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May 28th, 2019
In a previous episode of Tinkered Thinking, gravity was presented as a good example in order to explore the concept of faith.
Lift an object up and we all have faith that if dropped, the object will hit the floor. This is an excellent example of faith because it describes our relationship to something that is both: highly reliable and totally unexplainable.
Granted we’ve figured out that there’s a connection between the mass of an object like the earth and the gravitational force that exists around and inside such mass, but we cannot yet explain exactly why and how this actually works.
This inexplicability of faith is important because it’s often the lingering or missing ingredient when it comes to the goal we might dream of achieving.
Most often our desires are at total odds with our goals, which, at first seems quite strange. But we need merely think of the tension we feel between wanting a fit and good looking body and the desire we have to eat a donut that happens to be within arm’s reach.
The goal of getting fit is directly thwarted by the desires that pop up many times during the day. Regardless of what our fitness has been like in the past, our ability to look forward and forge ahead towards a goal of fitness is dependent on a certain kind of faith in the goal: that it will actually be possible given the right tactics and that we will experience a higher level of satisfaction once that goal is achieved. That higher level of satisfaction is of course, longer-lasting than the fleeting pleasure of a donut.
This framework applies to many kinds of goals. Sitting on the couch and vegging out to some dumb show is like that donut when we think about projects that we should be working on instead. Again, a faith that the project will come to fruition needs to be nurtured, and it’s perhaps this hazy ingredient that we must look for the most in order to defend ourselves from our own desires.
Unlike gravity, however, our notion of reliability is often supplied by an intellectual avenue. We can look at other people who are fit and simply say that it’s not fair, or we can study their lifestyle, their diet and their exercise in order to come up with a strategy that has the potential to transform our own situation. That whole process, however, is again an intellectual one, and the notion of reliability is almost completely divorced from the strong emotions that are often responsible for getting us to do things. It’s intuitive to pick up a donut and eat it because the desire for doing such is a strong emotion. On the other hand, it’s counter-intuitive to refrain from eating the donut because doing so is literally against our own feelings on the subject.
Upon reflecting, we can realize that having faith that a different life is possible - a healthier, happier life that is filled with fulfilling accomplishments is a strictly counter-intuitive adventure.
At least in the beginning. Once we actually get moving in the right direction with the right effort and the right tactics, results –however small- should begin to appear in some way, and it’s these tiny positive outcomes that we should take as signs that our faith in the process has reliability. We can then slowly build a new intuition that uses these successes as reinforcing guideposts. In so doing, our desire can slowly morph, and what was once painful becomes pleasurable, and what once held the promise of instant pleasure only reminds us of an old life filled with the perpetual and depressing pall of unrealized goals.