Chapter 2, part 8, Perception and Focus, The Office Desk Test Results

The below continues on from last weeks office desk test…

Before we go into the deeper quarrels of life let’s go back to the office and start with item 1 and 2.

A pen is mightier than the sword (unless of cause you are fighting a ninja, in which case you would prefer a sword) yet when bought in bulk a pen comes down to less than 10 cents each. They are also frequently required by almost all office workers therefore their dispersion is not monitored. It is also commonly accepted that a pen accidently remains in your top pocket or that they run out of ink regularly. This is where we get into the science of the mind.

Try to think of the brain as an intelligence that constantly asks questions. From the moment you wake up it asks ‘should I hit the snooze button? How much time till work? Have I brushed the teeth enough? Is my makeup on properly? Is it time for a haircut? Is that enough cereal in my bowl? Have I got everything? What’s the weather like?’ and so forth. In fact, before you even get to work you could have asked well over a hundred questions. Most of these questions are unconscious yet that does not mean that they are any less relevant to your existence. It is said that the quality of your life can be equated to the quality of your questions. For instance ‘why does this always happen to me?’ verses ‘why did that happen to me?’ is a completely different question. One question assumes that you are always unlucky; the other is simple intrigue… We will go through the importance of questions later on, though for now, it’s important to know that the brain works in this way.

So how does the brain operate when deciding whether to take a pen from work or not? Well, the brain will ask the below questions in regards to stealing.

What is the chance of being caught?

What could I lose?

What will I benefit?

Do I deserve this?

You may have heard of the pain/pleasure equation we do within our minds. The idea is simple. The brain desires pleasure and will move towards it whilst it also tries to avoid pain. Furthermore, research has found that people will do more to avoid pain than they ever will to gain pleasure. This is actually a rewarding piece of information. Essentially, if you are doing something in your life that is impacting you negatively, there must be a reason why. Your brain has somehow justified your actions as being less painful than other foreseeable options.

Let me give you a simpler example. How many times have you procrastinated? Probably, like the rest of the human race the answer is a lot. So why do you do this? It’s because doing nothing is a lot easier than the flip side. If you try something new you could fail which would result in pain. And of cause if you are familiar with Newton’s law of motion, you could state that the initial effort of motion requires a lot more force than when you have momentum. Hence you procrastinate because it’s less painful than making an effort.

So when we ask ourselves ‘should I take this pen’ our brain is actually weighing up the pain/pleasure equation. In relation to the pen it would go something like this…

What is the chance of being caught?
Not much at all as it’s just a pen that can easily slip into my bag.

What could I lose?
Nothing, even if I do get caught I can say it’s a mistake.

What will I benefit?
I will have a free pen that I myself don’t have to pay for.

Do I deserve this?
Yes, I work hard, am under paid, undervalued, etc…

As we discussed early on, the brain asks these questions consciously or subconsciously, but either way, the equation in some form has been made within your mind. For many people, they wouldn’t even think twice about taking a pen until the corporate managers look at the office supply costs, realise that their 500 employees are all taking pens home, and then a stern memo (a document that gives information to staff) is released. In which case, the equation will suddenly change within people’s minds.

What is the chance of being caught?
Since the memo was released, maybe they are monitoring the supplies and they will notice me.

What could I lose?
Still not much, after all it is a pen.

What will I benefit?
A pen, is it really worth it?

Do I deserve this?

As you can see with the above answers, a simple memo can stop people from taking pens. The benefit of scoring a free pen no longer outweighs the risk of being caught therefore it stops. The same might apply with cheating in a relationship, but before we get onto the heavy stuff, let’s work our way through the office supplies.

A pencil and a pen may be the same thing yet I am sure that for various reasons some people draw the line (no pun intended) between stealing one and not the other. This could be because there are less pencil’s in the office than pens for instance. As for the A4 sheet of paper, I believe this falls into similar equations. A stapler and an empty folder are larger items therefore it is easier to spot if they go missing. They also cost a little bit more which makes the experience a slight more risky. This may also cross a personal moralistic line.

