Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What's in a Memory

I've been pondering a lot lately on how our past experiences and memories affect us. To have you understand a little of where I come from, I personally have a wonderful memory for test taking, but not one for being a reliable source of the small things.... I can memorize fairly quickly, but organizing facts and details in such a way as to have them enter my long term memory and stay with me is fairly difficult. It's a struggle, to be honest. As such, my tactics for study used to only consist of the following: 1. Learn concepts, not specifics. THAT, I am really good at. Concepts always stick for me. 2. Cram details and facts into my brain and short term memory right before examinations. 3. After tests, promptly forget all except for the basic concepts of the pertinent subjects.

Basically, schools the way they are set up in the U.S. are kind of useless to my learning style. I might as well have just mastered only the concepts, rather than waste hours, weeks, months and years filling and emptying my head of everything else. Obviously, I'm inclined towards the opinion that by learning the governing principles and the overarching structure of things, it is simple if not inherent to understand the particular applications of such.

Relating to memory, I propone that the more we can remember and reflect on these memories, the more we will understand the governing principles and overarching structure of life. In my study of memories and the thinking processes of the brain over the past couple of weeks, I have found to my satisfaction that the events we do not remember have just as much if not more effect on our lifestyle than the happenings that we are aware of. This I find intriguing. For almost all human beings, the memory and everything else our brain tells us we perceive and know is not an accurate reality, but rather a functional one. Our perceptions of what is around us and what is occurring is based on the interpretation by our brains of a minuscule amount of sensory input. Think of a picture of connect the dots. Now take off of the page all but two of those dots. With just two dots and expectations of the future by past experience, your brain provides you with a reality to work with. And all in real time! ;)

My musings and imagination in my functional reality have led me to believe that our brains don't so much interpret data from surroundings, as match input to anticipated results or expectations based  on past experiences. This I submit is why our memories of what has happened before are vital to what is to come. The more we can recall and reflect on all events in our lives, both positive and negative, the more accurate our predictions of the future. When we suppress negative experiences, we are skewing the accuracy of our predictions. By removing the most negative consequences from our awareness, I think we cause ourselves two distinct problems. 1. We lose the most potent and protective experiences we have from our accessible files. 2. We cause ourselves undue stress and uneasiness. Those memories are not gone, just suppressed. Our brain still tries to alert us to triggers, but at the same time we push them away. We both simultaneously drop into fight or flight instincts, as well as attempt to subdue our responses to the situations due to having manipulated our recollections by setting aside the repercussions of our choices that we did not enjoy. Thus is my claim that the events we do not remember have just as much if not more effect on our lifestyle than the happenings that we are aware of. They impact us in ways that frankly confuse us and make life difficult to understand because we have attempted to ignore them.

I therefore opine that honesty with ourselves and what we have done is essential to maintaining a functionally accurate reality around us. By not omitting unwanted consequences of our actions when we anticipate and form expectations of ourselves, others and the world, we will have for ourselves a greater ability to match outcomes to our desires. And who wouldn't want that?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Means and Ends

Does the end justify the means? I hear this statement altogether too often. And I find it utterly ridiculous. If one has to question, then one is wrestling with himself and against his naturally nurtured conscience. ;) It's all a matter of perspective here anyway. When the end is 'righteous' as it has so commonly been said, then any means is justified, but what is righteousness? What is wickedness? How can something so relative be solidified unless there is a ruler to measure against? Far too common in the history of mankind has injustice been masked as the cause fighting for the 'greater good.' Can that even be judged without the ability to predict the future? And what of the differences of culture, country, family traditions, or religion? But I wander in my musings. This is a line of thought for another day!

Rather, I wish to speak of the manner in which one lives his life. We can focus on ends, we can describe them, imagine them, dream them, boast of them and even 'accomplish' them. Many people call them goals. We attempt to visualize having something currently outside of our 'possession' or in the more abstract sense outside of our ability to 'reach' or 'be.' And we strive to attain it. Goal setting is perceived as an art mastered by 'successful' people, and yet so many of the goal setting gurus that I have known are seldom satisfied. They struggle to find themselves moving forward in life. They achieve so many of the things that they want to do, and yet don't often discover happiness, just more goals to pursue.

