Six Essential Rules for Navigating Depression, Alcoholism, Nihilism, and Finding Ultimate Purpose of Life

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It was one of those rare moments in my middle aged life, where after having gone through my own share of confusion, defeat, resentment, sadness, shame, depression, alcoholism, nihilism, but thankfully, coming back in full circle, not only have I discovered the ultimate purpose of this seemingly limited and finite human life on this Earth but also was able to distill it down to six essential rules that I so hope that it be as useful to you as it has been for me navigating the chaos of life.

At an early age, we are taught how to be good children, good friends, good pupils, good colleagues, good spouses, even good parishioners in the church. I just thought that if we were to follow the “formula” or the “teachings”, all would be well. Some of those are believing and having faith in God, working hard, being thankful, raising a family, and helping others, which, more so than not, turned out to be the very truth of life, but it is not that apparent at all in the beginning. As we live our lives, and try to discover life, as it plays many devilish tricks on us, we get more confused and lost. For example, the poors always seemed poorer. Rich always seemed getting richer. Money, not righteousness nor religion seemed to be the power that is literally moving the mountains. Never mind seeing money and power play out in job because we know that it is a jungle or battlefield, but I began to also see the similar pattern play out even among friends, family, and in church, where I thought that such malevolence are not allowed. Families, including mine fight over money, and many ending up separating for life. The more I tried to reason, the more I fell into confusion, sadness and depression. None of the religious and moral teachings seem to matter. Money and hierarchical power seemed to be in control, like a dark, invisible hand looming over us in the background, controlling everything. Everyone seemed greedy, wanting that money and power for themselves. I started to lose faith in family, religion, and even the very moral codes that kept me together for so many youth years.

Christianity

I grew up in a once devoted Christian family where my father prayed that he gave his son, me, to be God’s servant, or a pastor. I ended up going to a theological seminary, but got caught in a whirlwind of church politics and ended up getting kicked out of the ordination program. I switched and finished getting a master’s degree anyway but this was a huge and real moment where the very religious organization that we trusted betrayed me and failed me horribly. I saw such deep level of hypocrisy play out behind the smiling faces of church.

Science

Years later, I took real interest in learning more about this vast universe. The whole concept and facts surrounding the universe always fascinated me. According to NASA, there are about at least 100 billion galaxies that we can currently observe using our technology. In our own galaxy, Milky Way, there are about 250 billion stars. That is 250 billion suns or solar systems like ours. The nearest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, which is destined to collide with Milky Way in about 4.5 billion years later, has about 1 billion stars, four times more stars than our Milky Way galaxy. So, if we, humans, can only live around 100 years on this Earth, amongst 100 billion galaxies times 250 billion stars, our existence compared to this vast, almost infinite universe was beyond nothing. It seems that we are merely living in a stillness of this vast universe, like a nanosecond of nanosecond of the universe time. To further add to the damage, when I compared us the homo sapiens to dinosaurs which roamed the Earth 245 million years ago and lasted about 180 million years, that was 65 million years before any primates existed, the very first glimpse of existence of an ape like animal was about 10 million years ago. In terms of history, the dinosaurs that we play as toys are many million times better species than us the human beings. Now try comparing that to 2,000 year old Christian history which claims that its God created the universe. I mean, how could a 2,000 year old text which were probably written by ancient people who knew nothing about dinosaurs or galaxies be even relevant today? Bible seemed obviously self defeating. I began to reject it altogether. 