This all being said, coffee/tea/sugar and milk change’s the equation entirely as you are now not only taking from the company, you are also taking from your fellow workmates. This close personal connection changes the dynamics of what is perceived as taking, and makes if feel more like stealing. For instance, if someone runs out of milk for their coffee you might feel guilty, and because it is a shared item, if you do get caught it looks a whole lot worse for you. Not only will you be in trouble in the eyes of the boss, but those that you may consider friends will now never trust you. Rumours and gossip may begin, and now every time someone looks at you funny you wonder if they are judging you. A corporate logo is always easier to steal from than an individual.

For the same reason as the above, chocolates, alcohol, clothing and/or sunscreen that was given as a gift to you and your workmates adds pressure to stealing. This is because you may respect your colleagues and simultaneously fear being condemned by them. This being said, bosses and/or micro mangers are in a different mental position. I say this because I have personally seen managers in different companies take such things with little remorse. This often occurs due to justification. The higher the ego of the individual, the less compassion there is for the people working beneath them. In fact the words ‘beneath them’, gives us a good insight into how a micromanager can think. They can feel underpaid, undervalued, that they work harder than everyone else, and that no one else understands them. This can make the mind feel isolated. So, if a customer buys the department a gift, the manager may justify that it would have never been given if it wasn’t for their own tireless efforts. It’s theirs!!! They deserve it!! And there lays the inner workings of the ego.

Moving down the list, it’s quite brazen to steal a mouse or a keyboard from a workplace nowadays. They are paramount to most office jobs. People will notice if they go missing and there are usually IT employees that try to fix issues if they arise. This adds complication to taking these items therefore it becomes too risky to even try.

When it comes to desktop computers or laptops the dynamics shift again. These items are much more expensive and they are also a lot larger. These machines can’t go missing without being noticed. This being said, there are those out there that may lie by saying that the computer was stolen by someone else. This is an affective lie though it does cross most of our moral values. We are now not only stealing, we also have to lie directly to another person about what occurred. For an individual to justify that this is an acceptable cause of action, they would have to tell themselves a very interesting story. Let me see if I can create one for you that can justify doing such a thing.

What if I told you that the office was buying updated computers and therefore were throwing their old ones out. Management has specifically stated that no one is allowed to have the old computers. Simultaneously you yourself desperately need a computer for home and can’t afford one on your salary. Would this change your thinking? After all it’s going to be thrown in the bin anyway so why shouldn’t you have it?

If the above doesn’t change your mind maybe this will. Your son or daughter needs a computer for high school and you can’t afford to buy it for them. Your integrity as a provider and defender is now in question, and even your partner may be questioning if you can take care of the family. Would you steal the computer for your child?

Let’s now raise the steaks… What if you are a single parent being questioned about your ability to take care of your child. Not being able to supply a computer shows to the justice court that you are not a fit parent. Therefore, you may lose custody of your child to your ex (who has a gambling addiction which can’t be proven) and stealing this computer (which no one will miss) is the only option you have. Would this change your perception of stealing? What if your child had a disability and the computer was going to affect their life dramatically? What then?

If this line of questioning has unsettled you in any way please take a deep breath and relax. My intention of running these scenarios were to emphasis one simple point, that life is not always easy. I am also not trying to question your morals or values. I am simply trying to get you to understand the types of pressures in the world that make other people question theirs. None of the above scenarios might have made you change your perception, but possibly, now you can understand why others might change theirs.

If you ask a parent how far they would go for their children, many would reply that they would do anything. Well… This is anything… Let’s review the four questions one last time for this scenario.

What is the chance of being caught?
As the computer is being thrown out there is a chance I can get away with it.

What could I lose?
My job, and therefore possible custody of my child for being caught stealing.

What will I benefit?
I look like a hero to my child, I am a provider for them and because such, I won’t lose custody.

Do I deserve this?
No, but my child does.

