Hidden Hope For Control

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This ar­ti­cle is about a rarely dis­cussed com­po­nent that re­sides in the back­ground of our lives.

No word clearly de­scribes this phe­nom­ena as it’s a fu­sion of differ­ent ideas.

We blueprint our­selves ac­cord­ing to me­dia that dis­play ex­trav­a­gant ver­sions of win­ners and losers. The pro­files on so­cial me­dia are fa­cade cre­ated around in­di­vi­d­u­als—Pro­file be­ing a well cho­sen word as it misses the other an­gles.

All across those there’s an im­plicit de­mand of mech­a­nized effi­ciency which slipped from our work­place to our in­ter­ac­tion with our­selves. We are our own em­ployee and are ex­pect­ing re­sults.

Hence there’s a spe­cial pur­pose mar­ket cre­ated for mo­ti­va­tion and self-help, to push the ones that are prone to fall for the me­dia com­par­i­son trap. It abuses them by ex­tract­ing as much money as they can while never let­ting them achieve what they promised.

It is not sur­pris­ing when you are sel­l­ing a short­cut to hap­piness and fulfill­ment.

What is achieve­ment, what is a goal, what is fulfill­ment?

A goal is defined by the way it achieves its premise within con­straints, be it time limit or num­bers as long as we can com­pare and know when it is reached.

Yet a goal in it­self never leads to fulfill­ment, as it’s con­strained and fades away once the re­sults are part of nor­mal­ity.

What isn’t con­strained is the in­tent.

An in­tent differs from a goal in its fix­a­tion, its con­cen­tra­tion, and its pur­pose which is of­ten a con­tinual and never end­ing one. It’s fluid and hu­mane, al­low­ing to fo­cus on the mo­ment and on the cease­less growth.

The self-help in­dus­try can’t teach you how to have in­ten­tions, all they can do is goal set­ting and keep­ing your­self in line to achieve them.

An in­tent is not tan­gible and there’s no con­trol over it, the only one you can have is on the goals which might be on the path of your in­tent.

In the light of this it seems that wher­ever we look ev­ery­one is dis­con­tent with what they are do­ing, look­ing for more effi­ciency and ways to tackle with pro­cras­ti­na­tion—a word so in fash­ion.

Why are we ob­sessed with this effi­ciency-rat-race?

There’s sym­pa­thy with the satis­fac­tion and self-es­teem is­sues, us­ing goals as man­ners of grow­ing, but why effi­ciency it­self?

Maybe it is re­lated to how we are born in a world where we are pam­pered and don’t worry about much. We may crave some higher pur­pose, mean­ing, and or­der, but there’s noth­ing our sur­round­ings can offer.

It is an anomie and a nihilism crisis.

We live in a time where re­li­gions are slowly loos­ing their core of be­ing doc­trines that would be able to an­swer all ques­tions and soothe the minds.

Global­ism has re­grouped all philoso­phies and ev­ery­one is free to make up their own ver­sion of what used to be a strict sys­tem that di­rects and or­ders all ac­tions.

In most so­cieties, the in­di­vi­d­ual is now the gen­er­a­tor of re­al­ity and mean­ing. A de­mand that makes us feel lost.

If we can’t have an im­posed sys­tem of be­liefs then the effortless choice is to paint our sys­tem based on cap­i­tal­ism, hence the effi­ciency.

Still we aren’t in power, noth­ing is and we know it deeply and it’s shat­ter­ing. In­ject­ing en­tropy de­liber­ately via goal set­ting is a form of illu­sory con­trol.

But this sys­tem is empty and many are at­tracted into nihilism, not as a po­si­tion of com­fort but as a po­si­tion of sta­bil­ity.

In­stead of open­ing in­se­cu­ri­ties they pre­fer to ad­here to some­thing they can be sure about, or at least be­lieve.

