One of my favourite authors, Robert Anton Wilson, coined the term Rigidicus Bureaucraticus to describe the state of mind in which some people suffer unknowingly.
Metaphorically speaking, our habitual and established thought patterns form grooves in our minds which eventually become solidified and seem to us to form the inescapable reality in which we live.
If you find yourself repeating thoughts which are negative, “downers”, pessimistic, or not productive, you spend much of your life in a state of mind that’s not happy. Fortunately this is entirely avoidable.
Fight Your Mental Establishment
Alan Watts very poetically described the cure (see the big green quote):
Happy, productive, inspired people are that way because they choose happy thought patterns. Optimism can be learned.
Depressive thought patterns can be changed – it just takes you realizing that your thoughts are following certain patterns and deciding to not be a slave to your brain’s training.
To quote the Zen Buddhists: “You are the wizard who makes the grass green”. It is your nervous system, your mind, that filters and sifts all the data you process during your ongoing interactions with the world.
You can consciously choose to make that wizard, your brain, perceive happier thought patterns, have more optimistic expectations, and discover more inspiring sensory input.
Be the Wizard:
Here’s how to retrain your mind to find new, more exciting, more scenic paths to travel.
- Spend a little effort to notice what you think.
- Take note of repetitive patterns, especially negative ones (for example: “I feel fat”, or “I hate my job” or “I’ll never get this place cleaned up”.
- Notice when these thoughts arise – do you hate your job in the car all the way to work every morning?
- Question the thought: do you really hate your job utterly and totally, or do you just strongly dislike doing TPS reports on Monday mornings?
- Break the pattern. Catch yourself thinking the undesirable thought, firmly stop yourself, and replace the thought with a more specific one: “I like my job, but I could really do without those TPS reports.”
- Reframe: “At least I get the reports done by ten am on Monday and then the rest of the week I’m free to do more interesting things”.
- Aspire: “This week I’m going to accomplish [something interesting that you can tackle as soon as the TPS reports are out of the way]“.
- Smile while you reprogram yourself. You’re doing this because life is good, and you choose to be happy. Some people smile a lot because they’re happy, but you can make yourself happy by smiling. It works both ways. Try it.
- Deep breathing is a good idea too. In fact, taking slow abdominal breaths is one of the best things you can do for your entire body – you’ll calm yourself, increase blood flow to your brain, and make it easier to be happy.
Enjoy a brief Alan Watts lecture on Prickles and Goo, animated by the creators of South Park. Are you Prickles or are you Goo?