Whoa there, tiger!

               I’m going to lecture myself on the benefits of getting enough sleep. I’m lazy, you’re lazy, everybody’s lazy, which means… Hold on now, tiger, don’t reach for the gun just yet. I’m saying something else here. You ain’t going to like it, either, but wait until I finish. Sure, it won’t take long. Just enough for me to position myself between you and the door. You think being lazy means you’re a good for nothing low-down beat-down gobshite? Well, pointy, probably. But that won’t make you worse than those around you. Nobody who was the best at doing things one way ever thought there’s a better way to do it. Unless somebody else does it first or they’re loony. Or their position as top predator is under attack.

               It’s called incentive to innovate. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Ever hear of that? If you’re good at something, your brain won’t perceive the need to be better. You can’t get higher than first place. If you’re threatened then sure, you’ll start thinking and hyperventilating but otherwise.. Why bother?

               Progress was created by the lazy individual. Notice I said lazy, not stupid. Why wreck my back lifting stuff when there’s an easy way to transport that stuff? Hence, the wheel. Or the car. Or slave labor. Whoops, let’s back up a bit there. You think the world around you is all sunshine and rainbows? It’s not, though the presence of alcohol may tilt the balance a wee bit. I may be skinny, have no muscles and crooked teeth but well, how the hell do you think the bow and arrow appeared? Or gunpowder? Muscles are sooo overrated, mon ami. That’s the lazy fellow thinking – how do I keep the knuckle dragging Neanderthal from smashing my beautiful face? Note I won’t be willing to work out, that shit’s for the peasants. So I invent archery, guns, catapults. You think the A-bomb was invented because they really felt the need to protect the lives of the soldiers in WW2? Weell, think again. They did it because they wanted to be first. They made it happen because the leaders of the alliance thought they wanted to win. They needed to break the Japanese will to fight. Not to save people. Because there was always the option of invading. Or hell, of using poison gas or bio-warfare. No, read your history again. Look for Luzon as chemical gas storage site. No – this was exactly why I say “lazy” but you really should read “very efficient” – they needed to maximize the effect but minimize the effort. Thus whump, thump, bump, thus kablooey.

               So unless you believe yourself defeated, if you’re threatened you’ll start thinking of ways to evade being hurt. You can do that by blaming people – which allows you to rationalize the thought of failure when you’re convinced you’ll be hurt, you can do it by waiting for it to blow over – especially when your chances are more like 50% or by attacking, by finding a way to reverse the situation – this one here you’ll use when you’re thinking there actually is a way of getting out. The big thing nobody tells you is it’s all in your mind. The 3 ways of reacting to bad events are: surrender, resist, attack – and you’re the one doing the choosing. Unfortunately, you’re also the weak link here.

               Crap, shit, comes in packs, most of the time. One crap hits you, you’ll feel bad, you’ll be hurt – so naturally, your reaction will be to protect yourself – you’ll blame others for your pain because not blaming others would mean blaming yourself, this is how you resist. Maybe you won’t blame others at first, but in time, if you’re hit too many times, it’ll come to you – we humans are programmed to look for patterns. Random things will appear as linked, coincidences will start looking related. You’ll feel angry. Too much crap comes, it’s starting to be overwhelming. So then, your mood becomes darker. You’ll start to think of karma, of destiny. You’ll start thinking crap happened because of you – of something you did. Because you’re a sinner. Because you deserve it. And it’s all downhill from there.

               Think of shit as the Borg. Relentless. You’ll stop reasoning. After that, the deluge. Too much crap piling up. You’ll stop reacting, you’ll give yourself up. You become a punching bag for the universe, taking hit after hit while trying to make yourself smaller so the shit would miss you. If you think you’re defeated, if you give up – you won’t fight back. You won’t resist. You’ll capitulate. You’ll go down without a fight, because it will feel pointless – failure is inevitable, everything you want to do only has one possible outcome – you’ll fail. Depression comes when you won’t even believe others are to blame, when you think this is what normal is. Well buddy, it’s not, you’re just replacing something temporary with a self-reinforcing belief. Shit ain’t normal. Ever. Shit just happens sometimes. Sometimes the reason for shit happening is you, sometimes it’s those around you, and sometimes you’re just an innocent cow caught in the tornado.