Nihilism

Therefore, I declared that God did not exist. Christianity was just too limiting to contain all there is about the universe. It seemed that this “God” figure is just human’s figment of imagination, perhaps, conjured by someone smarter than anyone to exploit those lesser humans. Or these lesser humans created it to have some consolation over their pain and sufferings because it is so easy and convenient to blame all things to this elusive thing called God. Turned out, I was about 140 years late on this. Towards the late 19th century, many philosophers, including Frederick Nietzsche already declared that “God is dead.” In light of science and reason, philosophers already figured out that many religious beliefs imposed on people for thousands of years easily invalidated itself. Heaven surely didn’t exist above the clouds, nor among the stars. I was free falling into existential nihilism. I could not trust the very religion that held me together for so many years. Humans always seem greedy and cannot satiate itself but keep wanting more, even going into wars, killing and consuming each other. I began to question if anything we do even mattered. I hated this greedy human animal. Maybe it would be a better universe if an asteroid hit Earth and annihilate all living beings. Then there would be no living organism to feel pain or suffering. There wouldn’t be any fightings or wars to satiate the greedy animal. We all go back to our inanimate elements. Such thoughts made me resent humanity. It kept pulling me down deeper into nihilism. I could not get out of this dark emptiness. It made me extremely sad. I could not trust nor love anyone anything anymore. What does it even all mattered? I despised and resented being a life, even having this ability to think these thoughts. 

Buddhism

As I was munching on such dark thoughts, on the other part of my mind, as if survival instinct kicked in, it wanted to desperately keep this depression under control. Realizing the limitation of Christianity, I turned to Buddhism, especially the teachings taught by Korean Zen Master, Pomnyun sunim. According to the Venerable Pomnyun sunim, the goal of humanity is to achieve the enlightenment and live the life of liberation from such pain and suffering. The very first step of achieving this liberation starts with avoiding the four sins:

  1. do not assault or kill other human beings
  2. do not forcefully take or steal from others
  3. do not commit sexual harassment or assault
  4. do not curse or lie

As long as we abide by these four rules and be good with other human beings, everything was up for a game. Nothing was really right or wrong, or a must. There is only a cause and effect, and consequences to decision or even indecision. If one decides on one path, that path will yield a certain results. Our job is to consciously and clearly see what is presented to us, and without any human emotions influencing us, think through or simulate various consequences for different decisions, and choose the best decision that would yield the most fruitful or good outcome. And because we have already simulated different outcomes, our expectations are set, so whatever the outcome may be, it will always be expected. This means that there are no surprises. And because the outcome was expected and within our thought process, we wouldn’t feel as much pain or suffering. Though the key here, the real goal, is to yield a positive outcome, one that helps, not destroys. We can certainly take aim for the best positive outcome, but if we miss, that is fine too because both outcomes were calculated and expected. There exists only trying. There is really no failures either as long as we keep trying. But at the same time, success doesn’t mean we achieved some sort of ultimate goal of life either, but just one more successful and positive outcome as a consequence of the decision and trying. This thinking process allows us to detach ourselves from emotions and feelings. We become very conscious on our surroundings and the decisions or indecisions we make. Therefore, there is really no need for anger, frustration, resentment, fear, or shame.

Buddhism definitely helped. But it still left a void in my heart. It could not provide a reason or a purpose to this biologically finite, feeble, and meager life. As I hit into my mid life, I felt more lost. Despite the doom and gloomy picture I so far painted, on the contrary, my life actually has been pretty decent. I live in one of the best country in the world. I live in a nice affluent neighborhood. My families and friends are all healthy. I even have a decently paying job, nice car, nice house, and retirement saving. Heck, within 5 minutes of walk from my house, there is a Wholefood and even one and only Starbucks Reserve Bar in New Jersey. There is absolutely no reason for me to feel empty and lost. Yet, without purpose and meaning, I continued to feel deep, uncontrollable loneliness, helplessness, sadness, resentment, and emptiness. It could be that my unconscious mind is realizing that I am getting old and feeling vulnerable. It could be that I feel stuck in my current mundane midlife that just turns and churns like a hamster on a wheel. It could be that I am becoming way too complacent, not realizing how fortunate I am. The answer is probably all of the above. 

Alcoholism

I started to borrow alcohol’s potent sedative power. Of course, in the name of becoming hip and trendy, I made tasting craft beers a hobby. But soon and sure enough, I was building a bad drinking habit. I started to rely on it more and more. As I got deep in nihilism, it seemed that my only comfort was to binge drink, get drunk, become silly and sad, act out my emotions unfiltered, and blame any fallouts and mishaps to alcohol. In fact, 40% of violent crimes are committed with the influence of alcohol.

