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My Reason for the Season

Most people know the rhyme “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Well I respect all beliefs but as I don’t consider myself a Christian I certainly have other reasons I honor the holidays.

In a sentence: It’s not about religion, as much as it is about what they holiday represents.

The major holidays to me (and I will miss a few as I provide examples) all have a good solid reason for existing. Easter is about renewal and clearing the way for new things in your life. July 4th is about patriotism, and pride in our country. Halloween is about putting on a mask and being someone different for a night. Thanksgiving is about reflection on the blessings you have been given in your life. And I will elaborate on Christmas in a minute. Now arguably, there are other reasons these holidays exist…religious, historical, etc, but to me the most important reason is it’s something we do as a culture, and it brings us together both in small groups as friends and family, and in a much larger sense as an entire nation or species (in the case of the non US specific holidays). How amazing is it that across the globe, nearly every small child is rapt with anticipation of Santa Claus leaving them gifts.

But now to Christmas, and why I feel it’s so much more than the birthday of Jesus. That is what Christians celebrate, but all the religious holidays around this time of year have a similar purpose. They bring people together. All the holidays do that, sure, but Christmas time in particular it is the singular reason for the season. The “point” is to spend it around people you love.

I had a friend tell me the other day that “Christmas is just another day” (okay paraphrased…still) and I was shocked. It’s never been “just another day” to me. It has always been something special, even after I found out Santa Claus was a lie (although I played along for a few more years until I got my Mom and Aunt to admit it). Christmas is the one day a year you show people how much you love them. You may do this by giving them presents, or just sending out mass text messages (Sorry guys, poor college kid…guess what you are all getting this year?), but you do it because on this day more than any other it should be done.

That is the purpose of Christmas.

At least, in my opinion.

I hope, dear reader, you aren’t alone for Christmas, but if you are I love you and Merry Christmas! If you aren’t alone, then…well I guess my message is the same.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

CG

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Happiness – Simpler than you might think

So I’ve been trying to write a new post for the past few weeks, but life keeps getting in the way. School, then finals, then this week I was just kind of down and dragging my feet.

But this past week I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection and thinking about happiness amongst other things.

The most basic question is “What is happiness?” followed very quickly by “How do I find it and then keep it once found?”

Well, I watch a show called One Tree Hill (yeah, yeah laugh it up…I like it) and recently watched an episode on Netflix where one of the characters talked about happiness and it really kind of lodged in my brain and got stuck there until I could process it completely.

“Happiness is not a destination. It is a mood, it is not permanent. It comes and goes and if people thought that way then maybe people would find happiness more often.”

Now this is not exactly mind blowing or shocking. But given that in high school I wrote something along the lines of “Happiness is like a mist. It surrounds and encompasses you but you can never hold it” to hear something near to my train of thought echoed back to me from a TV show was kind of surprising.

Think about what this quote is saying though. We often in our lives treat happiness as a destination. If I get this job, or I get this shiny new thing, or I do this, or I weigh this much, then FINALLY I will be happy, ad infinitum, right? But that’s not really how it works. The job makes us happy until we get bored, new things interest us for a time, everything we do is so transitory. The only constant in our lives is change. So the first thing we do to find happiness is to shift our thinking sideways and realize that it will come and go, but when it goes it will come back. But it’s not a permanent state of being.

Now the second question is how to find happiness and how to keep it for as long as possible. I have a few different points on this subject.

1. Do what you love

We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there too.From Pieces of Me.

I cannot begin to understand how people can just ignore the things they love to do. I guess I can understand not wanting to do it for money, because eventually you will hate your job and risk becoming bitter of whatever it is that you love. But you should still DO it. As a hobby, on the side, however you can fit it into your life you should be doing what you love.

2. Purpose

To me this is absolutely the most important thing. I’ve been without purpose, and in fact that is really why I’ve been so morose this week. But I found a purpose again. But without school, or a job, it’s tough to really find something meaningful to do to fill the time. When I did today suddenly everything snapped into focus and I realize in a way this seems to be the most important thing. To quote Loki from Avengers, “And I am burdened with glorious purpose.”

3. Relax

This is probably the most difficult one for me. My brain runs about 90 to nothing on a regular day…add in some stress and not only do I not sleep, my brain never rests. But I’ve realized lately that I need to learn how to force myself to relax because getting all wound up just makes things worse. It’s also important to change your surrounding every now and then. Dynamism helps with this, a change of scenery sparks new interest in your mind, and makes it more active.

