Daily (Semi) Ratspression™: Lexicoether

Today’s “word” from RatBlurt’s Ridictionary™: For When “Normal” Words Fail You.

lexicoether noun \lehx ee koe `ee thur

  1. The unseen, intangible medium in which all words known (and unknown) to humans reside in alphabetical order or some other systematical arrangement.

Etymology: lexicon + ether

To view the entire blog where this word first appeared, see “The Ignominious Obscurity of Quondamnastic Vernacularisms” (March 19, 2016).

Example: “Even in the face of the overwhelming evidence that the last thing we need is more words, I keep thinking of the second meaning of today’s term and cannot resist adding yet more words to the lexicoether.”

Doctor Samuel Johnson ?1772 by Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723-1792
Doctor Samuel Johnson 1772 Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723-1792 Purchased 1871 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N00887

While the format of these “words” for the day mimics that of dictionaries, unless you have been reading my blog RatBlurt™, you won’t find these terms anywhere—at least not yet. It is my fervent and extremely ridiculous hope that these terms will one day grace the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary. So, if the source of these fictords [fictitious words] is a dictionary, which it is not, it would be a ridiculous dictionary, hence the made-up name “Ridictionary™” [ridiculous dictionary].

How to Be Happy Lesson #10: What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

So, I’ve been spending all this time researching (ha) and regaling you (ha again) with tales of what happiness is and how others recommend reaching that state and there’s been no need. Apparently, all we have to do to feel joyful and complete is tune in to the right wavelength. There’s more than one, actually, and they’re called the Solfeggio frequencies. Here’s a brief introduction, provided by the Power Thoughts Meditation Club:

Vibration is everything. And every vibration has its own frequency. By exposing the mind and body to the Solfeggio frequencies, you can easily achieve a greater sense of balance and deep healing. The Solfeggio frequencies align you with the rhythms and tones that form the basis of the Universe. Long associated with meditation music the Solfeggio frequencies are reputed to be the original frequencies used by the Gregorian Monks when they chanted in meditation. The chant, based on the original six notes (396hz – 417hz – 528hz – 639hz – 741hz – 852hz), penetrates deep into the conscious and subconscious mind, drawing forth emotional reactions which we are sometimes unable to completely control.

1280px-Czestosciomierz-49.9Hz

The Solfeggio tones, I’m told by the PTMC, have separate, distinct benefits:

  • 174 Hz – A natural anesthetic that removes physical pain; also motivates your organs to do their best by giving them a sense of security, safety, and love.
  • 285 Hz – Useful for treating wounds, cuts, burns, or any other form of damaged tissue because of its amazing ability to remember what should be and return cells to their original form.
  • 396 Hz – Cleanses the feeling of guilt; can also be used as a means of grounding, awakening, sobering, and returning to reality.
  • 467 Hz – Deletes a person’s “alienation from God” and enables a return to the “right path”; also cleanses traumatic experiences and clears the destructive influences of past events.
  • 528 Hz – Returns human DNA to its original, perfect state; provides an increased amount of life energy, clarity of mind, awareness, awakened creativity, and ecstatic states like inner peace, dance, and celebration.
  • 639 Hz – Enables harmonious community and interpersonal relationships by enhancing communication, understanding, tolerance, and love.
  • 741 Hz – Cleans toxins from cells and leads to a healthier, simpler life; also leads diet toward foods that are not poisoned by toxins and cleans cells of electromagnetic radiation.
  • 852 Hz – Directly connected to the third-eye chakra and can be used to awaken inner strength and self-realization; dissolves stagnant mental energy from overthinking.
  • 963 Hz – Awakens any system to its original, perfect state.

Wow. Who knew? I think this may not only be the way to happiness but immortality to boot.

If you’re thinking oh, great, this all sounds lovely but now I have to learn how to hum at specific frequencies or buy some fancy sound generator from Sharper Image, you’d be wrong. You could do those things, of course, but why go to that trouble when you can get a set of Solfeggio tuning forks from Amazon for a mere $139.95. Or you can go cheaper and get the “Solfeggio Frequencies – The Ancient Sacred Harmonics with Brainwave Entrainment and Isochronic Tones” CD for just $16.99.

I think I will have to go with the tuning forks since the last time I checked myself for brainwaves they were conspicuous in their absence and thus untrainable. All I need to do to fix that, it seems, is pick up a 963 Hz tuning fork, tap it lightly against a hard surface to start it vibrating, and then insert the stem slightly into one of my ears. If these blogs suddenly get more coherent, more astute, and more interesting and entertaining, you’ll know it worked.

