Chapter 8

Emotions Follow Mechanics

Carpenter_Systems_Comps_R6.inddYou talk a lot about mechanics, but I believe fixing my life will be a mental thing. I must first get my emotions straightened out before the physical aspects of my world will get better.

Yes, fixing your life does begin with a change in your head—but only in grasping simple true reality (and getting you to that point is the purpose of this book). But next, you must take action outside your head. For real, tangible improvement to occur in your life, you must make mechanical changes within it. First, the mechanical processes of your life must improve, and after that occurs, your emotional state will improve. 

Acquiring the “right” attitude or becoming hyper-enthusiastic are terrific, but these are states of mind, and they won’t directly deliver the goods. So far, in your life, how many new mental/emotional approaches have you attempted? And how have those efforts turned out?

Accepting that simple adjustments in your mechanical world must come first is a huge step toward creating a better emotional state. If you can get control of your life’s machinery so it delivers the results you want—plenty of free time, great relationships, vibrant health, and plenty of money—the good emotions will simply tag along as a by-product.

Although not as often, storms will continue to blow in, no matter how much you improve your mechanical world. Lots of time and money won’t ensure that the people who love you today will continue to love you tomorrow, or that you won’t get sick, or generally speaking, that your world will proceed precisely the way you want it to proceed. But then, it’s unquestionable that having lots of time, extra money, and plenty of self-confidence will make unanticipated problems easier to handle. When the storms occasionally hit, it will be a good thing to be resilient and powerful.

But sometimes I feel so negative about things, often it seems for no reason at all. And I think about my mental state a lot, almost to the point of obsession. It would be so great to feel better about my world and myself. 

Start here: Good or bad, positive or negative, emotions flow from the mechanical. It doesn’t work the other way around.

There was the agricultural revolution, then the industrial revolution, and then the digital revolution. These were all clear-cut mechanical transitions, not just in economies, but in lifestyles and personal comportments. Yet there’s another revolution happening right now that we don’t acknowledge, one that’s more of a troubling by-product than an advancement: it’s the self-obsession revolution. Since the sixties, for whatever reason, we Westerners have become increasingly fixated on our moment-to-moment states of mind. We discuss, study, dictate, analyze, meditate, cajole, newscast, legislate, finger-point, and incessantly smartphone and Google it all to death. It’s no wonder that almost everyone medicates themselves.

We talked earlier of this: Our self-involvement, combined with—or maybe a result of — Digital Drug Dementia, stirs up internal dissatisfaction that prompts us to focus on what makes us feel better in the right now.

We’ve become obsessed with adjusting our immediate states of mind rather than in doing what we need to do to create freedom and peace down the line.

It’s a self-defeating phenomenon in which the quest for freedom is subserved by the need to feel better in the moment.

In the big picture, we can’t change the mechanics of the world to fit our perception of how things should be. Those mechanical wheels will just keep on turning, no matter our individual passions. But in the smaller picture—in our own personal lives, within our own circles of influence — we can certainly tweak the mechanisms to make things better.

I do that every day, all day long, and so can you.

In my own personal life, like anyone else, I get caught up in emotional swings. Like you, I’ll have my downtimes. And once in a while, like you, I’ll obsess a bit about others’ behavior and the condition of the world. But I’ve learned these emotional dips are almost always by-products of my immediate mechanical condition. So, in the midst of a particular downtime, I get outside and slightly elevated to see that my downturn is almost a physical entity, separate from me, and often the result of some minor personal anomaly like being too physically tired, not eating correctly, or being sleep deprived. Despite my occasional slide, the world remains a beautiful place. Just remembering this simple fact immediately drives me out of my slump.

So, be a mechanic, not a psychologist: Get mechanical control first and then, I promise, the emotional control will follow.


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