Give. So that you can receive…

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The happiness we feel after a particular event or activity diminishes each time we experience that event, a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation. But giving to others may be the exception to this rule, according to research forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In two studies, psychology researchers Ed O’Brien (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) and Samantha Kassirer (Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management) found that participants’ happiness did not decline, or declined much slower, if they repeatedly bestowed gifts on others versus repeatedly receiving those same gifts themselves. (1)

We like to receive. And we love to give.

But why do any of those two?

How can giving be meaningful if receiving is not?

How can receiving be meaningless if giving is not?

When you see two obvious paths in front of you…

Try and look out for the third one!

It is the goal of philosophy to question the obvious.

And here we have two very obvious options…

A wise man will never ask for anything. But neither will he give anything back. In a cosmos built of dirt, there is no point to try to reach the stars. In a cosmos full of butterflies, there is nothing you can receive. Look at the calm lake. Feel the deep dark forest inside you.

You cannot give anything to anyone. For there is only you.

There is no point in receiving anything. For it is you who will get it.

Try to clap with one hand.

You can do it.

Complexity. Animals. Life. Death. Evolution. You.

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In the beginning, life was small. For billions of years, all life on Earth was microscopic, consisting mostly of single cells. Then suddenly, about 570 million years ago, complex organisms including animals with soft, sponge-like bodies up to a meter long sprang to life. And for 15 million years, life at this size and complexity existed only in deep water.

Scientists have long questioned why these organisms appeared when and where they did: in the deep ocean, where light and food are scarce, in a time when oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere was in particularly short supply. A new study from Stanford University, published Dec. 12 in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that the more stable temperatures of the ocean’s depths allowed the burgeoning life forms to make the best use of limited oxygen supplies.

The Stanford team, in collaboration with colleagues at Yale University, propose that the need for a haven from (temperature) change may have determined where larger animals could evolve. “The only place where temperatures were consistent was in the deep ocean,” Sperling said. In a world of limited oxygen, the newly evolving life needed to be as efficient as possible and that could only be achieved in the relatively stable depths. “That’s why animals appeared there,” he said. (1)

Chaos. Out of order.

Order. Out of chaos.

Life out of death.

Death as the result of life.

The universe tries to talk.

But only the deaf ones will listen.

Where there is change, there will be stability.

Where there is stability, there will be change.

And only the blind ones will see.

Seek yourself again.

In the ocean depths.

Where you used to be.

But are not anymore…

Swimming in the surface you are now.

Trying to make out the meaning of the waves.

But the foundations lie deep beneath.

Seek yourself again.

In the ocean depths.

Where you used to be.

But are not anymore…

Touching. You.

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Researchers found that gently stroking a baby seems to reduce activity in the infant brain associated with painful experiences. Their results suggest that lightly brushing an infant at a certain speed – of approximately 3 centimeters per second – could provide effective pain relief before clinically necessary medical procedures. (1)

Touch. The most cryptic of all senses.

A gentle touch can sooth pain. A loving touch can make the cosmos a tolerable place again. We seek touch. And we miss it when it is not there. When all other things are gone. touch is the only way we have to access what “is there” beside us.

We can imagine of any other sense missing, but not the sense of touch. A sense so fundamental not because it is a way to sense the cosmos, but because it is the only way for the cosmos to Be. In a cosmos where everything is interconnected, the sense of touch is equivalent to the notion of existence itself. 

You are not just touching that table.

You are allowing the table to touch you back.

Feel the cosmos around you. Touching everything. Which in turn touches everything else in return. At the end, that familiar sense of touch ends up back to the only thing existing, the only thing you can actually touch.

You…

Editing consciousness. Controlling thoughts. Speaking in the mirror…

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People who are grieving a major loss, such as the death of a spouse or a child, use different coping mechanisms to carry on with their lives. Psychologists have been able to track different approaches, which can reflect different clinical outcomes. One approach that is not usually successful is avoidant grief, a state in which people suffering from grief show marked, effortful, repeated, and often unsuccessful attempts to stop themselves from thinking about their loss. While researchers have shown that avoidant grievers consciously monitor their external environment in order to avoid reminders of their loss, no one has yet been able to show whether these grievers also monitor their mental state unconsciously, trying to block any thoughts of loss from rising to their conscious state.

A new collaborative study between Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Irving Medical Center published online in SCAN: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience demonstrates that avoidant grievers do unconsciously monitor and block the contents of their mind-wandering, a discovery that could lead to more effective psychiatric treatment for bereaved people. The researchers are the first to show how this unconscious thought suppression occurs, by tracking ongoing processes of mental control as loss-related thoughts came in and out of conscious awareness during a 10-minute period of mind-wandering. (1)

How can the mind block itself?

How can the brain control the brain?

How can you control you?

The more one tries to make sense of the cosmos, the more we realize that everything runs in circles. The snake will bite its own tail. The tide will rise again. Life will come after death. The morning will shine again.

And every passing minute, you will be constantly speaking.

To the only person that can hear you.

And the only thing you can hear is what you have already spoken.

Shhhh…

Do you lie to your doctor? Do you lie to yourself?

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When your doctor asks how often you exercise, do you give her an honest answer? How about when she asks what you’ve been eating lately? If you’ve ever stretched the truth, you’re not alone.

60 to 80 percent of people surveyed have not been forthcoming with their doctors about information that could be relevant to their health, according to a new study. Besides fibbing about diet and exercise, more than a third of respondents didn’t speak up when they disagreed with their doctor’s recommendation. Another common scenario was failing to admit they didn’t understand their clinician’s instructions.

When respondents explained why they weren’t transparent, most said that they wanted to avoid being judged, and didn’t want to be lectured about how bad certain behaviors were. More than half were simply too embarrassed to tell the truth. (1)

We try to hide our true self from the doctor.

Because we are ashamed of the truth.

But the question is not whether we can hide the truth.

But whom we can hide that truth from.

It is important that your doctor knows the truth.

But it is more important that you do.

And you cannot hide the truth from those who need to know it.

You cannot hide anything from yourself.

Outside the cosmos you are roaming.

Believing you can outrun the forest.

But no matter how fast you run…

You will always be engulfed by it…

Stop running.

No doctor, I am not exercising at all.

Good…

Can you smell the flowers?