Daily (Semi) Ratspression™: Legosity

Today’s “word” from RatBlurt’s Ridictionary™: For When “Normal” Words Fail You.

legosity noun \leh `gah sih tee

  1. A natural inclination or innate or inherent desire to have a lasting influence on people, places, and/or things.

Etymology: legacy + propensity

To view the entire blog where this word first appeared, see “Nobody Nose the Trouble I’ve Seen” (August 8, 2015).

Example: “I have, I admit, lower aspirations for my legosity.”

800px-Artificial_nose,_17th-18th_century._(9663809400)

While the format of these “words” for the day mimics that of dictionaries, unless you have been reading my blog RatBlurt™, you won’t find these terms anywhere—at least not yet. It is my fervent and extremely ridiculous hope that these terms will one day grace the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary. So, if the source of these fictords [fictitious words] is a dictionary, which it is not, it would be a ridiculous dictionary, hence the made-up name “Ridictionary™” [ridiculous dictionary].

How to Be Happy Lesson #9: I Am Epicurius Fellow

Hoo hum, another ancient Greek who knew how to be happy. This one is Epicurus (341-270 BCE), a philosopher and scientist (weren’t they all?). Epicurus would have fit in quite well with the humanists today as he took an empiricist view of knowledge and a naturalistic view of evolution. He also described everything in nature as consisting of atoms (one of the first to do so).

Regarding happiness, he advocated what many people then may have considered radical, not to mention many people today. Here’s a capsule description from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

He [Epicurus] believed that…he could disprove the possibility of the soul’s survival after death, and hence the prospect of punishment in the afterlife. He regarded the unacknowledged fear of death and punishment as the primary cause of anxiety among human beings, and anxiety in turn as the source of extreme and irrational desires. The elimination of the fears and corresponding desires would leave people free to pursue the pleasures, both physical and mental, to which they are naturally drawn, and to enjoy the peace of mind that is consequent upon their regularly expected and achieved satisfaction.

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“Of course I’m still happy. My toes never get cold here.”

In terms of his life philosophy, Big E was a hedonist, writing that “pleasure is our first and kindred good. It is the starting point of every choice and of every aversion, and to it we always come back, inasmuch as we make feeling the rule by which to judge of every good thing.” But don’t get too excited by this. As the POT (Pursuit of Happiness) history tells us, “his view of pleasure is far from the stereotypical one”:

For Epicurus, the most pleasant life is one where we abstain from unnecessary desires and achieve an inner tranquility by being content with simple things, and by choosing the pleasure of philosophical conversation with friends over the pursuit of physical pleasures like food, drink, and sex.

Hmmm. That raises a number of questions. First, if he believes we should abstain from pursuing gustatory delights, why did he allow a fabulous foody website to be named after him? If you ask me, “Our 41 Most Comforting Noodle Soups” sounds like a surefire path to joy and contentment.

Second, how do we elevate our conversation, which, at least in this country, hovers around the level of “Kate vs. Meghan: Princesses at War?” to arguing the merits of Thomism versus those of the logical positivists? The only way I can see this happening is if all media stations and websites suddenly change their programming to something like an endless loop of Joseph Campbell documentaries or Sister Wendy art reviews.

Epicurus would assert that the only way to lasting happiness is to be independent of all external things. If you put stock in “unnecessary pleasures” like chicken noodle soup (now there’s an unexpected pun), “you will be 1) upset when you lose these things, 2) anxious to obtain them, and 3) continually pushed onwards towards greater luxuries and hence greater anxiety and disappointment.”

In his favor, Epicurus valued friendship and socialization highly as a way to find happiness. However, his ideal society is one that eschews crass physical pleasures. I think he’s wrong there. So, here is How to Be Happy Lesson #9: Whenever possible, invite friends over for conversation and noodle soup. After all, this is one instance where you can have food for thought and eat it [the soup, that is], too.

(Image: Dante Alighieri meets Epicurus in his Inferno in the Sixth Circle of Hell, where he and his followers are imprisoned in flaming coffins for having believed that the soul dies with the body, shown here in an illustration by Gustave Doré.)

How to Be Happy Lesson #8: Had We But World Enough, and Time

Just a moment ago I had this thought: Wow, I seem to have a huge group of people following my lead and jumping on the well-being bandwagon, offering their own happistructions. I felt flattered—for an instant. I felt important—for an eyeblink. I then came to my senses in about the same space of time. And that, ta-dum!, is the segue into today’s exploration of internal joy. Specifically, it is “Time for Happiness.” So sayeth Harvard Business Review author Ashley Whillans.

