The radiant smile marathon is an experiment to determine how much the physical body can be influenced by controlling the emotions. When people talk about 'controlling emotions' usually they mean 'suppressing emotions'. The radiant smile marathon is the opposite to this, and it involves stimulating emotions, in particular the smiling chemicals that are released when you smile.
Emotions differ from thoughts in that they 'real' involving powerful chemicals which have a profound influence on both mind and body. Thoughts are merely tiny electrical impulses in between neurons or in nerve fibers. They are no more 'real' than the images on your hard drive.
So, emotions are more powerful than thoughts, which is why people do all kinds of crazy things they cognitively know they should not. Yet, thoughts do have one big advantage of emotions, and that is they control the flow of information. Almost every impulse (some instinctive movements and programed reflexes work from the spinal cord) from your nerves goes to your brain first for interpretation.
My hypothesis is that the emotions can fooled by changing the interpretation that the brain makes. In this case, I am continually telling my emotions that everything is really fantastic and I do this by continually smiling to myself.
I am good subject for this because I had an unhappy childhood. Now people with unhappy childhoods have as an emotional default that is a rather depressed condition. Unless, something happens to make them happy they tend to be miserable. I have always been like that. So, I want to change my emotional default from depressed to cheerful. True, I am faking something, but then there is no reason why I should endlessly suffer for something that happened decades ago and has no particular relevance to my life today.
What I am interested to see now is just how long one's emotional memory really is. Cognitively I remember a vast amount of details of early life, but do my emotions really remember anything for the past at all?
Yesterday, after 22 days of continually smiling to myself from waking to sleeping I was able to notice a change. Before sleeping my body felt really good like I had had a happy in the country with friends I had fooled my emotions! They had fallen for my continual smiling and so acted as though something really good had happened. How much longer do I need to go before my default emotional signature changes completely?
There are profound implications to my work. Thoughts are weak by nature which is why people seldom act on their good ideas. Emotions though are much more active and barrier between 'feeling' and 'doing' is much weaker than the barrier between 'thinking' and 'doing'. How much I can boost my overall physical performance in this way is what I hope to establish once and for all.
Is the world ‘real’ or an illusion? I think the problem is the ‘’either, or’’ structure of this question. As far as I can see both are true. The natural world is certainly seems real enough and years of exhaustive scientific observation tend to reinforce this. However, the way we experience the outside world is through the medium of a perceptual matrix that is certainly not real. The world is made of particles that contain immerse energy and that energy is what powers the universe. Our sensations and thoughts contain very little energy, none of which is their own as they rely on the chemical battery that our internal organs provide.
A simulation is just an a language, animated map or blue print really and is only of value if it faithfully reproduces the key structural points of the reality it simulates. That is the difference between a game and a sim. In game you can land a 747 on a 50 foot runaway at 1000 miles an hour, but in pilot training simulation clearly you cannot. Fantasies and dreams are even further from reality than games as they have obey no rules at all.
Our cognitive consciousness also relies on a map of reality, but this map has a long provenance and has evolved over billions of years to provide a very close fit to the reality it describes. That is why we can move around with confidence and even with the help of a little algebra discover the secrets of science.
This sounds simple, but there is more to it than this. Thoughts and sensations are principally electrical, but our emotions are distinctly chemical. Thoughts and sensations have no power of their own they are just tiny electrical impulses. The sensation of pain is nothing itself, but the reaction it triggers from my emotions is very real indeed. It is the chemistry that makes emotions real as chemical are made from high energy particles not just flickers of power in a cable. Our intelligence lies in our thoughts, our power lies in our chemistry.
To sum up: we have a physical reality outside and an emotional reality inside. These two are connected by a virtual interface which is a near perfect simulation of physical reality. So, what does this mean? Ultimate reality for us is chemical, because this what our feelings are made from, and feelings are what define our personal reality - you are what you feel. Physical reality only matters to us as a stimulant to our internal chemistry. What about you if stimulate the chemistry yourself by faking the sensory sensations you wish to experience? The entertainment and pharmaceutical industries provide various proxy sensations, entertainments stimulates through the senses and drugs directly alter the chemistry. These techniques have their advantages and disadvantages, and will no doubt will be eternally popular.
