Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Friday, October 1, 2004day link 

 Out of Control
picture Via Vicky, a quote from Beth Johnson:
When things seem out of control remember that, indeed, they are. It is only the belief that you are ever in control that makes life seem to go awry. The harder you try to rule life, the harder it fights back. Learn to tell the difference between creating in the present and trying to control the future. One feels good, the other bad.
It is quite telling that the people who try the hardest, or even who succeed the most in being in control, are people with personality disorders. Obsessive-compulsive neat-freaks and tyrants and dictators. Seems illogical and even counter-intuitive for us humans. Seems at first glance like it should be a great virtue to be in control of oneself and one's environment.

I suppose it still is, in a sense, but it is important to understand which kind of control is impossible, and which tends to drive us crazy. The quote points it out, for that matter. The time to create is in the present. The only thing you really have control over is what you do right now. And, sure, the better you can be aware of what exactly you're doing here in the present, and why you're doing it, and what you're trying to do, the better you'll probably do.

But you have no real control over what happens in the future. If you do things well in the present you have a whole lot of say as to what directions things go in. But you don't control what actually happens in the future. You might control what direction you're pointed in in the present, but you don't control what exactly happens, and you don't have direct control over where you end up.

You don't control the past either. A lot of our baggage relates to that we're trying to wish the past into being something different than what it was. Our regrets and failures. The things we should have done differently. The actions or results we feel ashamed of. You can't really change any of it. But you CAN change what you feel about it now, what you will learn from the past, and what you actually do right now, and how you create what you want now.

You don't control other people. You can influence them, inspire them, help them, guide them, threaten them, whatever. But if you think you actually directly can control them and their thoughts and emotions and actions, then you're probably a bit psycho. What they actually feel like doing is outside your realm of control.

It is one of those paradoxical things. You of course CAN influence others, and make things happen that you'd like to happen. But the catch is that you can only do that by what you do right here in the present moment. You can be knowledgable and perceptive and do the very best you can. And the better you are at it, the more likely it is that you'll create something like what you had in mind. But you're not in control of it.

And, yes, it feels good to do what we know how to do, what we like to do, what we feel is right right now. And all the other things we try to control typically feel bad. They're the causes of stress. Trying to make sure a certain outcome is guaranteed. Worrying about what other people will think and do. Worrying about what we might have done wrong, or what we might have forgotten about in the past. Worrying about what we might have failed to predict, or what we're failing to predict right now. We might feel it is necessary, but generally those things feel bad and stressful.

What makes it all harder is that our society seems to be structured so as to demand of us to be in control of both our past and future. We will be blamed for the things we do wrong, and for our failure to predict and control what happened. Our lives are full of commitments and accountabilities we can't easily opt out of. You need to pay the rent next month, of course. Your kids need to go to school, of course. You need to have done your taxes right, of course. You needed to have had the right permission to remodel your house. If you do the wrong thing, or say the wrong thing, or don't say the right thing, other people might be very upset with you. There are many things that could ruin your career or your reputation if you do them, or don't do them, or you hide them, or you don't hide them. Most of those things aren't here right now, and don't really have much to do with what you're inspired to be doing right now. But any of them can pop up and bite you at any time, and if you screw them up, everybody can easily agree on what a big idiot you are. So it seems like you have to always try to control all of these factors. Most of which you don't really control.

If we were just living from day to day on a south sea island without an economy, picking fruit off the trees when we were hungry, sleeping when we were sleepy, it would seem much easier. Nothing much to worry about, other than what is here right now. But that isn't how most of of live now. And even if you packed up and moved to Tonga, it probably wouldn't work like that today.

So, is it practical, or is it just a cool self-help thing to tell people to make them not be so stressed?

Well, it is first of all an awareness, I think. Know the difference between what you control and what you don't control. As to the stuff you DO control, try to do it as masterfully and deliberately as you can. Don't wait for somebody else to come and do your part. And for the part which you don't control, relax and be prepared for any outcome. Don't be attached to any one particular outcome. Doesn't mean you can't have preferences, and do certain things to make the more desirable things happen. Just means, do your part, but then let go, and don't be attached to outcomes. Know when your part stops, and it is up to the universe and to other people and to luck to make things happen from there on.

Isn't just a motivational thing to day. I'd say it reveals a key principle in how the universe works. And it provides one of the keys to happiness and success. And it also reveals another of our mental fallacies. I.e. ways we use our abstract thinking faculties to screw ourselves up, because we don't understand them well, and we confuse our thoughts about things with the things themselves.
[ | 2004-10-01 15:38 | 19 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Comment Spam
So, comment spam has begun to be a problem for my blog and for others using my newslog program who have public commenting turned on.

It is obviously automated programs doing it. They're surprisingly clever and circumventing the most obvious ways one would recognize them. But at the same time making mistakes that humans wouldn't do. Poster name or comment filled in as 'room' or 'site', for example. Which gives us a clue that somebody has written a spam program directed at chat rooms or forums. Which is flexible enough to work on blogs too, and figure out what fields to fill in.

Anyway, I've put up several lines of defense now, so let's see if they can get through that.

First I set up a blacklist for IPs. That has limited effectiveness because they manage to post the same spam from a bunch of different rather unrelated IPs. So either the IPs are completely spoofed, or it is done by programs installed by viruses on unsuspecting people's windows computers.

Then, to hinder that a program simply posts the data, without coming from my form, I check the referring page. Oh, easy for them to fake that, so that doesn't guarantee anything either.

Then I put a couple of extra fields in my form which are unique every time, and which both need to be given back, and need to fulfill certain criteria.

I can think of several more things to do, but let's see if that does it first. I'm trying to avoid forcing that one has to register to comment, or that one has to solve puzzles every time or something.

Anyway, it is probably safe to turn public commenting back on.
[ | 2004-10-01 23:59 | 36 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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