Maintaining More Ups Than Downs
Bill Cottringer

“Let it rain on some days, let yourself shiver on some cold nights, so when it's Spring you'll know why it was all worth going through.” ~Sanhita Baruah.

We all have different score-keeping methods about memories of past ups and downs and future hopes for more ups than downs. But when we get honest with ourselves, there is no objective way to know the true balance sheet on these events for several reasons. For one thing, we haven’t really done any objective score-keeping—relying instead on subjective memories. The trouble with memories are that they are very unreliable, usually being incorrect and incomplete of what they are trying to recall from has already happened and gone. Another problem is that one really good up or really bad down, will take over the whole present picture (which all there is) and over-flavor any recent or historical ups and downs, in comparison. So why do we do this?

Well, we are all stuck with our undeniable sense of self, especially in the three common conflicts our “self” engages in: Self vs. life, self vs. others, and self vs. self. Sadly, this is despite that having a separate self is really an illusion, that even more sadly, we can’t do much about even if we realize this. Trying to get rid of your self, in the early hip philosopher Alan Watts’s words, is like your trying to bite your own teeth or eyes see themselves (without a mirror of course). This simple can’t be done no matter how hard you try.

So what are we to do about this problem if we want to enjoy more ups than downs? Here are seven sensible options to consider:

1. The biggest door to solving any problem is being able to see the real problem, apart from all the noisy symptoms. In this case, the real problem is that we convince ourselves that our up and down thermometer is accurate and reliable, when it really isn’t. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The mother-load, game-changing insight to the needed transformation, comes when we are open-minded enough to consider the possibility that everything we think we know to be true for sure, may not be necessarily so. Purging useless, untruths from the brain, makes much room for other more useful knowledge in our pursuit of more ups than downs.

2. We can realize and accept that whatever up and down score-keeping method we rely on, it is not very accurate or even useful. There is just no way to objectively evaluate this score-keeping, even keeping logs over a month period, as you will see below. So, if you have been using your subjective results to feel better about more ups than feeling worse with more downs, at some point that should become nonsense.

3. We can then question how do we determine the quality judgement of experiences we classify as “up” (success) or “down” (failure). This would take too much time to analyze properly because of all the history of relevant variables influencing these connotative definitions, but since this is an artificial classification to begin with, why bother analyzing the reasons? They are irrelevant and unimportant in changing the situation for the better.

4. Next, we can explore new definitions of what constitutes a true up vs. a true down. The likely result of this effort is that we end up with more ups than downs. We can start by redefining what we personally mean by “success” or “failure” ourselves. A good realization here is that how we define something like success or failure, determines how much or how little of it we have in hand. To have more ups and success, all you may need to do is widen the net and expand what success is, what it means and how you know it when you have it.

5. Now here is a real interesting idea: When all is said and done at the end of the day, we need ups to enjoy them, but only when we can compare the up to a down, which we don’t enjoy. Understanding this distinction is essential in understanding up and down realities. And of course, the down experiences help us appreciate the ups when they come. In this sense ups and downs are just two different sides to the same coins. At the very least this opens the door to 100% of our experiences as being of positive value, which just may lean in a major re-classification of some downs to ups, increasing our ups.

6. Going through these motions has another beneficial effect; it helps us rejoin the divided self from all the experiences it senses as separate (another illusion) and then judges further into being an up or a down, and once we get past this artificial dualism, a unified “okay” suddenly appears. Pretty soon the line between self and experiences and up vs. down jusgements becomes blurry and then the ups and downs start merging into non-judgmental okay’s, which eventually take over and all is okay as it should be.

7. Unfortunately the evolution of this game goes full circle back to the ups and downs and how they make you feel about yourself in your journey. And so you don’t have to do anything to change the direction of your ride, it will self-correct all by itself. The ending to this story is that we only create problems so we can solve them. A problem is a down and a solution is an up, at least until you awaken to this creative process as being perpetual and impervious for us to do anything about, as if that were even needed.

I sincerely hope this up and down article helps you to finally understand why your own teeth can’t bite themselves. But if by chance you find they can, please by all means let me know! And if you must continue to keep score with the ups and downs, at least consider starting all over again right now and commit to making more of an effort to understand the full, long-range impact of the perceived quality of each new experience in your life, moment by moment. I guarantee more ups that way!

“Life has its ups and downs. When you are up, enjoy the scenery. When you are down, touch the soul of your being and feel the beauty.” ~Debasish Mridha.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or