⚡️ Enlightening Bolts
Can’t miss gems of the weird and wonderful
🤩Exploring Who We Are Through Awe: An illuminating article on how awe can catalyze a sense of communion with the world around us. Read it here.
🔮Message To The Future: Send a message from yourself today to be delivered on some future tomorrow. Check it out here.
🏔 Northern Lights: Stunning video of the Aurora Borealis in Norway recorded on an astrovideography camera. Watch it here.
🎨Otherworldly Artwork: Gaze upon Anthony Howe’s mesmerizing kinetic sculptures made from curved metal and moved by the wind. Watch here.
🙏 The Gratilog: An experiment in hacking mental well being centered around building one simple habit: a gratitude practice. Check it out here.
🎇 Image of The Week
This the foot of an Acilius diving beetle taken using a confocal laser-scanning microscope with colored dyes used to illuminate the details. Taken by research specialist Igor Siwanowicz who blends science and art into vibrantly colorful images of the microscopic, from insect appendages to single-cell algae. His mission with his photographs is “to instill in the viewers a sense of wonder, admiration and respect for life in all its manifestations.”
🔋 Fuel For Change
Many people long for some kind of change in their lives. It’s important to recognize how we fuel these pursuits to make sure our solutions don’t create additional problems. Yo-yo dieting exemplifies this point quite well. Someone who shames themselves into a weight-loss regiment often will commit to a set of extreme changes that unfortunately never last. They might experience a small burst of progress but eventually, they slide back into old patterns.
This is because they are using a fuel source that’s unsustainable. Overeating (or any kind of coping behavior) happens because the person feels bad in some way. When you rely on shame to fuel your efforts to change your answer to feeling better is to make yourself feel worse. It might in the short run inspire the adoption of healthier behaviors but when the change collapses you now have to deal with the pre-existing bad habits paired with the burden of failure and the weakened belief in the possibility of success.
So how do you use a fuel source that will last and enable you to actually succeed at the change you seek? The point is to create positive emotional feedback loops that become self-reinforcing. Create a relationship to the new behavior that generates a magnetism where you feel pulled towards it. To do this it’s important to experience some kind of benefit in the short term. That doesn’t mean you can’t quit smoking to save future you from health complications but this abstract tomorrow will have a hard time outcompeting the present moment urge of smoking.
The trick is to pair this abstract aim of a healthier future with a present moment benefit you can actually feel. You can start to experience increased lung capacity after just 3 days of quitting smoking. So the satisfaction from deeper inhales and less shallow breathing starts to become important to you. Eventually, you’re no longer saying no to smoking and instead, you’re saying yes to deeper breaths. And as the process continues you can start to experience even more benefits in real-time making the new change increasingly more valuable than the alternative.
The point here is that self-rejection as a starting point for change will not ultimately improve your well being. Shame has it’s place but you can’t burn it for long without subjecting yourself to emotional pollution. If you’re trying to make a change in your life, find a way you can benefit almost immediately and start actively enjoying that benefit.
Meditate not just to become a less anxious person but for the calm you feel immediately after a session. Exercise not just for a certain physique but for the high you feel after a run. Write not just to become a best-selling author but for the thrill of connecting new ideas.
🎯 The Aim of Life
Check out this excellent passage from social psychologist Erich Fromm:
“The aim of life is to live it intensely, to be fully born, to be fully awake. To emerge from the ideas of infantile grandiosity into the conviction of one’s real though limited strength; to be able to accept the paradox that every one of us is the most important thing there is in the universe — and at the same time not more important than a fly or a blade of grass. To be able to love life, and yet to accept death without terror; to tolerate uncertainty about the most important questions with which life confronts us — and yet to have faith in our thought and feeling, inasmuch as they are truly ours.
To be able to be alone, and at the same time one with a loved person, with every brother on this earth, with all that is alive; to follow the voice of our conscience, the voice that calls us to ourselves, yet not to indulge in self hate when the voice of conscience was not loud enough to be heard and followed. The mentally healthy person is the person who lives by love, reason, and faith, who respects life, his own, and that of his fellow man.”
🤓 Learn This Word
Talisman: an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck. They can more colloquially be thought of as meaningful objects imbued with significance by those who possess them. For instance, your grandmother’s pair of earrings or a rock found on the summit of a mountain.
⏳ From The Archives
A hand-picked classic HighExistence article
“What is it that leads us to create art? Is there a psychological drive at work, a subconscious force which simmers away beneath the surface before emerging in an explosion of creativity? Is there an innermost essence to this process, something which embodies our propensity to express ourselves through art?
A brief look at some historical examples of artistic geniuses and it is tempting to believe that there is something approaching madness in the creative spirit; that art is intrinsically bound with insanity, great works of art functioning as a cathartic mechanism – something which both purges and purifies the spirit – without which the artist would be confined to the asylum. The fascination of the link between mental illness and creativity emerged in the late 19th century and remains with us to this day, where heightened creativity can be seen to correlate with states of mind such as hypomania – a state of mind today most commonly associated with bipolar disorder – where inspiration emerges from the fluctuations between euphoria and depression.”
We hope you enjoyed this issue of Down The Rabbit Hole. Feel free to reply and tell us what you think.
Mike Slavin & The HighExistence Team
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Mike is a magician and poet telling tales from the intersection of attention, deception, and wonder.