Why unhappy brains are better brains

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Why unhappy brains are better brains

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:29 pm

Hi all,

I thought you might be interested in the following article.
If you can get past the provocative title, you might find that the author has some interesting ideas and insights.
Your comments (relating to the ideas put forward in the article) are most welcome.

Ben

Because they're more observant and make better decisions, writes Sarah Berry.

It's the reason we routinely limit ourselves. It's why we pigeonhole ourselves and others. It's behind the assumption that if something is done one way then it's the only way it can be done. It's why we close ourselves off to adventures or anything that is unfamiliar and potentially 'scary'. It explains why we make a judgement, stick our heels in and dismiss any evidence that we are wrong. It motivates us to take the easy option even when it's not the best option...

..."The brain doesn't merely prefer certainty over ambiguity," DiSalvo says. "It craves it."

...Of the fifty methods he outlines in the book, key is having an awareness of our thoughts (meta-cognition) and a willingness to challenge our justifications for behaviour or attitude.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/life ... z1pzAwZKUG
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Re: Why unhappy brains are better brains

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:02 am

Ben wrote:..."The brain doesn't merely prefer certainty over ambiguity," DiSalvo says. "It craves it."


Yes! and thereby creates Dukkha.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Why unhappy brains are better brains

Postby Alobha » Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:59 pm

The title is pretty misleading, but i liked the article :smile:
David DiSalvo should differentiate between long-term unhappiness and short-term unhappiness though. The easy way, like sticking to one's own unhealthy, disfunctional or unbeneficial habbits might be comfortable for the sake of certainty and be suitable for achieving short-term satisfaction. That's why habits are hard to change, because there is a reward for following them. They're easygoing and one feels immediately good with them.

That's not the problem though. The problem is, when the habit itself is also leading to long-term dissatisfaction. That's where habits like gossiping, drinking alcohol, eating unhealthy food and basically all kinds of unbeneficial behavior is not helpful, isn't it? On the long term, these "happy brains" are suffering from the certainty they pursue because their habits are working against them.

However, what is the problem if ones habits are really beneficial and working towards oneself ? Like meditating and eating healthy?

"Sometimes a narrow frame is right for the situation, and sometimes disallowing new information is necessary. We have to dance with our instincts to figure out when to leap or when to stay on the ground. That's the challenge of being human of having a big brain capable of greatness with hardwiring evolved for survival."


I like how he puts it. There are quite a few situations i could think of where being resolute and "shutting the doors" has been more helpful to me than reconsidering all sides again and again. For example, keeping the 5 precepts is often hard to do in a western society without sticking to your guts and being resolute on that matter at times. That's interesting, i somehow thought that open-mindedness would _always_ be good but maybe i was wrong on that. hmm!
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Re: Why unhappy brains are better brains

Postby DarwidHalim » Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:39 pm

The title is very good.

Buddhist tradition is very huge. Some tradition see some kind of thoughts as poison. For example, anger, jealousy, are seen as poison and destructive. So, the practitioner at that tradition try their best to get rid of it as if they are enemy.

But another Buddhist tradition, value anger, jealousy, like a diamond. According to that tradition anger and jealosy for example are not poison, but they are primordial wisdom. Because we misunderstand them, we react to them, we get caught by it and we do so many negative things. Another type of misunderstanding is because we don't know the nature of anger and jealousy, we try to change the mind. We try to change something negative to positive. However, according to this tradition, if you look into any thoughts, whether you claim them as negative, positive, or neutral, all of them always have 1 same nature.

They are lack of self, they are clear, and they manifest freely without any obstruction. The story is different. Each thought bring you it's own story. But, all of them always and always have the same nature.

Because they are having the same nature, they are actually showing you the true nature of not only thoughts, but everything in this universe is having he same nature.

The nature of thoughts, which are up and down, coming and going, have the same nature with the formation of tree, how it pass away, etc.

So, by looking into that nature, instead of get rid of it, we finally will understand the true nature of reality, which is empty, clear, and manifest without any obstruction.

Anger for example is very powerful. When it arise, the energy is very intense. When someone get angry, he is absolutely awake and ready to fire the bullet. If he understand the nature of anger, instead of firing te bullet, te arising and te disappearance of anger, give him a very strong impression and understanding about no self.

The worse the thoughts and the more powerful they are, the better they are.

So in this tradition, they are working inside the poison itself. Instead of getting rid of that poison, they use that poison to go further.

However, this method cannot work for someone who has the strong view that anger and jealousy is absolutely negative.

The story is poison, but nature is not. So, this tradition work directly on the nature of poison, just to find out further that actually this poison is the best medicine.

They don't scare with everything, because everything is the best medicine.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Why unhappy brains are better brains

Postby sshai45 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:10 am

Alobha wrote:The title is pretty misleading, but i liked the article :smile:
David DiSalvo should differentiate between long-term unhappiness and short-term unhappiness though. The easy way, like sticking to one's own unhealthy, disfunctional or unbeneficial habbits might be comfortable for the sake of certainty and be suitable for achieving short-term satisfaction. That's why habits are hard to change, because there is a reward for following them. They're easygoing and one feels immediately good with them.

That's not the problem though. The problem is, when the habit itself is also leading to long-term dissatisfaction. That's where habits like gossiping, drinking alcohol, eating unhealthy food and basically all kinds of unbeneficial behavior is not helpful, isn't it? On the long term, these "happy brains" are suffering from the certainty they pursue because their habits are working against them.


However, if the "better" route of uncertainty also creates suffering, what to do? Is there such a thing as "good" suffering?
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Re: Why unhappy brains are better brains

Postby danieLion » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:17 am

DiSalvo's reputable. Reminds of what Daniel J. Siegel calls "homeostasis" between chaos and rigidity (and makes me recall Wittgenstein's last book was titled On Certainty or something like that).
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