Following up from the secret to happiness post.
Philosophy won’t make you happier, however mental maps that hold information in conflicting ways can fuck up your quest for happiness.
In this portion of your map Pine street runs East to West and starts at a cul-de-sac and ends at the Walmart. In another portion of your mental map it runs North South and intersects 20 other streets. When our mental maps have internal inconsistencies, they lose orientation value. We take wrong turns.
Philosophy is our general orientation. We are all philosophers – our only choice is to be good philosophers or poor philosophers.
So, a main general orienting principle is “what is the self”. This is important.
Some people place the self in their pre-frontal cortex. The decision maker. The planner. The narrative maker. That’s only natural – whoever writes the history book gets to claim who is in charge. So when our self is identified with the story-teller, WE control our emotions. Our emotions are not our self. Our narrative maker is the self.
But when we do body centered meditations, such as hatha-yoga, or tennis, our self is in the flow moment and is embodied. WE are the process of throwing the bowling ball. WE are the process of riding the perfect curl. And for those who can get out of their heads, WE are the full experience of fucking. Not the story about it, not the narrative, the embodied experience.
Emotional disregulation and personality disorders happen when the pre-frontal cortex does not have a good mesh with the hippocampus. The hippo-potamus-campus is two parts of your brain that are shaped like a seahorse – you have two of them. They are an old structure in the brain – we had them as primates and mammals long before we had a pre-frontal cortex.
Emotional regulation happens when these two main areas of the brain grow a fine network of neuronal communication between them.
When that network grows large enough, you now have a third option of where to place your self.
To recap, we normally have these two options of where the self is:
1) I controlled my anger.
2) I was angry
With a well developed network of neurons between the hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex, you get a third option;
3) I was angry and carefully used that anger to manipulate my environment to my advantage. With pinpoint accuracy I embodied my anger and controlled it like an artist controls his flute.
You can put your self in the entire network. Not just one part of your brain.
Everything that you are aware of is your self. Your self is not just your narrative. Your self is not just your emotions.
This mental map, this philosophy, will help you to navigate the world in a way that allows you to maximize happiness.
Otherwise you can wind up having wars within your brain. One “self” will fight the other.
The Buddha said a lot of stuff that is esoteric and even contradictory, but if you could know only one thing he said, let it be this; “unify your mind”.