Program For a Good Day

//##########################################
//Program for a good day
//version 1.0

//##########################################
//This function is called by the system whenever 
//self-awareness activates - its contents can be customized.
//If this function is not called frequently enough,
//run meditation routine
func selfAware()
{
	//this is a good opportunity to poll the emotional state
	currentMood = getCurrentMood()
	if(currentMood != pleasant)
		improveMood()
}

//##########################################
//activeThoughts is a system-populated array
//containing all thoughts currently in mind
func improveMood()
{
	foreach(thought in activeThoughts)
	{
		emotionalIntensity = getEmotionalIntensity(thought)
		isPleasant = determineDelightfulness(thought)
		
		if(emotionalIntensity > 0 && !isPleasant)
			defuseThought(thought)
	}
			
	generatePleasantThoughts()
}

//##########################################
func getCurrentMood()
{
	currentMood = null
	
	if(stressLevel == high)
		currentMood = unpleasant
	else if(aggravationLevel == high)
		currentMood = unpleasant
	else if(mouth != smiling || mouth != neutral)
		currentMood = unpleasant
	else if(posture != relaxed)
		currentMood = unpleasant
	else
		currentMood = pleasant
		
	return currentMood
}

//##########################################
func getEmotionalIntensity(thought)
{
	intensity = 0
	
	if(body == tense)
		intensity++
	
	if(gaze == focused)
		intensity++
		
	return intensity
}

//##########################################
func determineDelightfulness(thought)
{
	if(mind + thought == delight)
		return pleasant
	else
		return unpleasant		
}

//##########################################
func defuseThought(thought)
{
	isEasilyDismissed = dismissThought(thought)
	while(!isEasilyDismissed)
	{
		hasFlaw = findFlaw(thought)
		if(!hasFlaw)	
			imaginePositiveAlternative()
	}	
}

//##########################################
func generatePleasantThoughts()
{
	goodThoughtsArray = recallPastPleasantThoughts(5)
	foreach thought in goodThoughtsArray
	{
		visualizeThought(thought)
	}
}

//##########################################

Conveyor of Thoughts

A conveyor belt of thought moves past our awareness. Our job is quality-control inspector, allowing only the highest quality thoughts to pass through to receive attention. If we direct our focus to what we don’t want, we inadvertently select those items. We therefore dare not be offended or outraged lest we feed our attention the very things we dislike.

These passing thoughts are mere suggestions, daydreams, inspiration for action, things to do — simply say yea or nay. We must focus on whatever pleases, matching our preferences while ignoring the rest. To get good at our job we must practice, ever evaluating the stream of thoughts. We know we slipped up when our mood sours, after which we can cleanse the contamination.

Then we use these mistakes to get better, pinpointing the thoughts that act as poison. To clean, we dismantle the unwelcome idea and overwrite with what’s wholesome. Over time we become more efficient in this process, recognition becomes automatic and we surgically pick apart the pollutant and sew up the wound without a trace.

Our role as quality-control inspector means we must examine whatever’s thrown onto our conveyor belt, we don’t get to choose what gets placed on the belt, we simply select the items we want to focus on. We must remember, complaining about the assortment of items is in effect selecting those very things we’d rather not send to our awareness.

Giving Thanks

Thank you life, I appreciate this gift. I understand that I must work on becoming a gracious guest and receive your hospitality with geniality and gratitude. I must strive to realize: whatever we seek, we find — and so I must search for the goodness in every situation, eschewing negativity lest I invite more to come. I must endeavor to select the lighthearted life, seeking smiles over sorrows, dismissing the dreary in favor of the delightful.

Return Trip

I’m back from my trip. About a month has passed. Our stays along the way down were pleasant and scenic — we primarily stayed by beaches overnight. What’s funny, is that I’m not sure why I even took this trip. Perhaps it’s to gain some perspective. In stories, characters are often developed through journeys. So perhaps me and my companions were due for some development.

I didn’t mind life on the road too much, although lengthy bouts within a compact car is a bit uncomfortable. It’s a little dull too, with pockets of civilization connected by lonely stretches of road. For various reasons, it’s difficult for me to consider commercial air travel as a viable means of transportation, so a car it was despite the discomfort. And it got hotter as we went, although after a long winter, the heat was not unwelcome.

When I leave New England I feel like a New Englander. When someone says “tree” I think maple not palm. When someone says “house” I think of a Cape Cod style in an ample yard. When someone says it’s hot, I think of 78F, not 96F. When entering other regions, the concentration of names change (people and stores) and things become slightly different yet not enough to be exotic.

What I imagine the point of the trip to be, is a demonstration of life’s goodness — and my acceptance of this fact — a reconciliation with life. Normally, I have an underlying feeling of imminent danger. It’s always been there yet nothing ever happens. I know someone that lacks this feeling and she’s much happier for it. My conclusion is that it’s a sensation that must be ignored.

