Fear, Human Nature, Life

The Irrational Side of Human Nature

(About a 5 minute read)

I am very familiar with the idea of both the artists and the scientists that we humans harbor an irrational ape.  That you have only to scratch our surfaces to find a scared and confused ape looking out at the world through ancient eyes filled with fear, superstition, bias, and error.  I am very familiar with that idea.

Continue reading “The Irrational Side of Human Nature”

Andrea Dinardo, Anxiety, Emotions, Eudaimonia, Fear, Free Spirit, Happiness, Health, Human Nature, Life, Living, Meditation, Mental and Emotional Health, Nature, Quality of Life, Resilience, Spirituality, The Art of Living Well, Well Being, Wilderness

The Power of Nature to Combat Anxiety, Dread, and Fear

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Paul discusses how spending time in nature — and especially spending time meditating in nature — can combat anxiety, dread, and fear.

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THE CRITICS EXPLODE! “Paul Sunstone knows no more about nature than Rupert Snider, the Denver tourist, once knew about the ravenous hunger of bears fresh out of hibernation.  To the horror of his tour group, Snider tried to pet a black bear in the spring of ’98.  The last he saw of his arm up to the elbow was its being carried off in the mouth of a mamma bear on her way back to share it with her cubs.  To the horror of his readers, Paul Sunstone has written yet another one of is eternally ignorant nature posts. The world would be a better place if a bear could be persuaded to make off with both his typing fingers.”  — Gus “Gunning Gus” Johnson, The Blog Critic’s Column, “Leper’s Gulch Gazette”, Leper’s Gulch, Colorado, USA.

Continue reading “The Power of Nature to Combat Anxiety, Dread, and Fear”

Adolescent Sexuality, Agape, Anger, Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Education, Erotic Love, Fear, Friends, Gratitude, Horniness, Human Nature, Infatuation, Learning, Life, Living, Love, Lovers, New Love, Passion, People, Possessiveness, Relationships, Romantic Love, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-Flourishing, Self-Knowledge, Sexuality, Sharon, Talents and Skills, Teacher, Unconditional Love

Sharon’s Love for the Horny Misfit Boy

(About a 20 minute read)

Many a beautiful friendship has sprouted from awkward soil.  In fact, most of my deepest friendships in life have begun clumsily.

I know of no inviolate law of nature that dictates the conservative beige panties of a young school librarian cannot possibly be the start of a profound bond between her and an insufferably horny 14 year old boy misfit.  I know of no law that states such a thing cannot happen.

Yet the very last thing on my mind when Sharon’s angry voice shook me awake that Spring morning was, “This is the start of a beautiful friendship”.

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Allies, Attachment, Consciousness, Death, Dying, Enlightenment, Fear, Friends, Human Nature, Impermance, Life, Living, Lovers, Meaning, Meditation, Mysticism, Quality of Life, Relationships, Religion, Satori, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-Integration, Self-Knowledge, Spirituality, Transformative Experience

The Fear of Death and Dying

Disclaimer: The following opinions are my own — I am usually wrong about most things — and so you should examine these issues for yourself. On the other hand, only a boring, bumbling, berkle-snozer would disagree with me about anything.​

(About a 5 minute read)

It is my esteemed and noble opinion that the fear of death is a major factor in how folks experience life, and a major motive behind much of human behavior.

How much of a factor and motive, you might ask? Ernest Becker, the psychiatrist who authored, The Denial of Death, thought it unconsciously drove most of human experience and behavior. And here the word “unconsciously” is key to understanding the fear of death.

I do not agree with all of Becker’s ideas, but I am in complete agreement with him about the fear of death being very largely a hidden, unconscious fear. Ask ten people if they fear death, eight or nine will not be aware of themselves fearing it.

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Anxiety, Being True To Yourself, Conservative, Creative Thinking, Creativity, Fear, Free Spirit, Fun, Human Nature, Life, Oppression, Passion, People, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-determination, Self-Knowledge, Spirituality

Our Fear of New Things

(About a 4 minute read)

“Somehow, as adults, we think we have to be perfect at everything that we do. So instead of trying something new, we don’t because we don’t want to make a fool of ourselves.”  — Jennifer Koshak

My mother had a genuine conservative streak in her. By “genuine”, I mean she sought all her life to save the best of what she found in life, to conserve the things of great value to her.

Along with her conservative streak, however, she loved to try new things.  New foods, especially — at least, so long as they were not spicy hot.

