Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Positive Callous

A callous is a hardening or insensitivity to something through repetition. When a guitarist first places his fingers on the cords, it is foreign and painful. Through repetition and practice, the skin on the guitarists finger’s become hardened and he develops a callous, or pachydermatous. This allows the guitarist to play with more freedom and grace.
When we are in a predicament, everything we have built for ourselves is put to the test. It is an intense situation and all our energies may not be focused on preforming our best. For example, if someone is dedicated to remaining positive and optimistic but they are faced with something seemingly unbearable, they may slip into negativity and despair. What they don’t realize is if they can maintain their positive feelings in these conditions, at the peak of their capacity, they can do it anytime, anywhere, and in any mind-state. Through pursuing one’s philosophy, in rigorous conditions, immunity to those conditions develops. If we go through an unpleasant experience, while holding on to our dreams and goals, we grow with them, driving them deeper into our psyche.
I was once at the home of a musician who was recording and working on an album. During a break, he was explaining to me how he has terrible anxiety/anger issues and takes prescription medication (on top of other remedies) to help manage it. At that moment, a pencil rolled off the table and landed on the floor. “I’m relaxed now and with friends and good company.” He said. “Usually, that would really get at me and I’d flip out.” I had a thought. I explained that if he were to try and hold on to his other therapeutic tools (other than meds) and break on through the event, he would prevail. Having beaten the challenge, despite all the triggers, he would build a type of immunity to it. The next time a situation came up, with circumstances of the same caliber, it would be insignificant.
When we are faced with a challenge we should view it as if we are paving the way for bigger and better things. By holding on to our values, regardless of the situation, we build immunity and a callous to the challenge. This builds stamina, endurance and helps us grow. It leads to higher capacity and more opportunities which, in turn, lead to more experiences, pleasure, and happiness. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Growth: Through the Ages

When a baby is born its perception of life is very narrow. It cries when it wants anything or is uncomfortable or lonely. The baby is fed, bathed, clothed, and washed up after. It overall can not provide for itself. It can’t even walk! With time, as the baby develops, its brain builds the capacity for speech, play, and even independence.

As the years go by, the baby advances in all areas of communication, creativity, and of course, the body. The baby learns to socialize with others and express its needs. It draws pictures and builds with blocks and makes messes. It crawls, and walks, and runs, and falls; all with the naiveté and innocence of a newly born child. After a certain amount of experiences, even at a young age, the child starts to realize that there are new realities in the world it was thrown into. The child learns cause an effect and becomes conscious of his actions and their consequences. Reward and punishment, not only in a disciplinary manner, become a pivotal part of his life. As the child grows, so does a callous for pain and pleasure. The things he once enjoyed no longer excited him and what was once a great source of pain, became seemingly insignificant. Thus began the pursuit of bigger and better things. Through trial and error the child builds a keen understanding of what suits him best. Naturally, the child gravitates towards what is pleasurable and distances himself from that which is painful.
However, there comes a certain point in life when the child has an epiphany. He realizes, in his pursuit of pleasure, that in order to achieve a certain level of pleasure he needs to face an amount of pain. This pain is a tool to achieve the desired pleasure and thus becomes a steppingstone in his journey for the pleasure. When the child understands this system he becomes a little man.

As the little man uses these tools of pain he begins to grow in many areas. He builds the stamina and capacity to take upon himself greater responsibilities which in turn lead to greater pleasure and pain. The little man continues to have experiences and has a greater awareness of the life he is living. At any point he may be faced with a foreign or uncomfortable predicament which will require an immediate reaction. The little man then realizes that what he feels like doing and what he needs to do may contradict each other. He then begins to differentiate between his intellect and emotions; thinking and feeling. When a small man is consciously aware that his future greatly depends on how he reacted to foreign and uncomfortable situations he becomes a man.

As a man goes through life growing and living, he will inevitably experience many feelings and moods. Through the good times and the bad, he will face life with his intellect and emotion. At any given time he may choose to THINK-THINK, THINK-FEEL, or FEEL-THINK. Always using the intellect, FEEL-FEEL isn't an option. When a man lives life in control and not at the mercy of his moods, he becomes a great man.