I don’t listen to music anymore and that’s been the case for years. The funny thing, that’s exactly the very thing that I used to look at my parents and find weird, because both of them, also stopped listening to music somewhere along the line when we were growing up. Now the penny finally dropped.
You’ve got to understand that you’ve been subjected to a whole lot of ideas, perspectives, and fabricated imaginary constructs of reality and how the world works through the content you’ve been listening to and watching all of your life. It’s possibly the root of all of the disappointments we find in our own lives because we’ve been subjected to the influence of this magical thinking world in movies and TV shows where everything is dramatized with a made up reason and purpose, happy endings, and the notorious happily ever after, which are not real.
Not everything happens for a reason, there’s a lot of randomness and chaos in the world we navigate. At the same time, our minds are pattern-seeking machines that thrive in finding patterns and there’s comfort and joy in that.
I remember vividly that when I was sad, I would listen to sad music, when I was angry, I would play angry music, and when I was in love, I would play love songs. The thing is that it was definitely supporting and reinforcing the feelings I was feeling and to no small effect, helped to dig me a deeper hole when I was extremely depressed and nihilistic about my life and the world.
The mind listens to the words you say and the words you hear and believes them. Words are magical spells that define your world and how you see yourself, and if you’re not careful what you listen to, and repeat to a catchy tune, you’re in for a whole lot of unintended self-programming, and, eventually, a world of misfortune.
A huge component of the pain and anger we feel as a global culture is because we’ve been accustomed to going to the movies and sit around for 90 minutes to see snippets of a highly entertaining fairytale that’s infused with drama and emotions and it ends with the hero getting his way, killing his enemies, landing a huge fortune, and getting the girl. It plays with our emotions like dough, but it taxes our worldview as well because it makes us believe that life is easy and that we can be that hero and have that magical movie life for real.
Life’s not like that. What you see in a movie or hear in a song and take it to heart, repeat, it and fantasize about is a dream world made by professional creative magicians who are merely selling a valuable product in a huge market for consenting paying customers.
I’ve learned this Latin phrase just this morning and it’s very enlightening:
“Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.”
The world wants to be deceived, therefore, deceive them.
We are active participants in the way we see the world, in what we choose to believe, in what we consume through ideas, books, music, movies, conversations, and the people we keep in our circles whose opinions and thoughts we value.
You’ve got to own up to that fact completely and actively filter through your influences and beliefs and think them through. Go through your own habits with a fine-tooth comb and figure out what are the things that you’ve been doing merely out of habit for years without giving them much thought at all, and make the willful and conscious decision to keep doing them or to stop immediately.
For example, when you’re finding yourself drifting into an old pattern of behavior that could potentially push you through the old abyss of depression, distress, and pain, break out of it, change something immediately, and do something entirely different and uncharacteristic of you. Do it on purpose, not because it’s your default setting.
As human beings, habits are very important to how we live. We cannot process information independently every single time and ‘think‘ about the proper course of action. Habits make our lives easy. It makes it possible to wear your clothes, take a shower, write a letter, and drive a car. Habits are our species’ life-hack. So, it truly pays to put some significant thought into what you should choose to be a permanent habit of yours, and seriously examine these habits you’ve taken up without much thought, got handed down by your family, or absorbed by hanging out with a certain crowd.
I’m not telling you it’s wrong to listen to music or to watch movies or anything like that, but I’m rather calling onto you to be mindful of what you say, hear, see, and read. To discern which opinions you value and those you don’t care about. To be ruthlessly discriminating against anything that contradicts and undermines the values you set for yourself with reason and care.
The trick is not to get sucked into echo chambers while doing that. Don’t willingly admit yourself into a cult. Always be critical of every single thought you hear or even think for yourself. Question everything, apply your reason heavily based on the facts available at the time, and unabashedly change your mind the instant something makes you see things in a different light.
Two quotes come to mind here about critical thinking and how to take pride in seeking to be truthful and authentic to one’s own values without involving too much ego and emotional baggage. John Maynard Keynes always said, “When the facts change, I change my mind,” but Marcus Aurelius said it more eloquently, “If anyone can refute me, show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective, I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone.”
It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance that does harm.
So, be my guest, watch movies, play your favorite music, and read your favorite fiction, but never ever surrender your reason or stop admitting ideas through the gates of doubt and criticism. And your biggest foe would be your own ego when it stamps down every single idea you have in your head with the mark of pride and identity so much that you can’t let it go without drawing the sword and foaming at the mouth in a furious rage.
Tread lightly with your own mind, it’s a primitive monkey brain that has a long way to go in evolution terms.
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool.”
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