Positive Thinking

When Fiction is Truer than Non-Fiction

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

We could leave it there and be done, or we could parse that out a bit more.

Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris and Brett Weinstein discussed the idea of a metaphorical truth. They defined it as a notion that is literally false but conveys benefits to the person who acts as if it were true. Their example is treat every gun like a loaded gun. Every gun is not in fact loaded, but those who act as if they are are less likely to have a problem. Jordan has also said he acts as if God exists. Notice he treats the notion of God just like any other metaphorical truth. Whether God is literally true is less important than that— at least according to Jordan— those who act as if it is true seem to receive certain life benefits.

Deeper Truths

So myths, stories from religious traditions, and even modern movies like The Lion King, use the story as a foil to convey a deeper truth that non-fiction would have a harder time getting at.

Positive Thinking

What if angels were never told what they are?

Look close enough and you will see yourself in this picture.

Here’s a thought experiment about angels…

Creativity Dreams

Chaos, Negative Emotions, and Creativity

Those nasty negative emotions. If only we could just do away with them, right? But they have value, and they show up more in creative (right-brained) thinkers. Here’s why they are both valuable and in larger quantity in creative types, according to Jordan Peterson:

Positive Thinking

Redefining Reality in Six Minutes

Positive Thinking

Competency Matrix

In my all-time most viewed post, Serotonin and Social Status, I inquired as to whether there are mindsets that protect us from societal influences on serotonin levels. Five years later I finally attempt to answer that question with Does Competency-Awareness Drive Serotonin Levels?

Jordan Peterson posits something like (I’m paraphrasing), no one knows the upper limits of the benefits we might incur through maximizing our competency. With that context, here’s this post.

WHO AMONG US is maximally competent? Who can say they cannot become more competent than they are now? Clearly, the answer to both questions is no one.  So we all share the same goal: increasing our own competence. Competence at what? Well, how about the biggest challenge of all: life itself. So the question that follows that is, what does it take to be competent in life? And, could virtue be a synonym for key competencies?

Here’s a short (no doubt incomplete) list:

Creativity Super Human

Everyone Has an Origin Story

A tragic turn of events unleashes new, unfamiliar superpowers that shock the wielder, eventually forcing him to face his moral obligation to reduce the suffering of those around him.

The New World, 1978. As early as 6th grade, I was already captivated by the evolution of humanity, hope for improvement, and an awareness that we live our lives in a blip on the larger arc of history. Homo Sapiens is the one obscured by the ship’s exhaust (before catalytic converters!), shooting for sport. Or perhaps out of fear. This drawing meant so much to me that I’ve kept it all these years. It is the only drawing I still have from elementary school.

Positive Thinking

Malevolence, Forgiveness, Acceptance, Buddhism and Christianity

Panel of hell (detail), Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1480-1505, oil on panel, 220 x 390 cm (Prado)

Jordan B. Peterson is known for an ostensibly uncontroversial position: the reality of malevolence and malevolent people. This position seems at odds (he says as much) with Buddhism’s perspective that Evil is essentially ignorance. Buddha taught (quote TBD) that evil is born out of ignorance, and that perspective instructs us on how to vanquish evil (knowledge!) Might Jesus Christ agree with Jordan, that Buddhism is fundamentally flawed because it casts evil as an epiphenomenon rather than fundamental to the nature of humanity?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

— Luke 23:34

Christ here strongly suggests that malevolence is born out of ignorance, which is his justification for the need for forgiveness.
It is a reasonable proposition that Christ and Buddha were saying the same thing in different ways.


Mac OS X vs Windows XP

Back in 2002, I created, and when I shuttered the site in 2005 (due to personal matters), the downloadable pdf of the site had received over a quarter of a million downloads, and that’s just the pdf.


Does Competency-Awareness Drive Serotonin Levels?

Back in 2013, I wrote what I didn’t know would become my all-time most popular blog post, Serotonin and Social Status. In that post, I posed this question:

“Are there mindfulness strategies that might moderate against ‘societal’ influence on serotonin? Meditation? Yoga? Is there such a thing as self-confidence that does not peg its worth to external factors, and might that help? Such strategies would put me at greater command of my serotonin levels, rather than being solely at the mercy of others regard for me.”

Books Creativity

Coming Back Around

As an oil painting BFA candidate in 1987, I made this painting. It no longer exists, because a senior student shamed me for liking comics; I’m pretty sure I painted over it. The world is not worse off that this painting is no more, but it struck me that the Super Human theme was capturing my attention way back then. Then, ostensibly, I lost interest in it until just this year. Or did I? Maybe it’s been percolating in some deep recess of my brain for all this time. Or, if you are inclined to believe in precognitions, perhaps way back then on some level I knew this would become significant to me.