Posted tagged ‘pavlov’

Reacting to the World and Keeping the Toilet Seat Down

April 10, 2009


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how people react to the world around them. Specifically, a few novels by philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand got me going on the subject. Rand’s philosophy of objectivism dictates that the best way to respond to the world is by being rational based on your own objective reality, leaving emotions out of the mix. I generally agreed with this while I read Atlas Shrugged, Fountainhead, and Anthem. And for a short period of time, I thought that I could live life by being “rational” and not having to feel too much when it came time to make decisions.

What I’ve come to realize – and life as of late more than proves my epiphany – is that the act of being rational is doesn’t mean we have to disregard emotion. Human beings are unique creatures because of our capacity to have feelings. For better or worse, these emotions play a huge role in our making decisions and reactions to the world around us. My conclusion – the path to enlightenment, rationality, and a healthy emotional well-being starts by understanding the root of our emotions.

Picture this scenarioa woman gets irritated at her spouse for not putting the toilet seat down. What is the root cause of her anger – Was it the husband’s lack of judgement or was it her past experience of falling into a toilet and having yucky, nasty butt because of it? 

The explanation is simple. The woman doesn’t like the toilet seat being up because she fell in once and her butt got all wet and nasty. Obviously she doesn’t want to be burned again. And along the same lines, she’s become guarded, even angry when subliminally reminded of the experience of having fell in the toilet in the first place. Thus, anger becomes the conditional response whenever she sees the seat up. Personally, I could care less about the toilet seat. But I know I’m the same way with different things.

By moving forward with this understanding, I’ve given myself a new mission to uncondition myself and improve my mental quality of life. Without having to touch toilet seats of course.