The Universe is not my Servant Enjoying the fruits of connection BY : Troy Murphy | June 2017
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What is the ideal life? Is it obtainable? I suppose the dreams vary between people with different balances of riches, relationships and feelings. Oh the ideals! We dream, picturing fantastic futures, soothing present pains with hopes of future tranquility. Dreaming serves a purpose. Realistic dreams motivate action; and action stimulates growth, but acknowledging ideals not yet obtained implies lack in the present. Driven to achieve is wonderful; but the ideal life never fully materializes. Even when we obtain a significant goal, life still is spotted with heart ache, trouble, and disappointments. Reality can’t complete with the sanitized future of our dreams. If life satisfaction demands the perfect job, perfect partner, perfect children and perfect bank account, we will never enjoy the imperfect job, partner, children and finances we currently have. We can chase the ideals. They drive betterment of circumstances. But waiting for attainment of the ideal, we become miserable with reality—the state of being we all exist in. Simply hoping for too much creates discomfort with the ordinary.
When discomforting emotions arrive—and they will arrive—a faulty expectation of ease magnifies the pain. We face conflicts and are forced into trade-offs—hope, reality, expectations, and disappointments. We encounter obstacles. Life doesn’t play out according to the beautiful plans of our minds. The unplanned troubles demand a pause, assessment and a change in action. We are forced out of automatic mode. But when we ignorantly expect smoothness in the way, the misfortunes demands more energy, the unfairness fogs our thoughts and ignites anger, sadness or helplessness, interfering with progression, triggering thoughts, "this is wrong" or “it shouldn't be this way.” The universe follows natural laws; not our sanitized dreams. Within these laws, life developed and expanded. Organisms’ with ability to adapt to the givens of the system flourished; while those expecting the system to adapt died. The universe doesn’t analyze individual needs then modify to fulfill those needs. The universe isn’t bound to fulfill human desires, we must find our niche—our purpose, our enjoyment--within the laws of the universe.
The universe provides supports survival for millions of diverse organisms, providing the necessities for life; Human are an infinitely small part of the living universe. Any universe dedicated to the thriving of a single species, would be the universe’s ultimate demise. The neutral and indifferent position of the universe in survival, allows the development of a complex structure of life, enjoying and competing for resources. Any person who neglects the natural laws of living will suffer. The universe is not our servant. The happenings within the universe occur according to natural laws. Each event, although driven by numerous unknown motivators, appears random. These seemingly random events then alter the future. For example, a boss’s harsh demands influence employees’ moods; the employees’ moods carry forward with their interactions at home. Countless small waves of actions and reactions push energy from one organism to another, all intertwined in the complex process of living.
We have power to change the flow of energy. We aren’t condemned to predetermined outcomes. We interpret happenings, choose appropriately responses, and abandon unhealthy environments. We actively participate in the flow of experience but we can’t, however, demand the universe to conform to our wants.
Emotions work within organisms dynamically interacting with environmental cues. Without conscious cognition the emotions direct the body. A component of the word emotion is movement. Emotions disrupt internal homeostasis—balance. The imbalances motivate action to re-achieve homeostasis. The muscles contract, hormones flow, neurons fire to create action that will reestablish internal balance. The emotions motivate fulfillment of wants and needs. Essentially, unmet needs and desires cause discomfort, motivating action. The human brain learns, creating complex structures of connections, associating actions with consequences. Some knowledge is overt, we know by acting a certain way we are rewarded. Other knowledge is implicit, connections made beneath consciousness. We automatically respond to stimuli because the reaction has relieved emotional disruption in the past. The connections between action and consequence learned guide future behaviors.
Marketing firms devote tremendous resources creating connections in consumers’ minds between their product and assumed needs. They exploit the human learning process for profit—not human development.
Businesses, governments, social organizations all exert influence on learning. We are socially sensitive. As social creatures, we are motivated by groups and individuals, vulnerable to manipulation for the “good of the group.” Groups can be large or small (a national political party or an intimate relationship). Individual needs differ from larger group needs, creating conflict within nations and within homes, challenging us to balance sacrifice and self-fulfillment. Groups are part of the universe both giving and taking from the individuals—neither inherently good nor evil until content of the ideology is added. Some groups originally form with positive purpose but then morph, turning on outsiders (and ousting non-supportive insiders) to achieve the groups defined or undefined goals. Groups easily change into dangerous and powerful entities, blind to individual pain and outside forces. We must watch carefully, giving support to progressive thought but crying foul to degenerating dogma.
Groups provide strength to the individual—the power of numbers, the stacking of resources. While it is incumbent to fulfill some of a group’s needs, we shouldn’t abandon the self. We have limits and responsibilities to the self. This applies to large groups and to intimate groups.
The universe—which includes others—isn’t designed for self-fulfillment. We manufacture needs we demand are essential but aren’t needs at all—simply desires. We demand partner’s or groups to fulfill our manufactured needs and scoff when they fail. We expect too much and destroy connections that we need to flourish. We can live without many manufactured needs and must not unrealistically burden others with the fulfillment; whether they are fulfilled or not, we continue to survive. This means many wants—manufactured needs—remain unmet causing discomfort. If pleasure is the only guide, all relationships will fail.
Unfulfilled expectations discourage and disrupt the present. When we place unrealistic expectations on a partner, our partner becomes an object instead of an individual. We neglect their individual wants and needs. Lacking insight and compassion, using others as a means to self-fulfillment, ignoring their individuality, destroys relationships. We believe partners fail. Our judgment of their failures creates bitterness. Life becomes miserable, each step painful, and we slip further from reality. These idealistic expectations need exposure and adjustment.
Accepting personal responsibility to adjust the failing framework of thought evokes anxiety—disrupting our homeostasis; emotions flame signaling to create change. Many attempt to resolve the disjointed feelings through psychological defenses—burying responsibility again, affixing blame outside the self. Blaming others; expecting the world to bend and conform to distorted beliefs. But even when others conform, giving in to our manipulations, they conform at a cost, sacrificing their wants; the sacrifices accumulate and resentments form. Even with the equitable division of sacrifices and regular compromises, wants remain unfulfilled—creating discomfort. Group and individual needs constantly conflict and require trade-offs. We can’t have it both ways. Instead of affixing blame for the inherent discomforts, we must use the discomfort to gain wisdom. We develop wisdom through deeper self-understanding. Instead of calling foul, we learn to self-sooth, abandoning methods of manipulation and harsh judgments.
Partners, acquaintances and other members of groups have their own demons that trigger discomfort. Sometimes their choices conflict with our values, and may even be harmful. We are not responsible for their growth. When we focus on what they “should” be doing, we lose focus on what we can be doing. The best way to assist others is to be on our own path of growth. When we love and accept others without needing to save them, we create a healthy environment, fostering growth, which they may or may not utilize. We must accept others’ personal freedoms. This may require that we courageously face difficult decisions: learning to enjoy a relationship within the inherent limitations or to courageously leave.
We will never experience constant pleasure but shouldn’t constantly feel pain. If life is painful, something’s wrong. Look for underlying beliefs disrupting your experience. The fix often lies within ourselves and not resolved through changing the world.