ENERGY. You’ll have seen from this blog’s title that I specifically mean mental energy. What do I mean by this? (if you don’t want to think for yourself what it could be defined as, Google it and read the Wikipedia definition). What’s more, how could this differ from other types of energy, if we can indeed split up energy into various philosophical types that are different from the scientific groups (nuclear, chemical, light, sound, thermal, kinetic…)?
I am going to take the stance that it is more important how this “mental energy” acts and manifests itself than how we define it. As means of justification, this is often the stance taken in mathematics, for example when the implications of complex numbers became clear, the merely philosophical question of “what is a complex number?” (not longer after this was solved) was deemed rather trivial. Likewise, in mathematics a point or a line is significant because of how it acts not because of what a line intrinsically is, and they are indeed difficult to define (think about a point for instance, if you were to think of it as an infinitely/arbitrarily small concentration of mass or consumption of 2D space, a point would be nothing as it tends to being so small it is nothing) – so they can be taken as “axioms” (given facts that cannot be proven or broken up into “smaller” facts).
How do we then consider the difference between mental and physical energy? By way of example, I would set the maximum of my mental energy level as the feeling that I could start from where I am now and sprint endlessly from here and all the way round the earth and back, but put this energy more into either a state of alertness or a state of being more detached from the outside world but thinking either very quickly or with great depth, and having so much of this energy that I don’t actually want to do anything else. Physical energy level would be to what extent I could actually sprint round the circumference of the earth (and this would be far less than my mental energy level could ever be). In a sense, this is a great blessing, because little would be achieved in sprinting round the earth (not to mention that this would probably be beyond the capabilities of man!), and I have much greater control over how much mental energy I have at any given moment than physical energy, and I would consider mental energy to be of far more use. If I were to give my definition of “mental energy”, it would be more as a state of mind than a measurement of neurons firing in your brain.
I ask myself where I usually am on my scale of mental energy, and if this it is more or less beneficial to be at a given point on this scale, but it’s so hard to come with a point on a linear scale that defines you at a given moment. How do you answer the question, “How are you, on a scale from one to ten?” What’s one? What’s ten? With an undefined scale you might as well answer “bananas”, and claim your scale goes “one, bananas, ten”. Without being daft, something entirely undefinable is what probably lies between someone’s idea of the worst they could imagine being and their idea of paradise, and “bananas” would actually be a very good description. Yet, why should “one” be attributed to the worst you could be and “ten” the best you could be? All you could be at any given moment is what you are – if you think you could be possibly better or worse, you aren’t, unless you change your outlook in the next moment. I could justify to myself why I could both be infinitely better and worse.
A possible means of considering mental energy could be through consideration of a lack of it i.e. “mental tiredness”, and how this could differ from “physical tiredness”. My favourite feeling, is when I’ve thought so “hard” that your brain hurts, and at that moment you think the best thing you could wish to do is think even more, though it seems rather contradictory that the highest height of “mental tiredness” be where the most “mental energy” can be found, but very logical when you consider that it’s though using mental energy that you would become mentally tired, but equally thorough using mental energy would you become more mentally energised. If I were to draw a graph of “use of mental energy” against “mental energy”, it would have the shape of y=absolute value of x.
In contrast, a similar graph for physical energy would probably be a straight line – the more you used, the less you have left. Yet a graph of mental energy against physical energy could be very complex. Maybe at the greatest amount of physical energy you would have the least amount of mental energy, for little motivation would be required to get you going, but I think it would vary greatly from person to person the amount of mental energy they have when they have very little physical energy.
I think that what’s remarkable about the concept of mental energy is that we can have as much of it as we wish or give ourselves. Physically, we may be limited by the laws of conservation of energy and the limits of human body’s metabolic rate. True, the average power consumption of a typical adult (I cannot scientifically verify these figures but Google or run experiments on it and come to your own conclusion about the reliability of the data, if it’s not entirely accurate the proportions are probably still useful for an idea) is 100 Watts and the brain consumes 20% of this making the power of the average brain 20 W, so the brain does indeed use energy. However, only in situations of extreme starvation would the brain not have enough glucose to function as you would wish. To be more mentally energised, we don’t need to eat more or carry out weight training to build more muscle mass or whatever to increase metabolic weight. We can just think, and mentally energise ourselves through thought.