I imagine that I would differ to opine that goals are not so necessary as many understand them to be. I set goals myself, but I do not micro manage them. I don't create 10 or 12 steps on a staircase that I absolutely must follow. I visualize arriving to the top of the hill, but I do not mark the trail beforehand. I seek simply to arrive. If it is something I desire, I will get there. If not, it's luster will fade and I will find myself climbing to a different peak. Apart from simply choosing destinations, I spend much more of my time developing habits. Instead of conforming to preset actions, I instead pass my time refining who I am. When I am more able, I'll climb much further. My effort continues to become more efficient, my labors more concentrated and powerful.

I believe that much of success is confidence, of imagery and also of self acceptance. Being aware of oneself, one's needs and desires and applying passions to abilities and strengths makes a person powerful. Knowing where you want to go is powerful. But refining oneself and cultivating valuable habits provides a lever. With a lever or gear speed or force can be greatly amplified.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Triple Standard

I feel that representers of an ideal are always attempting to redefine an already redefined definition. A group claims to profess a different standard, a more archaic(or even more correct) version of a word or value and seeks to return it to its original state. Does it work though? Can we really regress to or refine an idea to how it used to be? Won't it ever and always be connected to what it is now or what would be what it was at that point? Whether the initial change or the new adjustment would be wicked or righteous or neutral or a combination of the above, groups seek to inject their viewpoint into the world and make their ideal the common or visible one. Who then judges which is the 'right' thing to do?

At a second angle, there is a phrase that stays with me. The winning side writes history. Simple as that. The winning side writes history. Perception of the past is a very twisted thing. Humans constantly lie knowingly or unwittingly, but the memory is an entirely unreliable tool for details. How then, if we cannot rely upon even our own memories, can we trust the accounts of others? There has to be a judgement of reason, of purpose, of desires to understand more fully the why. If we know why, we are more likely to perceive the bias or prejudice or nuances in a viewpoint or perspective. Yet still, all that we can do is work with what we have. In the world today, there is such a huge bombardment of distractions, unimportant nuisances and false information, that it is nearly impossible to know the truth of events that occur unless you are there. And even then, within a short passing of time, even you don't fully even know what is truth.

Yet how much do we depend on others to know what to do with our lives? We begin by being influenced by our parents. Then as our sphere of experience expands, others including siblings, friends, even strangers begin to change us and mold us through brief encounters, repeated contact and written words. It's not possible that an individual could be isolated in such a way as to be free of influence, nor could an infant or small child survive the early years of its life alone, but imagining it was possible, how would such a child act? Would it rely purely upon instinct, becoming an animal? Or is there some small part of us that would develop the characteristics that a society views as embodied in the 'ideal person' spontaneously? Or would such a child be something in between? It's difficult to know how much or how little, how good or how bad, how attractive or how disgusting, how intelligent or how illogical, how critical or how insignificant, without a standard to compare to. Ruling out immediate and natural needs and desires, it is only through our relationships with others that we can define ourselves.

Then how do find ourselves without first observing others? How much if any of us, of you, of me, is inborn and what pieces are taught, trained or indoctrinated? Does an affinity for one activity or another come from genetics, environment, childhood experiences, some prior cognizance, or a combination of the above?

For me, these are some reasons why I feel the need for a higher vantage point, a broader perspective, a more piercing eye. This is one reason why, my friends, I feel the need for a God, for prophets, for the influence of the Spirit of God in my life. This is one reason why I am religious. I do not believe that nations would exist, nor coexist without the influence of the standards that a faith in something greater or higher or beyond the palpable of this world promotes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Transference of Ideas

I have always found it unreal and unlikely how well we humans communicate. I see how we speak one to another, how we respond to others' ideas and emotions and I think to myself that if language didn't already exist, it would never come into being. I just see it as too difficult that an entity who was alone and had never captured the concept from others of communication, of empathy, of transference of ideas, that they could spontaneously consider aliens as someone to interact with, speak with, live with, collaborate with for the betterment of both. Even upon finding that they wanted to say something to another being, the invention and incorporation of language would be an overly massive change in conduct. I find it necessary that language be introduced, not creatively produced.

