A few days ago, in the “smoke pit” awaiting entry to the homeless shelter where I stay, I sat facing a choice of whether to feel good or feel bad. I allowed myself to stay in that state for some time so as to examine it. As I’ve observed many times in the past, it proved to be, apparently, a completely arbitrary choice.
This really puzzled, and puzzles me. Choosing to feel good creates light. Choosing to feel bad creates darkness. There is so much “darkness” in the world, and I want to understand how it comes about. Can it really be as simple as a wholly arbitrary choice?Maybe we can apply some rationality to this, to assist in future decisions; is one choice or the other more likely to bring favorable results?
(Rationality isn’t rationalism. Rationalism teaches us to forcibly ignore one’s emotions, under the pretense that this effects mastery over them. One might as well ignore a houseful of small children: ignoring them only means they’ll run amok. It puts them in charge, and one will rationalize whatever conduct one’s whims prescribe.
(Related: Rationalism cannot save us.)
What are the practical results of choosing to feel good?
– I’ll feel better.
– I’ll have more energy.
– I’ll be more able to take things in stride.
– I’ll be more likely to think about what I want in life, that is, my goals.
– I’ll be more likely to treat others well.
– I’ll probably make better decisions.
What are the practical results of choosing to feel bad?
– I’ll feel worse.
– I’ll have less energy.
– I’ll be less able to deal with irritating events and people.
– I’ll be more likely to think about situations I don’t want in life.
– I’ll be more likely to be cross and short-tempered with others.
– I’ll probably make poorer decisions.
The final paragraph of Ambrose Worrall’s “Essay on Prayer” may indicate some of the extreme ramifications of choosing to feel good or feel bad. Worrall says,
If you would have “PEACE” let all your “prayers” (thoughts) be of the nature that will bring “the greatest good to the greatest number.” Rule out selfishness or it will separate you from the essential recognition of the truth that “ALL ARE ONE.”
Choosing to feel good tends to bring about an expansion of one’s awareness, so that one becomes increasingly aware of one’s relatedness to all humanity, and ultimately temporarily lose all sense of self in an identification with the All. Choosing to feel bad tends to contract one’s awareness, making one increasingly perceive oneself as a discrete entity separate and apart from others, and from the material world. A person who somehow needs to affirm a sense of such separateness may choose this route; to feel, in the end, that he or she matters, like the person portrayed in Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock” or Three Days Grace’s “Pain.” Paradoxically, self-loathing is a form of self-aggrandizement.
We observe so many people in the world who consistently choose to be unhappy and create unhappiness for others. One would think choosing happiness were a no-brainer. Turns out, it’s not.
We have a choice.
Related: The Life Force: Use and abuse
 Related: The healing powers of a drug store cashier
 Recall that “What you ‘see’ is what you’ll get.” In what would seem to be the epitome of perversity, via negative thinking, people are prone to create situations they’re destined to dislike.
Originally posted 2015-07-18.