There have been two things to day that have made me especially love today as a day which I’d like to write about.
The first of these, is smiling, i.e. “forming one’s features into a pleased, kind, or amused expression”, but I mean the kind of smiling where you don’t have to actively “form” it, where instead something makes you smile.
The most important thing you wear is the expression on your face.
I adore this quote, especially as smiling is one of my favourite things to do, just for the sake of it. I think smiling can be addictive, or at least I’ve made it a habit. Half the time I ask myself: why am I smiling? And whether or not there’s a reason for it, I find one, and feel that I’ve justified to myself why I should be happy until the next time I contemplate why I’m grinning like an idiot (and I’ve got nothing wrong with being an idiot if you’re a happy idiot). I also love how the word “wear” makes me think I can always choose to get a smile out of my wardrobe and put one on if a feel like it.
What today has made me smile? If I listed everything, it would be a very long list, so here are just some of them:
waking just as my clock turned from 6:36 to 6:37 and knowing that I’d got a full day ahead of me to do as I wish
listening to some of my favourite music (I actually have so many “favourite” pieces in my spotify playlists that it would take almost a week non-stop to listen to them all!): a load of Bach for solo violin, Schubert’s Arpeggione sonata, Handel’s Concerti Grossi, Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, Shostakovich’s later string quartets, Mendelssohn’s violin concerto (I love watching the video on youtube of Perlman playing the 2nd movement of this – his expression just before the start of the 3rd movement is completely brilliant) and Brahms (which I’ll come back to)
my brother adding “who Clare fancies” after the mention of someone who he doesn’t even know, who happened to be a rather inappropriate person to”fancy” and left me almost unable to swallow any of the rest of lunch thanks to many fits of giggles (the dining room table conversation got even worse after that!)
reminiscences of some embarrassing moments (or not particularly embarrassing, they just make me laugh, but then there’s not much that I don’t find amusing, except jokes that I don’t understand) in the past week
The second of these two things that have made today better than it would have been otherwise is Brahms (linked to smiling by the fact that Brahms most definitely makes me smile), or rather what I’ve found the concept of “Brahms” to be a metaphor of, that feeling when you look at something you’ve looked at many times before and realise you finally understand what it signifies, and knowing that you’ve gone one step further in understanding life as a result. I don’t think I can explain very well what I mean,nor would I really wish to, but I”ll give you the words of Isaac Stern, referring to his late friend Joseph Szigeti, which at least explain what I’m going on about:
“I remember a performance he gave at Carnegie Hall in the mid-forties. In the opening work, he was ill at ease and not quite with it. Then he played the Brahms G Major Sonata, one of the most seraphic, poignant, soul-searching works in all the violin literature — music you don’t perform, you live through. You try to show to what degree it is the essence of living, an appreciation for the act of life. Szigeti hit his stride and took off. I believe the pianist was Nikita Magaloff; the pianist is always so vitally important to such music. It was one of the most ennobling performances I have ever heard. Nobody in the hall breathed. You were not listening to a performance of someone standing on the stage at Carnegie Hall; you were surrounded by a golden aura of music.”
(I must disagree with Brahms G major sonata being “golden aura” though as to me most of it looks green. 🙂
Brahms’ sense of harmony amazes me – I look at his scores and wonder how it sounds so perfect, and love it all the more at how it does so. (and I’m struggling now to keep a straight face listening to it!) Brahms is one composer who intimidates me almost. Understanding Brahms has been one of my longstanding aims, and I think I’m maybe a tiny bit further along that road. And I love how when you get a little bit further along a track, you come across another 10 that break off from it. One thing I love about life is that you can not just pick that track, but make another 10 more, and never look back at the long road you’ve come down but instead smile at what lies ahead undiscovered. What’s even better about this road in particular is that I’ll know I’ll never get to the end, so I might as well have fun trying – trying to do the impossible is always more exhilarating that attempting what you know must be true (I’m now looking at my playlist entitled “Failure” and laughing in remembering how when I created it I thought that achieving failure was such a great achievement I’ve put the happiest music in it, and in the one called “success” – I evidently never finished deciding what to put in it – the only thing I’ve got is Shostakovich Symphony 7, which is seen now mainly as a symphony to remember the 25 000 000 soviet citizens who died in WW2, which I find rather ironic even though I know my motives for doing so).
