Thursday, September 03, 2009

Firing neurons of hapiness.

Unhapiness can be a bad messenger to someone who is trying to escape from all those negative thoughts about his quality of life and the constant criticism from anyone who begs him to be normal. While sadness plays a peculiar role in my life, where it's not always negative but in a strange way reviving (it fills me with anger and sorrow but that makes me feel stronger towards a cause to fight normality), sometimes when it's accompanied by doubt about some aspects of my life and those thoughts of people criticising me and the fear and disgust of them being right, it turns into real sadness where I loose the meaning of my focus yet I can't think of changing and be like them because this would be even more depressing.

Yet, hapiness can be a quite complicated thing (if not for you, then for some) and you can't just base on the idea that someone is not happy to point out that his life is wrong. It's not black and white. There is no single path of hapiness. It doesn't work the same way for anyone. Also, a feeling of being soberly sad comes after moments of hapiness. One can't be shinny happy for ever and not return back into a lower state. And maybe not always feeling content is a primary motive in our evolution.

It's also logical to seek for ideas that can make me feel better. Especially for those who can be established and wipe out the old irrational sadness of feeling guilty for not being normal like the rest or my fear that I am to blamed for finding excuses for my current kind of life. Right away someone who wanted to refute my attempt would jump and say that I am just trying to find excuses to cover my faults and hinder my view where it doesn't suit my arguments. It's logical that I am more focused by the ideas that make me feel better and thus I am more able to see the pleasing points and have a cognitive bias about anything that doesn't make me feel good. Someone would even say that it's not fair. Fair for whom? Whose life is it anyways?

But isn't this what everyone does? And I will tell you something that it's important here. I fit extremely much this state of mind. Many people can be much worse and feel much more confident. I have a more negative view about myself and it's hard to put me into the illusion that I am all great and I should ignore the rest (See also the Downing Effect, similar witht the Dunning-Kruger effect). A lot of people tell me that I underestimate myself and what I have achieved so far, someone even told me I am a strange phenomenon where everyone believes in me except myself :P. I should say here from my side that it's unfair with my kind of negative bias to claim that something is wrong with my life compared to a more "normal" life because I don't seem to be happy. Because I am too honest with myself and can't easilly let things go compared to others who live hapilly in ignorance. I may look like dividing people to sides, I may be misunderstood as someone who is too fanatic to support his own view on life but on the back there is someone who still encounters your arguments and instead of ignoring them he is puzzled and gives them a second thought. While people have already great confidence that they are right and I am wrong. This game is unfair.

I need to get more into that idea now (which has also to do with the title and main theme) which made me more confident about some things and gave me hope that oneday I won't be revolving around too oposing ideas but hold back into the one that fits me and be more confident about myself in specific subjects just like the rest. I will get fast into it because only with some introductory thoughts this post has become too big without yet getting into the main subject..

A specific evening and the very good feelings I had about it had lighten up something I couldn't see well before. What I have learned that night is that someone should try to observe what makes him happier in various occasions in everyday life instead of getting lost into more abstract ideas about hapiness. And someone could also see why these specific events makes him more happy and get a deeper insight of how to prefer living his life.

Ideas injected into your brain from childhood and common opinions of our times can confuse you especially if you are not confident like me. Even if I disagree, I can get stuck into ideas like "I am not very social so I must be sad", "I have no life so I must be sad" ,"I am too focused on computer programming so I must be sad". And now I would like to tell you what I have observed that day, combined also with various thoughts and conclusions on specific things. I will start with the second one.

I like programming. I like the geeky activity of computer programming. It's one of the things where I have grown a very good ability. As you improve your abilities in a subject neurons in the brain fire up more frequently and a larger part of your brain is dedicated into these activities. Everytime you do this you get some feedback of how well you perform in your activities and that makes you happier. I am not talking about an external feedback from other people but an inner understanding that you are very talented in something and each time you exercise more into firing these neurons the more happy you become and the more evolved your abilities become. It follow a possitive vicious circle where you are good at A, you exercise A more and the more you do this thing the more you like to be involved in A which makes you better at it and returns more positive feedback about it which makes you involved more. Also, to reach that point where it has become a talent, it takes years and usually starts in a very early age.

