Thursday, 3 November 2016

Intelligence and Unhappiness: My Own Example


It was claimed by a study that 99% of down's syndrome people were happy with their lives and 97% of them liked who they were. 

I doubt these numbers are as high when surveying the general population, let alone the moderately to highly intelligent demographic. 

This is not to say that down's syndrome people don't have intelligence but those of us who don't have down's syndrome could definitely learn from their example, especially if trapped in the woes of persistent unhappiness. 

I know a thing or two about unhappiness, as do the vast majority of my close friends, having attempted suicide when I was 23 and being in a long-term relationship with a life-long depressive. I also know a thing or two about down's syndrome individuals, supporting as I do adult students with learning disabilities in the classroom every Thursday. 

Intelligent people have the ability to process more data, particularly of an abstract nature, and with this ability comes increased awareness. And awareness encapsulates the positives and the many negatives that surround us in what is sometimes called the human condition. 

With intelligence can come undesirable side-effects like overthinking, rumination, perfectionism and when the emotional framework within which thoughts occur is disharmonious and upset, for example after experiencing a trauma of some kind, the intensity of those negative thoughts will have a tremendously poor effect on the body's psyche and nervous system. 

It could also be argued that the less mediocre you are, the more gifted and able you are, the harder life gets, the more fierce the competition, the higher the demands placed on you by others as well as your own self and the harder it is to relate to others and make friends because people simply don't get you and won't always respond in a positive way to your unusualness.

With intelligence can come toxic ways of thinking, such as focusing too much on the future with anxiety or too much on the past with regret, and imagination, if used against oneself, can be a mighty enemy. 

The down's syndrome people I support in the classroom overwhelmingly do have sunny and jaunty personalities. They live in the present moment, they are blissfully unaware of planetary and political issues, they do not self-doubt or engage in self-bullying and while they are of course vulnerable to predation they generally lead pretty easy lives with little to no responsibility. 

Ignorance or, rather, nescience is indeed bliss. And responsibility and its attending obligations and duties can be a pain in the butt as far as happiness is concerned. 

The link between intelligence and unhappiness is pretty well established - one need simply take a cursory overview of the lives of great thinkers and artists and see that many of them were replete with agony, pain and neurosis. The cost of genius can be very high indeed. Many others have suffered terribly throughout history on account of poverty and general human cruelty.

My twenties were, generally speaking, a bloody miserable period. After experiencing a series of emotional traumas, I was plagued by self-doubt, low self-confidence, acute awareness of painful and unpleasant realities, fear of the future and others around me, a ridiculously small amount of friends and so on. 

Now in my thirty second year (I'm currently 31) I've never been happier. What did it take to go from unhappiness to happiness?

Largely it took full self-acceptance, getting to know myself and the world around me (I was particularly empowered by the teachings of Mark Passio), learning the value of morality, i.e. going from moral relativism to moral absolutism, getting over intellectual confusion born of a lack of genuine external guidance, using my intelligence creatively on the piano and in the arts, generally not giving a fuck about fitting in or having a job, quieting my critical mind to accept others as they are as well as my own achievements and last, but far from least, losing my social phobia, i.e. unease around people. 

As I've written below on this blog, if neurosis is the enemy, relaxation is the remedy. And to become relaxed you need to accept yourself 100% in all circumstances and banish the nasty habit of negative self-talk. This in itself can take a long time and many hard lessons to achieve. 

Another key element is filtering and selecting who to engage with and what to spend time doing. For example, I banished mainstream television entirely from my life, as well as mainstream radio, and avoid going out to pubs and night clubs and have been very discriminating about who and what I choose to associate with and who and what I choose to avoid, life becoming in effect a constant act of repeated self-therapy.

This is all about learning and becoming who one is. In fact, rather oddly given popular prejudice, reading up on conspiracy research had a wonderfully liberating effect on my psyche, making me realise (real-eyes) once and for all that I was not the problem but that the problems I perceived but couldn't put my finger on had a reason external to myself. Seeing the truth about mind control and the toxic nightmare of mainstream politics helped me liberate myself from those energy-sucking demons. 

Perhaps most helpful of all was heeding Mark Passio's arguably most important teaching; the distinction between love, the force that expands consciousness, and fear, the force that shuts consciousness down. I chose love over fear and immediately reaped the benefits. Fear, when confronted and taken care of, reveals itself to be illusion. In other words, I started listening to what my heart was telling me, after I opened myself up to it, rather than what society's voice in my head was telling me. 
"You shall learn the truth and the truth shall set you free."
"To look into the sickness of the world and one's fellow human beings is a terrible undertaking, but those who do will become well."
"Follow your heart for there lies your treasure." 
I would argue that it was getting to grips with truth, that which is, but really getting to the bottom of it and not what I initially and mistakenly thought it was, that made me become well and happy in the long run and in order to get to grips with truth you need to listen to what your heart tells you so that the head (thoughts), heart (emotions) and guts (action) can finally work as one as part of that unified entity which is the person you really are. 

The path to self-realisation is indeed fraught with pain and difficulty but once you become enlightened and have exorcised all your demons you will experience the tranquil and authentic happiness known as serenity or, in Greek, σωφροσύνη. 



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