I love how Stern uses the words “music… you live through”, although when I re-read them out of context they seem more like they’re referring to some dreadful torture that you’ve got to “live through” somehow. I think it’s be a great euphemism to replace everything I didn’t want to”live through” with the word “music”.
Maybe what I dislike most about Brahms G major violin sonata (except it being in G major, since I really hate G major, though I do try not to hate everything in G major purely on the principle that I don’t like the colours of G major, but then again I think it’s awesome to have something you love written in something you hate, because I find I end up loving what I have to try to love so much more than those things which you love naturally) is how my favourite bit of the 1st movement is the very end of it, and I hate looking forward to something coming to an end so much! Sometimes in life too I think I look forward to what’s going to happen so much that I forget to enjoy the moment, carpe diem nevertheless.
Today I’d like to consider to what extent we can control how happy we are. What makes you happy? My observations of the world make me think that, in general, there are two sorts of things that make people happy:
1 – the “big” things in life (I’m thinking along the lines of success, graduating, marriage…)
2 – the smallest things in life, marvelling at hidden patterns, simply being thankful for being alive, seeing someone, smiling, having a cup of tea (though I hate tea) or whatever your “smallest” reasons for being happy would be
Try to imagine this: a sphere, maybe 1m in diameter, suspended in the air in front of you.
1. Let the few big reasons to be happy be represented by a smaller sphere in the centre of the big sphere, of whatever size you think is proportionate to how often they occur.
2. Pick a colour to colour in this smaller sphere (a “happiness” colour*), and make this shade ripen to the amount of happiness these few big reasons to be happy give you.
3. Now let the smallest reasons to be happy be represented by colouring the surface of the big sphere in your happiness colour, and let this colour fill inwards until the area this block of colour fills is proportionate to how often these occur in life.
4. Let your happiness colour change shade for the smallest reasons to happy until the shade represents the amount of happiness these give you.
5. Colour in all the remaining area of the sphere in whatever colour you like (call this your “life” colour), and distance yourself from the sphere so that you are watching the sphere, entirely detached from it. Let all the colour in your sphere go translucent.
To me it seems that all the rest of life, the “middle” things, in your “life” colour, work, education, exams, driving/travelling, eating/preparing food, sleeping… tend to take up the majority of the space in the sphere, whilst the “big” reasons to be happy are pretty much invisible from where you stand on the outside of the sphere, past this massive block of life colour. All that is accessible/truly visible is the happiness colour from the “smallest” reasons to be happy, that are on the very edge of the sphere.
From this model of happiness, I can see two possible ways of becoming happier:
1. Find your small reasons to be happy in the “middle” of life, what you spend most of your time doing (letting the outer shell of happiness colour grow inwards)
2. Find all the things in the “middle” of your life so important that they become big reasons to be happy (letting the inner sphere of happiness colour grow outwards)
(My favourite thing to then do with this model is simultaneously let the inner sphere of happiness colour grow outwards and the outer shell of happiness colour grow inwards until they both end up expanding and taking over the entirety of your field of vision with happiness colour.)
What do I mean in real world terms? I mean that you should make yourself see everything as a reason to be happy.
How do I propose to go about doing this? I’d like to address the second part of this entry’s title: “a state of mind” in order to explain.
“Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same. ”
Earlier this week I was talking to friends about how they would end the sentence “Life is…” (I don’t think I got a single positive word in response.) My response in return was along the lines of “awesomely exciting and amazing and whatever you want it to be”. And what was the response to this? “Are you like 12??” It didn’t half make me laugh! Why is it that being happy or merely positive is automatically linked with being childish, and not understanding the “real” world? If we’re not taught how to have a positive outlook when part of the “real” world as a child, what use is much of what we are taught? Surely if we spend much more of our lives being not-children than being children, it would make much more sense to be depressed throughout childhood and have learnt to be happy by the time we reach adulthood, than the other way round.