Ashley wants us to know “why the pursuit of money isn’t bringing you joy—and what will.” Here’s the unhappy news: “No matter what the outcome of our efforts, we all feel increasingly strapped for time, and often the things that we think will make us happy—the accomplishments we work so hard for—don’t.” Ashley cites a Gallup poll of 2.5 million Americans in which eighty percent of those surveyed felt they “did not have enough time to do all they wanted each day.” This feeling is known as “time poverty,” and those who feel “time-poor experience lower levels of happiness and higher levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.”

Andrew_Marvell_Sketch

The concept of time poverty is not new. The reason I know this comes courtesy of Andrew Marvell, an English author and politician who lived in the mid-1600s. My title phrase here—”Had We But World Enough, and Time”—is the opening of Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress.” In it, the narrator complains that his love object is not giving in to his amorances [amorous advances]. He tells her that he would love to spend “a hundred years” complimenting her eyes and her breasts (yes, he says this: “adore each breast”) and then devote thirty thousand years to praising the rest of her body (and, we hope, her mind and personality somewhere in there). The trouble is, he (we assume) tells us, “But at my back I always hear/Time’s winged chariot hurrying near,/And yonder all before us lie/Deserts of vast eternity.” This guy is trying to convince the Coy Mistress that “carpe dick,” if you’ll excuse my Norwegian, is the only way to live: “Though we cannot make our sun/stand still, yet we will make him run.” No word on if she bought any of this.

The concept of time poverty also offers us yet another example of the Enervation Enigma: Humans know what’s wrong with humans; they just don’t have a clue how to fix themselves and even if they did, the effort would take hard thinking, force them to be honest with themselves, and make them miss Dancing with the Stars. Inconceivable!

If we thought about it (and there’s the rub), fixing the time deficit is not all that difficult. Ashley, our HBR author, puts it simply:

Just like Adam [her example case], most of us fall into a trap of spending time to get money, because we believe money will make us happier in the long run. Our thinking is backward. In fact, research consistently shows that the happiest people use their money to buy time.

After breaking down why we tend to value money over time, Ashley tells us we should do the opposite because 1) time yields happiness, 2) time is social, and 3) a focus on time builds more-rewarding careers. Then (finally!) she offers what we, okay I, have been looking for throughout her long article: a how-to list. (I feel better just reading it—see Lesson #7.) Here is her prescription*:

  1. Personal Activities
    1. Plan your future time.
    2. Be more active.
    3. Spend more time eating (that is, take more time to eat).
    4. Meet new people and help others.
    5. Spend more time experiencing awe.
    6. Take more vacation time.
  2. Buying Time
    1. Outsource your chores.
    2. Choose wisely when outsourcing (keep the things you like to do)
    3. Do less comparison shopping (I’ve got this one down cold)
    4. Buy better time (use it doing things that make you happy)
  3. Work Activities
    1. Buy back your commute time.
    2. Ask for more time.

Hmmm. While I like to-do lists, I’m not particularly fond of long to-do lists. I think I will go with Andrew Marvell’s pithy suggestion instead. So, here’s How to Be Happy: Lesson #8: “Now let us sport while we may.” What could be easier than that?

 

*It goes without saying, although I’m saying it, that Ashley’s list will probably come across as presumptuous, tone-deaf twaddle for anyone who doesn’t live in a wealthier, first-world nation. The final advice to “Now let us sport while we may,” I hope, will be useful to everyone everywhere.

Daily (Semi) Ratspression™: Lazard

Today’s “word” from RatBlurt’s Ridictionary™: For When “Normal” Words Fail You.

lazard noun \`laah zerd

  1. One who tends to be slow to act, move, follow, or respond due to an intense dislike of and aversion to physical and/or mental exertion.

Etymology: lazy + laggard

To view the entire blog where this word first appeared, see “Gullible’s Travels” (April 6, 2016).

Example: “The first reason, psychology tells us, is that we are “cognitive misers,” in other words mental lazards.”

Laputa_-_Grandville

While the format of these “words” for the day mimics that of dictionaries, unless you have been reading my blog RatBlurt™, you won’t find these terms anywhere—at least not yet. It is my fervent and extremely ridiculous hope that these terms will one day grace the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary. So, if the source of these fictords [fictitious words] is a dictionary, which it is not, it would be a ridiculous dictionary, hence the made-up name “Ridictionary™” [ridiculous dictionary].

