There are many ways to be in life. But there’s not a lot of ways. At least not in general. Less than 20 for sure. We’re all little pattern machines that either go right or left at this or that stimuli.
Our subliminal knowledge of those ‘groups’ are why why many people can meet their friend’s new date at a party and you already know the person’s ‘type.’ People are psycho-logical. We’re all unique, but we’re all made from the same kind of logic.
When it comes to our friend’s new date, without even realizing it, we’re all pattern-matching them to other people who’ve given us similar cues. This is what gives experience value. We have more educational examples plotted on our graph.
At its worst, this assumptive calculating is what ruins the world. But in daily practice we simply cannot function without it. If we have a particularly quiet, truly open mind, it’s also correct the vast majority of the time because just as we function based on patterns, so does everyone else.
If we look back at life, we’ll see that historically, life starts to get interesting in those moments where someone breaks a meaningful pattern.
Because we come to follow these patterns without realizing it, no pattern is morally any better or worse than any other –they weren’t conscious choices. Regardless, they all have advantages, and disadvantages.
One pattern everyone will easily recognize is the woe-is-me “friend.” Everyone has these people in their lives. If we feel we don’t, then maybe it’s us. We don’t have to guess though. We can always test ourselves to see if we meet that definition or not.
The woe-is-me friend rarely talks philosophically about life itself, and they rarely ask about yours. They mostly want to list their miseries to you. And they don’t want to tell you about how they overcame anything, or how they learned from the experience. They just want to make sure they detail their suffering to a few people before chalking it up under the “I knew it,” section of their life-book.
It’s not that we don’t love these friends. We do. In fact, maybe more than most. They’re certainly more demanding of us than other friends. But everyone has a price, and we know they’re good people just like anyone else. And we’re genuinely not averse to hanging around with them. The problem is, they never want to hang around.
Go figure that they’re depressed. Sad people will often turn down every invitation to fun they’re given. And then later they say they’re left out. That would be the Law of Attraction at work right there.
The truth is, it is easy for anyone to have their life experience lead them to be addicted to the chemistry of pity, just as much as others crave adrenaline, or dopamine etc.. For those with these unwitting addictions, the choices they make that frustrate their conscious self are often being made to maintain the needs of the unconscious self.
While completely are unaware they are doing it, many live their life in such a way as to ensure that they will receive regular doses of pity. The problem is, pity isn’t a fun emotion. And friendship is founded in confidence and fun. But the fun part is key.
Friends aren’t friends because they have to be, or because they should be. They’re friends because they want to be. So, if we feel we have no friends, we should ask ourselves, “Am I friendly?” And if we’re not, are we okay with how we are? If so, then maybe our desired friendships are not good matches with our desired path in life. Maybe we’re searching in the wrong crowd.
This is why it is important to do things we find fun. If we don’t interact with the world and allow it to inform and shape us into a unique individual, then we are left with very little to share with others. And we don’t want their time with us to be taxing if we care about them. We want it to be rewarding.
To be rewarding, it has to be: a) actually happening, we do have to see them; b) it has to be voluntary, because time that feels like an obligation is not helpful anyway. And finally, to be rewarding it has to be c) engaging. Friends are friends by choice. It’s a healthy selfish act. Each person is focused on appreciating what they receive from the other.
If we’re always just wanting, our life will feel small and painful regardless of our external circumstances. However, if we feel rich enough to be generous and share with others, and if we appreciate the qualities in others, then we will be modelling the sort of awareness that will hopefully attract more of those around us. Besides, seeing people’s good sides is an enjoyable focus.
We should not hide ourselves away in sadness because we have experienced rejection from some. None of us was ever built to appeal to everyone, so we cannot hide ourselves away. Not with physical space, our clothing, our hair, or our silence. We are healthier being who we are.
We can be open and we can be compassionate. And we can be loving and active and fun. And we can even make the sorts of mistakes someone like us would make. And if we do those things in our ways, the friendships that suit us will find their way towards us. That is a better route to gain visitors than practicing pity or sadness.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.