Finding Peace from Mind

Naval: Let’s talk about peace, and then we’ll talk about truth and how they relate to happiness.

When I say you want to be happy, what I’m actually saying is you want to find peace. We say peace of mind, but what we really want is peace from mind.

The mind goes quiet during the moments of greatest pleasure

During your moments of greatest pleasure—whether you’re doing a drug, having an orgasm, finding your edge kite-surfing, laughing with a friend or looking at an incredible sunset—your mind goes quiet. It calms down, and that voice in your head goes silent. You achieve a sense of awe, which you might also call beauty, bliss or joy.

We all seek this. We all chase it. Deep down, what we’re actually looking for is peace from mind.

Somewhere along the way, the mind became a master

I’m not making the mind out to be an enemy. It’s a very useful tool. But somewhere along the way, it became uncontrollable. The mind became the master rather than a servant. 

Our mind evolved to be paranoid, fearful and angry. Humans are the most paranoid and angry creatures to ever walk the earth. We are apex predators who dominated the food chain by killing, subjugating or domesticating every other species on this planet. We did it through fear, violence and, of course, cooperation.

Nature is brutal. Turn on any nature documentary and you’ll see: A eats B; B eats C; C eats D; D eats E. Nature is red in tooth and claw. We are derived from violence and blood.

Our environment rewards pessimism and paranoia

Modern society’s a lot safer and more peaceful. It still makes sense to be careful, maintain some paranoia and occasionally to get angry—but not as much as we’re hardwired to do. It’s okay to dial it down.

The threat level is not as high as our genes think. If you were walking through the woods 1,000 years ago and heard something rustling in the bushes, you’d be right to be paranoid. Let’s say nine out of 10 times it’s a rabbit in the bushes, and one out of 10 times it’s a tiger. The optimist would catch a rabbit nine out of 10 times and get eaten by a tiger the 10th. The pessimist survives every time.

Our evolved nature rewards pessimism. But we live in much safer times, so we must find ways past that and work towards peace.

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