown and enigmatic thing. In this blog, ‘The Conscious Mind’, I will seek to resolve and understand the self through analysis on the basis of literature, psychoanalysis, and personal experience. I am taking a year to bike around Europe and explore these thoughts (starting June ’09). During that time, I plan to write and document my ideas, as well as to teach myself some math for pleasure and experiment. Hopefully, TL will serve as a good springboard for writing, for which I will also use this blog.
I hope to get feedback from you guys on any thoughts you have regarding what I write or the self. If you think I am entirely wrong, I would be glad to hear it.
Cheers to you,
* This means acting on impulsive desires and should not be confused with intuitive thinking.