The Naked Mind Series : Doing What Feels Good or Right

My friend just came back from her travel and she told me she met a girl that really inspires her. This girl she met doesn’t really have any plan in life she said. She will continue to do the things she is currently doing as long as it still feels “right” to her (my friend literally put the quotation mark). She wants to be able to exit if something doesn’t feel good to her anymore. It sounds like such a great idea, living life with the flow. I imagine myself constantly feeling happy and content doing what she is doing at the moment. As much as I want my life to be always rainbows and butterflies, the reality is not always the case. However, this conversation sparks an interesting thought in my mind.

 I made a promise with myself 2 years go (2018) that I would do all the things I ‘want’ within the next 5 years so my future self wont regret anything from my past. I want to be able to say “I have done all the things I wanted to do”. I imagine it would make me feel good fulfilling the things that feels good to me and it felt so right to at that time. Nonetheless, 1.5 years forwards, if there is any takeaway from my life so far is decisions based only on emotions doesn’t really do me any good or take me to forward in my life. I personally think the emotion or “feeling” good or right  is based on a perception in our mind and thoughts, that are already influenced with biases from other people thoughts, past experiences and even the content we consume. Based on that, we build our idealistic concept of ‘what is right’ according to our thought process. In fact, that concept also has input in our decision making process.

Instead of purely taking the feeling good or right as the primary decision maker, I have learnt to take it as a signal for me to investigate further of why is a particular thing feels right to me. The reason why I don’t want to decide solely based on emotion is because emotion and what I feel changes all the time. In fact, I don’t think at this point in my life I would consider my emotion is stable enough to be the decision maker. This might be different with you though.

On the other hand, having assessment about what we want to do gives us a more logical perspective and understanding of ourselves. For me, just solely decide on what feels right without any understanding what is the definition of “right” for me can lead me into the wrong direction.  In fact, the idea of what is right for you and for me are different. I personally believe that the idea of what is right doesn’t come from our feeling but from a long thought process. It takes system 2 or a longer and more hardworking thought process to process and probably justify the inputs in your mind. Eventually, that becomes what I consider as what feels right on my thought process. The template becomes the system 1 or the simpler thought process on my thought process when I am faced with decisions and the output is “I feel this is right for me”.  

PS: The term System 1 and System 2 on thought process is based on Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking Fast and Slow”

This might or might not be relatable to you. We have our own values and thought process that affect our own decision making. We might agree or disagree on each other about this but that’s completely okay! I think that is the beauty of being human, the diversity in interpreting the world around us. I never intend this post to be a recommendation or self-development related or even how-to-do-life kind of thing. I just want to convey another perspective on this specific topic based on my own thought process along with all its biases and influences.

This is my Naked Mind

The Victims of Systems

I read a brilliant book a couple of months ago because of the hype among the well-read people. It’s Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. As mainstream as it sounds that book is definitely a must read! It is for anyone who is curious about why the world society works and functions as it is today. It’s basically a story about us. It’s a pretty thick book but hey, blinkist is a thing today.

Why do I bring up this book? Well, reading our own narrative and history, I have learnt that Homo Sapiens are blessed with cognitive intelligence and revolution to develop the systems that exist but we are also the product of a system. In fact, the society (which is also a system by itself) is also shaped by a collective of systems. An example I get from this book is Yuval explains why do we, human beings become so dependent on grains in our diet. I mean in common meals there is always a portion of grains: pasta, bread, cereal, rice, etc. (unless you’re on a diet). In his book, he takes us back to the end of Nomadic era where homo sapiens (a.k.a. us) decided to settle down. Hence, the beginning of the Agricultural revolution (9.500 – 8.500 BC).

Grains become one of the earliest commodity to be domesticated and human realized that there is a way to have an abundance supply of food. Good thing right? Yet it wasn’t even easier than foraging. Human needed to opening up lands (that often caused blood and lives to fight for the land), moving away rocks and stones and carrying lots of water in order to keep these ‘grass’ to survive. It required human to settle down and live in houses to take care of their domesticated commodities (animals included). Who is domesticated now? Worse, our diet slowly became primarily dominated by grains and slowly but surely, human body became dependent on it. Our survival is now based on one staple diet compared to when human used to forage and not relying on a specific species to survive. In fact, our decisions to settle down leads us to more stories and has created many systems in the world. Village, tribes, kingdoms, colonialism, the trade system, politics, the UN, independent countries, the news and the list goes on and on and on..

A Job is one of the products of system. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t against going to office and do the WORK that matters. The system victimizes when we go to 9-5 every Monday to Friday following orders because that’s how it has been done for the past… I don’t know.. 34 years? The system where creativity is not flourished but killed to maintain the stability of a system itself. Or repeating this whole process for 30 years or so and retired by 50 something because that’s how to society works. Why can’t we continue the work we care until whenever we want to? This is not only about career, it’s also about marriage, education, law (realize how these two words are often accompanied by the word ‘system’), healthcare, travel privilege, citizenship (hence, different passport strengths worldwide) and many more.

I started to have interest to this topic when I was learning about travel privilege. I wonder I never choose to be born in a country that have weak passport and I never done anything wrong in my life that would degrade my personal value as a citizen of the world yet it takes me a hell of a process to visit certain countries. I once came to an embassy for a visa interview at 5 AM in the morning for a tourist visa application. I even think it might be still easier for a ‘strong’ passport holders who have committed a minor crime or misdemeanor compared to someone with ‘weak’ passport to visit a certain country.

I’m sorry for bringing criminal offender on this frame because one of the aspects that determine the strength of a passport is terrorism, which is a way serious type of crime that affects the safety of millions. But just because a terrorist come from a certain country or even the majority of the people there are terrorist doesn’t mean everyone is terrorists. Those few of people who aren’t involved in any kind of terrorism initiatives never choose to be born there but they have to carry the burden of ‘weak’ passport and losing the opportunities that are accessible to millions of others. Because it is easier for the system to do so. But it also leads to a more serious yet underrated problem such as bias. My friend from Indonesia came and visit his brother in the US. He’s been there multiple times and everything went smooth. The only time it was different is when he began to grow his hair and visited the States with longer hair. That ended up with him being interrogated with officials at the immigration.

On the other hand, we can’t imagine how the world we know today is going to be without a system. There is always a good and the bad side of every stories. I can’t stop thinking what’s going to happen if human decided to keep the nomadic lifestyle? What is the world going to be without the existence of systems?