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How does one live a happy, carefree life?
September 29, 2000
9:12 pm
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Dr. Gerard Jampolsky wrote a little book titled "Love is letting go of fear". Loving and being loved feels good. Unless we're hooked on adrenalin, fear doesn’t feel good and unless a ‘real’ threat to our life exists, it would seem that unfocused, unfounded fear indicates an undesirable malfunctioning of our primitive drive for survival.

Being contented and happy would seem to imply having control over our responses to our emotional fear arousal and our ability to control the longevity of or to terminate that same arousal.

So… the implication is that if we want to ‘feel good’ we have to strive for as much freedom from fear as is possible on an instant by instant basis. To that end, it would seem essential to have some rudimentary understanding of the nature of fear and how to pacify inappropriate fear. Thus the theme of this thread. "How does one live a happy, carefree life?"

It seems that there is a separate emotional and thinking self located within our brain.(Le Doux, 1996) It appears that both ‘selves’ interact in the machinations of our working memory that we experience as our conscious awareness of ourself and our relationship with life in each ‘now’ that presents itself to us.

How conscious are we of these separate physiological parts in our head? Can we clearly see our thoughts affecting our feelings and our feelings affecting what we think?

How much control can we have over either our thoughts or our feelings?

October 2, 2000
5:13 am
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hazza
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well then tez!
a lot of philosophy - as usual for you! (:-))
my experience of the mundane fears in life are only really through my experience of anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. Like gravity, it sucks!
I spent years philosophising on that particular problem of mine, only to find that in fact, all the philosophising was not the answer! the fears came from the basic part of the brain and therefore responded to retraining from practise and emotional states (which we can control) rather than any intelectualising.
once I learned that basic fact, I made progress.
I had to use the philosophical approach to understand how the mind worked and learn all that stuff, in order to learn HOW to relate to the more basic mind. But the progress came not from THINKING, but from DOING, more importantly DOING in the RIGHT WAY!
trouble is I have always been a thinker. I thought the solution to all problems came from thinking them through. but with my Aggy, thinking was onlyhalf the battle, the other half was learning to DO stuff again, gradually and learning to keep my emotions calm so that I could RE learn those experiences as being OKAY rather than TERRIFYING.
interlectually i could rationalise that I SHOULD be able to go and post a letter without fear, but no amount of THINKING alone could make me be able to do it, only by practising the MUNDANE act of building up to that goal allowed me to GET THERE!
quite a surprise for me, I had always lived in that theoritical part of the brain and to me it seems that it doesn't have ALL the answeers - we have to be an intergrated whole and sometimes work inthe language of the more basica parts of our anatomy.
what a strange new skill to learn!
we can have emotional fear as you talk about - fear to love, fear to take risks etc.
we can also have a very practical fear of the most mundane things in life because of a learned - or IMAGINED bad experience. I guess sometimes we have to fight fire with fire.
my last year has been so utterly focused ont he mundane everyday frears - supermarkets, going outside, learning to drive again - very little time to even wonder in I am afraid of the more emotional things in life like relgion and love and feelings of the self, maybe I am too close to e able to see the difference.
Although I believe that fear as a concept and fear as a disorder that affects many of us in a more clinical way are different. Maybe the same core, maybe the latter is an exagerated disease taht comes from the first, I don't know.
But I do know that in order to cure and anxiety disorder thinking alone doesn't cut it - we need to connect to the part of the brain that has the problem and that aint the logic part!this is why psychiatric approaches to anxiety disorders seldome work on their own and a gradual exposure training and relaxation approach works wonders, because we are using language that that part of the brain understands.
but could the same approach be used with the more spiritual fears?
could it be that if we "think" about love etc alone, we get lost in ourselves and never feel able to connect?
does the person who just goes and gives their love and "hopes for the best" have a better chance of finding that love rather than one who analyses it over in their mind to try to find the perfect solution?
who knows?
trust is probably the probelm we have with religion, and so trust in all shapes and forms is not easy. I guess when we can trust ourselves we make progress.
if I can trust myself and my body not to let me down and have a panic when out and about, then I am making progress - I have learned to trust a little. I could just as easliy take the risk of trusting other things.

I do not know the answer to a happy and carefree life - I feel often that a labotomy may be the onlyanswer to that one.
but I knwo that it is not possible to be happy without feeling happy within yourself and trusting yourself. that is the first steps that I am working on! when I learn any more I will of course let you know!
surely we always look to external sources of happiness precisely because we are not happy within our own skin?
surely where ever this debate could lead us that is the first step?
for me, the anxiety disorders are my big issue and as I said, I have learned that thinking alone is not enough to cure that, action too is required, maybe with other issues that hold others back also thinking is not enough?
maybe we shoudl shift the focus away from thinking that only thought alone and our own philosophies on life hold the answer? maybe in ALL issues of the self and getting comfortable with ones self a certain amount of action is required?

What I wonder, if that is not too personal, was the ACTIONS you have taken in life to connect to yourself, not jsut the meditations and thought processes along the way, but the concrete actions?
I feel maybe that actions or lack of them also play a BIG part in how are lives feel to us and the level of happiness we can achieve.
positive thinking and challenging negative thoguhts are very much actions of course, but also other actions that are far more mundane ont he surface can actually be much more important that jsut thought alone?
I guess an alcoholic could "think and theorise" about his or her drink problem for ever and a day, but only the ACTION of giving up that alcohol would really bring about any chance of recovery?
may, I think we are neglecting the actions side of things?
I knwo that I was, and only when I learned that we need both together did I make progress.
maybe when we advise people here, we are very good at giving advice on the thinking side of things, but people need an idea of what action to take also.

After all we are not brains in jars are we! (assuming you are not some top secret aussie govt. project entitled "brain in jar experiment"!)
peace
Hazza

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