This had numerous bad consequences. As I started to drink, it seemed that I always wanted to drink more. Easy one or two cans of beer became three or four and soon I would lose track of it. I started to binge drink. Then my emotions took over, and I became really silly, laughing and crying at the same time. I brought out the best of my unconsciousness, which is dark and ugly. Every day after work, I would come home binge drink, laugh, cry, get loud, and pass out. I began to do it consistently over and over and over again. The cycle then bled into weekends. I started to binge drink even on Saturdays and Sundays. Sure enough, instead of just passing out, I began to black out, not exactly knowing why I was sleeping where I was sleeping, whether I ate dinner or not, and even wondered if I turned off the gas stove after I cooked some food. The more blackouts I experienced the more scary it got. This could mean that I could do something stupid, like leave the stove on and burn down the whole house, and lose everything I worked so hard for. 

The craziest thing is that alcohol actually didn’t help improve my depression. It did not fill the emptiness. Instead, it sank me deeper into emptiness. In fact, turns out that alcohol abuse leads to deeper depression.  It also meant that I was spending a lot of money buying the alcohol. This bad habit was also weakening my health. I continued to feel weird burning sensation around my stomach that did not go away for weeks at a time. I seriously wondered if that was the liver inflammation signalling due to too much alcohol consumption. If I don’t burn down the whole house, then I would probably die young due to liver disease. 

Jordan Peterson

Thankfully, luck was on my side. In extremely fortunate occasion, during these struggling dark days, my son introduced me to teachings of Jordan Peterson, a great scholar, clinical psychologist, and currently the professor of psychology at University of Toronto. I began watching his many incredible lectures, including the 2016 lectures of Maps of Meaning class, as well as, started reading his recent book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, where I picked up lifesaving, priceless, and invaluable teachings that acted as a glue to put together all of different puzzles that I acquired to date, and provided the ultimate cure for my condition. 

Professor Peterson, at an early age, also struggled with Christianity. He analyzed deep into creation myths of many different ancient religions, including Bible, and ended up writing a comprehensive book called Maps of Meaning, which then became a lecture course. According to the professor, many creation myths found in ancient texts were developed for many thousands of years, and passed down generations to generations, trying to teach extremely important moral lessons that strive to sustain peaceful and prosperous human civilization. Many thoughtful and wise men specifically wrote about the very inner workings of order and chaos, the yin and yang, and how to keep peace and what could cause war and conflicts, and how to keep the balance of it all. 

Don’t Throw Out the Baby with Bathwater

The gist of it is that even if one is living in an orderly and peaceful society, because human society always grows and evolves, new generations have different needs. Even the very order, the very establishment that brought peace needs to make adjustments and adopt to changing needs of the new, growing, and evolving human society. Imagine that you have a plant in a glass box so that the plant is protected from all of the harsh environment outside of it. You give good sunlight and nutrition, but unless box adjusts to plant’s growth needs, the plant won’t be able to grow, or it will try to break out of the glass box. The very rules and order that protected the society will fall behind the growing needs of the new and if the old society keeps imposing the same rule, the order will become tyranny and oppressive. Since the new generation will eventually grow stronger and stronger, and finally overthrow the old, as it always has been, break free from the very glass box that it protected. But this leads it into deep chaos and destruction. The very protective shell that it had is now gone, exposing it to all of the harmful elements that exists outside of the box. Somehow we threw away all of the old, including the good, as well as, while throwing out the bad. History teaches us time and again, that not everything old is bad. There is good that can and should be recycled, repurposed, and adopted to fit the needs of the new. We should not be throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but make sure to save that baby before throwing out the nasty, disease filled bathwater.