It’s a bit of a burden to constantly ignore something so prevalent — yet much better than the alternative of bathing in anxiety. Remember though, boredom is our existential enemy, so we invite into our life whatever excites us. To leave anxiety behind, we need to embrace a new form of entertainment, engaging with life in an alternate way, lightheartedly.

That’s the secret to life you know: entertaining ourselves in a wholesome/nourishing way. It’s skipping the quick and easy scare, opting instead for activities that make us feel good about ourselves. We can chase boredom away in a few different ways, our job is to find and implement the most pleasing ways that align with our preferences.

I had no end-date set when I started the trip but I left when I felt like I was done. I experienced what I wanted and sensed it was time to go. Although, I think I stayed a little too long — but that’s good since it made me enthusiastic to get back on the road. I don’t feel particularly reconciled with life but I must admit that nothing horrible happened — the overall trip was pretty pleasant.

Yes there were some discomforts along the way but I should more likely blame myself for an eagerness to pick out what’s wrong with life. For me, this trip clearly serves as evidence of life’s benevolent nature. There were no dangers untold. Beauty abounded. There was childlike delight and fond remembrances of times not long ago.

Party Time

When I was in school, one of my biggest worries was being called-on by the teacher. I was always one of the quietest students in class — and I preferred to keep it that way. I’ll pay attention, do the work, take the tests — but otherwise leave me alone. I much prefer passive-observation to audience-participation.

I suppose I’ve always felt like a spectator that fears he’ll be called upon to contribute. “Excuse me, sir! Yes you!” Gah…. And some people think they’re doing you a favor by being inclusive. Umm, NO THANKS! I suppose that’s a primary reason I tend to remain isolated, I don’t want outsiders encroaching on my personal space.

If I analyze it though, I can’t immediately recall any incidents where being called-on was brutally unpleasant. I guess it was mostly the annoyance of having my quietude interrupted. I think this probably lends evidence to the idea that I tend to take life way too seriously. How dare you disturb my stillness! No ripples!

But I think it also has to do with my intense focus. I can’t task-switch very efficiently, so if I’m focused on observing the circumstances of my surroundings, I’m doing that and only that. I do one thing at a time and only one thing. I can’t effectively examine and engage — that’s two things!

I suppose I must learn to appreciate the intrusions. After-all, no one likes to be invisible all of the time — not even me. And here’s life trying to include me in the fun but I’m too untrusting of its intentions. “No! You’re just trying to scare me, or hurt me, or make me look like an idiot!” Or I feel as though I’m not good enough to keep up. “No, I’m too awkward at that, you guys go ahead….”

Hmm those definitely sound like lame excuses. If life really wanted to hurt me, things could be a lot worse — and there’s really no place to hide. And not-trying tends to receive harsher judgement than trying-and-failing. I guess I shouldn’t be so suspicious and close-minded when it comes to life’s little stimuli.

I suppose life is like a big party with a generous host trying to make sure everyone’s entertained. And periodically throughout the evening there’ll be party games where everyone’s expected to join in. I should try to be a gracious and appreciative guest rather than a grump that feels victimized for being invited. I should lower my guard and resign myself to having fun. Yay…!?

Lost to Thought

I enjoy getting lost in thought and often seek to do so. But I used to follow any stimulating idea that crossed my mind — I’d go down gloomy labyrinths fraught with thoughts of doom. And that was a mistake of course, as it led me down too many dank alleyways awash with sewer that stuck even upon exit. You don’t eat something just because it’s on your plate do you? No, rotten food should be discarded — and it’s the same with rotten ideas.

Rotten thoughts are those that poison the mind — not only are they initially unpleasant but their effects linger long after the introduction. When they knock, it’s our job not to invite them in — no matter how persistent they may be. It’s a skill to block thought though — but it’s an ability we can practice and improve upon. For instance, we have to regularly poll our emotional state: How am I feeling? Good? Good. How am I feeling? Sad.. scared.. seething..? ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!

Sir! We have a situation. All indications are that we’re currently experiencing emotional distress.

All stations CODE RED! I repeat, all stations CODE RED! Shut this down immediately! DO IT! GO! GO! GO! This must be contained, or it could blow at any minute!

Sir! We’ve successfully ceased all physical and mental activity, we’ve gone into meditative mode and we’re quietly waiting out the shockwave.

Sir! I’m proud to report that there have only been minor leaks to the outside — nothing unmanageable. Residual aftershocks are being dealt with as they roll in and the initial cause for upsetness has been defused through a reset in perspective.

How am I feeling? Good? Good.

Eventually, the process of recognizing and rebuffing unconstructive thoughts becomes more automatic. And instead of periodic polling, we can use the heightened emotions themselves to trigger a recognition response, effortlessly setting the whole deactivation sequence in motion.

So it’s rare that I get completely lost within my thoughts anymore. I’ll certainly wander without knowing where I’m going, but my sense of direction is better, I can tell where home is, and I’m more street-savvy, knowing which avenues to avoid.