The upside-down life

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If you try to accumulate everything for yourself, how would you ever release yourself to flow anywhere else? Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

We live most of our lives upside-down.  I try to watch myself and others all the time, in order to work out what makes us happy and what makes us sad.  I have come to the view that we often live in such a way as to make us sad.

There are perhaps three elements to the flow of our lives:  resources, kindness, and time.  (Time is also a kind of resource, but humans tend to categorise it separately.)  We can either run our lives with what I’d call an ‘upside-down flow’ of resources, kindness and time, or with a ‘right way up’ flow.  The upside-down way causes sadness.  The right-way-up way causes happiness.

UPSIDE-DOWN RESOURCE FLOW

The sad way to manage resources, is to invent a theoretical self, give it your name, and then try to accumulate as much resource as possible for it.  So, if your name is Fred, open a bank account in the name of Fred, and try to make it as big as possible.  Then try to acquire a big house called Fred House, and put a fence round it.  On no account share.  This might upset the inward flow of resources.

The result of this will be that you are a slave to this thing with your name.  You will, every day, be fighting the world to accumulate resources for it.  It doesn’t really know where to stop.  It will want food, drink, pretty things, things to make it look good, a nice car… every time you think it has enough, it will want more.  But if you look at its face, you will see that this monster with your name is just an accumulator, just a piece of greed.

UPSIDE-DOWN KINDNESS

The sad way to exercise kindness, is to demand it.  Spend your time walking around with your kindness detector, and root out anyone who isn’t showing you total respect.  Make sure you get upset every time someone ignores you, or doesn’t give you what you want.

The result of this will be that you will be the self-appointed judge of the world, and will become very disappointed with everyone else.  They have let you down.  If possible, make passive-aggressive communications about how bad everyone is.  You might as well make an art of your unhappiness.

UPSIDE-DOWN TIME MANAGEMENT

The sad way to manage time is to squeeze it.  Spend your time in a very small box called now.  In fact, make it so small you can’t breathe.  Think about the future and the past all the time.  This gives you the saddest of both worlds: no time in the present, and lots of bad memories and future worries to think about.

The result of this will be that you get nothing done in the present, and become disabled by the sheer weight of past and future.  As with upside-down kindness, this is very much an art, and before long you should be able to feel frozen and disappointed with yourself.

AN EXERCISE

Just for today, maybe choose to live in one of two ways.

Maybe you would like to choose the upside-down method.  If so, make sure you seek out resources for yourself, demand kindness from others, and spend as much time as possible resenting the past or worrying about the future.

Alternatively, you might like to choose the opposite.  If so, maybe don’t seek anything for yourself, be patient, and live peacefully in the present.

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SUMMARY

We all have to manage resources, kindness, and time.

If we want to be sad, then we can seek out resources for ourselves, demand kindness from others, resent the past, and worry about the future.

If we want to be happy, then we can seek nothing for ourselves, be patient, and live peacefully in the present.

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