Allan's Philosophy Podcast Headline Animator

Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Philosophy on Facebook # 51 – Presence and Awareness

This philosophy post I thought up on my way up to the University of Pennsylvania when I was thinking about why people feel inspired when they listen to a speech from Obama or some other influential figurehead. I started realizing that it doesn’t just have to be inspiration from a prominent leader but you can feel many other emotions just because another person is within your immediate radius. I think that this presence factor of life makes emotions contagious and is an instinctual way to share and transfer feelings with others. For instance, see someone laughing or feeling happy, you will normally crack a smile and be uplifted even though you may have no idea why they are happy. I feel like this normally works for almost the whole spectrum of feelings from sadness to anger unless you are in a strong predisposition before the emotion becomes publically revealed. I wouldn’t laugh when the other person was laughing if I was angry beforehand. I feel like this is an important part of life because it requires social proficiency in determining how to appropriately manipulate someone’s emotions like if your friend was sad, you would probably try figure out how to cheer them up. I’ve noticed another scenario is when I’m driving and I see a cop, even if I’m not speeding or doing anything wrong, I still get nervous. The mere fact that I saw a cop made me worry and get nervous for no particular reason other than his presence. For people with phobias, being anywhere near whatever you are afraid of can cause people to scream and faint even though they aren’t in any actual danger (those of you afraid of spiders can attest to this). When I’m riding a roller coaster, I can feel this kind of personal bubble that comes into play when I’m riding the coaster with my hands up and think that they are going to hit part of the track even when they aren’t even close. Just think how you would feel going over a bridge with no railings and even though rarely if at all do people hit the sides, you still will feel nervous and be extra careful. My thinking on this is that peace of mind comes into play when you are talking about presence because when you notice something’s presence, it is your immediate instinct, even subconsciously, to think how it will affect your life, especially in your survival like the fight or flight response. In pressure situations you may make heat of the moment gut reactions but you usually always take into consideration your environment and what is currently in your presence whether you realize it or not.

This got me thinking about the second part of this topic which is awareness. Understanding and recognizing how a situation is transpiring around you is an important skill to have as well. Being oblivious to someone’s emotions may mean that you say or do something that makes another person mad and not even realize what you did. Humans are complex beings and figuring out how to act and deal in other’s presence is an essential part of having a successful life, especially socially. If you want to maintain a successful relationship you will need to figure out how they act when they are in a specific mood and thus react accordingly. The saying ignorance is bliss also plays a role when it comes to these situations because it doesn’t require all the thought and effort that normally comes when you plan out how to deal with your surroundings and the people in them even though it can be a huge weakness if what you don’t notice come back to haunt you. Being caught off guard leaves you completely unprepared on how to deal with things that show their presence to you without any warning. If a teacher hints that certain information will be on a test but you don’t pay attention then you will probably fail. There are certain things you should always know about at almost all times that are imperative to a successful life like access to necessities like food and water and contact with emergencies services. You may not consciously think about where your next meal is coming from but you will still realize that there may be a McDonald’s nearby that has food available if you need it. You also need to have some ability to prepare for unexpected events. They will inevitably be times when something comes out of nowhere and hits you and there is nothing you can do about it when it happens. You can however set up safeguards and plan ahead to a certain extent to make whatever damages occur be less painful. You need to be somewhat aware of what is going to be in your presence in the future to avoid utter disaster like realizing that you only have a half tank of gas when wherever you are headed will require more fuel than that. If you don’t prepare you could be stuck in an unknown area and you are essentially setting yourself up for failure.

One thing that I want to talk about that applies to awareness is a scientific theory I heard about a couple years back. I can’t remember the exact name of it but it basically states that once you are observing a situation or trying to become aware of your environment, your very presence can completely change the situation. If you are trying to find the natural way of life in an area, your being there doesn’t make it natural anymore so you need to take into account that your presence can modify the environment to the point where it would be totally different if you weren’t there. For instance, if you are trying to observe elephants in their natural habitat, just your presence in their environment can modify their behavior and make them act differently than if you weren’t there, thus not giving you an accurate depiction of how they would normally live.

Finally there is a pretty neat concept that I’ve been thinking about recently that relates to the idea that certain people have these bubbles around them that can affect other things in their presence. It basically is talking about how what you do can have a huge affect on your surrounding environment like your decisions change the course of existence/life on everything else involved. For instance, funny people can lighten the mood and make everyone around them happier. Even inanimate objects like the latest toy or videogame and produce the same effects on all those who use them. Not only does your presence affect others but others in your presence directly affect you too. It is amazing to think how the lives of your parents would be different without you. You affect your parents lives so much and they monumentally influence you as well. This is why you want to make sure your own aura will positively influence and modify your environment. You want to make sure you are perceived and do help the lives of others around you just by you being in their presence and if you do so you will in turn receive positive influences as well and it will be a positive experience for everyone. On another note you get so much more in your presence thanks to technology because it gives you a whole world at your fingertips and gives you exposure to so many more things. These things can then widen your perspective and give you a more full view on life and the world by increasing the amount of experience you get by increasing everyday what is in your presence. You then begin to recognize such things from your senses which then interpret the environmental stimuli and allow you to have accurate information on how to respond to every situation. Basically, the more you are exposed to, the better you be able to respond appropriately to them. The better you know the world around, you the better you can make your life.