The joy of figuring things out

I have always enjoyed figuring things out. (I was one of those kids who would take things apart and put them together again, with varying degrees of success, to see how they work.)

So, in the spirit of figuring things out, I am wondering why I enjoy figuring things out…

No matter what the area of exploration, the enjoyment is still there… unless it is temporarily clouded over by stress from deadlines or dire consequences of not figuring it out.

It can be making this WordPress blog work, exploring what works in relationships in general and with a particular person or group, exploring how the mind works, thinking through what is needed for winter camping, exploring how to train a specific cat using clicker training, or whatever else.

Here are some things that come to mind…

  • Evolution
    There is a clear evolutionary advantage in enjoying exploring and figuring things out. It helps us solve problems when they arise, find new strategies to reach certain goals, and move beyond where we are in general. It is to great benefit to individuals to have this to some extent. On a group level, only some need to have this joy of exploration as a passion, and that is exactly what we see.
  • Release
    Whenever we are faced with (something we define) as a problem, there is a certain tension there. Life is one way, and we would like it to be a different way. This tension is often experienced as unpleasant (which actually comes from a belief), so we are motivated to resolve the situation, which means to either change life itself, or our stories about it, or a combination. In either case, figuring out how to resolve it gives a sense of release, which we experience as pleasant (which actually comes from another belief).
  • Socially
    There are also social aspects to the joy in exploring. It is a shared belief, at least in our culture, that exploring it a desirable thing… for its own sake, and also for what it produces. So when we explore, we are aligned with our own beliefs about what is desirable and good. It also means that explorers, in just about any area of life, are often admired (or at least approved of) by society.
  • For its own sake
    Then there is the joy in exploring itself. What I find (and what I hear from others to who look into it) is that there is a quiet joy in experiencing itself, independent of the content of the experience. There also seems to be a joy inherent in exploration itself, although that may really come from what is described in the previous posts (and whatever is left out).

So all around, from biology, psychology, socially, and practically, there are benefits to exploring which all (can) trigger a sense of joy.

What also strikes me here, although it is not surprising, is how it is tied up with beliefs, all around.

  • Biology
    How are beliefs ties up with biology? From a conventional view, we don’t quite see the connection. Biology is biology, with its drives and impulses and neurotransmitters and whatever else. But if we look a little closer, we find that beliefs are essential also here. Mainly, biology is destiny only as far as there is an identification with this human self. If there is a belief in a separate self, and it is placed on this human self, there is a sense of I in this human self, including its biological aspect. I am caught up in it, have little or no distance form it, I am at the mercy of it. So when there is a biological drive or impulse, it is experienced as an I, which means it is acted on without much thought or sense of choice. (It goes the other way as well, beliefs create what is conventionally interpreted as only biological impulses.)
  • Release
    The initial point for release already pointed this out. Whenever there is a sense of discrepancy between how life is and should be, it comes from a belief. I have a belief about how it is, and then another about how it should be (which creates a sense of discrepancy), and then a third about how there shouldn’t be a discrepancy there (which creates a sense of tension), and then a fourth about how tension is undesirable, which then creates a sense of drama around it, even if it is often minor. The doing will happen from the stories themselves, whether they are believed in or not. What the beliefs add to it is the drama.
  • Social
    The shared social beliefs about exploration, or whatever else, are pretty clear. They are all around us, and we see the consequences of them all around us, and in our own life, as well. If I do something aligned with what these beliefs say is desirable, then I feel good about myself, and others feel good about me as well (unless it gets mixed up with other beliefs, giving rise to envy and so on.)
  • Inherent
    The only aspect I can find that seems free of beliefs, is the inherent joy in experiencing… which seem prior to stories and beliefs. But since it is independent of content, including independent of exploration or not, it is a little on the side of this topic.

So all around, it is tied up with beliefs.

2 thoughts to “The joy of figuring things out”

  1. A few posts ago you mentioned a writer called Jes Bertelsen. I googled him up and found a few fascinating bits on subtle energy topics. He doesn’t seem to be translated to English though.

    I understand that he is mainly an influence from the past (?) but you seem to have brought him out alongside well-known figures such as Jung or Steiner. Would you care to reflect a bit on this writer?

  2. Yes, he was a big influence on my when I lived in Norway.

    Jes Bertelsen is Danish, has a graduate degree in philosophy (specialized in Kierkegaard), became a Jungian analyst (if I remember correctly), and now leads a center in Denmark called Vækstcenteret (the Center for Growth). They actually have a website now: (in Danish)

    He brings in influences from a wide range of backgrounds. The most important ones are Jung (depth psychology), energy work/medicine, Christianity (meditation, contemplative prayer) and Dzogchen (he was a student of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche). He is an amazingly clear writer… bringing in-depth scholarship in with very deep personal experience.

    One of my wishes in life is to spend some time at his center, before he gets too old or dies (!).

    Unfortunately, as you noticed, his writings are all in Danish. Only a few books have been translated into other languages. (I’ll post a link if/when I can find more information about his translated books).

    As for the content, it is almost too broad to summarize… I guess some of what I write about here reflect some of it, especially working with projections and dreams, including energy aspects, all in the context of Ground (or Big Mind).

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