The incredible lesson here is that there is always good in bad, order in chaos, light in darkness, and it is utmost important to seek out the good, the order, the light, the baby, and appreciate it, lift it out, and keep it, while ignoring and rejecting the rest. Just like how yin and yang symbol has an opposing dot in its own half circles. This is such an incredible thought process that can be applied to everything around us. With this thinking in mind, I looked back at the very religion that rejected me. Although I still saw its limitations, flaws, and abuses, it contained enormous patterns of good and usefulness structures and systems for people that provided comfort, consolation, meaning and purpose for generations for thousands of years. In fact, Christianity was kept evolving, taking in all of the positive lessons of philosophy, psychology, and science along with it, thanks to those pioneers, those saints, those wise men, those martyrs, who sacrificed their lives to continue its evolution so that it serves the needs of the newer generations. In retrospect, we no longer burn the witches, nor condemn homosexuals to hell. But Christianity is providing millions of people with comfort, consolation, structure, community, and safe place to be related and appreciate each other, enabling us to further do good in society. I indeed learned the true lesson of finding the baby, the good, in the stinky bathwater, and not to throw him/her out with the bathwater no matter how bad the bathwater may be.

Lobsters and Hierarchy

Another deep resentment I had was around the presence of hierarchy and the power structure therein. When we talk about hierarchy, we often talk about the power structure in society, like in job or in family, etc. We hate to be ruled and conform into something we don’t like, or at least that we cannot be the king or queen of. Everyone in a civilized society identifies themselves within the levels and layers of the structure and act accordingly. Those that have more money control those with less. Those in higher social standing controls those in the lesser social standing. And of course, you see pure human greed play out. It definitely feels like a jungle where strongest are the dominant and exert control over the weak. Except, in human society, we take it to the extreme. We make other fellow humans slaves and treat them lesser than animals. Morality is stepped over, religious beliefs are overruled or conveniently justified fit the privileged. It seemed that we were actually not same under God but people with money or higher social standing seemed actually be favored by God. When we go to museum, we see how rich and affluent people lived, not how poor people lived despite how all those beautiful buildings and art works were built due to labors of poor people. We don’t talk about the poor and weak, but we talk about the rich that hired and even slaved the poor. This seemed awfully unfair.

Turned out that I needed not resent but actually learn more about the hierarchy. According to Professor Peterson, when he researched the lobsters which practically survived for over 300 million years and did not change that much, and share same evolutionary ancestor with humans, their main way of survival mechanism is seen via strong sense of hierarchy. Biggest and strongest will have the nicest place for himself, and the more stronger they get the more serotonin would get produce within their body and make them even stronger, and all females get attracted to him and mate, producing possibly the strongest lobster babies, thereby increasing the chance of survival for the specie. According to Professor Peterson, one needs a society to survive, and if one is in society, hierarchy will always exist and that is really a good thing. Otherwise, if we don’t know where we all stand, we would be constantly fighting to determine our standing, causing unnecessary death or loss. Therefore existence of hierarchy actually brings order. The more civilized the society becomes, the complex hierarchy it will form, even at multiple levels within itself. Everyone needs to know where they belong, the ground that they stand, and what their operating parameters are. Also, because we are driven to be the strongest, if we are not the strongest in one hierarchy structure, we will form other hierarchy structure elsewhere and try to be the strongest there. If I can’t be the CEO of the company I work for, I would try to be one in my own family. If that doesn’t work, I could be one in my own video game world, or my own writings, or paintings. This is the basis, the modus operandi, of the civilization. If somehow we were to be all equal, we would always be fighting each other, try to claim to be the strongest. Hierarchy is a map of the known strongholds which then lessens the conflict because it doesn’t necessitate the fight. If we know we have the strength of 5 and others have strength of 10, we probably should not fight because it is likely that we will lose. In return, it allows us to live and survive. Wow. What do you know? The very hierarchy that I despised so much was something that enabled the civilization to hold together, bring cooperation and prosper.

