posted on Mar, 27 2018 @ 02:44 PM
This is just a short commentary on a book by Neil Pasricha which I haven't read, though the subtitle is "want nothing + do anything = have
Now, for accuracy sake, there is no truth to any of the formula's within Pasricha's equation.
Want nothing? If you didn't want anything, you wouldn't move. Without "want" in the mind, the body has very little reason to keep going, so it
seems not having 'want' is not what Pasricha means, otherwise I cannot understand how he moves, writes books and tours the world.
Do anything? Forgive me for wondering, "how far does this statement go?" What if I'm interested in engaging in child sacrifice? Anything? Is this
the promise Pasricha offers: I can do anything I want and not a lick of it will come back to affect me? This statement alone, unfortunately, is
inconsitent with the scientifc way of understanding reality.
Have everything? This books title finishes off its subtle with yet another megamaniacal cliche; you can have everything.
I know, it might seem like I'm splitting hairs, but this really has to do with language, and how language, in its origin, was always about clarifying
our relationships with one another. To say a person can have "anything", as Pasricha does here, is evidently meant to mean "you can have whatever
you put your mind to", and even this, because it ignores basic system facts, is not honest: not everyone can have everything - if "everything"
means the money and means to get whatever you want, this is simply not possible. The seats are already filled in this game of musical chairs. The vast
majority of humans are left standing.
Pasricha, as far as I can tell, isn't a scientist, but has an MBA from Harvard. As someone studied in one of the most significant sciences when it
comes to how the human mind works - the psychodynamic, developmental and experimental approaches to the psyche and the brain it emerges from - I can
explain everything Pasricha writes in the above equation "want nothing + do anything = have everything", in a less histrionic way.
Want nothing? Again, the issue isn't wanting, but reflexive, uncontrolled wanting. People with 7,500 hundred hours worth of meditation have been
shown to have a smaller nucleus accumbens, which is an important station along the 'desire' circuit. The nucleus accumbens compels reflexive
wanting; again, it is not missing in meditators, but simply smaller - which they experience as a more relaxed and controlled relationship with their
internal "core" - where emotions and desires are formed. They still want. For instance, they had to want to participate in this study; and they
would have wanted to do a host of things after the studies completion.
Do anything? Attachment research shows significant neurological and morphological differences in the orbitofrontal cortex, insula, and the amygdala,
in people raised by parents who, perhaps, have an attitude that is close to the libertine notion that one can do "anything they want", because there
really is no relationship between how your acted upon by others and how you feel.
In short, morality matters, because our brain-matter is reflexive in how it responds to social actions - the intentions and affects which underlie
Developmental studies have tracked children with early life trauma and the smaller forebrain and larger amygdala they have, and not surprisingly,
longitudinally (over time) a good large number of these people develop mental disorders related to the regulation of affect. They do not possess the
UNCONSCIOUS machinery to respond resiliently to breakdowns in interactions. This is what a positive and healthy early life environment grants humans:
the freedom to be, to experience, without feeling like negative emotions have a profound power to control and direct you.
Evidently then, "do anything", even if it sounds nice from the perspective of an adult socialized in a hyper-active society, it is a profoundly
unreasonable thing to think - that you can do anything and that nothing will come back to harm you.
Have everything can be chalked down to this: an exaggeration that sounds 'nice' when contrasted with the other two histrionic elements of this
formula. When humans are drawn towards statements that misrepresent reality, they do it because they like the social-meaning/power a certain phrase
would have in a particular context. Everyone has experienced episodes of this - where they something because it 'feels right', even if it is
illogical and unreasoanble when analyzed.
So what is happening to a brain-mind when they follow Pascrichas "formula"? I do not contend that they will become sociopaths, but I do think
beliefs like this add a lot of needless confusion and disorder when it comes to how we understand ourselves and how we understand others. Since
understandign - of ourselves and others - is fundamental to improving our emotional life.
In general, the aim of meditation and contemplation is to increase the control of the forebrain on the subcortical mechanisms which mediate emotional
connections. As I mentioned earlier, impressive neurological changes can occur over time so that the mind-brain is built quite differently from how it
looked and operated before.
So then, is this a happiness equation? Hard to say when the person who writes it up probably edits out all those undesired aspects/elements that make
the formula less full-proof.
There's also the additional factor of depression, fear and anxiety. Some people do not like reading "real" things - it scares them, no doubt for an
understandable reason (in their past). People like this want pep talks - not accurate descriptions. They like formulas and smiles and sureness - not
an analytical stance which, for many, has the effect of drawing them too deeply into themselves, which is something they are trying to avoid.
In anycase, the "happiness equation", is not an equation in any sort of objective sense. The whole book seems to be arm-chair philosophizing
masquerading as the "latest science".
I have not read it, again - and if someone has, I'll try to be all-ears to hear what you gotta say. But the hyperbolic "want nothing" "do
anything" and "have everything" promises more of the same.