Sep 7, 2007

Life and Other Questions

I have written little in the past week. Local news has been quiet and I haven't noticed much that I feel like blogging about. However when I checked my Google Analytics today, I found the readership numbers to be surprisingly high.

I then checked Technorati and I think that some new readers must be visiting from outside Singapore, thanks to my blog having been placed on Priscilla Palmer's
Amazing Personal Growth List.

Priscilla's list looks like an attempt to compile the world's best personal development blogs. The list has some quite well-known personalities (I mean, well-known in the offline world too), including
Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Marianne Williamson and Scott Adams.

As for me, well, I'm just "Mr Wang" as usual, LOL. And I'm probably on the list just for my many "Thought Affects Reality" (TAR) posts back in
June and July. After all, on the global scale, no one gives a hoot whether Singapore is building a 4th university or not.

"Personal development" is a wide umbrella term and many different things fall within its ambit. Some are more abstract, some are more evolved, some are more practical and everyday. Examples of PD topics would be time management; goal setting; breaking addictions; career success; spiritual growth; self-knowledge; health & fitness; positive thinking; stress management; service to others etc.

The underlying theme is your self, and how it's going to grow, and get better and better at playing this very interesting game called life. The funny thing is, whatever aspect of personal development interests you most, you will inevitably run smack, in one form or another, back into a central principle - that the results you get in your life depend ultimately on the thoughts you think. And little else.

More succinctly, thought affects reality. And your thoughts create your own reality. Well, you already heard all about it from Mr Wang, back in June and July. So I shall not rehash.

Recently, in a corner of the Internet that I visit now and then, I've been talking to a guy who's about to kill himself (let's call him SD). Actually a bunch of other people have also been talking to SD on the Internet.

We don't know who he is, or where he is, or what his real name is, but he is quite serious about committing suicide (apparently he's already tried to kill himself twice before). Of course we are all trying to talk SD out of it and telling him things like please seek counselling, life is not so bad, there is still hope, the world is beautiful etc.

It's a tough sell, because S is quite determined to kill himself. S didn't come to ask us whether he should or should not kill himself - he actually only came to ask about the implications of suicide from the spiritual / religious point of view.

His general conclusion now is that karma is all nonsense, and God doesn't exist anyway. So suicide has no negative spiritual consequences and he can go ahead and do it. Some posters tried to reason logically with S that even if there is no God, no heaven, no hell etc, suicide is still not a good idea, because life is worth living. As I said, a tough sell.

The odd thing is that S doesn't seem to have any objectively terrible or traumatic event in his life that is driving him to suicide. He isn't bankrupt, he didn't get retrenched, he didn't have a broken relationship, he wasn't blinded or paralysed in a recent accident, his family didn't die in a fire etc. S just thinks that he is a "bad", "evil" person and so he ought to die.

When you ask him why he thinks he's "bad" and "evil", he says that he has no friends, and therefore he must be "bad" or "evil"; either that, or everyone is "bad" and "evil" for not wanting to be friends with him. S also keeps saying that the world is a very bad place and we just don't know it yet, but we will realise it sooner or later and be affected by it (I think he's thinking about stuff like global warming, nuclear war etc).

The scary part is how deeply, how completely, S believes what he's saying. It's a very striking example of how thoughts affect reality. S is deeply entrenched in his own very negative thoughts, and that's what his reality has become right now. We're trying, but we can't get him out. His existence, his reality, his entire world is indeed bad, evil, hopeless and grim - and he made it that way, for himself, through the sheer power of his own thoughts.

That's the same kind of power you have, with your own thoughts. You create your own reality, with what goes on in your mind. So be careful what you think. Make sure you give yourself a good dose of positive thoughts every day.


Blogter said...

Does the need for continual positive thinking perhaps suggest that this world is not that positive, hence the need for this rather artificial infusion of positive thoughts?

Perhaps S just needs to excercise. It's been said that exercise releases endorphins which make us happier.

Alvin said...

You're on the list because I put you there and you deserve to be on the top list ;)

S sounds like he/she(?) is trapped in what we used to call a 'double bind' - damned if you do, damned if you don't and all evidence is used to lead him/her down a circular path back to the first conclusion.

Quite a tough sell. Your post just reminded me to go back and do some reading on it.

Mr Wang Says So said...


No, it means that the only meanings that your world has are the meanings you give to it through your own thoughts.

An infusion of positive thoughts is no less and no more artifical or natural than an infusion of negative thoughts.

That being the case, it's obvious that the superior choice is to use our thoughts to shape reality into a form that pleases us, satisfies us and gives us joy, rather than a form that is painful, grim and dark.

