I was reading the Tao te Ching yesterday and one of the most profoundly interesting insights I picked up was this:
Have desire, but don’t have desire? Well this is an interesting concept, because to move forward in life you have to be 100% clear on what you want. 100%. At the same time, you must recognise that the manifestation of this is in the grand scheme of things completely fucking irrelevant. Like, it doesn’t actually matter. You can get to this paradigm through gratitude and being grateful for all of the cool shit you already have – and believe me, we all have plenty to be grateful for, and that’s without even mentioning the fact that we live in one of the materially wealthy times in human history – you have to get to that point of inner contentment, recognise what you want and then LET IT GO. You have to get away from that attachment to outcome and like aforementioned, you can kind of get to that mindset through gratitude and inner contentment. What you have is already enough.
‘Never count your money while you’re sitting at the table… the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.’
It may seem pretty contradictory at first to want to ‘win’ without having any desire to ‘win’ but you’ll get the hang of it.
Ultimately, the source of all our daily problems is our delusions such as attachment. We get so attached to the fulfilment of our own wishes, we have perform kinds of non-virtuous actions – actions that harm others. As a result we continually experience various kinds of suffering and miserable conditions in life after life without end. When our wishes are not fulfilled we usually experience unpleasant feelings as unhappiness or depression; this is our own problem because we are so attached to the fulfilment of our wishes. When we lose a close friend, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a lover whatever, we experience pain and unhappiness, but this is only as a result of our attachment to this person. When we lose our possessions, position or reputation we experience unhappiness and depression because we are so attached to these things. If we had no attachment there would be no basis to experience these problems. You have to learn how to enjoy these things purely for what they are in the moment and be grateful for that. You have to appreciate things as they truly are in the moment rather than holding onto a fantasy or desire for people, places, things as you want them to be. Put your wish out there, be grateful, forget about it, move on with your life to whatever is next. It’ll all work out in the end. If it doesn’t and you walk out and get hit by a bus tomorrow morning, then you’ve saved yourself hours of pointless worry and you’ve lost out on nothing in the first place, because you’re dead or at least seriously injured and that will be enough to put into perspective how fucking trivial your wants and desires are in the great scheme of things anyway.
As a special bonus, here’s some outtakes from a great little ebook I’m reading by a gamer nerd about ‘playing to win.’ In any endeavour in life, you have to learn to ‘win’ not just ‘not get beat.’ I remember an old guy I used to work with said to me, and it really stuck with me. We were talking about people who go on protest marches and will often was lyrical about ‘solidarity’ with people who are oppressed. It certainly wasn’t that he was dismissive of the suffering of oppressed people, but he said, ‘People who talk about ‘solidarity’ worry me, you have to learn to win.’ It’s all well and good ‘protesting’ – and what he meant is for a lot of these people, all they want to do IS protest. That’s where it stops. Ultimately, in order to instil change you have to go through the “proper channels” and ‘win.’
‘If you’re gonna play the game boy, you gotta learn to play it right.’
If you look at this just in terms of the people who have brought about the greatest amount of social change and in some cases the greatest amount of social upheaval in the past few decades, they have gone through the status quo, became part of the status quo, then when they’ve got there, they’ve redefined what the status quo actually is in their image, this has been true of everyone from Atlee and Bevan to the neo-liberals of recent years like Thatcher, Blair and now the right-wing capitalist dogmatism of Trump. You don’t beat these people by protesting, you beat them by playing the political game and getting elected so you can instil change. Winning elections has a clearly defined set of rules, it is a GAME. Trump knew this, and a lot of the toxic bile he spewed and continues to spew – I mean, this is a person who isn’t an ideologue, I don’t even know if Trump has a genuine ideology at all – was and is aimed at people who were fucked over by and forgotten about by previous Clinton and Democrat administrations. Trump’s narrative continues to appeal to the voters HE HAS TO HAVE TO WIN. As someone who dislikes Trump, what genuinely concerns me, is that if all the Democrats have to offer are attacks on Trump, which actually feed into the narrative he has perpetuated, then the Democrats are not going to win back over those people in the key states they have to have to win. They are not objectively tackling the reasons people voted for this cocktard or offering anything to these people. Continuous denunciations of Trump and his ridiculous behaviour are not the same thing as winning crucial arguments. You will find that at least 99% of media coverage on Trump essentially amounts to, ‘Wow, Trump is such a fucking dick.’ You will be hard pressed to find anything that would persuade anyone in the key rust-belt states that beyond platitudes on social justice which they have definitely shown they don’t actually give a shit about, they should elect a Democrat instead. I mean, beyond the echo chamber of the internet and echo-chamber of the anti-Trump media, I suspect if an American election was held tomorrow, you’d most likely find Trump wouldn’t be leaving The White House. No-one knows better than a Marxist that when someone is standing at a ballot box, the only question that matters is: WHO AM I GOING TO BE BETTER OFF WITH? So with this in mind: For a voter – and let’s just assume that this person has the best will in the world – and this personal is watching an argument between a reprehensible amoral fuckwit who tells you you’re going to get a new job and a tax break and someone linked with the administration who put you out of a job in the first place, doesn’t offer you a new job or tax break, but does however have better morals than reprehensible amoral fuckwit, and will protest reprehensible amoral reprehensible fuckwit and his kinds behaviour to the nth degree. Who wins?
This is effectively the chode mindset distilled:
Punch through the proverbial wall and aim for success. Just don’t get hung up on the outcome, it doesn’t matter. BE HAPPY, CONTENT, HAVE GRATITUDE FOR WHAT YOU HAVE. Write a list of things you are grateful for and think about all of the things you are grateful for daily.