- Bob Ginsberg
My 24 Hour Experiment - I Challenge You to Try It!
Ever stop to contemplate how many expressions that we use on a daily basis with little or no feeling behind these utterances? We have arsenals of phrases such as “good morning” to a co-worker (even though it’s been anything but good) “bless you” to a sneezer (despite the fact that we have no idea why we say it), “how are you?” to an acquaintance (although we rarely listen for a response), and “no problem” in response to anyone thanking you for something (even though their request or demand was unreasonable). Social correctness, combined with the way in which we process information in the technology era, has resulted in a generation of beings who suppress real feelings and have little interest in what others have to say. No wonder that so many believe the materialist’s assertion that we are mere automatons.
Those who are bereaved are certainly not immune to hearing similar “automatic” comments from others. The ones that we hear most often are “keeping their memory alive” and “they live on in our hearts.” At face value, these are supportive comments that may be of comfort to most people who grieve the loss of a loved one. After all, we never want people to forget our loved ones and we often take various actions to ensure that this does not happen. Similarly, since the heart is thought of as the source of love, it makes sense that love would continue in that fashion. However, personally speaking, I always found such comments to be patronizing and of no comfort.
I did not want to keep their memory alive or remember them in my heart – I wanted to know that they still existed! I wasn’t interested in my memories and feelings, but whether or not they continued to live in another realm. In my mind it was black or white. My loved one was either extinguished forever or was very much alive, and finding out the answer was an all- consuming task.
I am certainly not suggesting that all those who are bereaved should be guided by the same parameters. In fact, one could certainly argue that continuously searching for afterlife proof is counter-productive to healing. I just wish that more people who try to help others by offering oft repeated sayings would actually be open to the possibility that we really do survive death. What if they live on in our hearts because our hearts really are receptors to information from non-physical sources? What if their memories actually remained intact as they explored realms that we can only imagine? In my opinion, those who are closed minded to the possibility of an afterlife are less likely to say anything truly helpful to the bereaved than those who remain open minded. I say this because, despite much of mainstream thought, the only thing that can provide significant comfort and hope to the bereaved is a belief that the deceased still exist in some form. Such belief trumps all methods of traditional grief therapy, and it is not difficult to figure out why.
So why is it that we say so many things that we do not believe, and believe in things without the evidence that they are true? In an effort to understand the reasons, I would recommend that you set aside one full day of your life and dedicate it to being constantly aware of every conversation in which you engage. I have tried this and it was an eye opening experience. I said “have a good day” five times to different people as a conversation ender, even though I gave no thought as to how their days would go. Besides, given the choice, who would opt to have a bad day? I asked three people how they were feeling, but I only paid attention to one response. I said “bless you” twice in response to sneezes, even though I think that blessing someone as they perform a bodily function is ludicrous. I said three “be wells” and four “take cares,” and was not even aware that I said these until reflecting back. Somebody did something wrong to me and said they were sorry, and I responded “that’s OK,” even though what they did was not acceptable to me and their excuse was not valid.
I said all of these things out of habit, as they had become hard-wired by my brain. They were automatic responses with no thought, emotion, or feeling behind them. I also paid close attention to the things that others said to me. Most reciprocated with the same type of meaningless phrases that I threw in their direction. I was the recipient of seven “no problems,” two “sorry for the inconvenience” and two “good lucks.” During the entire day and evening I counted only two instances during which there was true emotion and feeling behind what I said, and only one instance where I felt that others gave thought to and meant what they said.
Is it any wonder that today’s world appears to be a bit disjointed and lacking empathy and compassion? How many of our beliefs are actually simple reactions to ingrained conditioning by our educational, cultural, societal and religious influences? Gamblers follow rituals to bring them luck, but will tell you that non-local phenomena don’t exist. Politicians will constantly implore God to bless their country without giving the slightest thought to the implications of a deity that would favor some over others. We are aware of global atrocities but choose to focus media attention on what a particular Kardashian was wearing on a given day. Many say they believe in an afterlife, but only if there is adherence to various interpreted rules.
My 24 hour experiment scared the heck out of me as I contemplated the possibility that I had officially joined the ranks of those who spend their days going through the motions. I made a conscious effort to change throughout the next day, forcing me to examine my intentions, empathy, and compassion, and perhaps give me the slightest glimpse at what people describe as a life review. I can honestly say that I did not make one reflexive comment, and I truly listened to what others were saying. It was easier than I thought it would be, made the day much more enjoyable, and broadened my perspective. What a world this would be if we all spoke from the heart and were able to feel what others feel. I guess the best that we all can do is to make attempts to get closer to our true nature as compassionate and loving beings.