Complexity

Another incredible teaching from Professor Peterson that really helped me fight the existential nihilism was the notion of how complex really everything that exists in life is even how inconsequential it may seem. Yes, we could be seen almost non existential compared to the vast and infinite universe. What does our 100 year life worth compare to 4 billion year Earth? It seems like a complete stillness as if clock for the universe just stopped for a nanosecond. But do we even know much about that incredibly miniscule and finite thing we call it life?

Do you know how many species are living on Earth? 8.7 million! And we probably can count only handful of them like our favorite animals in the zoo. Yet we think we know it all, all based on some books and articles written by other flawed and imperfect human beings. Better yet, even these findings are always challenged and debunked with more convincing discoveries. Because we heard things, we somehow think we know it all and dismiss the complexities conveniently and lazily. If we were to do our due diligence, there is so much more to be studied and discovered. It was only the recent 300 years that we started to learn earnestly about science and reasoning, about our planet Earth, discovered how to harness the stored energy like natural gas and oil, and electrons from the magnets to produce electricity, and peaking vaguely into the vastness of the universe via Hubble Telescope. Yet, because of this meager knowledge that we acquired from our other incredible fellow humans, somehow we think we know all there is to about this life, our surroundings, and the universe. How cocky and arrogant are we?

In fact, when you look deep into all different creations, pretty much everything there is to any creation is extremely complex. One could devote their entire life studying and still won’t be able discover all there is to it. Being a living organism itself is also an incredible miracle itself. How about us? We human beings are composed of 37.2 trillion cells! We now talk about quantum entanglement that is threatening the very theories of Einstein that enabled us to understand the universe. Now, make that one complex creation interact with another complex creation. Even better, make that creation human beings. It will infinitely be complex. How about the whole country interacting with another country? Span of decades or even millenia? This is complexity beyond our comprehension that we take it for granted. 

Yet, we often carelessly and lazily take easy shortcuts and see things from our own simple and flawed perspective, be judgmental, biased, prejudiced, as if we know it all. This pattern recognizing, fast acting instinct was indeed needed to quickly identify lions in the field, or snakes in the jungle so that we can fight and protect ourselves. But the thing is, we have since advanced so far from such knee jerking needs. We are not fighting lions and snakes any more. So before such instinct or prejudice kicks in, we must look into its complexities, try to understand where it came from, how it came about, and then recognize the good, the usefulness in the complexity, lift it, keep it, honor it, learn from it, and enhance it.

Awakening of the Conscious Self

Let’s go back to my downward spiral journey into abyss. As I knew my depression and drinking habit was leading me to certain destruction, my relationship with my wife wasn’t going well either, getting into more quarrels every day, and not to mention my health deteriorating, the irrevocable destruction was imminent. Finally, the inevitable happened. It was during my last blackout, after binge drinking, I have done the stupidest, silliest, yet costly act that I’m hoping you will spare me for not describing it in full detail. This sudden event, this unforgivable act, really shook me thoroughly. I truly felt that my life was threatened, equivalent to stupidly burning down the whole house and lose everything I worked so hard for. 

As the inevitable destruction was unfolding, as if I was in a car crash, I could actually feel that my awareness becoming hypersensitive, to the point that I could even feel that time slowing down. I saw myself questioning who I was, what I was, where I was. My mind was desperately trying to cope with what just happened, constantly playing back the event and tried to formulate the recovery path or the least painful path. Thankfully, I was able to recover fully, but not right away. It took time, long time, to resolve and fully recover from it. In hindsight, this prolonged resolution was actually a blessing even though how painful it was to live through it. For the next full month, until everything was resolved, and a few weeks more thereafter, I became super conscious about myself, my feelings, and all of my surroundings. As this survival instinct kicked in, I saw myself detaching itself from my emotions, and feverishly rationalizing and calculating what different things it could have done or should do now to bring about the best outcome despite the gloomy odds.

