They say wealth doesn’t bring happiness. However, when you think about it, it is easy to see how happiness is wealth. Correlations help sort this out. For example, consider how this corresponds to love. Love has two sides; one side is a ‘grasping, expecting, needy’ experience. The other is true love, a ‘giving, empathetic, content’ experience.
Similarly, true wealth and true happiness correlate with this true love — ‘giving, empathetic, content’. It is just perfect in an indeterminate sort of way. (photo: Walden pond)
Thoreau puts it best
Thoreau said, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” Here, just replace “A man is rich…” with “A man is happy or content…”. Of course, this can sound true and correct until it gets personal. At that instant, throws of emotion create a blind spot as we clamor for what we want.
We all suffer this dynamic, one partly described in Buddha’s Four Truths. For example, we want to be independent, yet we also want to be part of a group. We need our space, yet we need togetherness. From what I see, our push – pull struggles in life mostly center on this conflict. We want it both ways. Alas, Mother Nature’s monogamous reality only allows us to have her one way, more or less.
I have no doubt that ‘wanting to have it both ways’ is an innate instinct common to all life. It keeps living things on their toes. Being innate, this isn’t anything we can snuff out in ourselves. However, some relief is possible when we realize how biology might be pulling our strings behind the scenes.
All We Need is a Little CRT
A recent Science News article, The Anorexic Brain, states that, “People with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are considered to be cognitively inflexible with their perspectives of food”. Okay, but don’t we all suffer from the disorder they are calling cognitively inflexible here? This disorder corresponds to the Taoist Realizing I don’t know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease. The article concludes with, “New work hints that cognitive remediation therapy, or CRT, which uses cognitive exercises to change anorexics’ behaviors, has potential”.
I went to Wikipedia straight away to check this out. Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT), also called cognitive enhancement therapy (CET), is a cognitive rehabilitation therapy designed to improve neurocognitive abilities such as attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, planning, and executive functioning which leads to improved social functioning (1).
It is fascinating how often the ‘old’ is simply given a makeover and presented as ‘new’. In this case, CRT seems to be reintroducing Buddha’s idea of Right Comprehension (See the first ‘fold’ of Buddha’s Eight Fold Path). Of course, science is able to add proofs, although these require an open mind to consider. I suppose leaving religion completely out of the discussion helps avoid pushing any ‘religious buttons’.
On the other hand, religious conversion has proven to be far-and-away the most effective means of rescuing troubled ‘souls’ of all sorts. The problem with that is we can’t just snap our fingers to achieve it. I think it is fair to say, it comes about in mysterious ways. The religiously neutral characteristics of CRT may well help far more people, albeit not to the same degree. Perhaps begin with this ‘religion neutral’ version and only show the ancient spiritual links later on. That could make CRT more effective for some, yet not ruin it for others.
(1) The Wikipedia went on to say this, which certainly rings true to me and corresponds to the core aim of CenterTao. This being to help us writers and readers develop more metacognition, or Right Comprehension as Buddha might say.
CRT is an interactive treatment which combines practical exercises with discussions about their relevance to the patient’s everyday life. It addresses the process rather than the content of thinking, thus helping patients to develop a metacognitive awareness of their own thinking style. The treatment is hypothesized to work by strengthening and refining neural circuits, and by learning and transferring new cognitive strategies to appropriate situations. The aim is to identify and target the cognitive impairments specific to each patient, and to motivate the patient to engage in meta-cognitive processes i.e. to consider their cognitive/thinking styles and to explore alternative strategies, which in turn might lead to behavioral changes. By becoming aware of problematic cognitive styles, the patient can reflect on how these affect everyday life and learn to develop new strategies.