This is Part 5 of Introduction to Bliss Beyond Bullshit blog series. You can visit the series home page for the full table of contents.
All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.Gandalf (Ian McKellen)Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
A chat with the critical reader (Part 1)
I imagine that many readers will be happy to move onto something much meatier, so the last part of this introduction will provide an overview of the specific ideas and content that I’ll develop in the Bliss Beyond Bullshit blog.
– You bet! When I asked you to introduce yourself I was not expecting a million words, you know? Your other readers (if there’s still any left) must be losing all hope of reading anything remotely interesting here… You must give them a reason to keep going!
You’re right. Well, of course I encourage all readers to stick around, after all, a blog without readers is a sad waste of bits and server space…
– That’s easy for you to say… They are the ones who have to put in the time to keep reading…
– And of course you would encourage readers to read it, you have a huge vested interest. So if that’s the gist of your argument, I think it’s just gonna be you and me (and I’m out of here as soon as I have proof that your no-bullshit claim is bullshit…)
Wait! As I said, I’m going to be mentioning the specific hypothesis of this blog soon!
– Sure, sure, sounds great, so why are you chatting with me instead of moving on?
The Bliss Beyond Bullshit blog will explore and attempt to validate six hypothesis. These hypothesis will (if successfully validated) become the premises on which we’ll later be able to build our action plan. The aim of this post is exclusively to present those hypothesis; we’ll explore (and hopefully validate) them in future posts.
Note: You’ll notice that from this point onwards, I’ll start using “we” instead of “I” with an increasing frequency. This might result in some sentences sounding a bit awkward sometimes; but more worryingly, it might make me sound kind of presumptuous. So let’s make this clear:
I don’t choose to use “we” as a way to self-proclaim myself and my opinion as representative of everyone else’s. My intention using “we” is precisely the opposite, to highlight that the value of whatever I think, write or suggest, is much lower than the value of you (the reader) performing this exercise of reflection along with me.
Using “we” is my way of telling you that even though I’m the only one doing the writing, I don’t conceive this blog as a passive one-directional channel – where I’m the thinker and you say “Amen” or “Fuck this shit” after each post. That would take us nowhere. Instead, my aim is to present you with my reasoning and encourage you to reason along (whatever the outcome). So when I say “we”, I do mean “we”, even though you’re not physically here with me as I write this now, nor will I physically be there with you while you’re reading this…
Or will I?
HYPOTHESIS #1: The pursuit of a life of bliss is a universally relatable goal for all humans.
Why does it matter? The aim of this blog is to find a better path for human future. As such, any analysis, assessment or suggestion needs to be done on a non-culturally specific basis. In particular, we need to identify a universally applicable human measure of what we want; a shared goal which resonates for all of us (humans) regardless of age, location, culture or socio-economic status.
How can we validate it? We’ll try to define “bliss” in as practical a way as possible. In order to do that, we’ll need to delve deep in the understanding of ourselves, as humans. In particular, we’ll need to understand why we are the way we are, what drives us forward and how we operate within the world around us.
What happens if we validate it? For starters, that the name of this blog suddenly makes sense! Moreover, upon validating this hypothesis, we’ll be able to use the pursuit of a life of Bliss as the measure to evaluate our life and the factors that condition our life, as well as any potential suggestions for change.
HYPOTHESIS #2: We live a life primed for struggle, not for bliss.
Why does it matter? If our current life is already primed for bliss, or at least towards as much bliss as we can hope for, then there’s no case for change. If not, we might just have found a universal reason to shake things up.
How can we validate it? We’ll look at struggle first from the circumstantial and discover meta-trends that push (many of) us towards a specially harmful type of struggle (identity struggle). The validation of this hypothesis will be connected to the validation of hypothesis #4.
What happens if we validate it? Well, if a life of bliss is a valid universal goal, but it turns out that the way we live doesn’t move us in that direction… It will be a pretty good sign that something is not working. Whether we can do something about it or not, depends on the next hypothesis.
HYPOTHESIS #3: Our current identity struggles are not unavoidable; a life of bliss is possible and thus it’s worth to pursue (or at least consider) change.
