The tricks our minds play

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about a topic that tends to come and go in my life. It is one that always seems a bit hard to put into words. I can remember a time almost ten years ago when I was sitting on our bed in a loft we were living in. I had this surreal moment when I looked around and thought: all these things happening in my life are all a distraction to get me to not look at the painful stuff. A clearer thought was: working through the painful stuff is what moves you forward to that next level of understanding. It was not a fun time in my life. That day I was alone. Chris was traveling in China and life felt rough, bumpy, and not much fun.

The conversation from a few weeks ago circled back to that same feeling. Do we all have the craziest of lives because it keeps us distracted from the real and raw stuff we are supposed to be looking at the most? We do not want to so we stay hyper-focused on all that we have to do? We stay extremely busy, and then we never have to get really quiet and listen to that voice inside that tells us where we should really be looking? It has been true for me from time to time. I like to think that I am still listening even between all the many responsibilities and deadlines. Am I lying to myself though? Is it really possible? Or do you just need to walk away from it all, whether for a week, or month to really be able to see inside?

I just finished reading a book called “Dinner with Buddha” by Roland Merullo. At first it was a hard book to read. I could not get into it, and then as I found a few morsels of inspiration I was pulled into the quiet, thoughtful ideas inside. While it is a novel, it reads like a self-help book. There were quite a few ideas that come from the story and analogies the author shares. This idea in particular resonated as it made me think of that day ten years ago, and the conversation from a few weeks ago:

“Plugging along at monk-speed, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all some kind of trick we were playing on ourselves. Maybe the more we crammed into a day the less we actually experienced. Maybe the addictive hurry was all a kind of racing away from our existential predicament, as if we could outrun old age and death, and as though, if we kept busy enough, kept moving, traveled farther, checked more items off the to-do list on any given day, then, like astronauts in orbit, we’d escape the bonds of ordinary time. Or escape, at least, the manic workings of our minds.” Page 118-119

Is that truly why we do so much? We are trying to get away from our minds and true thoughts? I sure hope not, but I can see it being true. I know it from the tricks my mind plays on me. Yet I want so badly to slow down, stop moving, get rid of the to-do list and live moment by moment into what my mind wants me to learn, however painful as it may be to look into all that is there for me to learn.

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “The tricks our minds play

  1. Here are some other books for your list (in no particular order)

    Title / Author:

    Gut Feelings (Unabridged) / Gerd Gigerenzer
    A Curious Mind / Brian Grazer, Charles Fishman
    We Learn Nothing / Tim Kreider
    On the Nature of Things / Lucretius
    Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain / Oliver Sacks
    The Swerve: How the World Became Modern / Stephen Greenblatt
    Survival of the Sickest / Sharon Moalem, Jonathan Prince
    The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease / Daniel Lieberman
    David and Goliath (Unabridged) / Malcolm Gladwell
    You Are Not So Smart (Unabridged) / David McRaney
    Thinking, Fast and Slow / Daniel Kahneman
    Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder / Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    The Compass of Pleasure / David J. Linden
    Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness / Daniel G. Amen
    Deep Survival: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death / Laurence Gonzales
    The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why / Amanda Ripley
    The Art of Choosing / Sheena Iyengar
    How Doctors Think / Jerome Groopman, M.D.
    Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies / Jared Diamond
    How Pleasure Works / Paul Bloom
    NurtureShock / Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman
    The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable / Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    Brain Rules / John J. Medina
    Outliers / Malcolm Gladwell
    Economic Facts and Fallacies / Thomas Sowell


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