Become an Autologist

What do autologists do? They study themselves! No, this is not a profession, and it’s not a course you can take at school. This is just something that everyone should be engaged in, in addition to their career.

It’s very important to have a clear, and honest understanding of yourself. This includes both the good parts and the bad parts that most of us like to pretend aren’t there.

So what are some ways to get started?

First, you should be calling yourself out on your own bullshit. If you feel yourself making an excuse in your own head or being in denial, don’t let yourself get away with it. Instead, ask why you’re making an excuse, you’ll probably learn something.

Next, you should be very observant as to what makes you happy, sad, mad, irritated, etc. See if everything that makes you happy has something in common. If you can find the root to your own happiness, it will be easier to find other things that make you happy as well. On the flip side, if you find the root of what angers you, you can more easily predict which things will ruin your day. This way, you can steer clear of these situations.

Once you know some of these things, there’s something very important that you need to jam into your head:

There is no such thing as feeling the wrong way.

Before I explain that, let me just repeat it one more time:

There is no such thing as feeling the wrong way.

Too many times have I heard people completely understand how they feel, and think something is wrong with them. Since there is no such thing as feeling the wrong way, nothing can be wrong with you based on how you feel.

There is such thing as doing the wrong thing though. Somehow these two things have gotten tied to each other, but they are very different. Once you understand how you feel, if you ignore your own feelings by doing something that goes against them, you’ve now crossed into a bad place. I see this often with people in troubled relationships, and homosexuals who haven’t yet admitted their sexuality to themselves or others.

Don’t try to fit someone else’s mold. It’s much more beneficial to look deep inside yourself and find the shape of the one you already have.

As stated earlier, a true autologist is not afraid of their own negative qualities. Pretending you don’t have them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If you kill someone and put the body in your closet, you can pretend it never happened because you can’t see it. But it won’t be long until the smell seeps out from under the door and begins to stink up the rest of the house. For this reason, you should never kill people.

Wait a second, I think I got off track. What I meant to say is, you can’t pretend your own negative qualities don’t exist. Whether you acknowledge their existence or not, they are still impacting your life.

In this life, people and things will come and go, but you’re not getting away from yourself. So don’t be afraid to tell yourself to cut the crap once in a while. I’m sure you’ll find it in your heart to accept your own constructive criticism.

The Fear of the Ear

Does the idea of something going into your ear gross you out? For me, bugs come to mind. But what is it about the ear that makes us so anxious?

Here’s my theory:

There are a limited number of open holes on our bodies, and most of them are on our heads. What sets the ear apart from the mouth and the nose, is that the ear is the only one of these holes that we can’t blow air out of. If a bug were to fly up your nose, you could blow air out as your number one defense. If it were to fly into your mouth, you can spit it out, or blow it out. But if it flies into your ear, what do you do? Your first reaction is to stick your finger in to sort of pull it out. But this will most likely only push it in farther. What a vulnerable body part the ear is. It’s an open target with no defense lined up besides maybe wax.

If you’ve thought about this before, I hope this cleared some things up. If you haven’t, I apologize for creating a new fear for you.

Anonymity is Powerful

It’s amazing how much of a role anonymity plays in the world. People act very differently when their identity is hidden or when the identity of others are hidden.

There are a ton of examples of this from people in tinted windows driving more dangerously to kids misbehaving on Halloween because their costumes make them feel less responsible for their actions. However, there are a few examples I’ve decided to concentrate on.

The first is what we eat. Those of us who are not vegetarians will buy meat in the store, cook it, and enjoy eating it. Let’s throw in a twist now. Would you buy chicken if the package had a photo of the chicken when it was alive? How about if the package had the chicken’s name on it?

Chicken

How about we include a list of it’s favorite bands or sports it liked? Obviously, this is far-fetched for a chicken, but suddenly it would seem sick to eat this. The chicken is no longer an anonymous bunch of meat. If there were ever a law to include information like this on all packages of chicken, it would put them all out of business.

One problem I have is how people sympathize mostly with living things that have brains. A carrot is a living thing, but I’ve never seen someone against the killing of carrots. Why not? Because it doesn’t have enough similarities with us humans? It’s tough to see where we should draw the line.

Another example is the Internet. People will often do things they would never have the courage to do in real life when they’re online. They might be playing a video game and say ethnic slurs because they don’t know anyone and they know no one knows them. It’s a perfect anonymous situation. (Want a great example? Check out my comments section sometime)

As I said, there are plenty of other examples, so keep an eye out for them. I strongly believe that if driving were less anonymous, we would have a lot less reckless drivers on the road. Notice how people are a lot more careful when they walk? That’s not an accident.

Looking Back On Life

We’ve all looked back at some point in our lives and realized we’ve made a bad decision. It doesn’t matter how good of an idea something seemed at the time, in retrospect, we know it was a pretty stupid idea. The old saying is “hindsight is 20/20”, and the analogy couldn’t be more true.

The question is: How do we see things so clearly looking back? Why wasn’t it so clear at the time?

I think of this in the same way I think of how our binocular vision works. We have two eyes because our brain needs two sources of information. It takes this information and compares what each eye has seen in order to clearly understand what is in front of us. If you were to shut one eye, your depth perception would no longer work. Try it – put one hand over your eye and look around.

This same technique is used by astronomers to understand the distance to stars. We take a photo while the Earth is in one position, and take another 6 months later when it’s in another position, and compare the two (just like our brain does for our eyes). This is known as a stellar parallax.

I know, I know – What does this have to do with anything?

When we make a decision, we are able to judge the situation from only one point in time. As our brains or an astronomer would tell us, it’s hard to put things in perspective when you’re only viewing the situation from one point.

When we look back on a decision we’ve made, we are now able to see the situation from two points in time: the moment we had to make the decision, and the moment from which we look back on that decision. Now that we can see the situation from two points, we can assess it much better. Also, the more time that passes, the clearer that decision becomes. Of course by the time it’s really clear, it’s already too late.

So never look back in regret, because we’re all really just staring at life with a hand over one of our eyes. We’re bound to walk into a wall now and then.

What Death Feels Like

Sometimes my mind will drift into the idea of death. It’s a scary thought, because it’s hard to imagine not existing anymore. What would that feel like? The answer is: you will never know that you’re dead.

When you lay in bed at night, you close your eyes and try to fall asleep. You never actually feel yourself fall asleep though. In fact, you don’t even realize that you fell asleep until you wake up.

Therefore, when you die, you will never know that you’re dead because you’ll never wake up to realize it or have a moment to miss your life. There is no reason to fear death, because losing something is meaningless if you can never miss it.

Comparing Age and Time

Do you ever get the feeling that time seems to just keep passing quicker and quicker? Like the days and weeks are gone before we know it? When I was 4, turning 5 seemed like it would never come. Birthdays were rare occasions when we were young, but now it feels like they happen too often.

So why is this? Here’s my solution:

We measure time on clocks and calendars, so there’s no mystery there, they never change (and neither does the rotation of Earth). But we measure the way time feels only based on comparison to how other amounts of time feel. An hour feels long compared to a second, but short compared to a year. However, the longest amount of time we can compare any other time to is the length of our own lives.

A year to a 4-year-old is a quarter of their entire lives. But a year to a 20-year old is 1/20th of their entire lives, and five years is a quarter. That means five years to a 20-year-old should feel like one year to a 4-year-old.

This illustration should clear up any confusion about the concept.

 

So if you’re 20 and you think time is flying, just remember that it’s flying four times as fast to an 80 year old.. scary thought.

Special thanks to Mario C. for inspiring this theory.