I’m not saying that I couldn’t go on forever ending “Life is…” with everything that was wrong in the world, but I can’t see why I would want to, when I could instead consider what I could make good in the world as more significant. I don’t even think it’s a case of “is the glass half empty or half full?”, but a case of “the glass is completely empty but all I have to do to have a full glass is go and fill it up, and though I can’t quite fill it to the top as it would probably spill, the small effort of going to almost fill up the glass would be much more worthwhile than staring at the empty glass.” You could stare at the empty glass and moan about how awful the world can be, or go and fill it up and think how at the very least you could make your life seem happier.
Maybe I’m being too naive and optimistic, yet I’d rather that to being convinced that every corner of the world is out to get me and depressed. And if the whole world is out to get me, all the better because I’m out to get the whole world (not really, but that sounds cool).
In conclusion, my point is that, as I see it, there’s no need to spend life searching for happiness, because all it takes it to look at the world a bit differently (I’m now picturing myself turning the sphere into earth and scribbling over the life colour with happiness colour, not particularly caring that the life colour’s still there, because I can find value in life anyway).
(*In case you’re wondering, my happiness colour is whitey-cream, and my life colour is greeny-blue. What were yours?)
One day this week I read probably hundreds of internet sites all about positive sentences and inspirational quotes. I’d like to share with you what I’ve discovered after running my own mini-experiment on positive sentences (I was thinking of trying negative sentences too but I saw no reason to actively encourage myself to think negatively, and I discovered that there wasn’t really much difference between a positive and a negative sentence – it just depends on how you label it.)
I decided to start with positive words, following some advice on a random wikihow article. This article suggested thinking “My positive word is…” (with your positive word at the end of the sentence). I’m not going to share with you my positive word, because it wouldn’t have made any difference if it had been any other word I picked. I picked the very first word that popped into my head, which happened to be the name of someone I know. Since I found it hilarious that that was the first word to pop into my head, that is now my positive word, and it has yet to fail to make me laugh/smile at the thought my positive word, though I’m not particularly sure why as it’s not really funny. I don’t find my positive word positive because of what the word is – it might as well be lollipop or bungalow or banana – I think it’s more the process of remember being positive whenever you think of “positive”. Wit h my positive word, I kept thinking that I should come up with a better word that actually means something, but came to the conclusion that a word’s just a word, a collection symbols or basic sounds, and it’s the meaning I derive from it that’s more important.
This led me on to consider what was the point of having a positive word – is it meant to inspire in you an attitude that you can succeed at something, or just momentarily cheer you up, or give your brain something to divert to when you’re thinking negatively, so overall you think more positively? What if I was to instead think “My negative word is…”? I think it would actually make me think more positively than negatively, as I’d probably just find it amusing! Then again, why should I want it to be simply a word or sentence that inspires me/motivates me/cheers me up? Would it not be better to be motivated by some deep willpower with actual reasons for motivation, or should we just be motivated for the sake of it? Personally I would take the latter view as although both of these could be considered as “intrinsic motivation” if you only start something because you’ve already got some urge to do so, you’d never learn the skill of developing a love for anything else, maybe being less motivated overall. Last summer, I met Jo Cameron (from the Apprentice) and one thing she said to me (it’s irrelevant what she was referring to), “Love it. Love it. Love it. And when you stop loving it, find a way to love it again.” So whilst I’d agree that we should “love” whatever it is, putting yourself in a state of mind where you’d more positively want to love anything, not just this chosen thing to do, could maybe make you overall more motivated.
