Thursday, July 28, 2011

Things Worth Living For and Harmful Beliefs

Let's talk about the economic collapse again . . . oh don't click away, it's about more good stuff I promise. As disturbing as it might be, it looks like we may have finally reached the tipping point with the debt limit. I'm not so sure that anything significant, political or economically, will actually happen on August 2nd given that apparently the debt ceiling limit was once predicted to be hit on May 15th, but still: It's probably coming soon. A few days, weeks, or maybe even a scant few months, but I sense it'll hardly be delayed beyond half a year. The U.S. must default since we're not actually engaged in paying back the loans with actual produced value, so hopefully it can be gotten over with as soon as possible rather than trying to delay it with some kind of ceiling increase, because delaying matters will only make things worse.

Even though I'm optimistic about the culture in the long-run -- that most of us have a good future to look forward to in our lifetimes -- I do confess that even I get depressed about the short-term. Even with good evidence of something to look forward to, the pain we have to anticipate and experience yet is still discomforting. On my side, I thought I had more time to prepare . . . to establish and protect my savings by converting to another currency, and to get a backup supply of food for emergencies, but it seems that it may not be so, so I'll have to rely on my abilities to respond to matters. Sometimes I get so distraught I break from my usual pursuits and concentrate on art and values to soothe my soul, such as heroic television and chocolate. But lately I think I've figured out two strategies that may not only assist with bearing the bad times, but in also establishing a stronger moral endurance to persist through disaster in the longer term, so as to maintain resolve to fight for, earn, and achieve a good future.

The temporary measure I've thought of in treating short-term disappointment, aside from engaging in immediate values such as favored fiction, is to write out a list of things worth living for. It's like counting your blessings, only instead of concentrating on what you have, though that isn't a bad idea either, it's about concentrating on the good things that compose life, are achievable (even if not presently), and are worth waiting for if bad times are to arrive before gaining them. It's easy to think that sometimes when you lose values that you've lost everything and that nothing else is worth pursuing, so I'd suggest getting a piece (or several) of paper and writing down almost every single thing, literally, that you can think of that you enjoy in life, whether it be high things such as a satisfying career or published articles in prestigious publications, or minor things like pomegranate-blueberry jam on waffles and sleeping well. By listing out every single thing you enjoy about life it helps keep in memory and remind that there is a great wealth of things that compose and nurture a fulfilling life, and that the loss of even a great many things still leaves plenty leftover, in our present times, to spiritually fuel us. Beyond that, it can also help steel resolve by showing what wealth is *possible* in life and worth fighting for. In my distressed moments I try to remember every little pleasure I have, and in combination I feel a gush of enthusiasm to live and work, and am once again burning with resolve for activism. I haven't written my own list yet, but have plans to. The essence to the comfort, I think, is in the writing, so write a fresh list every time you need the method rather than consulting an old one, and write as much as you possibly can.

The second, more long-term solution I've thought of is to identify and address false or erroneous beliefs that underlie your sense of life, or the theme of your constant emotions. I've noticed in my own situation that I've adopted some mistaken beliefs that has rendered me more sensitive to the nature of our cultural and economic problems, and has been harming my resolve to continue being a capitalist advocate. For example -- though this is a small one -- I've been assuming that some values might be destroyed and never ever obtainable again, and it has been given me bad urges to hedonistically enjoy myself now in anticipation of reduced happiness in the future. For instance, sooner or later I want to read the original Dragon Ball Z comic books since I enjoy the show so much, but I recognize that in a poor economy I may not only not be able to afford it, it may also be taken off shelves and put out of print, and perhaps be unobtainable for some years. That would be disappointing, but my wordless assumption has made me believe that it'll somehow be destroyed and never seen again, which I see now as foolish. If I have judged the situation objectively and we do have a good future to behold, then things like that are likely to come back, for would they burn the manuscript? Even Aristotle's works survived the worst of times, the dark ages. The same goes for other things, like video games and movies, foods, and so on. They'll just go away for awhile, and be worth waiting for.

As such, I think it'll be important to long-term health to identify and address beliefs that may have been formed and are hindering you about our upcoming economic problems. For that, I recommend Mind Over Mood. It not only provides a helpful guide to dealing with difficult emotions in the moment, but also to identify the beliefs that underlie a constant emotion. I myself am beginning to feel better after identifying the particular beliefs that provoke my anxiety and nip my motivation at times, and am becoming a stronger, calmer, and more patience person even as times worsen.

To date I maintain the same exact optimism I explicated two years ago about the state of the culture. Victory hasn't been sealed yet, but there's chance of it, so aside from keeping up the good fight I think it's important to make an effort to steel ourselves against the rough times -- which may last over a decade -- in the transition there.

Keep living.


  1. I'm a big fan of erogenous beliefs too, especially when I have Kleenex handy!


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