Serious amusement

Serious amusement

I’ve read a lot of books on spirituality, self-help, personal development and general self-do-goodery recently. I guess it’s because my thirtieth birthday looms and I’m still bemused as to why I’m not yet fully enlightened. Yet the reason why I bring this up is not to give myself an anti-enlightened self-flagellation, but instead to wonder whether these ‘improving’ books compound rather than aid the suffering. The reason — most of these books lack one of life’s greatest improvers — humour. In fact, I’ve got the feeling that many of these books that profess to be filled with inner-wisdom serve only to to compound my seriousness, even grumpiness, as I try to better myself.

I’ve looked back over these Simpletom articles and realised, despite the fact that I’ve enjoyed the writing and compiling, that they’re missing humour. And that writing something funny, as well as reading it, is one of the most fundamental ways to achieve what I am searching for, namely contentment and peace through simplicity. I wrote an article for Max Gladwell the other day, and it dramatially improved my mood, merely because it enabled me to be somewhat lighthearted. A simple remedy.

Compare Deprak Chopra with Bill Bryson, Ekhart Tolle with Douglas Adams – I think the latters have actually improved my life a little more. I’m not for a moment suggesting that Deprak and Ekhart and other scrabble-winningly named authors aren’t extremely wise and wonderful individuals, even occasionally funny –  but instead, their writings can leave people a little serious or over-zealous.

After all, the great Dalai Lama manages to be deeply funny and cheeky, whilst also being sincere and profoundly wise at the same time. Humour is perhaps hard to handle when you’re talking ‘deep shit’, but I’ve got a feeling that those who can juggle the two benefit the most and that many self-helpers miss this phenomena as they preach.

So, without further ado, I will try to lighten up my posts and add some humour and even, god forbid, some flippancy, without loosing too much of the sentiment and solidity. Feel free to call me out if I descend into banality, or if my jokes leave a little to be desired and I shall straighten up my tie, remove the squirting flower from my lapel, and rename myself Tomzecq.

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4 thoughts on “Serious amusement

  1. Interesting that you say, “…wonder whether these ‘improving’ books compound rather than aid the suffering”.

    I like your ponderings as to the absence of humour. But I wonder if the reason “self-help” does not actually help, is because “self-help” is essentially “backarsewards”.

    My own philosophical and spiritual view, is that our ever-increasing focus on Self is actually the fundamental problem with humanity. It’s all about ME.

    If I’m correct, then I wonder… how can adding even more emphasis on “Self”, through the plethora of “self-help” books, manuals, tapes, teachings, seminars (all at a cost, of course… funny about that!?!) ever really do anything positive? It’s only increasing Self-obsessive behaviour.

    I reckon the best, most effective “Self-help” anyone can get is to learn how to self-deny… how to give, love, think of others first, and Self last.

    Imagine a world full of.. not Self-ish people… but humble, giving people, who care nothing for Self. Who only ever care for how they can serve, give, and help… how they can “Love their neighbour” 😉

    I’d like to live in a world like that. Sounds like “heaven” to me.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more Colin. Selflessness and humour – a powerful combination. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

    If people realise that giving is a greater way of receiving, perhaps they can still be as obsessive about the self, but their actions would appear selfless. If self-obsession is inevitable, at least that would be a step in the right direction!

  3. On a spiritual level, I find it exciting that we’ve been pondering such similar thoughts, at the same time, in recent months.

    On July 14 I blogged “Guaranteed Success?” –

    “I Don’t Know why we strive after hollow successes.
    I do know, unselfishness always wins as it has nothing to lose.
    I am going to enjoy the blue sky this afternoon.”

    On Aug 10, “Who$ Really Helped?” –

    “I Don’t Know why we enrich Self-help gurus.
    I do know, a world centred on Self needs tearing down, not building up.
    I am going to enjoy an overdue shave.”

    On Aug 14,”Sidewalk Mansions?” –

    “I Don’t Know how we can be so Self-centred.
    I do know, our sidewalk collection waste would be third world mansions.
    I am not going to enjoy driving home again today.”

    To explain that last post, here “Down Under” we have local council waste collection days every few months… where councils send trucks to collect large household waste that won’t fit in standard “wheelie” bins.

    I find it heartbreaking to look at all kinds of furniture, white goods, building materials, etc etc ad nauseum, piled high on the sidewalks the day before collection. Our “keeping up with the Joneses” waste really would make for mansions in the eyes of someone in the third world… or even to many homeless people in our own backyards.

    Which I feel is further evidence for my basic point – that Self(ishness) is the root problem in the world.

    I think it was Henry Thoreau who famously said, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root”.

    I respectfully disagree with you Tom, when you say that, “If people realise that giving is a greater way of receiving, perhaps they can still be as obsessive about the self, but their actions would appear selfless. If self-obsession is inevitable…”

    I don’t see any reason why self-obsession should be inevitable. It is a habit. A habitual choice, in fact… to put Self first, others second.

    Habits can be broken… if a person is shown a better way, the virtues of making a better choice, and encouraged to pursue it.

    I’d also suggest that “good” “appearances” don’t convince anyone. Not in a lasting way. Mere tokenism / symbolism is inherently unsatisfying to the soul.

    We all know, deep down, when we are really just going through the motions, putting on appearances. Even this is just another form of Selfishness too, when you think about it… we put on appearances (in lieu of a True change of heart and mind) for the purpose of making ourSelves appear better to others, to increase our reputation or Self-image.

    Let us rather help people to see, that the only way to find true happiness, contentment, and lasting “self”-fulfilment… is lose ones-Self completely. To choose the benefit of others, before any benefit to Self.

    With Self left behind, there is nothing to lose.. the whole universe is ours to embrace and share.

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