I then went on to consider a whole, positive sentence. The first sentences that I thought of were those that never fail to make me laugh (and I doubt anyone else would understand why I find them amusing as they wouldn’t know the whole story behind it). One such sentence is “Don’t sulk in sectionals” (and I’d expect that you have absolutely no clue what I’m going on about!). But then, I don’t feel particularly motivated to arise out of a bad situation, but I am in a much better mood (or possibly not as I’m never really in a bad mood in first place and I was perfectly happy 2 minutes ago) than I was a few minutes ago. Other people’s positive sentences and inspirational quotes seem to be along the lines of “everything’ll be ok” or they’ll rule the world one day. Personally I don’t find such a mentality very inspirational to do anything, as it seems to imply that if you do nothing life will make itself better anyway. I’ve cast my thoughts back to what I’ve told myself when faced with problems (I mean actual problems as opposed to my random mathematical/physical questions like “how can thrust be modeled at a molecular level?”). And I haven’t thought of anything much, besides “my willpower can overcome it” whenever in a situation of mind over matter – but that’s not really a “positive sentence”, it’s just me telling myself that I can do whatever it is, and if I was aware that I really couldn’t, I wouldn’t think that I could anyway!
In conclusion, I’d say that I don’t really need a positive sentence, because I can make myself positive simply through an enjoyment of thinking (and music) – and I have a habit of smiling. I’ve long since made my outlook on life positive, and one word or phrase is not going to change that, though it’s nice to know that thinking of a random word a linking it with being positive can make me smile, but then again maybe it’s a bit daft to use this to divert my thinking from something else, even if it would be a less depressing thought, as it has no purpose and its effect might last until I stop thinking of it. I’d rather face whatever the depressing thought may be and find some way to be positive despite that, rather than a completely unrelated reason to be happy.
What are your positive thoughts?
I’m Clare, aged 16. (I don’t think there’s much more of any importance to say about myself – as far as I’m concerned I’m one mind with consciousness somewhere in the middle of this universe. In my opinion, what this mind thinks and believes is of more significance than who I am or where I come from)
Today I’ve decided to write a blog.
Probably my favourite thing to do is think. I would say it’s to think about anything, but I currently have two main life aims and I these sum up what I most like to think about.
My current two main life aims:
1. to gain a better understanding of the universe
My questions currently concern (the list is much longer but I’ll stick to what I’ve thought about in the past few days):
different ways of comprehending all forms of dimension, as a means of not feeling so helpless at the thought of how to mentally picture time
understanding forces, but by considering them as a type of dimension
understanding deterministic chaos and its relevance to the world
patterns found in the universe
2. to gain a better understanding of myself, and then human nature in general
This past week or so, this has included:
how I think, ways of considering how I think, why I think what I do
my energy and motivation, and how that is separated into mental and physical energy, how this manifests itself and how I can influence it
why I struggle to understand what I struggle to understand, particularly in cases where it seems that in general the rest of humanity has a better understanding than me
what makes me “happy”, what is the optimum level for happiness and how this relates to mental energy
why I love what I love. What I love could probably be broken down into classical music and thinking (and the wonderful world mathematics/physics)
to decide what I want to do with my life with sound reasoning for coming to whatever conclusion I come to (this is probably the only issue that I would like to resolve considerably before the end of my life!)
to be able to express myself so that people are less amazed when what I’m going on about makes sense
the nature of creativity and intelligence
how I, and others, perceive the world and come to comprehend concepts
I would like to try to put some of my thoughts into words, as a type of mental challenge since I struggle to comprehend something before I’ve created a visual model of it – by way of example, these past few hours I’ve been thinking about the concept of entirely unrelated dimensions and different ways in which I could understand this idea.
My way of thinking is to ask myself questions from many different view points until I am brought to an answer, which could equally be why I cannot comprehend something. And I make that answer a question, using it as the starting point for further discovery. Yet, if I never succeed in answering any of my ever-growing list of questions, I don’t particularly care, because I love the thought process far more than the end result – and since when I’ve answered one thing my mind wanders onto further questions, I’ve long since come to the conclusion that I will never be able to understand anything in a way that I’m satisfied with, and that’s fine, because otherwise life, in my opinion, would be boring.
In summary, the aim of this blog is to explore my changing views of the world, and to share this experience with anyone who would like to join me (and I don’t particularly care if nobody wishes to, because I find it fun anyway). I do keep a much more detailed diary of my thoughts, but in complete honesty very little of it would be understandable to anyone else and it’s mostly nonsensical and consists lists of things to jog my memory of some of my most enjoyable trains of thought.
Feel free to ask me any questions about anything I post.