               But you won’t think shit happens for no reason, that sometimes nobody is to blame. It won’t matter what the reality is. This one’s too important not to explain – you may be what the constables call … “under influence”. You may be already in a bad mind-set. You may have some other misfortune fall upon you. You could be suffering from undiagnosed depression. You’ll probably lack sleep (hold on to this one, we’ll get back to it). Your situation is subjective, is defined by the environment, by what you know. It’s like watching a magician perform – stuff happens here where you see it, but the real shit took place where you didn’t look. So how would you know if your irritability won’t be because you’re low on sugar or maybe some other preventable thing? How would that change what you think of yourself? For one thing, you’ll be more likely to believe you’re better off if you give up. You’ll place yourself in that category, even if you’re not. On most occasions, if you’d be in another mood, you’d make a different decision to the same problem. Most of the time you’re not defeated, you’re not without the possibility of defense – but you won’t see it. Same thing with major depression – it’s usually caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain (don’t take my word for it, I’m no psychiatrist, but then why treat it with antidepressants?), but you won’t usually recognize it unless somebody points it out. You’ll think you’re just having a bad day, month, year, life. You’ll think you’re defective – and you are, but not where you think. Sometimes a bad education, many bad experiences or incorrect thoughts you’ve learned to use can make you depressed. But you won’t know why. And chances are your mood will affect how you think.

               Tell people they’re wrong about something and their typical reaction will be to either prove you wrong or to prove themselves right. They’ll push back. They’ll resist. Why? Here science is the way to go – if I say something it’s also my job to prove it. If I say the sky is blue, I should be the one to provide the pictures. But that’s not how most people do things. Belief can’t be proven. If you say I’m dumb, I’ll either believe you or find ways to disprove you. Both actions are rather bad, as things go. Oh, you say I’m dumb? Explain. Use words and flow charts. Never believe things just because they’re said, try to understand first. Let them prove it. If they can’t, tough luck.

               There is something to be said about how to evaluate your decisions. If I’m angry, sad, depressed or just down on my luck lately, I’ll be more inclined to think something’s worse than it is. How I react to that something will be proportional. If I’m angry and my kid accidentally drops his food on the floor I’ll be more inclined to yell at him. My response – my reaction to the event – will be magnified. Think of vectors, of forces and their combined effect – if you have two vectors or forces starting from the same position (same point of origin), to find the resultant you’ll use the parallelogram method – you add the vectors. The magnitude you’ll calculate using the law of cosines. If the vectors we used have the magnitude a and b, the magnitude of the resulting vector (we use c to define it) is something like c square = a square + b square -2*a*b*cos(180-angle between the two vectors). So there. Crap, I’ve lost ye, haven’t I?

               Well sonny, let’s put it this way – what you feel like is changing what you believe. Think of it like the law of gravity or something, if you want to go up, feeling bad will push you down and if you want to go down, feeling bad will accelerate your fall. If you’re in a bad mood, you’re more likely to think you’ll fail at something. Feelings will mess with your decisions. Write it down somewhere.

               Do you know how to make yourself feel better? I do – 95% of the time. Sleep. High quality, regular, old fashioned sleep. Make a rule of it. Go to sleep every day at the same hour, get up at the same hour, and sleep between 8 and 9 hours. Don’t think you can compensate – this is one thing where that won’t matter. Oy, do I sound like my mother… But it’s true. Your sleep pattern will make you succeed or fail. Don’t fall for the bullshit of those folks saying early bird catches the worm, that only goes for the bird who sleeps early, regular and enough. You won’t get any worms for getting up early if you’re not getting enough sleep or if you’re trusting your random number generator for how much you’re sleeping. Trust me on this. Never give up.

Post scriptum:

               If you’re living on your own, always buy the best shoes and the best mattress – you’ll be thanking me. You’ll spend most of your day in one or the other.

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