Daily Apotheosis
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Daily Apotheosis

Be Happy. Solve Problems.

There is a black hole at the center of the mind, and the more you tap into it the more you will be ‘at peace.’ You can call this black hole “God,” “emptiness,” “inner peace,” or something else — I just call it “happiness.”

Using this definition of “happiness” means that happiness is not an emotion. It’s not something you feel. It’s something you are. Excitement, relief, joy — these are emotions. You feel them. But happiness is at the center of your identity.

In this way, then, we can say “I am happy” and “I feel sad” simultaneously, with no cognitive dissonance. This transcendence of dualistic thinking is the essence of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which I practice, as well as all forms of Buddhism.

Similarly, if “happiness” is the word you use to describe the inner black hole, you can never say “I feel happy” — just “I am happy.” If, when someone asks you how you’re doing, you say “I am happy and I feel [joyful, depressed, angry, etc.]…”, you’ll be semantically reinforcing this dialectic understanding, both for yourself and others.

That might be a little awkward in public, though, so you can just practice thinking in this way, journaling, etc.

On the other side of the firewall, in the realm of the emotions, there is the mind and its natural tendencies. The mind tries to solve problems. That is all it does. It is the ring of matter and planets around the black hole, and it tries to arrange them in the least chaotic way possible. But it is not the black hole, and so it cannot be “happy.” Nothing, then, that you think, do, say, feel, etc. can ever make you happy. Happiness is not an emotion, so it does not ‘arise’ from ‘doing things.’

All your mind can ever do is solve problems. This is certainly helpful — solving problems can help you (and your loved ones) live longer, feel better, have more fun and excitement, etc. But solving problems can never ‘make you happy.’ Imagine a Chinese Wall between the two sides, with a one-way arrow between them — being happy can help you solve problems, but solving problems can never ‘make you’ happy. The arrow doesn’t go backwards.

In this way, then, life consists of two distinct ‘areas’: Being happy, and solving problems. Make sure never to conflate them, or else suffering will rain down on you like hellfire. Remember, the center of the Milky Way is a supermassive black hole — if it disappears, our galaxy explodes.

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