This awakening was almost euphoric. It monitored myself, my progress, tried to detach itself from emotions like pain and agony, remorse or shame, even sexual drive, and focusing all of its energy into solving the problem at hand. I wondered what this was. Now that I think about it, whenever I faced unfortunate circumstances or big losses, such as being in a car accident, it was that similar intense feeling, possibly commonly referred to as tachypsychia kicking in, and my body and mind was trying to survive through this threatening event by pumping up adrenaline like soldiers in combat

After two months, that intense, super conscious feeling started to wear off. I can now see why we as a humanity set aside special days to commemorate important events. Because, it seems, with enough time passing by, we easily and conveniently forget the past, no matter how dire and important it may have been. But I could not let go of this incredible discovery, this awakening, this super consciousness, super awareness, this keen sense that could actually watch over myself. I am so certain that this is probably what what wise men referred to as an enlightenment. Plato called it the reason or intelligence, Adam Smith called it the impartial spectator, and Socrates called it the inner divine voice. In fact, when you carefully examine all wise men, including Jesus Christ and Buddha, they were all super conscious beings who had the complete awareness of their surroundings, their inner self, and carefully controlled their physical bodies on how it interacted with outside world, but made the best possible choices for each and every situation. They were hardly just emotional, but fully intelligent, fully aware and compassionate. They not only recognized the good, but lifted it every chance they got, fully accepting the consequence for lifting it to the rest of the society. They were the awakened ones, the masters of the super consciousness.

The Six Rules

Seeing how valuable this discovery was, and how quickly the thoughts were fading away, I urgently jogged down my learnings from the whole ordeal, the discovery, the awakening, and refined it many times over, by sequencing and distilling it into six rules. I also sprinkled it with my life’s learnings, so that I can always go back to remind myself, to keep watch, to keep guard, and continue to be awakened at all times, at all cost. Finally, I wanted to share this incredible learning with you, so that when you are also stuck in your own life, this article, these rules can help you navigate the chaos and setbacks, by possibly becoming an awakened one, so that we can live the focused, free, content, positively enhancing, sharing, and thankful life that we all meant to live! 

1. Recognize the emotions. Close your eyes, take three deep breaths. Concentrate, focus! Pay attention to the emotions that come to you. Prejudice, dislike, hate, arrogance, resentment, frustration, anger, ignorance, fear, worry, shame, guilt, sadness, weakness, laziness, sexual urges, want, obsessiveness, greed, gluttony, but also, bliss, joy, excitement. This nuclear reactor is steaming inside of you, waiting to melt you out of your existence if it’s not watched at all times.

Additional Thoughts: Our emotions love prejudice. In fact, it all starts from prejudice. We are so biologically and socially engineered to recognize patterns we are used to and accepted, and simply assume. But this is not always good because from our automated thoughts, we assume what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch, and it automatically reacts and triggers emotions that are protective in its nature, usually expressed as hate, anger, fear, worry, frustration, shame and guilt. 

Therefore, whatever, whenever, wherever we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, don’t assume but question your mind first. What is it? Why is it? How is it? Knowing its abundant complexity, formulate our reaction to yield best positive outcome there could be.  

2. Detach the emotions. Recognize that this nuclear reactor that is brewing inside of you is not yours. It just comes to you as you being a live animated human being. It interacts and reacts to things around you, part chemical, part physical, part psychological. It is primordial, like the Newton’s law that existed ever since life came about. In fact, when you see emotions in others, know that it is not theirs either but they’re just a vessel. So when it comes to you, first, simply recognize it by detaching it from yourself, don’t claim it yet. Next, be curious and carefully study what it is and why it is. Finally, consciously decide which one you choose to keep.

Additional Thoughts: It is extremely hard to see our feelings and emotions objectively, but we must, because that’s how it is supposed to be, for being the intelligent humans living in a highly complex society. Feelings and emotions will surge in us like a wave and overwhelm us. When we are left alone, uncared for, shouted at, mocked at, stepped on, ignored, it is extremely hard to not to react immediately. We feel completely offended and react as if we are bitten by a snake or attacked by a lion. 