The above is what we call a moral dilemma. If a person gets caught they are in trouble, if they don’t take the computer they are also in trouble. Situations such as this change people’s belief systems. They can look at the big picture (like comparing this minor case of stealing to starvation around the world) and convince themselves that a computer is unimportant. Meanwhile, other people simply see the black and white. Stealing is stealing.

To finish our little discussion off we need to talk about money. This is where our perception becomes very interesting. You might have justified taking a 3 dollars stapler, but what about taking 3 dollars. Does the fact that it is actual money make a difference? Most people would say yes to this question, but why?

How can this be the case? Stealing is stealing isn’t it? If you took a pen from work, why wouldn’t you take the same value in cash? 10 cents… Who will miss it?

If we are going to head down this line of thought, what about all the time people spend gossiping at work not doing their job?  Our employers is paying for a service, therefore slacking off is a form of stealing isn’t it? And what if we look at examples outside the workplace… Have you ever taken coffee sachets, tiny bottles of shampoo and so forth from a hotel? Were you really supposed to take them? Don’t they cost the company money? Would you steal 5 dollars from the reception at your hotel? No! Well what’s the difference?


I have had a little fun questioning your morals above though I don’t judge. I am simply trying to make you understand that you rationalise your choices, we all do. And although it makes sense to us, we can’t expect the rest of the world to understand our own perception, morals and values, reality and our own justifications. Beyond this, every workplace is different, every boss is different and every interpretation of etiquette will waver. This is of cause all based on one small aspect of life. Most of us would say we follow this lesson blindly. Do not steal! Yet life is not that simple.

Perception Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 2, part 7, Perception and Focus, The Office Desk Test

Before we go too much further I would like to have a little fun. I am going to test your morals and values with what I call the office desk test.

Below I am going to list a bunch of items commonly found around the office. Now obviously, we are not supposed to steal anything from where we work, but this is where it gets interesting. Quite often we place things in our pockets or someone say’s ‘don’t worry, they won’t care’ in regards to office supplies. But where do we draw the line between stealing and taking something that the office doesn’t care about?

The items I am about to list are in order of expense and size. Please start at the top and work your way down the list. I want you to draw a line (mentally, because if you draw a line on your computer screen or phone you will regret it later) between an item you might have taken and an item you believe is a step too far. If you have never taken anything from an office simply try to judge the situation based on your morals. And finally, if you say ‘I would never take anything as that’s just simply wrong!’ please go out and get a life and continue reading this later J I’m joking in case you can’t tell, in which case look up sarcasm and come back and continue reading.

Jokes aside, please don’t judge yourself harshly on your answer. The world is a more complicated place than you may think. Let’s get started…

A pencil
A pen
One A4 sheet of paper
A stapler
An empty folder
Coffee/tea/sugar or milk.
A pack of 500 sheets of A4 paper
Chocolates (which were given as a gift for the office group)
Alcohol (for parties or a gift for the office team)
Sunscreen (if applicable)
Clothing (if applicable)
A computer mouse
A Keyboard
A desktop computer
A laptop
Money that was left out
A Car

I can already feel the discomfort in some of my reader’s minds. Don’t worry I am not here to judge. That being said the police are coming to your house right now. Just kidding!!! Everyone’s circumstances are very different and these need to be weighed up when viewing such moral dilemmas. In fact, I believe I can convince most of you that dropping the line further down the list is possibly more acceptable than you think. Well, in certain circumstances.

Like most structures, measurements, laws, hierarchies, procedures and even contracts, we can’t anticipate the complications within an individual’s experience. That’s a fancy way of saying that life is not black and white.  Drawing a line at 18 years old is easy, though as the years of your life flow onward, staying behind that line becomes increasingly difficult. I am not just talking about office supplies here, this also relates to cheating, hurting someone’s feelings, and to lighten the mood, farting in public. That’s right… I went there.

Next week we will talk about why you drew the line where you did…  Thanks for reading…

The Office Desk Test Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 2, part 6, Perception and Focus, Everyone’s reality is unique..

