The best of times

I think a lot, about the difference between apathy and contagious ecstasy. About the difference between being in unaffected emotionally by loved ones, and the first moments of being reunited with an old friend after a long trip. About the difference between a heavy boredom that weighs one down to the point of sleep, and those moments when one can simply look at a tree and exclaim “What a nice tree!”

As humans we create mental habits and after we fall into a comfort zone we rarely attempt to escape that comfort zone. What then happens is a process known as hedonic adaptation. Philosopher and poet Jason Silva says “We have eyes that see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand.”

Depression, boredom, and apathy are deplorable word we use to describe a deplorable existence. The question is; how do we shape our lives in such a way as to elicit experiences of passion, wonder, and ecstasy?

Escape the mental habits and experience something new. Scramble the self temporarily so that new thoughts can invade the brain. When the mind is confronted by something of immense power (thunderstorms, charismatic leader, moral virtue or beauty) we place ourselves in a perspective compared to said object and are humbled in comparison.

There is a biological advantage to being awestruck. It drives us to new heights in order to attain this sort of ecstasy. A study done at Stanford explained that persons who more frequently experience awe believe themselves to have more time and thus are less rushed in their daily lives. These people have less stress and greater satisfaction in life on the whole. They are also more driven as they find greater purpose in their lives that in continually redefined during moments of passion.

So find these experiences of such perceptual vastness that our mental operating systems are forced into expanding their models of the universe. In these moments we make the brain upgrades by refiguring what was once thought possible, and by opening up our thoughts to new possibilities.

This is what it’s all about and the great part about it is that it’s everywhere. A deep connection with a friend, a good and close look at a bumble bee, or a shirtless rampage through a thunderstorm. Whatever it takes, get there.

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