Why does it matter? We need to determine if the identity struggles that we experience are the result of our human condition or circumstantial. If that’s just the way we are, then that would mean that the pursue of bliss is a fool’s errand, and thus we wouldn’t have a strong case for change.
How can we validate it? Through the analysis and understanding of our “Self”, we’ll try to determine whether struggle is inherently human, or whether there are forms or levels of struggle that are not a direct consequence of our human condition.
What happens if we validate it? Then we have green-light to make a case for questioning and attempting to change the status quo! Change will respond an essential human need, and not just a “gut-feeling” or a whim. Next we’ll need to figure out where’s the issue (what needs to be changed).
HYPOTHESIS #4: We live within a context “a System” that is not conducive of a life of Bliss (it generates struggle instead).
Why does it matter? We need to figure out the root of our issues: Are we the problem or is it something beyond us? We need that knowledge to decide how to act to remedy those issues.
How can we validate it? We’ll need to delve deep into the “System”. This is a tricky word that might trigger some people, so we’ll first make sure that we are all comfortable semantically, and then explore how our environment influences us, and in which way it intrinsically generates struggle. This section will be more culturally specific, and thus readers might have to evaluate their own contexts following the methodology.
What happens if we validate it? We’ve found the offender! Now we just need to beat the shit out of it… Or perhaps just figure out which parts of it are working, which not, and make proposals for change.
HYPOTHESIS #5: Our best chance at change is not trying to change ourselves, but changing the conditions that make us be.
Why does it matter? First of all, to keep in check all the self-blame that is making us ever more miserable. Secondly, to focus on what truly matters.
How can we validate it? This hypothesis is validated quasi-simultaneously with hypothesis #4. We just need to compare the chances of change becoming a reality one way vs another.
What happens if we validate it? For starters, that we can shed all this silly self-guilt that we carry around, and focus instead on making the changes that will make us become who we want to be. Additionally, this is a key component to validating the last hypothesis in regards to the likelihood and speed of change.
HYPOTHESIS #6: Change is not only possible, but it can happen much faster than we are made to think.
Why does it matter? We are very often reluctant to take actions because of their perceived inconsequence. If we can prove that simple actions can create rapid change, then we might be more motivated to give them a try.
How can we validate it? We’ll use real life cases of systemic changes and their effects on behavior.
What happens if we validate it? We’ll have all the ingredients needed to move ahead and design an optimistic action plan!!!
A chat with the critical reader (Part 2)
So as you can see from those hypothesis, it all boils down to the idea that our “big issue” is not a scientific, or socio-economic one, it’s a philosophical one. It’s an issue of revising our mental frameworks; the way we understand who, how and why we are. And I believe that unless we address that, any attempts to change everything else that derives from how we see ourselves and the world, will be futile. Yet if we manage to do it, then change will result organically as the only logical response.
– Ok, I admit it. It’s an interesting angle. You’re basically saying that a necessary step before we can change the world is a change on the way we understand ourselves and our role as part of society.
Well said, that’s a perfect summary.
– I know, yet shouldn’t you be the one making your ideas clear and concise?
Yes, that’s one of my weaknesses. Lucky me for having you now.
– Enjoy it while it lasts. Now let me share some bad news. If your winning pitch is that this is a blog on philosophy… You might pique my interest, but many readers will get the hell out of this site faster than they can finish their yawn. Listen… They must be doing that right now.
That’s a good point you are making, this is where my Marketing skills can come to the rescue. Wait a second…
Uff, that was close.
– Fast reflexes! You’re welcome by the way.
Appreciated. To avoid further issues let me make it clear to everyone. I know the feeling of reading something boring. I dread those long paragraphs with sentences that span over eight lines and include 30 different citations, notes, and auxiliary explanations. I refuse to write like that and I’m going to do my best (within my limited writer means) to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone.
– You sure have potential in politics, you are a machine of moot promises.
Fuck moot promises!
– Fuck them indeed! I like it…
What is that, am I finally growing on you?
– Nah, it’s not you, I just enjoy swearing.
Anyway, this is not a moot promise. To prove it, I will dedicate the last post in this Introduction to make a specific pledge for this blog. But before that, let me tell you about the format I’m going to follow…