In summation, happiness is a mood, and the things I’ve suggested at least help me find happiness, so maybe they will help you too.

CG out

Mind Hacks, Intelligence, and Love

Mind Hacks

Hacking. Usually associated these days with negative ideas from the plethora of online predators that “hack” to steal your identity, bring websites down, etc.

But the most correct definition of hacking would label it as wanting to know how something works so badly you break it down and put it back together.  It’s really just a thirst for knowledge so great that you know something’s innermost working.

Let’s use the second definition to talk about mind hacks.

Recently I’ve been interested about how I can improve myself. I’ve been thinking a lot about human existence, and how we are very much a tri-fold, three in one. I agree with the Eastern (I believe) philosophy of Mind, Body, and Spirit and that we should bring all three in harmony in order to attain enlightenment and become attuned to the infinite cosmos (or God if you prefer).
Did I lose you yet?

This has led me all over the Web. I’ve read a lot of Lifehacker trying to improve my organizational and mental skills. I’ve talked/debated spiritual things with my friends. I’ve been dieting and trying to exercise, definitely need to make it a habit, to work on the body.

But last week I stumbled on a book called Mindhacker. Let me just say I have enjoyed this book very much. In just that short amount of time I feel like it some parts of it have been trans formative. Some parts just opened my mind and helped me clarify things I believe in like how I feel about intelligence.

Intelligence

I’ve always felt that intelligence is overrated and the main thing that holds so called “dumb” people back is this idea that they are less intelligent than other people. Now, I can almost feel you, dear reader, thinking “Well, CG, you are obviously intelligent. How would you know?” Here’s a way to kind of explain what I mean…and I definitely believe this.

I’m a computer science geek so I know about the Universal Turing Machine, but if you don’t know what I’m talking about (and don’t want to read Wikipedia) the important part of the concept to make my point is “It is possible to invent a single machine which can be used to compute any computable sequence.” What this means is that a computer from 20 years ago can perform any operation a computer today can, just more slowly. The only thing that we “upgrade” in computer systems is the processor speed and storage capacity. The other hardware is functionally the same. In other words, if we could build hardware that would never degrade, we would never have to switch out anything but the hard drives, or processors in order to update our machines.
Now how does this apply to human intelligence?

First, check out the Sentience Quotient , which is a theory that gives a standard way to calculate a being’s intelligence. The human intelligence quotient is approximately +13 based on the size of our brains, and the ability of our neurons to process information. What this means for us, is that the most intelligent human and the least intelligent, are not orders of magnitude apart. To put it in computing terms, we are limited by our hardware.

So what’s the difference between someone who can soak up calculus and trigonometry like a sponge, and someone who has to study their butt off? Well as I said above it’s merely processing speed and storage capacity.

I’m sure some of you are asking “So? They can still learn faster. They are still smarter.”

They do learn faster. But the extension of that is not that they are somehow magically more intelligent than you. Anyone can learn anything. We put this huge gap between ourselves and those that are “smarter” than us in our minds and get stuck in this idea that we will never be able to measure up. But the truth is, human potential is only so much and in the larger scheme of things the difference between the most intelligent the human race can offer (the fastest processors, combined with the greatest storage capacity) and the least intelligent isn’t really all that much. We are still grouped together, limited by the same “hardware.”

So don’t think your stupid. I HATE hearing anyone say “Well I just don’t get it, I must be dumb.”,  or “Sorry for asking such a dumb question.” There are no stupid questions. Questions show that you are trying to learn. Trying to somehow correlate what you are hearing, and seeing with something familiar your mind can wrap itself around.

Learn everything. Ask anything. Fear nothing.

Love

Neo: I just have never…
Rama-Kandra: …heard a program speak of love?
Neo: It’s a… human emotion.
Rama-Kandra: No, it is a word. What matters is the connection the word implies.
I see that you are in love. Can you tell me what you would give to hold on to that connection?
Neo: Anything.
Rama-Kandra: Then perhaps the reason you’re here is not so different from the reason I’m here.

I have some friends that are getting married tomorrow. Weddings always make me think about love, what it all means, and other very contemplative things.

It’s taken me a long time to answer the simplest question:

What is love?