Everything I have discussed in this chapter so far has been alluding to one thing. Your reality as you know it is not the same reality as the other 7 billion people you share this world with. Not only are you unique in the way you look physically, you are also unique within the way you perceive reality. This is an absolute beautiful truth with one main floor. Most of us believe that others see reality the same way we do.

A difference of opinion is not always due to education or knowledge. Instead it could be a fundamental belief ingrained into our psyche by a heightened experience we had as a child. And from there we began creating an identity for ourselves around a certain belief system. Some obvious beliefs revolve around religion, government and social status within society. Yet many of these beliefs are a lot more personal and have to do with our values within friendships, relationships and our overall enjoyment in life.

Once we comprehend that others have different belief systems due to circumstance, we can become less judgemental of others, and more understanding of the fact that their reality is theirs as much as our reality is ours.

If you lived another person’s life and had their experiences you would believe the same things they do. You would make the same mistakes, have their morals and values, and you would not resemble the person you are today in any form. Your parents and teachers would be the same as theirs, and your experiences which created their perception would not differ with you at the driver’s seat. The morals and values you might hold so tight to your current existence will never adapt to this other persons reality. Why? Because your morals and values were not something you were born with, they developed through your life experiences. Therefore it is useless to say to another person that their belief system is wrong, as you yourself would have made the same choices in life as they did if you grew up in their reality.

I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t teach or educate others, though I am saying that we need to find compassion, even for some of the most evil of those in society. Hate fuels more hate. Compassion displays understanding. And this is where the true benefit of this knowledge lays. Rather than being frustrated or angry at others who think or act differently from us, we have the ability to choose acceptance. This acceptance includes the knowledge and understanding that others see this world differently, and that their morals and values vary from our own.

Personal conflict can come from the ego. Once the notion of ‘I am right’ and/or ‘you are wrong’ comes into the equation there is no compassion or understanding left. Unless proof is undeniable (such as being proved by science) then you simply are having a discussion based on opinion. Even if you have seen the proof for yourself whilst the other person has not, you can’t blame the other person for not taking your words as fact. In their reality, from their perception, they have heard you say you have proof, though they have not seen it. In this case the direction of this discussion should not conclude with one person acting smarter than the other, nor holding themselves on a pedestal. This would be just inflating the ego. The answer lay’s with the understanding of the other person’s lack of information, and educating them by giving them the tools to find the answer for themselves. Whether or not they choose to take that path is now in their hands.

Hate and Compassion Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 2, part 5, Perception and Focus. How does the past affect my future?

I am going to take you back to that experience of being a child one last time. We are going to specifically start at the moment where you were embarrassed in front of the class. To rub salt into the wound I am also going to say that you went through two more embarrassing situations before the age of ten. These experiences are nothing beyond the usual childish pranks or tricks that children do in the schoolyard. Yet because of the emotional impact of that first experience, the second and third ones have strengthened your neurotransmitters into strong beliefs. Let’s look at what some of these beliefs may be…

We can say that the hurt you felt from the other children during this time period might now create a barrier of trust between you and others. You may be defensive before placing yourself in vulnerable positions in the future, therefore placing security before spontaneity in forthcoming choices you make. You may create a phobia to public speaking or choose to be shy, more introverted, sceptical, cynical or even judgemental about others. But of cause it is not all bad. You may become a perfectionist so that others don’t have the chance to pick on you. You might become more articulate. It is possible you will be a comedian (as comedy may be your defence mechanism towards awkward moments), or you may want to become technically minded as you have an urge to fix problems. There is even a chance you will want to study psychology as you don’t want these experiences occurring to others, this is due to being sympathetic towards those going through pain. Then again, as you were so young, you might just have a nervous response of eating your own boogers for comfort. Who am I to judge?

Question: Okay, so besides for the booger thing, is it actually possible for these experiences at such a young age to create a life changing path?

Answer: Yes!

Question: How do you know if something like this has happened to you when you were young?

Answer: To put it simply, it has happened to everyone in one form or another.

