For the last 15 years I have known that human beings suffer from two types of things, physical and mental. Physical suffering amounts to about 15% of it and it includes things like illness or injury (actual pathologies) or biological stress resulting from the acute deviation from biological homeostasis. Mental suffering accounts for the remaining 85% and is comprised of the emotional consequences to our misinterpretation of reality.
What is very funny is that we spend an awful amount of time treating or trying to prevent the physical suffering by taking medication, eating better food, exercising more, etc… but we do not spend anywhere near the same amount of time addressing or preventing the mental suffering, which is surprising given that a similar amount of effort in this area would result in 5 times greater reduction in suffering. I’ve known this for ages and haven’t until recently done very much to capitalize on the life improving consequences of working to see reality more clearly.
Now that I’ve started to work to see my nature, my actions and my view of the world in terms of what is actually happening – the truth – vs. what is being interpreted about the world – my reality – a remarkable observation is starting to present itself concerning how human beings respond to the eliminate of a source of stress.
Initially, when I eliminate a big source of stress in my life, there is a strange out of sorts feeling, like something is missing. It’s kind of hard to shake at the beginning because peacefulness is a change from the normal state of negative arousal. It’s a lot like quitting smoking after a few days – once the physical withdrawal from the addictive chemical has passed – because you KNOW you are not doing something that you used to do (smoking or craving a cigarette is doing something) and you become acutely aware that something is missing. Your brain is used to processing something and it notices that this is not happening anymore.
This can be a wonderful time if you act quickly and put these liberated cognitive resources to work on something useful or purposeful and, overtime, you can actually make permanent changes to what you do with your brain on a daily basis. Doing this will require active attention and effort to teach the brain to automatically focus on something new, but it can be done – just as you taught your brain to focusing on the original stresser. The inverse is also true, the brain will, if you do not actively direct your attention onto new things, find another reason to feel stress and being to make that the new normal. The spontaneous action of the brain is to maintain the present state and, in the absence of a reason for the present state, it will seek out and find a reason, then use the free resources to focus on the new stresser.
It is important to remove as many of the stressful things in your life as you can but if you want to completely free yourself from them, you need to actively fill the hole that they leave when they are gone. If you don’t, the hole will be filled by something that creates the same amount and type of stress that you just eliminated and after a few weeks, you’ll be in effectively the same position that you originally were