How to Be Happy: Make a List? (Lesson #7?)

What would we do without lists? Right? It occurred to me at this moment that I have been struggling to understand (and pass on) the definitions of happiness provided by “great thinkers” and their guidelines for achieving it. Why am I going to all this trouble? There are so many others out there who have paved the way before me and, better yet, numbered their solutions. Here’s a short list (ha!) of what’s out there:

  • How to Be Happy: 7 Steps to Becoming a Happier Person
  • How to Be Happy (with Pictures) [and numbered steps]
  • 10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Incredibly Happy
  • How to Be Happy: 23 Ways to be Happier
  • 10 Ways to Be Happier
  • How to Be Happy: 25 Science-Backed Ways
  • 20 Hard Things You Need to Do to Be Happy
  • 9 Ways on How to Be Happy (and Live) Alone

I’m a little disconcerted to see that no one seems to agree on how many steps are involved in attaining true bliss. But I’m even more curious at this moment as to what attracts us to lists as a way to solve problems and improve our lives. Fortunately, I don’t have to think up an answer here either, thanks to Maria Konnikova and her New Yorker article “A List of Reasons Why Our Brains Love Lists.” She notes first that there’s a moniker for the types of articles listed (double ha!) above: “listicles.” Such an article, she writes, “has several features that make it inherently captivating.” And here’s that list (enough with the ha-ing, already):

  • The headline catches our eye
  • It positions its subject in a preexisting category and classification system (“talented animals,” for example)
  • It spatially organizes the information
  • It promises a story that is finite

“Together,” she explains, “these create an easy reading experience, in which the heavy mental lifting of conceptualization, categorization, and analysis is completed well in advance of actual consumption—a bit like sipping green juice instead of munching on a bundle of kale.” I couldn’t have said it better. No, really. I couldn’t have.

According to Maria, we like lists because our brains naturally process information spatially and because we like to categorize things. The key to our “listraction,” however, is that lists help eliminate the “paradox of choice.” Simply put, we don’t like to make choices and we like it increasingly less as the number of choices increases. As the author notes, “[Two psychologists] concluded that we feel better when the amount of conscious work we have to do in order to process something is reduced; the faster we decide on something, whether it’s what we’re going to eat or what we’re going to read, the happier we become.” The appeal of a list, then, is that “we think we know what we’re in for, and that certainty is both alluring and reassuring.”

Well, there it is. Today’s lesson on how to be happy is “narrow your choices and/or make decisions quickly.” I just tried this, and it works really well. I said to myself, “Self, would you like salad or pizza for dinner?” If I let myself get mired in a long discussion about the health benefits of leafy greens versus the hedonistic pleasures of extra cheese, I would soon be deciding on breakfast, not dinner. I didn’t let that happen. Instead, I flipped a coin. Heads: salad. Tails: pizza. Tails. Wow, that was easy, and I feel great and guilt-free.

What’s that? No, I did not keep flipping the coin to get the “right” call. I did not. Nope. And I’m really hurt that you could even think such a thing.

P.S. Maria Konnikova has written a book titled Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. I’m tempted to buy it, but I just can’t decide. Thinking like Sherlock seems like soooo much work. If she’d only called it Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes in 10 Easy Steps.

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“Elementary, my dear Watson. First…”

Daily (Semi) Ratspression™: Lardening

Today’s “word” from RatBlurt’s Ridictionary™: For When “Normal” Words Fail You.

lardening noun \`lahr dih ning

  1. The act or process of growing hard or the state of being hard caused by the ingestion of too much cake frosting (note: not the buttercream kind but the other kind).

Etymology: lard + hardening

To view the entire blog where this word first appeared, see “Cake” (April 2, 2012).

Example: “Our lard cake is not the real one, just a birthday cake from Publix with the frosting which, when eaten, approximates the “lardening of the arteries” brought on, one would think, by actual lard.”

Girls_with_birthday_cake._Postcard_from_1920

While the format of these “words” for the day mimics that of dictionaries, unless you have been reading my blog RatBlurt™, you won’t find these terms anywhere—at least not yet. It is my fervent and extremely ridiculous hope that these terms will one day grace the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary. So, if the source of these fictords [fictitious words] is a dictionary, which it is not, it would be a ridiculous dictionary, hence the made-up name “Ridictionary™” [ridiculous dictionary].