Let me ask you a few more questions. Have you always been afraid of public speaking? Do you trust others? Do you get nervous around others? Do you get nervous around the opposite sex? Do you get angry when others make you wait? Do you question the meaning of life regularly or have deep thoughts about existence and the purpose of it?

It doesn’t matter if you answered yes or no to any of these questions as the result is exactly the same. You were not born coming out of the uterus with public speaking ability or inability; it was an experience that occurred when you were young that created confidence or a lack of confidence to do it. The same example relates to all of those other questions. In fact, your entire personality is defined by your experiences in your life.

Put simply, when you were young you had countless experiences which began countless numbers of beliefs. Since then you have had experience after experience, after experience, after experience. The original belief may now not look anything like what it started as. This is due to the fact that it was strengthened, weakened, changed or manipulated over the years. And now, your perception on reality is distorted due to life experience. Therefore, it no longer reflects the initial objectionable innocent open mind that you began with. The ego has taken control and a personality is beginning to be formed.

Life is a duel experience that creates ego which defines our individuality. We should not fear it, feel limited by it, or feel lessor than any other human being. We are unique in our perception of the world around us and we have made the best decisions we could, given the knowledge we had at the time.

Whoever you think you are, whatever you think defines you, is an ego driven response. Therefore, the less your ego defines you, the more control you have over your life. This is why people dive into their past and try to clear old wounding’s. This is also the reason many people meditate and try to understand what makes them do the things they do. Once you understand the reasons for why your ego acts the way it does, and then you look at it objectionably, there is a chance you will notice that the rules you work within no longer apply to your present life. And if you’re really lucky, this simple recognition might be all you require to make a positive lasting change.

Ego and Life Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 2, part 4, Perception and Focus. What does it all mean?

Let’s now double your age from five to ten, imagine how many more experiences you would have had. How many times do you think you would have cried or faced bullies? How much did you learn in school? How many times did your parents yell at you or give you a smack? What about falling over or failing in life? How many times did you feel like a fool or wet the bed? And what about all the other emotions you would have felt such as loneliness, being upset, devastated, isolated, feeling unimportant, sick and so forth? Though let’s not forget about the positive emotions either. How many times did you feel loved, cherished, supported, connected, driven, smart, successful or even cool?

These emotions are all anchors. They can connect to any experience in your life and create lasting neurotransmitters. I began talking about the age of five, but really, ever since you were born emotions were occurring and linking to experiences. Imagine how many of these links have occurred by the age of ten. Millions of neurotransmitters exist because you simply got out of bed and walked out into the world.

Okay, so now that you know all of this ‘what does it all mean?’ So far we have discussed neurotransmitters, hunters and gatherers, naughty children and Hitler! What the hell am I on about? Well, let’s get to part of the punch line.

Bring yourself back to the present moment. Hello! Without even knowing it there are belief systems in your mind, that are defining your life. These belief systems are both positive and negative. For fun, let’s look at what some of these strengths and weaknesses are.

Do you like heights? Are you good with numbers? Are you good around love interests? Do you take control? Do you sit back and let others lead? Oh… WAIT!!! Oops, stop, I have to start over. All of these are actually bad examples that we see people conquer via reality TV shows. The real belief systems that excel or limit your life often fall in different areas which you don’t even focus on. Instead, ask yourself the following…

In your mind are people good or bad? Is life just? Are you free? Is the world full of evil? Are you lucky or unlucky? Do people judge you? Are you beautiful? Are you doing enough in life? Are you a good person? Have you tried hard enough? Is your current career worthy of you? Are you happy? Do you wonder why you keep making the same mistakes? Is there more out there in the world? Is there just pain out in the world? Will what you have done ever be enough? Will what you do ever matter? Who are you? Why are you here? And inevitably, what is the meaning of life?

If reading the above has made you sad because you believe a lot of your responses were negative, please stop for a moment, breathe, relax and know that soon you will have knowledge as to why you ask yourself these questions. But more specifically, you will know why you believed you answered negatively or positively to these questions. Knowledge is potential power which means you can take control over your perception. Your reactions are not based on truths, but rather your own perception of what is true.

Truth Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman