20 Jul 2011

As simple as rock, paper, scissors

Since moving back home from uni a few months ago, the only way that I've been able to feel okay about it (I live in Doncaster) is the six month plan I've made with a friend. The plan entails working and saving up to move to London together and getting jobs. Ah, young naivety. All I've done to keep myself happy is trick my brain into being okay with moving back home because it's only short term.
This has made me ponder over how simple us humans really are. And I'm not just talking about Jeremy Kyle guests. All of us, as much as we like to believe we're the superior species with complex thoughts and feelings, we're kind of...not.
Take the recent, never-ending phone hacking 'scandal', for example. Yes, it's disgusting, illegal, immoral and upsetting. But as a nation we're really turning our attention mostly to violence and pie-throwing. And I haven't escaped the simple net - my poor clothes-forsaken wardrobe is pining for new insides as I refrain from spending money. But as it's for a move to London, my brain is childishly content.
Here's another example. I went to see Bridesmaids at the cinema today, for the second time. Going to see any film twice is a big deal for me - I've recently become a massive film snob. I've come away from the cinemas disappointed far too many times. The Hangover Two was terrible. And not funny. And what on earth was Paul all about?
Bridesmaids has rekindled my faith that all films aren't so bad. But why do I like it so much? Because it's tapped into my funny bone. How? (Don't carry on reading if you're not ready for some integral plot spoilers). Bathroom humor. A hilarious food-poisoning scene and other jokes on par with this, I'm sad to say, have re-lit my film fire.
If my point hasn't been communicated effectively up to this point - I should let you know I'm sort or averagely intelligent, and I have a degree. I know a few synonyms for the word 'nice' and I know not to lick anything electrical. I'm fairly intelligent. But sit me down in front of a film where a woman poos on the street in a wedding dress and I've reached Maslow's self-actualisation.
Humans may dress in suits for work and manage conversations about art, but really, we like food, we like sleep, we like hugs and to feel like we're loved.  And if you don't believe my theory, have a look at this article from today, which explains that research into behavior from the game 'rock, paper, scissors' has shown that we subconsciously mimic the behaviors of others. See? Simple.
Of course, I'm not saying we're not an intelligent species- mankind has invented things I can't even figure out how to work (Twitter included). But when it comes to our deepest fears, our greatest pleasures and our ultimate goals, I believe we are all similar.
 One principle of Buddhism is to never judge anyone, because all humans just want to be happy and avoid pain. That might be the definition of simple - but what's wrong with that?


  1. AnonymousJuly 20, 2011

    Good Post. Although, Im not so sure that all Humans want to be happy. Or at least in the way you seem to suggest. Particularly on the point of us mimicing others, our happiness is relative, to how others are doing, and what posessions they have. For example, a lot of people in the world would be happy to have food and water and a place to sleep, but we are constantly measuring our happiness against what is drummed into us predominantly because of our society. Thats why we readily link 'depression' with unemployment, homelssness etc. Plenty of people on earth are 'homeless' and 'unemployed' right now. Are they all miserable? Or is it relative? Furthermore, this state of affairs in Western Culture is perpetuated by by people who in the main want money and power, and to be able to compel others using that money and power. 'This si mine, and youre not having it'. Does David Cameron want to be PM out of the goodness of his heart? Add to this what Buddhist really mean when we talk about these things, and 'pain', is that we are stuck in a cycle. I mean no offence when I say this but, we all trick ourselves all the time. You have openly admitted it. We trick ourselves that when we move out, get a job, get more clothes, get a nice car, that we will be truly happy. This is a cycle of attachment and suffering or 'samsura'. We want these things but none of them are lasting, only temporary, and we leave them behind when we die. Nothing is permanent, and yet we try to hold onto things as if having them forever is the only way to happiness. But nothing last forever, even if it seems as though it does. The World is flux and change. Planet Earth may be millions of years old, but it is still changing and one day will be gone. along with every human endevour - unless of course we put more money into space exploration instead of fighting each other. But thats another conversation. It is hard to see this when your entire society is telling you posessions (By that I also mean status, job etc) will bring you happiness, but how happy are you right now if you measure yourself against someone living somewhere in Africa on $1 a day? How many Rock Stars are happy? Sure we want to avoid 'pain' but most of us (even me) do things that only perpetuate it. We always want more. There is also an old tale of a man going to see the Buddha who of course, legend has it, can solve any problem. The man goes to see him with a list of 20 problems. From worrying about providing gifts for his wife, to his crops, to his wayward sons, the man reals them all off. The Buddha tells the Man that he cant help him. The man is rather disgruntled, and suggests that what he has heard is a lie. The Buddha tells the man that the reason he cant help is because the Man forgot to tell him about the 21st probelm. The Man is puzzled 'But I only have 20, here on a list. What 21st problem?' the Buddha replies 'You want not to have any problems'
    In essence, what the teachings are getting at is trying to get as close to reality as possible without contructing things in your mind. Mind is very good at this, and is in fact one of the main causes of our 'problems' (ego, etc). Try and see what actually causes suffering, and 'pain' (all these mental and posessory constructs we are measuring ourselves by daily), and recognise that some pain is actually part of life. Its ok to feel fear, and all the other spectrums of emotions. And its asks us to ask ourselves, what are our real problems? That we look in all the wrong places for 'happiness'. It isnt easy, but just try and watch what your mind does, watch where it goes, and where it leads you. And remember, who's deepest fears? Who's pleasures? Yours, or a person in Asia? It has become almost a cliche to remind ourselves how we come into the world and how we leave, but at the very least it begs the question about what exactly we put our stock into in terms of happiness. A nice House? Marriage? Clothes? Job? Art?

  2. AnonymousJuly 20, 2011

    I hope that helps in some way. It was meant to. And apologies for the Buddhist stuff - but you brought it up. ;)
    Oh, and you are very intelligent.