Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
I just finished reading Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. It is an extremely useful book on psychology, showing how the process we use for memory storage short circuits our ability to correctly evaluate what our future is going to be like.
The curious part for me was that in reading about the ordinary way in which we process memory and evaluate our future, I found that I was already somewhat familiar with it. I attribute this to being psychic. There are areas he pointed out that I have discovered already because I had psychic impressions to compare to what he was talking about.
What he was showing in the book is that when we remember stuff, we leave out portions, particularly things that are only conspicuous by their absence. So we forget portions that would normally help us predict how we’re going to experience something later. We also have emotional defenses that kick in and help us cope with trauma. If we experience a little trauma, it doesn’t kick in, but if we experience a lot of trauma, it does. So it’s ordinary for people to have more trouble coping with car breakdowns than with cancer.
What I noticed about myself was that I behave the same way as everyone else under most circumstances, but that psychic ability adds another dimension to it.
I am not immune to the memory issues and tricks our minds play on us, but I have been aware of them for years. When it is really important to me to evaluate how I really feel about something or how I am going to feel about something, I have to forgo the usual method and view it psychically. Using psychic ability requires temporarily quieting down emotions and all other thoughts in order to receive impressions. It bypasses the whole problem of how I feel right at that moment having an effect on my judgment. In this way I can get an accurate picture of how something is going to actually turn out.
For instance, early in my marriage my thoughts naturally turned to having an affair. It was nothing against my wife mind you, it was just the standard roving eye. On the surface, it did not seem to be all that bad an idea. When I looked at it psychically though, I got a much different picture. I could see and feel the guilt, the secrecy, the pain and most importantly, the crushing destruction of that most valuable of commodities, the absolute trust that we shared. Trust is not normally something we look at and consider consciously. It builds up slowly over time and runs in the background seamlessly. It is noticeable only in its absence. And the absence of something happens to be one of those things things that our normal predictive abilities do a poor job of taking into account.
In other words, I could see that the ephemeral happiness I might get out of an illicit tryst would never come close to equaling the misery that would be borne from it. That was a rather dramatic example, but I actually do this sort of psychic checking on a regular basis because it’s so much more accurate than just relying on my memory. It can still be challenging because if I desire a certain outcome enough, it can have an effect on what I can “see.”
Does this ability make me the happiest guy in the world? No. Where it does help though is in avoiding the really destructive choices in life and some of the less destructive ones as well. As with every other human on earth, I have only as much happiness as I can believe in. Get me beyond my happiness boundaries and just like everyone else, I start to fall apart and make choices that put me back within the happiness that I’m comfortable with irrespective of any psychic ability. Like every other human in the world, my dreams and desires are limited by my deeply held belief systems. As any person with psychic ability will tell you, psychic ability is no automatic ticket to paradise.
The other insight that psychic ability has given me is that I can compare my way of thinking and my own emotional state to that of the people around me. I am aware that most people are not thinking clearly most of the time, that their minds wander and that they are often caught in emotional loops stemming from some forgotten trauma deep in their past. Hence, when most people are alone and lost in their thoughts you won’t find very many of them walking around peacefully with serene looks or smiles on their faces. Nope, most of the time people are looping on something stressful, replaying it over and over in their minds without resolution.
Psychic people do this stressful looping just like the rest of the world. The only thing that is possibly different is that we psychic types tend to spontaneously pop up for air so to speak. The same spontaneous habit-lapses that cause us to suddenly forget how to tie our shoes for a couple of seconds will also break us out of the stress loop occasionally so that we can see what we’ve been doing. Psychic ability gives us an edge in getting a handle on it, but from there we have to take ti the rest of the way.
As for the emotional defenses that kick in when something bad happens, I have not seen any indication that being psychic changes that at all. I can remember many times when I took an event that I would classify as bad that happened in my life and choose to view it in a positive way. This seems to be no different from anyone else.
I would recommend this book to anyone, psychic or not. It was an incredibly clear and well written factual book filled with humor and backed with science. I pay it my highest compliment: It was the sort of reading experience where I wished there were more.