This is one of those post ideas I came up with months ago. Actually, just the title and general idea I came up with. All this text is new. Because of all the elapsed time between concept and reality, take the title as more of a metaphor then anything literal.
I’ve always been a happy kid/person. (I don’t believe kids are people. That’s another topic.) In my entire memory (and I have memories daing back to age 2) I cannot remember being exceptionally depressed for more then a day. It was not until much more recently in my life that I realized this is not the way for all, or even most people. Why that is is again a different topic. What I’d like to discuss this evening is what I believe is responsible for this overall outlook. I see these things in myself and I don’t see them often, or at all, in the people I meet and mentally evaluate. I will apologize now for the elitist attitude this probably will end up having.
- Compartmentalized thought process. This may take a bit of practice for some, but you can divide your mind into compartments or categories or sections or whatever you want to call them. The point is that you are able to identify where one issue ends and another starts. This is something you have to maintain just about at all times or else things can start to blur together and you will have trouble separating them in the future. At this point it may sound like I am taking the analogy too far but in fact I’ve been talking literally for the last 3 sentences. As you are dealing with one issue, you do not want to be worried about something else which in reality has no ties to the issue at hand. Programmers do this all the time to better understand what they have to do. It makes things easier to comprehend when there isn’t so much so look at. It applies perfectly to programming and to life in general. Even when two issues may in reality be connected and/or originate from the same place, your thought processes do not have to be merged. You can consider one problem on its own before beginning to consider something else. This ties into number 4 below, prioritization.
- Detach from yourself. This is something that can be very bad. You see it in TV or movies sometime, where the character is some part delirious, part schizophrenic and exists in the show as either comedy relief or as some statement about intra-personal turmoil. Often this character is played by Summer Glau. What I mean by it is that you would be well served by the ability to be aware of all the things around you and all the things in your mind, but not attached to them to let them affect how you handle anything else. This is not a mental state you would stay in all the time, but only when mentally dealing with problems or anything else that can lead you to stress, fear, worry, etc… The ultimate truth is that all those emotions are over something you may or may not have control over, but in any case do not have control over now. If you can do something about it, you would be doing it. If you haven’t thought of what you can do yet, starting the worry or fear now is just going to make things exponentially worse. So just detach from it. For those with only a beginners level of mental-self-reprogramming ability, you can pretend that you are someone else trying to solve your issue. This entire mindset leads to a much faster and clearer thought process. And that’s what you need.
- “All-ways look on the briiight side, of life!” One of my favorite Monty Python music numbers aside, it is never a bad thing to recognize something positive. If not positive then non-negative. (This is where I have to put the computer scientist in me aside, where there are only the two options.) Everything is a murky shade of gray. That’s the way the world is. Unfortunately, the universe and nature and people are not programmed in binary so there will always be more then one way to look at something. Even when the situation prevents you from taking immediate comfort in the brighter outlook you have recognized, it will at the very least be something you can look back on in the future to prevent that point in time from being a total black spot in your life.
- Prioritize everything. This does not have to be an entirely conscious effort, but you can be aware of how one thought or issue is more or less important then another. Especially when you are feeling overloaded by whatever issues you are dealing with at the moment, you need to be able to not only compartmentalize, but also to recognize what you should do first. That is the beginning of any plan, and a plan means a goal for happiness and success. (Unless you plan to be miserable. Then you should seek a better source of self help then blogs.) When you can recognize the different facets of your situation, you can see what needs to be done first and how that will help everything else. Additionally, if you are an O.C.D.-mathematician like me, you get great pleasure out of discovering the shortest path between two points, be them physical, mental or emotional.
- Trust yourself. Arrogance is like this, but on the outside. On the inside, in your mind, this means that you have made a promise to yourself to always trust something you have previously decided. Now of course this does not mean you can’t change your mind or re-evaluate or something like that. This means that you will not do those things needlessly. You will actually take action on something you have already decided to do. Not only does this prevent stagnation, but it encourages a more adventurous and laze-fare attitude. This can also be a great source of stability in your life, even when nothing else it.
Marginally-clever title’s aside, this isn’t a statement of things that will always work for everyone. I however have found these to be great truths in my life. From these ideas and others along the same line of thought, I feel comfortable that I can handle anything, and that I will always be able to do so. I have no idea what the future may hold, even a mere 2 years from now. I am not worried, however. The last 22 years, 10 months and 2 days have prepared me to the point where everything else from this point on is possible.