But stop! Take pause even for 5 seconds and ask, “Who are you? Anger? Frustration? From what I am about to react, is it the best I could do for myself?” Those emotions that are overwhelming us are just reactions to what has been done to us. Done is done. If we jump on and let our emotion do whatever it pleases, we are consumed by the emotion. We simply became its meal. That’s not good because emotion is supposed to be the boss, but just basic primordial instinct, the fight or flight response, in its pure form, usually is not good for the complex society. So before acting out that emotion, line them all up and see what you want to do about them objectively.

Our ultimate purpose or winning strategy should be recognizing, picking out, and lifting the good in the confusion, frustration, chaos. Anything that will negate us from choosing good and doing good are the daemons, the enemies we must fight off. Those that won’t help yield good, we need to simply ignore, just let it pass and dissipate on its own. And trust me, it will. 

3. Use conscious self to pick out good. That keen sense, the ability to help you see into yourself objectively, the conscious self, is the ultimate tool to keep this nuclear reactor in check at all times. When emotion comes to you, use this powerful tool to identify and consciously pick out those that promote life, the good, and simply ignore those that aren’t. In fact, there are more than 50% of thoughts that just occur as part of how brain works, which you need to detach, especially like guilt, shame, anger, fear, worry, sadness, resentment. Those don’t do good to you. They’re not valuable to you. So don’t claim it. Leave it alone. Let it dissipate. As long as you don’t claim it, it’s not yours. And since it doesn’t get to be said or done, it doesn’t become real and its potency quickly diminishes. In fact, we, the homo sapiens, the wise men, are the only ones on Earth that are equipped with this power. We are the very and only conscious beings, the awakened ones!

Additional Thoughts: Yes! This is our secret weapon that all saints, the awakened ones had and utilized it to its fullest capacity. It is the conscious self in us that can be rational, reasoning, intelligent, and logical. It is the only weapon that can help us detach, and keep those powerful emotions like emptiness, loneliness, sadness, shame, guilt, fear, weakness, under control. You see, these emotions are simply not ours, but we feel, treat, and act like as if it is ours. That is the emotion’s trick. It will attach to us like a leech, and suck life out of us. It is our conscious self that needs to pick out the leeches and keep their numbers under control at all times.

4. Watch that arrogance. Pay special attention to arrogance, which bigots prejudice, dislike, ignorance, laziness. That cocky know-it-all self is actually ignorance and laziness in disguise. Anything in life, even a random fly is way more complex than you arrogantly dismiss. That’s very lazy, irresponsible, and cowardice act. Do your homework and ask why 5 times. Acknowledge the complexity beneath. Then seek out the good in bad, the light in darkness. Don’t throw out baby with bathwater! There are deep and complex reasons as to why things became what they are. How could you be so sure when you are a flawed imperfect being that rely heavily on other flawed imperfect beings? So, be humble and keep arrogance in check at all times by keep learning and keep sharpening the ability to see good in everything.

Additional Thoughts: Arrogance is the ultimate antithesis of conscious self. Arrogance is the lazy, ignorant, yet hot-tempered twin of conscious self. If conscious self carefully watches and navigates its surroundings by calculating the possibilities and aims for the best good outcome, the arrogance is the bad habit formed from ignorance and assumptions that are deeply rooted in prejudices. And because arrogance is super lazy and wants to spend least amount of time and energy to think through, and heavily relies on instincts and gut feelings, the primordial instinct used in fighting lions. But we no longer need to be instinctive because we are not fight snakes and lions any more. But we are dealing with complex human beings living in a super complex society. When we base our actions on the basic instincts, it tend to go towards selfish, negative, and zero-sum way because of its natural instinct to protect itself but seldom yields best outcomes. And if we let this instinctual arrogance continue to drive us, it will lead us into destruction, because it only knows how to fight or flight, or kill or to be killed.

