Living the Good Life

Living the good life is a dear goal for all of us. For me, it requires reconciling oneself with our Self and our environment.  Our Self is a difficult to assess and an unproven concept that rules our spiritual, intellectual, emotional and all other aspects of our life that are not constrained by our body.  It is generally admitted that our mind has a hierarchy of priorities, preferences and goals. It is also clear that we filter the reality around us i.e. the experiences and events that occur successively around us. Our mind inserts its own filtered creations in replacement of the raw sensory experiences. The reason we do this is to protect ourselves from an unwanted future. We can exert an influence only on our future as it is too late to change the past and the present. So, the self/mind construct is entirely and exclusively aimed at optimizing the future based on past and present experiences. When there is no future to enhance,  there is no mind. 

A major challenge, of course, is optimizing the future based on the past, when we know that the future always differs from the past. The filters help us do just that. They make the needed approximations to extrapolate the future and present the most probable, protective representations of the future. The filters and related prior hierarchy also help us make sense of the trillion and trillions of sensory inputs the infinite universe throws at us. Unlike cows who have not succeeded in altering their future,  who have no mind and who keep chewing the same grass for survival, we have succeeded at impacting our future through a combination of filters, priorities,  probable representations and actions.  The problem with mind-driven future optimization is that there has to be a difficult-to-achieve alignment between the filtered, simplified reality and 1) the actual reality and 2) our changing priorities.

The sequence goes in a loop like this:
1. External input by genetics or environment (parents, social, universe)
2. Goal setting in numerous categories with varying priorities
3. Filtered representation integrating our goals into our reality
4. New inputs
5. Potentially altered Goals
6. Altered Filters
7. New inputs

…and on and on

Goals come and go. Filters tend to last longer than goals and gradually lose their alignment with our utmost priorities. Most experiences in life can be analyzed that way. For example,  in love and friendship:

1. we set our highest level of priorities, say L11 and L12 (if we have 12 priority levels)
2. we identify partners consistent with our L11/L12. For example in early school, we identify the strongest classmates in the category that we prioritize (fun, academics, sport, etc.)
3. we develop a relationship with the identified partners
4. as time goes on, the initial goals of the love/friendship may prove of lesser value, unworthy, outdated or maybe achieved. In all cases the love/friendship partners must adjust the goal of their relationship in order to stay aligned as friends.

Self reconciliation is often enacted with external relationships that can communicate or stimulate  the need for new priorities. Reversely, self reconciliation triggers new changes that  impact all relationships. Friend/lovers must frequently reassess their relationship and reset their own goals or methods. All beneficial relationships are uniquely important in helping achieve self-reconciliation of the partners involved.  Such relationships require constant attention to the inner and external changes. Accordingly, the partners must  refresh their relationship and identify new modes of mutual growth and accomplishment. It is quite risky to put all one’s love/friendship eggs in one basket i.e. to rely on one relationship, one dogma to achieve the good life.  Very rare are those who can rest on the past to warrant the future and demand true, forever loyalty. Change is the only thing we can be sure of. Someone famously said: “If you find Buddha on the road, kill him!!”  What was meant was “avoid all dogma, all religion, all exclusivity, all permanence”.

Only flexible and attentive relationships, filters, and priorities can help us achieve the good life. can help us reconcile our many self-contradictions in an infinite ocean of sensory stimuli. As to me, I believe that Benevolence, Transparency, Tenderness, Esteem, Attention, Multiplicity and Openness are critical tools to help us live the good life, surrounded by essential and rewarding relationships.

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