Look. You’re not going to find out anything too wild or revelatory in any article. Life isn’t as crazy as all that. Even The Secret was about something prosaic (spoiler: positive thinking will make you successful) and, some would say, unhelpful. Everybody has such different life circumstances that there is simply no one formulaic way too happiness for anyone. We all must find our way. But sometimes there are small gems of truth that can help us.
I will try to show you one one small gem in this short article. This gem has been 100% tried and tested by me, and it is the only piece of advice I would ever recommend wholeheartedly to anyone, in any circumstances.
What do we even have when we have a piece of prose like a novel or an article or an essay? It doesn’t matter what it is, prose writing always tries to make the world conform to a linear idea of reality in some fashion.
But there is no linear state of being — the arc of life is but a part of the circle of life and death, creation and entropy. But when we get down to the micro level of our day to day ins and outs, we find that our lives are fractal in nature.
It’s hard to emphasize enough the importance of this simple concept.
Chaos theory talks about how the initial circumstances of any event will affect it tremendously down the line, in some instances causing it resemble chaos, hence the name Chaos Theory. This is the science we now use to try to understand complex and dynamic systems, like weather, crowd behavior, politics, the stock market.
The initial circumstances of any complex system determine how it acts.
“Chaos’ is an interdisciplinary theory stating that within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, self-organization, and reliance on programming at the initial point known as sensitive dependence on initial conditions. The butterfly effect describes how a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state, e.g. a butterfly flapping its wings in China can cause a hurricane in Texas.”
We as human beings are complex systems in our selves and in our societies.
Look at our own individual lives. Think of the choices that we made to get to where we are now. Think of the future and how we are going to act in order to keep going to where we think we are going.
I do believe we have the ability to choose our actions freely, but it is much harder than it appears to do so. Everything in us wants us to continue down the path that we started in past. We have instincts trying to dictate our behavior, the patterns in our genes that tell us the way forward according to our past evolution.
Even so, in our lives we can make abrupt changes, we can decide to do anything we want to do, especially when we finally understand that life isn’t a game, that it is the only thing that we have.
Do we think that we will remember with fondness all those years that we spent in a cocoon? No. Our minds go back to those points in our life when everything changed, and everything shifted into new and exciting patterns. Our souls yearn for the complex dynamic systems that make us feel alive.
Our lives our like quiet storms. We blast through the landscape in search of meaning, love, comfort, friendship, and then we are gone, before we have even been noticed.
We are a storm, and we are also a raindrop falling from the cloud it was born in. Falling down through the lightning and thunder until we hit the gale force winds and are thrown off course. Only after we reach the safety of the trees do we hit the ground and dissolve into an endless puddle.
Face it. We’re scared of that puddle. But that’s like being scared of our own reflection. And every life is a raindrop in the puddle, and every puddle feeds a creek, and every creek empties into a river and every river flows into the ocean.
All of us end up in the same place, but our trajectory and journey can varie wildly, depending on our originating circumstances.
Even with this simple pattern understanding of how our lives play out, nothing changes until we change our action. We find ourselves filled with confusion and unease, depression and anxiety. Why?
Why can’t we just feel the joy of being alive for once?
I think it has to do with this simple fact: Every single story that we are told is on of linearity. We start from point A and go to point B and finally end up at point C. But the ocean always evaporates into the clouds, and point A always becomes point A again.
Every small story is a fractal, a self-same mirror of the larger story. And every larger story is a fractal, a self-same mirror of the smaller story. The Universe is the mirror of our souls, and the presence of God is when we see our larger selves in that mirror.
Where does that leave us on a day to day basis? How do we enjoy life so that we can become happy?
There is a very simple answer that I have been working on but have not fully embodied yet. But as I travel down this path I understand that it is the only solution to a fractal world, a fractal life lived on this planet.
The simple answer is this:
The way that we do anything is the way that we do everything.
Benign on the surface, this phrase will resonate throughout your life if you let it. As simple as it sounds, it is the key to a better life.
Think about those folks you know who are slowly but surely hacking away at realizing their dreams. Are they spending their days watching Days Of Our Lives and munching on Doritos? Most likely not.
Think about those folks you know who are happy, day in and day out, and seem to embody the joi de vivre of living. Most likely however they do things, however they live life, they do it consistently and without fail.
No matter what, these people’s words line up with their actions. Words can only go so far, and in many cases are completely misleading. Actions speak so much louder than any words ever can.
Think about it this way — when we begin to learn a craft, whether it be macrame or life, the way we learn, the way we embody those lessons, and how we act subsequently determines how we act in the future. And it becomes our default program, our mental shorthand on how to deal with everything similar throughout our lives. The way we end up learning how to do anything becomes the basic algorithm that we depend on to do everything in our lives.
The good news is that our brains are highly plastic, and we can rewire them to better reflect how we want to live, and how we want to be, in our day to day lives.
But we can only rewire them through our actions — that is what disconnects and reconnects neurons, not our words.
So it is simple: Start with one small thing and change your relationship with that thing. Do it differently. Do that consistently. And soon, through time, that way of being will spread throughout the rest of your life.