It’s not an easy one. People say they feel it when they don’t, they say you’ll know it when you feel it, but how can you know? Can you trust those feelings? And those are just a few of the questions you have to answer before you can arrive at a decision. Love is complicated but oh so simple at times.

The above quote from the Matrix has led me down another interesting tangent that makes me feel like I am getting closer. Love isn’t just something you feel, it’s something you do. You show your love every single day in what you spend your time doing, who you spend your time with…every action SHOULD be about something or someone you love. If not, you are probably majorly unhappy.

I saw something in my random wandering around the internet the other day that said “Don’t worry about finding someone to love. Do the things you love and that’s where you find the person you love most.” It’s an interesting thought, and I think there is a lot of truth there.

Anyway, just some food for thought…things that have been going through my head with this wedding coming up.

 

CG

 

Valentine’s Day: Relationships and King Arthur

Okay, so I know this is a day late. But I have been thinking it over this long, I promise!!!

So of course being a post about Valentine’s I wanted to talk about relationships and my thoughts about them. I know what you are thinking. “Oh great, here comes the 12 page epic love poem, or the whiny emo rant about being alone.” Not at all. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find myself happy on Valentine’s Day. I enjoyed giving my closest friends Valentine’s like we were in third grade again, and generally had an average day otherwise. But I didn’t spend it curled up on my bed wishing I never had to get up again as I have in the past.

But as I analyzed the why, because I’m a freak like that and like to know why I feel a certain way, I started thinking. It’s because I have accepted a few things about being alone that apparently I hadn’t accepted until rather recently. And I am honestly not even sure when it happened. But first, before I get more into that let me talk about relationships.

Every successful relationship (the culmination of such being marriage) I have encountered has a common theme. As much as the partners in said relationship live together and move forward through life together it is a melding of equals. Both support and pursue their dreams equally. And I am sad to admit I have yet to have such a relationship. I have a bad tendency to either dominate or submit in a relationship, because either I am myself and become overbearing wiping the other person out, or I subsume parts of my personality in order to not dominate the relationship. Basically, I haven’t found anyone who is my equal. That sounds arrogant, but it’s not about intelligence or any real thing I can quantify as far as I can tell. The only word I have for it is soul mate.

And in my life I have experienced a lot of things. Good and bad, but honestly mostly good. That is part of what this blog was about, sharing my thoughts and insights with others hoping they could learn something from the wisdom I have gathered. But certain things have happened for a reason. For instance, my spiritual beliefs are very agnostic. I believe mere mortals cannot understand the underlying truth of the universe and that there are not only things man was not meant to know, but things man cannot know. This is a hard path to follow, and very lonely. But it is the one I believe God has sent me down. For some reason, He wants me to walk this path and I have faithfully believed in that since I affirmed my beliefs as an agnostic deist. In the end, I believe I will end up where He wants me, and in a good place.

But until Tuesday I had never considered my inability to find that special someone in the same light. I know you are thinking “OH NO! Here it is, finally! The emo rant!” I have spent many, many years being “alone” in the girlfriend sense. 7 years between high school and my last relationship, and now around a year and a half since the tumultous 6 month long distance relationship. One of my friends made the statement, “I am not any prettier than you are, and I know I could get plenty of girls. So go for it!” a few years back and my response was “I don’t want just any girl.” I realized at that point I was waiting for something special. I think that I have finally accepted that I am searching for someone truly amazing and that I may never find it, and why I wasn’t depressed this year on Singles Awareness Day.

I am sure you are still wondering what King Arthur has to do with all of this. I loved that story as a kid and it’s easy to see why. It has everything. Knights, nobility, chivalry, war, betrayal, truly epic love, and interwoven through all of it is the quest for one object: The Holy Grail. And the main character, King Arthur, even after being repeatedly told he is unworthy and will never find the Grail still keeps looking. He spends his entire life searching for the unattainable Grail, and the legend says he never found it although he knew that someone else did. But there was no jealousy in his heart from Gaiwan finding it, just acceptance and knowledge that he wasn’t done yet.

The lesson? I haven’t stopped searching for the truth or God just because I believe I truly couldn’t understand Him even if found. By the same thought, I won’t truly stop searching for my soul mate until I find her. Because even if I never succeed, the journey will be worth it.

 

CG out.