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Alienation From Self, Angst, Anhedonism, Anxiety, Attached Love, Attachment, Buddhism, Delusion, Depression, Emotional Dependency, Emotions, Fear, Fun, Gluttony, Greed, Happiness, Human Nature, Life, Love, Lovers, Marriage, New Love, Quality of Life, Romantic Love, Self, Self-Knowledge, Sex, Wisdom

Pleasure is Like a Fire: It Warms You or it Burns

(About a 6 minute read)

I will be among the last people on earth to become an ascetic.   The idea of rejecting pleasure — all pleasure — for any reason gut-punches me.  It’s alien, it’s unnecessary, it’s outrageous.

Or at least that’s what my instincts tell me.  Whatever the reason, I simply wasn’t born to be an ascetic.  Not my path at all.  Someone else may “get” asceticism, benefit from it, but not me.

So it might seem curious to some of you that I have gone a full two years in my life without even once laughing out loud.  Not once in two years.

Continue reading “Pleasure is Like a Fire: It Warms You or it Burns”

Alienation From Self, Fear, Hate, Quality of Life, Self, Self Image, Society

Can it be Wise to Hate Ourselves?

(About a 4 minute read)

I was wondering yesterday whether many of us ever look into the question of whether it is wise to hate ourselves.  What prompted me to think about that subject was a young man with whom I am only acquainted well enough to know he idealizes self-hatred.

He is, of course, much more on the dysfunctional side — rather than the functional side — of life in so many ways it would take more than one blog post to list all the ways in which the poor man is unable to handle living.  Fortunately, he now lives in a shelter for people like him run by the Catholic Church.  But, as I said, he idealizes self-hatred, seeing it as a kind of spiritual path to God.

Now, I do not want to argue the merits of his “path”, if that’s what it is, but rather ask whether aside from that, can self-hatred be wise?  And the only reason I can think of this morning why someone might believe it wise is if they see it as motivational.

That is, someone might argue that self-hatred can be something that prompts us to change some undesirable aspect of ourselves.

To take an extreme example, suppose a serial rapist merely disliked — but did not actually hate — himself for his crimes.  Would a mere dislike be enough of a motive for him to change his ways when compared to a strong self-hatred?  I think many of us would say a strong self-hatred is obviously superior to a mere dislike as a motivator, and hence a more effective means of getting the desired results.

It is tempting to agree with that view.  Part of the lure is that we seem to reflexively think the more emotionally involved in something we are, the more motivated we are to do something about it.  But — however true or not that might be — is that actually relevant here?

I think self-hatred can be a deceptive motivation.

Deceptive, because it tends to lead us to approach an issue in a manner or way that is often enough fruitless.  Take another example:  We hate our nose.  The shape is all wrong.  We think it makes us ugly and undesirable.  Almost naturally, this leads us to at least think of plastic surgery.

A very straight-forward line of reasoning, that.  But is plastic surgery the optimal solution for us?  Perhaps for some of us, but given the expense and risks involved many of us might not think so.  What then happens to our self-hatred?  Does it just evaporate, go away, or does it linger only to fester and reduce or even crush our self-confidence?

I have so often in my life heard someone say,  “I used to hate myself for this or that thing, but then I learned to just accept it and move on — and I am so much the better for doing so” — I have heard that so often I now suspect it should be the very first option anyone thinks of, before they even begin to consider other options.

In line with that, we might ask ourselves precisely why we hate this or that aspect of us?  I’ll wager that for many — perhaps even for most of us — the answer will boil down in the end to “other people”.

That is, we hate something about us because we fear what others might think of us due to it.  That only seems natural — we are, after all, social animals.  Yet, is it wise to give into such fears?  Do they not breed endless fear after fear when you do — just as if it becomes a habit to hate ourselves from fear of what others might think?  We start with a nose, but once that problem is solved by, say, plastic surgery, we now find our legs are too ugly, and after that our fashion sense might be too dated, and so on.

In the end, we have completely remade ourselves — but in someone else’s image!

Wisdom is often said to be a notoriously difficult thing to define, but I think a rough definition might be found in, “Knowing what to do (or not do) in order to effectively and expediently bring about a desired result”.  If that’s so, then shouldn’t we first seek to accept ourselves as we are, rather than first seek to change ourselves?  Would not that — if it works — be the wisest option (in most, but certainly not all, cases)?

Yet, if that’s wisdom, then what role can self-hatred have in it?  Are not self-hatred and self-acceptance at odds with each other?


Please Note:  Paul Braterman has left a short critique of the ideas in this post that is a virtual must read for anyone interested in those ideas.  It can be found by scrolling down through the comments, or by clicking here.