How to Be Happy: Lesson #6

For Lesson #6 on how to be happy, we’re back with the ancient Greeks, and this time a really, really big one: Aristotle. When he was not thinking about being happy, Ari was busy pondering and writing about logic, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, biology, ethics, politics, agriculture, medicine, dance, and theater. What, no time for doing the limbo or fox tossing or octopus wrestling or throwing oranges at naked men? Slouch!

Anyway, let’s ignore Ari’s gazillion other brilliant accomplishments and focus on his role as a happadvocate. To be brief, Aristotle believed in happiness as the ultimate purpose of human existence. As the Pursuit of Happiness website folks tell us, Ari came to this conclusion while writing his Nicomachean Ethics (ten books—yikes!). Put simply (by POH), “It is easy to see that we desire money, pleasure, and honor [not in all cases, obviously] only because we believe that these goods will make us happy. It seems that all other goods are a means toward obtaining happiness, while happiness is an end in itself.”

The fly in the ointment of our happiness, it seems, is that we humans in general and Americans in particular have the wrong idea about what happiness is. We think it’s a subjective state of mind, as for example when a conference speaker says something like “I’m happy to be here” or, more likely, “I’m happy to beer here.” But for Aristotle, “happiness is a final end or goal that encompasses the totality of one’s life. It is not something that can be gained or lost in a few hours, like pleasurable sensations.” In short, Ari believed it impossible to pronounce someone as happy at any moment before his or her final one.

Ari also had a dim view of instant gratification. “The mass of mankind,” he says, “are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts.” Ouch. The POH article on Aristotle goes into loving detail about all the aspects of his view of happiness, but as soon as my brain began to ache (not long, believe me), I did what most of us do when confronted with a thorny intellectual discussion: cut to the chase, otherwise known as skimming.

And now for the chase. What is happiness according to Ari and POH?

  • Happiness is the ultimate end and purpose of human existence.
  • Happiness is not pleasure, nor is it virtue. It is the exercise of virtue.
  • Happiness cannot be achieved until the end of one’s life. Hence it is the goal and not a temporary state.
  • Happiness is the perfection of human nature. Since man is a rational animal, human happiness depends on the exercise of his/her reason.
  • Happiness depends on acquiring a moral character [uh oh], where one displays the virtues of courage, generosity, justice, friendship, and citizenship in one’s life. These virtues involve striking a balance or “mean” between an excess and a deficiency.
  • Happiness requires intellectual contemplation, for this is the ultimate realization of our rational capacities.

While typing these things, this thought crossed my mind: “Would Aristotle still believe that happiness cannot be gained from fleeting pleasurable sensations if he had access to lemon cupcakes?” Speaking from very recent experience, I think not.

LemonCupcake6So, what is the how-to-be-happy lesson here? It seems, in this context, we have two options. One, spend a lifetime trying to apply Aristotle’s instructions for achieving happiness and then die and not even have the satisfaction of knowing if you were pronounced happy or not. Two, eat lemon cupcakes. If you choose Option Two, be sure to save the containers. Put instructions in your will that when you move beyond the pale (or is it pail? I never remember), your lifelong collection of cupcake containers must be stacked up in the viewing room or chapel or pub or wherever people gather to remember you somewhere near your remains, ashes, or photographic likeness. When people take in this overwhelming evidence of how well you lived up to your full potential as a human being, how could they doubt that you had achieved true happiness? Even Aristotle would agree. After all, didn’t he say, “A small cake with the bottom wrapped in wax paper and the top frosted is more than the sum of its parts”? I’m sure he did.

Daily (Semi) Ratspression™: Laconiosness

Today’s “word” from RatBlurt’s Ridictionary™: For When “Normal” Words Fail You.

laconiosness noun \lak cah knee `ohs nus

  1. Also (like “laconicity), the quality or state of being spoken, written, or expressed with Spartan brevity.

Etymology: laconic + -ness [state, condition, quality, degree]

To view the entire blog where this word first appeared, see “Let’s Hear It for Laconiosness” (July 30, 2013).

Example: “Being of Scandinavian descent, I admire Joe for reaching the pinnacle of laconiosness.”

Georg_Decker_Joseph_II
George Decker’s Painting of Emperor Joseph II

While the format of these “words” for the day mimics that of dictionaries, unless you have been reading my blog RatBlurt™, you won’t find these terms anywhere—at least not yet. It is my fervent and extremely ridiculous hope that these terms will one day grace the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary. So, if the source of these fictords [fictitious words] is a dictionary, which it is not, it would be a ridiculous dictionary, hence the made-up name “Ridictionary™” [ridiculous dictionary].