Random thought of day over with, and now we move on. As language does exist, and hundreds of variants thrive and evolve daily, so does my longing to learn them, and through learning them absorb insights into other cultures and other worlds within this world. Upon learning Spanish, I have felt that I truly became more of a person. I understand(literally as well as ideologically) more of the people living upon this earth. By understanding another's language, one must begin to understand their culture, their way of life, and their viewpoints. As the language exists in many ways to embody a culture and communicate the relevant points of life within that culture, it is inevitable that by learning a language, one gains more comprehension of the corresponding culture.

Kanji note: 350 memorized, meaning I know the vague meanings and how to write them.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thrive or Survive

I find it interesting that we can grip so tightly an incredible number of inane things. So called 'arbitrary' ideas that by definition are not arbitrary. Thoughts or ideas are easily spread and perpetuated by society and the interactions of mankind. Yet, so much of that which is called knowledge and common is false. I am always drawn to learn more about why mankind persists so obstinately in the habits it has when many times there are clearly better and more beneficial paths to be walked. There are systems and reasonable ideals and patterns, that upon actual analysis and comparison or even conjecture, are found to be anything but systematic or reasonable; rather, they are worthless or even detrimental.

Isn't it interesting that man on his own becomes survivalist, basic, primal, thriving only by the application of self and leverage, but within society, deprived of those needs, he becomes ignorant, slothful and dependent, omitting personal commitment and responsibility piece by piece? If no longer a man receives survival triggers or animal instincts, what then provides the needed chemical rush or focus or analysis or motivation to thrive? Social interaction? A sense of competition? Imagination? Religion? Or a combination of all of them?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I've Been Dabbling....

.... in many things lately. It's been a great deal of fun and an unforgettable experience. I've been making a lot of decisions lately and one of them is that I would like to continue blogging, even during the times that I don't feel like it.  It drives me to express myself clearly, in a well thought out pattern. By writing, I understand myself better and I feel it is a necessary and healthy thing for my mind. It's a download of my thought; after which point I can reboot my mind and thinking, leading to higher speeds, efficiency and creativity.

I'm going to set another purpose for this blog as well. I've been dabbling in the language of Japanese for a time; and now I'm going to set myself a specific and measurable commitment to learning the some 2000 basic kanji. I plan to do this in the next 90 days. Beginning the 1st of December and ending the 1st of March I am going to daily study the language by learning kanji, listening to native japanese speakers, writing, reading aloud, and speaking the language. :) I'll be checking in with my progress and placing more of my colorful and varied thoughts here for you to read.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Struggle

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's a difficult phrase. It contains a plethora of new questions and ideas to delight my little mind. Considering that we don't really have a way to measure the repercussions of anything but the physical in the sense of death, it opens a world of possibilities and imagination. I believe that is why it is so unknown among the nations of the world. The less that the world knows about a subject, the more it's likely that it will bolster the mystique and creative cloud concerning it. Death is only seen physically. We can talk of it in the spiritual sense, but there really is no way to see that. What would be a mental death? What would an emotional death consist of? With such a lack of observations and data, how then can we say that being near to death somehow makes you stronger? Are hard things truly necessary to become strong? Is there a requirement for suffering and pain?

And what of resistance? In the world of physical fitness, resistance against your muscles of some kind is seen as the way to ultimately strengthen your muscles. It's not an instant gain. It's a process, a journey, a path to struggle down. It is very very difficult for the average person to understand their own body's signals. We talk and try to measure things like how long to exercise, how hard to push it, what type of exercises we will be doing. It's all predictive anyway, but the more proficient you become at understanding your body, what fuel and material it needs and the ever present thought of what resistances to place upon your muscles, the more efficient you can be at strengthening your muscles or improving your fitness over time. However, in contrast, the most common error of anyone seeking to do such is overdoing it. 

Guiding your thoughts now into a mental or spiritual or emotional sense, does mental stress or spiritual challenges or emotional abuses somehow ultimately make us stronger in each of those respective categories? As I cannot agree that a person that has had more suffering or pain or difficulty than another is somehow stronger than the next, I cannot agree with the beginning statement here: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Leading to the spiritual thought of the day: 

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

If we believe in a loving Heavenly Father, He will not allow us to overdo it. We will not be permitted to feel or suffer pain or resistance too great for us to bear.