Naturally, the individual's constraints are defined by:

(a) his level of awareness of just how much of his "reality" actually depend on his own thoughts, and

(b) his level of ability to control and direct his thoughts.


Thank you. Everyone, Alvin used to be a professional life coach.

Anonymous said...

I think S just wants attention, a lot of it. Well, if I know which is his blog, I'd tell him to pse just go n die n not make such a song n dance of it. Bleah!

Blogter said...

Mr Wang,

And (b) is dependent upon...?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Practice & cultivation, for some. Faith & conviction, for others. Guidance from a higher source, for yet others. And for another group, nifty tools like hypnosis, neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and creative visualisation.

None of these are mutually exclusive, and I think it depends a lot on the individual.

Religious prayer, for instance, can certainly be a practice; definitely requires faith; calls upon guidance from a higher source; and could be done as a form of creative visualisation.

I must be stupid said...

S just needs some fluoxetine IMHO. And a visit to the psychiatrist.

Pkchukiss said...

Perhaps the anonymity of the Internet has enabled SD to be honest, at least with somebody, even if they do not know each other.

If that is so, it is interesting to see how we are comfortable sharing our troubles with a stranger, if we can remain unidentified. Perhaps we, as a society need to do more to open up to our friends and family?

Anonymous said...

When I enter a lift in a building, I think

"When the lift door opens, how do I know I've actually left the ground floor? I might not have left the ground floor, someone might have simply quickly arranged the surroundings..."

When I enter an aeroplane, I think

"When the flight ends and the door opens, how do I know I've actually left the country? Someone might have quickly arranged the surroundings..."

When I look at myself in the mirror, I think

"Who is that? Is that me?"

Am I delusional
Have I lost it?

Isabel Tan said...

I agree with the other reader that S needs some medication and he needs to see a mental health professional. Maybe Mr Wang, you can put him in touch / persuade him to see one?

Alvin said...

Hi Mr Wang,

I've written a post on the NLP perspective on double binds and thought viruses, you might find it interesting:

Anonymous said...

what constitute friend to him? He seem to have lots of virtual friends consoling him. Perhaps you guys are not his friend but merely acquaintances.

gagoo gagoo said...

Mr Wang, get a whole group of people together and start thinking positive thoughts about this suicidal guy. It should match what you preached about thoughts = reality, hence making him not want to suicide.

All of you have been affected by, and contribute to his negative thoughts, by trying to put yourselves in his shoes to think of how to help him out of it.

Now I am a guru. ^^

Blogter said...

in response to alvin's blog-post:

Your post reminds me of religionists who insist that their religion is right even though outsiders can obviously see there's something wrong with it. What most would term as "blind faith".

Oh, and I enjoy that joke about the one who thought he was a corpse.

Mr Wang Says So said...

It was indeed a very good article, Alvin. Thank you.

lbandit said...
Information about nihilistic existentialism. Hopefully S can get out of his despair.

Anonymous said...

Frankly speaking, committing suicide would be one of the easier options especially with the easily accessible high rise HDB blocks & MRT tracks to jump off.

So for those who can't survive in this part of the world, which is more concerned about the bottom line than caring the underdogs, as mentioned by mentioned by one of the elite's offspring, do please consider the merits of ending our lives earlier. The Gahmen is not going to bat an eyelid or be there to mourn your early departure from this hell of a place.

I may consider the option of using charcoal or vehicle exhaust fumes - I'm sure the Gahmen would prefer this option over the MRT tracks.


Kelvin Ng said...

The belief that only thoughts are the whole of reality is called solipsism. Obviously thoughts are a part of reality, but they affect reality though common sense mechanisms not though "spooky action at a distance x-file stuff".

Mr Wang Says So said...

Sure, kelvin, if you insist. Whatever you believe will be true for you.

Is the distance between tokyo and california spooky enough for you, btw?

(Don't worry, it's a scientific paper published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, concerning an experiment performed under double-blind conditions).

Mr Wang Says So said...

Sure, kelvin, if you insist. Whatever you believe will be true for you.

Is the distance between tokyo and california spooky enough for you, btw?

(Don't worry, it's a scientific paper published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, concerning an experiment performed under double-blind conditions).

Blogter said...

Mr Wang,

You sound like you would know which corner of the internet help would be available for someone who's depressed or mildly schizophrenic. If so, could you let me know?

Another thing. Just thought of a challenging (?) question for you. If thinking so makes it so, does it mean that if you think that you're a schizo, you're actually inadvertently causing yourself to be schizo?