Based on this idea I can now explain what happened on that night. I simply met with people with whom I could exchange thoughts having to do with the programming hobby. First of all I could discuss my ideas and let these neurons fire excessively for hours. Then the other guy could totally relate with my hobby and I supposed fired hapilly his own good neurons by responding back and getting us into a happy conversation. Then we discussed about our studies in UCL and I felt very happy I will be studying together with these people with whom we can greatly relate. I was happy I would be studying a subject that is actually very close to the same hobby and as more I am involved into it the more happy I can get. One part of hapiness was the endless engagement into our things that makes our brain happy, the other ones was that we could relate as people very well based on our common interests. It sounds like a trivial thing coming right from the clue shoppe (but of course if you do things you like and you talk about things you like then it makes you happy, no news) but it gets more interesting from the firing neuron theory.

Another interesting example. I am deadly bored in common social situations. And they make me unhappy. For various reasons. When I sit three hours in a cafeteria with people I can't relate or find boring then it seems to much to me. But one day an interesting observation came in my mind: I find three hours in a cafeteria with boring uninteresting people too much but how the hell can I survive three days at a demoparty event with no sleep and bad noise and even enjoy the hell out of it? Wouldn't they look at my affection for the demoscene event with pitty the same way I see their kind of entertainment dull and I can't stand even an hour of it?.

What happens here? It's all about how your life came into a point where specific events lighten up positively specific neurons of your brain and so you enjoy repeating these activities to fire up the same neurons. An interesting thing is that if your brain really gets the possitive kicks from these activities then you can stand doing them even in the most awful conditions that may accompany them (dark and noisy demoparties, crowdy and noizy clubs, smelly disgusting cigarettes, drinking bitter and tasteless coffee (that's how I see especially the last ones :)). Another questions is how it become to be so? To like programming I had to initially get into it without those motivating neurons to be already there. If it evolved in an early age then why my brain didn't got into the more common things first? Like getting good at playing the social game? If this one happened then I assure you I would now truly enjoy casual social situations and this like an endless cycle would make me ask for more of those situations which would then make my neurons on this activity evolve and thus make me more happy as I constantly repeat the practice of doing this. But how did I not get into this endless circle and choose(?) the programming one instead. A matter of brain difference or psychology?

But even if I still can't answer the last question with certainity the fact remains that either way my life came forward to a point where I evolved enjoying my kind of activities and never getting the kicks (or getting the negative vicious circles, yes there are those bad firing neurons too) for other ones. Someone would say that if I insisted repeating the casual social activity then it would make a good set of neurons grow up and finally get a possitive feeling from this. But in my opinion that would take ages (it should even start on an early age when the mind evolved easier) and I think it isn't worth the try. From another perspective also, the idea that I am not social is not really true. The fact is that I am not 'casually' social. I can be very social with the right kind of people. So, I should find more of those people with whom I can really and have a really interesting conversation.

Why bothering with those dead cells? Why not bet on those well doing talented ones? Of course occasionally I am really touching the dead ones too because I am not 100% asocial (in very rare cases, even with the boring group I can have that inspiration of humour which makes me feel good for a while (and the rest of the group too)). People would just beg me to be more social? But aren't things evolving alone? Preaching that something is not normal or criticising someone is like pushing him into a direction that hits a wall. One cannot evolve like this. Does it mean that we should just stop discussing it and try to live our lifes the best way that fits? Why do we even have this arguments? (I can assure you though that thinking about these things and arguing sometimes fires a bunch of positive neurons among with negatives or else I wouldn't be here writting this blog :P)

With these things in mind I find all the notion of normality wrong. Condemning strange talents and activities is also something that makes no sense to me now. With the same neuron theory in my mind and how I feel that it might be working in my case, I can also speculate on why some people like things that I hate or cannot understand and why it comes the same from their side, and conclude that there is no point pushing each other towards activities that our cells have not evolved to enjoy.

The trip to London will be very possitive for me. I will be studying with people who will possible relate to things my brain like. I will be even working on a job involving those people (it hasn't happened yet). I should seek for the things that make me happy. I should observe what I was evolved to like.

p.s. Someone would say that I have many negative feelings from my hobby. Especially the part that has to do with the demoscene. But it's not the demoscene blame. Also I can purely carry on programming graphics without having anything to do with the demoscene or the things I learned to hate inside. The primary hobby remains to have the possitive effect. The aftereffects have to do with other connections that had to do with my personality. It's like when you had several faulty experiences with girls and you start hating girls. But there is something else behind. This thing is something I am searching. In UCL I will be studying and doing fun stuff with computer graphics, so it will be like my hobby but detatched from the demoscene (still not the demoscene's fault but some of my personality traits that somehow got mixed badly with some ideas and misconceptions). So, programming and computer graphics alone remain a very possitive feedback loop in my brain.

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