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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


April 22nd, 2021


Any radical departure from habitual living is bound to provoke a little fear.  When that fear, or the experience of it is seen as positive, we call it excitement, and when negative, it’s nervous, stressed or worried.  Our emotional valence isn’t actually as important as is the fact that anticipation of something different simply creates a rise in emotional intensity.


We have to wonder, is it the new circumstance that generates this blend of excitement and anxiety, or is there some mechanism in our minds that is trying to ensure that we stay right where we are, doing the same thing day in and day out?  In neuroscience, this mechanism might be called the ‘Default Mode Network’ which is a spread of about 12 brain regions that, among many other things, keep the hamster wheel of the mind spinning just like it did yesterday.    The unnerving anticipation of the future may be a kind of survival cry related to this network, While of course this is just conjecture, why wouldn’t a state of mind fear ‘death’ in the same way all living things do.  Is a state of mind not a living thing?  In some sense, we get to experience a kind of reincarnation while living, all we have to do is change our circumstance.  We experience the anxiety of death in miniature, and when the mind resettles as it reacts anew to a new situation, we become someone slightly different, and in this sense, our body hosts this little reincarnation of the mind.  The description isn’t really meant to be taken literally, but only to prime the discussion for what we might be able to learn from the way people die, and how that can effect everyday life.  We can, for instance compare the bitter and scared person who clings to life with the person who has accepted what will happen and approaches it with curiosity.  The two perspectives don’t just apply to death, they form a fairly accurate depiction of the two main ways that people approach or resist new experiences.


The point is: how much worse is a newly imposed circumstance that is less than ideal if we resist and begrudge it the whole way?  As opposed to simply accepting it and moving forward.  Which disposition arms us with a better ability to try and improve things?


It even goes the other way: is the vacation better or worse with the days, weeks and months spent eagerly anticipating it before hand?  Or is the time less likely to live up to our amped up expectations because of all this jazzed up anticipation?




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Podcast Ep. 1103: State Change Fear

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