Monday, November 21, 2011

Learn to love life, and to thirst for learning...


"He disciplines his mind so that his ordinary perceptions are more in line with a love of life and thirst for learning, and less inhibited or tainted by past experiences and fear" (Ilgner, p. 98). 


Focusing my attention more and more on life around me, I have noticed a shift in my 27 years. Granted, though, 22 of those years were majorly spent in a selfish world where I didn't take much notice; but, reflection has led me back to places, spaces in my past, where I diverged from the established path I had been treading. These spots recalled now in the present illicit a space of cognitive dissonance. According to the General Experimental Psychology Cognitive Dissonance Lab at Ithaca College:
"People hold a multitude of cognitions simultaneously, and these cognitions form irrelevant, consonant or dissonant relationships with one another.

Cognitive Irrelevance probably describes the bulk of the relationships among a person's cognitions. Irrelevance simply means that the two cognitions have nothing to do with each other. Two cognitions are consonant if one cognition follows from, or fits with, the other. People like consonance among their cognitions. 
Two cognitions are said to be dissonant if one cognition follows from the opposite of another. What happens to people when they discover dissonant cognitions?
The answer to this question forms the basic postulate of Festinger's theory. A person who has dissonant or discrepant cognitions is said to be in a state of psychological dissonance, which is experienced as unpleasant psychological tension.
 
This tension state has drivelike properties that are much like those of hunger and thirst. Reducing the psychological sate of dissonance is not as simple as eating or drinking however" (citation).
Refracting through a historical lens on the past opportunities that I missed or disregarded to be a better person - a person more in line with love for life and thirst for learning - brings me to revisit, to analyze, and ultimately seek growth and development. I am afforded a rare opportunity. I have no children, I am not married, and for the better part of a day, I spend my time as I please. In all this, I have the ability to rummage over and through things others have possibly long forgot. Perhaps my visions the other night (read this blog entry) sought to remind me that there are continual opportunities to learn and grow from.

All I need do is be open and accepting to the thoughts that may enter my consciousnesses; taking along with me a neutral position of emotion (i.e., not pre-registering a feeling or emotion based on the outcomes of the past).

Often times, discussing the past with a close friend and spiritual being interested in bettering themselves aids me in understanding my own life and things I've done. This, again, is an opportunity to discover, to understand the happenings of my past with a different posturing. I no longer am feeling the emotions associated with this event and therefore a different position presents in the absence of tainted-ness. Emotions to me, seem distant when reconsidering past occurrences. We may recall that we felt a certain way, but generally unless the event was traumatic (i.e., the feelings live-on through memory and resurface without clear distinction between event and emotion), we cannot truly feel again how we had felt in that moment.

For example, you decide today that you are going to go for a run. As you prepare yourself, dress yourself, and begin slipping on your foot attire of choice, you recall the last time you wore these shoes, or went running. Let's say hypothetically, that last time you pulled a muscle in your lower leg and so now you have this preconceived notion of what running may feel like: pain. Perhaps pain illicits anger then  disappointment, and so on. Emotion has this way of snowballing if we do not control the only thing we can truly control - ourselves, our actions, and our emotions, and not the things outside this environment (though we try!). Where I am separating the memory of emotions is here. We recall through our tainted experience and our fears what it was like last time (i.e. memory), but we do not truly recall what the options of emotion could have been (if there is tainted or fearful emotions; perhaps, it was happy so therefore we would register positivity instead). Maybe next time you think of running you'll register the idea of pain, but you won't play into it - being open to the option that this time, you will experience something different.

With time having separated our memories from this emotion, we now have the ability to depict the stiction points: the spots that, despite our best efforts, remain ingrained in the folds of our memory for later reconsideration and learning. There are more colors than the black or white I recall.

Within these folds I can wander, realizing that time is on my side. As I've shared with others, there is no rush to process the elements of our lives that we wish to try again upon. If it takes you to your death bed to finally admit, grow, and learn that something you did was wrong and you are sorry, then you have made it!

Accept that you, I, or anyone else, is flawed and that upon accepting this, we free ourselves to the opportunity of growth. Only when we ignore or dismiss the dissonance in our consciousness do we shuck off the yoke of learning and love for life in all its occurrences there within.

*****

I'll end on this note. It is not always intuitive to reconsider the past that stays with us despite our best efforts to move forward; nor is this intuitiveness timely. If you do find you have something staying with you, don't simply discard it. Find a time to stay with the thought. Talk about it with a close acquaintance or loved one; write about; or, go for a walk in the wilderness and permit your mind to rummage. If you accept to understand that thought, that memory, you will be replenished with a learned moment that never will be forgotten.

Memory, and the learning gained from it, are like riding a bike: once you learn, you hardly ever forget. 

Love in life,
Alan

'It is not learning that is uncomfortable, but the elements recalled in the process!' 

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