Adapt to Your World

As time goes on and more content appears on Flourisch, you might notice that some of it seems a bit contradictory. Well, it is. And for good reason.

One of the aims of Flourisch is to provide you with new, useful and interesting tools to better understand yourself, others and the world. When you choose a tool for a job, you need one that fits the situation required as closely as possible for it to be the most effective. A hammer, for example, is not as effective at beating eggs as a whisk, which is not as good as an electric beater. To be adaptive means to have as many tools in your box as you can – whatever situation arises you will be sure to face it with whatever is most needed. This is a pretty difficult task considering a lot of the weaknesses of the human brain, and a lot of the things that remain unknown, but regardless of these little setbacks, it’s well worth it.

Flourisch doesn’t want to be an echo chamber, it doesn’t want to only spread one possible method of living, viewing, or of experiencing – it wants to give many and varied possibilities. Not everything works for everyone, but multiple things might work for each person, and we want to be a place that provides those multiple things.

I don’t want you to believe me just because I say it, I want you to try it out and actually experience the benefits yourself. If you don’t feel any benefits you never have to read this website again. But, if you do feel the benefits… Well that would make me really happy.

Contradictory Models

Frameworks, models, concepts, whatever you call them – we want ’em. On your mind-travels you might come across two ideas that you really like, separately, and try integrate both of them into your life. These ideas will likely have some aspects that seem to be mutually exclusive. Here’s a couple I’ve been working on: Acceptance of all things and a drive to make positive change in the world. Now, at first glance these look like they could be quite the contradiction. If you were to accept all things as they are that would be pretty nice and, according to The Stoics, the Buddha, and I’m sure many others, acceptance is one of the key aspects of finding your own version of a worthwhile life. When you accept the motions of the world around you, reactions and expectations fall away, followed by your misery. That sound pretty great to me but… Well there’s one big Portobello problem. If we just accept everything the way it is, what do we do? We don’t ever feel the need to make changes in the world, we don’t want to push ourselves to live healthier or different lives… We just exist and smile and accept, while everybody else looks at us like a crazy person. What if you have an inner drive to make a change in people’s lives and the world – do you just accept everything the way it is or do you try to make that change? How much Acceptance should you have?

For practical purposes, I’m going to stick the explanation for this into a nice, comfortable concept. Cognitive dissonance is often acts as a mental fault in the human brain, but there are also ways for us to utilise this brain-glitch for our own benefit.

Cognitive dissonance is the tendency of our brains to hold two opposing ideas in two different contexts. It can lead to us avoiding our own faults while righteously calling out others for the very same things. It can cause someone to believe in the idea loving all people all the time in one context, but acting vehemently against those with a different faith or sexual orientation when they feel threatened.

Fortunately, while cognitive dissonance can cause localised blindness, we can also use it to our advantage. We like to think our beliefs and opinions define us, but what if they don’t? What if we can hold as many as we need based on the requirements of the situation? Cognitive dissonance is the tool that makes this possible. It creates a kind of purgatory of ideas, each with its own cell, each cell connected. Within these separate holding cells lie the conflicting thoughts and concepts, while our brain tries to figure out the connections between them. Sometimes they might remain in purgatory our whole lives, sometimes only for a week. But, as long as we have them, we can use them whenever we wish. Even once these ideas fully integrate into your network of understanding, once they become reconciled, they are usable, they are assimilated.

This means complete freedom of ideas. Imagine considering things you’ve never considered before – just to see what it feels like. Right wing? Left wing? Jazz? Deep house? Spaghetti? Fettuccini? Whatever it is, just know you have the opportunity and the freedom to experiment with any opinions or preferences that are available. You don’t have to commit to keeping any of them, you don’t have to get in arguments about them, you can just try them on for size. Unless you try them on, how will you know if they have anything useful to offer? Once you’ve tried it on, maybe you’ll understand the people who believe in it better, maybe you’ll learn something, maybe you’ll take what’s useful to you and leave what isn’t. Whatever you do, you have the power of cognitive dissonance to do it by.

It can be scary when you first start. “But what if I start to believe in things I don’t want to?” It’s a common and immediate excuse, but also a little silly once you think about it. You’re a reasonable person who makes reasonable decisions about the things you believe in, right? Then trust yourself to do so and try on some new thoughts for size. You can do it because it’s possible and you’re capable. It will challenge you, it will give you new tools for the world, and it will lead to your flourishing.

Holding these ideas simultaneously gives you a bigger toolbox to work with, and increases your openness to the world. That’s why I’m recommending it. Perhaps you’ve been a Christian your whole life. Have you considered learning about Buddhism, or Islam, or athiesm? Have you tried talking to people about their different beliefs or watching YouTube videos about other points of view? There must be other reasonable people that believe things you’ve never learned about, perhaps they have some interesting ideas for you to learn. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s no commitment, all you need to do is try, and you have Cognitive Dissonance to help (and Flourisch 😊).

I’m making these suggestions because I care about you, I want to see you flourish, and I want to offer some guidance. You’re free to take or leave whatever you want that I say, but just know that regardless of if you do or not, I’m going to love you and hope for your happiness.

Check out my personal creative piece entitled GRIT for more interesting content.

Compassionate love,

Josh

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