by Jimmy Warden
A lot of people today (even before the pandemic) seem to enjoy the act of complaining. I know I do when I am doing it! However, simply criticizing or complaining about the world around us doesn’t really do us a whole lot of good. The only real positive element of complaining is that a problem or a set of problems is articulated. The important idea here is that the level of our analysis determines our actual understanding of the problem or problems that haunt us on a daily basis. Far too often, we look to someone else or a group of people to blame for these problems because we believe it’s their fault that we have the problems or we think it’s their fault society has the problems, but it’s far deeper than that, which is why we should put our houses in perfect order before we criticize the world.
I stole that last phrase from Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, former clinical psychologist, and author of the book “12 Rules for Life”. That phrase is the title of his sixth chapter. In this chapter he dives into scientific explanations about the importance of putting our lives together at the individual level. The main reason being is that if we fail to get ourselves in order, entropy, depression, and nihilism will eventually bubble to the surface and consume our Being. The reason why people have sparks of these types of thoughts is to justify the miserable events that might be taking place in our lives. For example, if we have a problem in our romantic relationship, we have a tendency to feel resent towards our partner because what they’re doing or not doing is causing the disarray. Maybe they came home late and they failed to communicate that they would be late, so when they arrive you instantly feel like telling them they’re a terrible communicator. Meanwhile, you fail to remember that you did the same thing a week before when you were aimlessly wandering through all of the aisles of the grocery store looking for everything on the grocery list.
Now, this is a very trivial example, but a straight forward example nonetheless. Another example could be your place of employment. You’ve just had another fire lit underneath you by something your boss said to you or asked you to do. You already have an endless list of tasks that seem meaningless to you, so instead of trying to take some of that list down, you decide to gather around the water cooler with your colleagues and instantly begin the bashing session about how everyone’s life would be more enjoyable if someone else was in charge. Meanwhile, that pile of work isn’t going anywhere. It’s going to continue to ridicule you and torment you until something is done. Now that something could be that you decide to quit your job because of all the negative emotion you’ve allowed to pile up because you can’t deal with your boss, but the situation isn’t being made any better, it’s only being made worse with the work refusal. Besides, if you really decide to quit your job, have you really done everything you could’ve done throughout your time there to justify your quitting? If you quit your job will your boss still be able to write you a positive letter of recommendation? If you have a hard time answering yes to either of those questions, it might be time to prioritize your job over the scorning of those who granted you that opportunity in the first place.
Now that we’ve established a couple of real-life examples, let’s start getting into why it’s important to put our houses in perfect order. Each person in the world knows about 1,000 people, which means that each of us is just one person removed from 1,000,000 people because 1,000 x 1,000 = 1,000,000. With that being said, that means that we have the potential to influence more people than we probably ever could have imagined. What type of influence would you like to have? Most would proclaim that they would like to have a positive influence, but do our actions always reflect that? Let’s think about that previous example that was laid out. This individual feels as if they’ve been wronged by the structure of their work place because they’re upset about the responsibilities that come with the position they are in, in their work hierarchy, and therefore have become bitter and resentful.
These feelings of bitterness, anger, and resentment can lead down a dark path of cynicism. This can lead to thoughts and feelings of resentment towards the world around you and adopting the ideas that nothing and no Beings matter. No, this doesn’t happen overnight in most cases, but these types of things happen. This is why people commit murders on a grand scale (i.e Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando nightclub). They get to the point they’re so cynical about the structures of mankind, that they think it would be better if humans didn’t exist. The scariest part is that they’re not too far removed from people like me or you. This is why we need to be aware of what we’re thinking, saying, and doing.
The more conscious we can be of what we’re thinking, saying, and doing, the more good we can put into the world. With that being said, we need a specific aim of what “good” is because without that aim, we’ll just be aimlessly living. That way of living eventually leads to anxiety, disarray, and chaos. However, the more consistently we can hit the target of our aim, the more our positive emotion system releases dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that releases positive emotion throughout our body, specifically when we are making progress towards a goal, whatever that goal might be. The important idea to remember here is that the bigger the goal is, the more dopamine that gets released as progress is being made. We must also be exerting enough effort to make the progress, so our effort is tied in with that release of dopamine. Without effort, no progress or positive emotion, and the effort needs to be both mental and physical.
The mental aspect is how you formulate your plan for putting yourself in order. It helps to think about questions to ask yourself, rather than telling yourself what to do. Reason being is that when you tell yourself, what to do, you often end up lying to yourself unintentionally. For example, you might tell yourself you’re going to go to the gym after work, but the day becomes more stressful than you were anticipating, so as the work day comes to a close you conclude that your energy levels are not ideal enough to go to the gym, so you decide to skip out on it, and try again tomorrow. The purpose of asking yourself the question or questions about your plan for your life is that there’s a higher probability that your answer comes from your unconscious mind rather than your conscious mind because this is where your habits and ideas are nested. The unconscious mind is where we’ve created habits and ideas over time to the point where they’ve become “engrained” in us. Our unconscious mind often can tell us the “truth” that we are listening for and that is why we must tap into it in order to take control of our Being. If we do not try to change the unconscious mind in favor of what we want, we often fall victim to the old habits and ideas that have controlled us so far. Once we engage in this practice, we can begin to put our house in order.
Far too often, we feel as if fate, God, or the universe are out to get us. This can lead down a dark place internally that will eventually become external. When we feel our efforts each day are meaningless, it can quickly lead to us becoming depressed or worse, cynical and nihilistic. If we continue down any of these paths, life will only continue to get worse for ourselves, as well as others, because we’ll be bringing them down with us, especially if we’re cynical and nihilistic. This is why we should watch what we do and say. If we’re scrutinizing someone or some people, we should be wary of that because we’ve most likely engaged in similar acts or dialogues, but we’ve been unconscious to it. This is why we need to ask ourselves what we need to do to put our houses in perfect order, so we manifest those negative aspects of ourselves less often. So let’s get to fixing. I know I am.