This hypothesis explains much as to the human dilemma: we have two very different realities, the physical and the emotional that must be reconciled. Cognitive thought is sandwiched delicately in-between these sometimes opposing realities. It has little direct effect on either as it is only a ‘map’ not a true reality in itself. This brings us to the question of will power, what is will power, is it a thought or an emotion, a reality or simulation? Viewed from the inside it appears to me that will power be can stimulated by a thought, but is maintained by an emotion called determination. Determination is definitely a feeling not a thought, though it is normally aroused by thinking. This is something everyone should experiment with themselves. The easier way to test will power is to do something you find very difficult and refuse to give up. How do you do that? You remind yourself of what you are attempting and why you are attempting it. This must be done in an internal language that is guarantee to raise the right emotional response. This is commonly called self-motivation, but you could call it self-exaggeration. Say someone feels they have been wronged and wish for revenge. To make their resolution real, they must stimulate anger. So they make an internal story that constantly reminds them of bad treatment they have received. Adrenaline levels go up and the person feels strong, brave and ready to revenge themselves. Now I use revenge as an example because it is simple and dramatic, though most times it is counterproductive, but it is possible to stimulate positive emotions in exactly the same way and this is what enlightenment is all about.
Be warned messing with your emotions is dangerous. Our emotions are supposed to be reactions to real events, like sensations, you are not supposed to feel pleasure or pain unless there is a genuine cause for these feelings and the same is true of happiness and sadness. You can’t us go around being happy all the time for no reason! Messing with your emotional responses can damage the delicate link between reality and cognition, you might lose your grip on reality altogether. This doesn’t mean you can’t engineer your emotions, but it does mean you cannot do it casually. Actually, it is possible to have a strong sense of inner well-being without going crazy – people who have had good childhoods often do it all their lives. In childhood we set our ‘default’ emotional signature (this being overall way we feel when not specifically stimulated.) People who have had happy childhoods have a ‘fund’ of inner happiness, and so these individuals feel happy unless there is a reason to be unhappy. The reverse is true for people with unhappy childhoods, they tend to feel unhappy unless there is something in particular to be happy about.
Now, in truth there is no reason why we should go on being affected endlessly by our childhood’s emotional polarity for our entire lives. Does it really matter what happened to you decades ago? Of course not, memories are less ‘real’ than thoughts. Contemporaneous thoughts can be checked against reality, memories mostly cannot be verified and over the years tend to gain a life of their own with some facts exaggerated and others suppressed. This is why we go to such enormous trouble to document things, memory, in particular personal memories of emotionally charged events cannot be relied upon. With a lot of effort you may be able to piece something together from your childhood memories that makes sense and is reasonably close to the actual events. I’ve done my best to evaluate my childhood and its probably a pretty fair representation, but was it really worth the effort? As a mental exercise yes, and it is good to know your provenance as is one the main ways you affirm your reality. In terms of helping in my life today I don’t think it is much use at all. Having once assessed your childhood you might was well forget about it and free up some consciousness to deal with contemporary matters that need attention.
So, let’s deal with the people with unhappy childhoods first as they need the help more. In fact, for evolving consciousness, having had an unhappy childhood can be an advantage as it easier to forget something disagreeable. As previously stated, those who have had unhappy childhoods always tend to be unhappy, unless there is something in particular to be happy about. This makes them prone to constantly seeking artificial stimulation, artificial stimulation is always subject to the laws of diminishing returns, so you have to try harder and harder to get the same buzz and the life of the individual becomes an emotional treadmill. To correct this, we must change the ‘emotional signature’ from unhappy to happy. This is done by constantly stimulating happy feelings using just the power of the mind. Although thoughts are merely a language have little power they are linked to our glands and the glands produce emotions, emotion which are ‘real’ in that they directly effect both the inner and outer life of a person. This is the very hard work believe me, to constantly force yourself to feel good, unless of course there is something major you really should worry about. You have fight yourself as well, because it feels unnatural, like you are cheating or something, but it is your life, your emotions, and thoughts, your personal sovereignty.
While memory stretches back far into the past, it is only the last few months that really matter. Take someone who is doing fine, but suddenly and unjustly gets thrown into prison, their life ruined, friends, family desert them. How does it take before the new life they are exposed to overshadows the old they have come from? Not long at all, soon the old life begins to seem dreamlike and irrelevant and the scrabble to survive becomes the only reality. The same is true if after while they are cleared of all charges and suddenly released. They won’t forget being incarcerated, but its effect on them will decrease rapidly. Talking to friends over a good meal about your sufferings past is a lot less stressful than experiencing them for real. Now, personally I don’t like talking about anything unpleasant that happened to me without a specific reason. I know it can feel cathartic at the time, but in the longer term it merely serves to remind you of something you would do better to forget. People say life is a great teacher and stress the value learning by experience. I am not denying the need to watch out for history repeating itself, but I am questioning how often this really happens. Times are unique, and we cannot rely on lessons learned from the past to deal with future. In fact, trying to make the future fit the past, is something that whole societies engage in purely to their detriment. The laws of probability are only reliable when applied to random events, human history is about as far from random as you can get. Yet, governments, banks, corporations all try to impose the probable on the improbable which makes an awful mess.