To that end, when we let our emotion take us over, because it is so easy, that is exactly how the arrogance, which is ignorance, laziness, and prejudices in disguise, is playing its best cards. For example, when we get depressed because we feel lonely and sad, we are being very arrogant. Why? Have we given our conscious self time to think this through before we choose to own that depressive feeling? If we let our conscious self kick in, we will know right away that this feeling is bad for you, and therefore we will know that we cannot own it but simply do a pass on it. Why? Depression can be considered one of the biggest form of arrogance. We are so full of ourselves that we won’t do anything further but become inanimate and be destructive despite so much potential good that one can do if we just decide to do. There are so many needy people living on Earth that we can always help. We just have to look around and act.

5. Be extremely humble by being thankful and share your fortune by helping others. You often don’t know how extremely lucky and fortunate you are, thanks to so many wise men who came before you. They brought medicine, science, technology, law, education, and social structure, so that you can learn, create, enjoy and prosper. So be extremely humble and be thankful. In return, do your part of sharing that fortune with those less fortunate. Eagerly seek ways to share your fortune by helping others thereby furthering the ultimate purpose of life, which is creating, prospering and enjoying together.

Additional Thoughts: The best weapon to fight off this bad enemy, the arrogance, is being humble and thankful for all that are given to us. There are so many things we can be thankful for, including being able to be born, having air to breathe, the society we are living in currently, the medical, technological, societal advancements we currently have that are allowing peaceful time and prolonged life. It is just too easy to blame our situations to given surroundings and circumstances. Again, that is pure arrogance at play because it is so easy to blame and then not do much: laziness and ignorance at play. But when we look at our situations, however dire it may seem, there are truly so many things that we can be thankful for. The cup is truly half full, not half empty. There is always, always, glimpse of good in the most dire circumstances. It is our ultimate responsibility to find that gem, that good, and then pick it up, lift it, amplify it, and let it shine in us, and have it multiplied so that we can share the abundance.

6. Conscious self requires health body. Don’t forget that we are still in a physical body with its own limitations. Avoid anything that will degrade your ultimate tool, the conscious self. One or two cans or glasses look so harmless. But be aware, it is as deadly as poison. It seeps in stealthily, numbs our conscious self so that we start losing count of it, and soon enough and sure enough, let’s emotion burst. This nuclear reactor then starts melting you and everything around you. So, with all your might, forbid alcohol, the poison of conscious self. You worked so hard to be who you are and where you are, with so much potential in future to bring good in life. You cannot and will not let it swallow it all. Not ever!

Additional Thoughts: Last but not the least, we must recognize that our conscious self, how advanced it may have gotten, it is still in a physical body that has its own limitations. Therefore the body must be kept well and free from diseases and any substances that will degrade it. Alcohol is readily allowed and available in the society. Commercialism even makes consuming alcohol so desirable and sexy that you could look foolish not to consume it. But in fact it is exactly the opposite. It is one powerful drug that taints and numbs our conscious self. 

Alcohol and arrogance share extremely similar characteristics. When we consume alcohol, we feel excited even because it will start to shut down the conscious self, the reasoning, the logical, the intelligence, the very guard was watching the emotions. Many many drunken people have done the stupidest things that harmed not only themselves but also those around them. After seeing the damage, they blame the alcohol. But no sir, it is the arrogance in them that is allowing the alcohol, so that they can easy blame and not take any significant action or responsibility, but in fact, by not taking control, one would be falling deeper into chaos. 

So, no matter how unharmful and sexy alcohol sounds, don’t forget that it is the snake that is lurking inside the bottle. Read my lips. If you let it, it will consume you, and in the end, it will cause complete destruction. You have so much good to recognize, do, share, amplify and live for. Life has so much to explore, discover, create, share, and enjoy. We just simply cannot lose this battle to emotions, instincts, arrogance, and alcohol. With the conscious self armed with the humbleness and thankfulness and curious mind that never stops learning, but also actively seeking out the good amongst us, and even chances to create good and share that with others, every single one of us are indeed tasked with living the very purposeful life as the homo sapiens, the kings and queens of all life on Earth.  

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Philip Bae

An avid technologist, entrepreneur at heart, has the determination to make this world a better place by contributing the most useful articles to ThingsYouMustKnow.com, one article at a time.

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