In this stance they like to blame the sur­round­ings for ev­ery­thing, noth­ing is their choice, ev­ery­thing is mean­ingless.

Nihilism and re­li­gions are one and the same: “eter­nal­ism”, a hope to re­duce the fear of the un­known by in­sert­ing a stop sign to all ques­tions, it gives us a nar­row set of available op­tions.

This in­vades our ev­ery­day life and makes us feel won­der­ful.

In video games we can “buff up”, “grind”, re­peat the same re­as­sur­ing tasks over and over again know­ing that do­ing this will make us reach our goals while at the same time hav­ing noth­ing sur­pris­ing in­terfere. To­tal con­trol, and if any­thing hap­pens we can pick from the limited amount of choices and get out of the vir­tu­ally risky set­ting. The world is at our mercy and there’s no worry.

This is very satis­fy­ing.

Similarly with car­toons, be it Bugs Bunny or Rick and Morty (com­pe­ten­cy­porn ),

the main char­ac­ters mag­i­cally get out of chaotic situ­a­tions by mold­ing their en­vi­ron­ment like in­vin­cible gods. No re­spon­si­bil­ities, no wor­ries.

This is mor­bidly satis­fy­ing, pornog­ra­phy for the mind.

Now back to the real, be­ing stuck in traf­fic for hours with no con­trol and con­fined in a ve­hi­cle we can’t leave be­hind be­cause it’s an ex­pen­sive item we can’t af­ford to loose.

This is frus­trat­ing!

Isn’t it satis­fy­ing in cop movies when the pro­tag­o­nist throws his cars shame­lessly?

In the traf­fic ex­am­ple it cre­ates road rage but in gen­eral it cre­ates a de­tach­ment with re­al­ity. Real­ity doesn’t ply to our will un­like in movies. Some can’t get over this and keep this sort of im­ma­tu­rity.

How­ever, this ideal of perfect con­trol where things hap­pen just by wish­ing them, un­con­strained by the rules of physics, where we have the high­est lo­cus of con­trol , with no ex­ter­nal forces is ex­cru­ci­at­ingly bor­ing.

“To­tal con­trol (which re­quires to­tal pre­dictabil­ity) is to­tally bor­ing. Life needs some challenges, sur­prises, set­backs, and serendipity to make it in­ter­est­ing. En­joy­ment and per­sonal growth come only with­par­tial con­trol.”

A place you wouldn’t ex­pect to find this phe­nom­ena is in­side our ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem.

When learn­ing at school we go through the pro­cess of do­ing re­peat­able ex­er­cises.

Na­ture has pat­terns yet those are am­bigu­ous. Hu­mans are bi­ased to rec­og­nize pat­terns, even when there are none, mem­o­rize and re­peat them. Learn­ing is much more than that and school stops here.

We learn ar­tifi­cially easy prob­lems, cre­ated by our teach­ers and bound by the set of for­mula that can be ap­plied to solve them, more of­ten by swap­ping some val­ues.

Those are also satis­fy­ing, as the num­ber of but­tons to press are limited, even though the in­sights and what is learned is nar­row, we be­lieve we’re get­ting smarter.

Out­side of school prob­lems re­quire both a bag­gage of knowl­edge, in­ge­nu­ity, and cre­ativity to be solved.

This is one rea­son why many who were do­ing great in high school are strug­gling at uni­ver­sity with crit­i­cal think­ing or with open ended prob­lems.

Me­moriz­ing hun­dreds of for­mula and tech­niques doesn’t cre­ate a ge­nius.

In­tel­li­gence is then an abil­ity to face the void, the un­known, and try, imag­ine, and link thoughts in un­ex­pected ways.

To­tal con­trol or the op­po­site doesn’t oc­cur, they hap­pen at the same time and this dis­cus­sion brings this to light.

Think about re­vis­it­ing the way you learn and set your in­tents.

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I’m not sure this is the kind of con­tent this com­mu­nity likes to read.

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