I hope you had a fabulous weekend… I certainly did. You’ll recall that I mentioned I was having a weekend with the boys… We had a lot of fun… Not enough time to go about discussing our madcap adventures, nonetheless… I am wonderfully jaded this morning and still giggling to myself…
Isn’t it true, and as I discussed last week… We often want more of a good thing… We are having lots of fun, so we want more of it, the jokes flow and the noise gets louder… The sun is shining in the sea front bar and we hope it shines longer, the cold beers with friends are going down rather well and so you feel like having more… I think we can all sit back and observe ourselves grasping for more of what we are already experiencing in abundance.
So it seems rather pertinent that I am talking about self-control to some extent today… Self-control and the possible benefits of truly behaving like an ostrich! Let me explain…
When I look at my savings accounts… My ISA… My pension fund… Or the value of our properties in the current economic climate, I sometimes express a teeny bit of concern… You’ll all know by now that I do not believe in the recession and do not join in any element of doom and gloom… I always have my own enterprise and my own business continues to thrive better than ever in this climate…
Yet I still express some minor concern as I look at those plummeting interest rates affecting my savings rate of growth, my pension, and seeing the properties we own going down in value somewhat… I think it is human nature.
On mentioning this to friends… Many suggest the same evasive action to take: Just don’t look at that stuff… Hmmm.
Clearly this seems like good advice for anyone in a similar boat simply wanting to reduce recession anxiety… Though financial experts continue to suggest that we need to keep a keen eye on things and keep ahead of the game… I am proud of my ability to do this… So you’ll see how someone in a similar position may experience some ambivalence at such, yes?
“Just don’t look” seems like a kind of intentional ignorance that is just the same as the proverbial ostrich’s head in the sand. Can it ever be wise to put blinders on? I mean some flighty race horses have to wear them to ensure they are without distraction and succeed by charging onwads as fast as they can… Can I use that metaphor here?
If someone tells me to think of someone who is wise, I think of my very fist Buddhist teacher… I think of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings… I think of that Grasshopper guy from the TV series Kung Fu… I think of several of my teachers in life… When asked to think of wisdom we probably think of sage advice, insightful judicial rulings, and prescient public policy.
It is probably rare that we think of wisdom as turning a blind eye to a disaster in the making, is it? Can advice be wise when it leads to an act that is both self-serving and increases our ignorance? bearing in mind, many of peers giving the advice are incredibly successful individuals in many varying ways…
So here is the twist in the tail of this blog entry today… If you have no control over an event and cannot take any preemptive action, can the ostrich method actually be a wise one?
The active choice to not look at something exerts cognitive control in a situation that otherwise offers few avenues of control, doesn’t it? By not looking, I’d be choosing to do so, I’d be doing so on purpose.
Some might say this seems more like an illusion of control rather than real control… However, the action (albeit of taking no physical action so to speak) is real and likely involves a sense of effort in the exertion of willpower… Which I think is just the same as choosing not eating a chocolate bar while going through a period of reducing one’s weight.
Perhaps then, a sense of control in situations with possible bad outcomes may be very important in avoiding a feeling of helplessness which may help in preventing depression, for example.
On its face there seems to be no rational reason for intentional ignorance, does there?
But once you understand that there can be negative consequences for some kinds of information (that you cannot act on), that certain kinds of acts can become habitual even when bad for you, and that making choices to not engage in those acts can be beneficial… Those reasons become clearer, don’t they?
This kind of analysis, taking into account insight and foresight, longer term outcomes, and balancing cognitive and affective processes, may be what makes this an example of wisdom.
I am still going to be looking at my accounts and keeping an eye on property prices… Though I intend to do so with less frequency… In a manner different to what I have been doing… 🙂
On one hand, I think the ostrich technique is great for not programming yourself with negative information. Now may not be the best time to watch the nightly news or read the papers, and I am all for editing what goes into the mind, especially when the media seems to be fixated on some negativity.
On the other hand, I’m a pretty firm believer in the idea that it is almost always better to replace a negative with something positive, rather than just stop the negative. So rather than just tuning out the negativity, I think it would probably be more productive to tune into something positive, even if it’s just a positive feeling you generate by firing an anchor, or maybe giving someone you love a nice foot rub, or taking a moment to appreciate the things you have.
Thank you Eric, great reply as usual.
I would not actually just insist on tuning out anything perceived as negative. Just acknowledging that we cannot do a great deal about it is a fabulous state of mind to have.
And of course, yes, I concur that tuning into something more progressive and enjoyable is a fabulous way to spend time.
Thanks again 🙂
This reminds me of Eckhart Tolle: “The present moment is sometimes unacceptable, unpleasant or awful…….” It is as it is. Observe how the mind labels it and how this labelling process, this continuous sitting in judgment, creates pain and unhappiness. By watching the mechanics of the mind, you step out of its resistance patterns, and you can then allow the present moment to be. This will give you a taste of inner freedom from external conditions, the state of true inner peace. Then see what happens and take action if necessary or possible. Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life”
… or as Byron Katie says, it doesn’t matter how strongly you believe a cat should say woof, it will always say miaow, so get over it (or words to that effect).
Well said katie and very well put.
What’s more, I have been trying for at least two years now to get our cat to woof… It is just not having it…
Best wishes to you, A.