Are You Prepared for the Coming Existential Crisis

Many people have, throughout their lives, experienced varying degrees of existential angst: the feeling of being some combination of unmoored, bored, anxious, restless, depressed, lost, isolated, and/or alienated, and simply wondering what it’s all about.

For many too, these feelings of existential angst have been exacerbated over the past pandemic-burdened year. Yet, heightened though these feelings may have been, they may have also, in a strange way, been easier to deal with during this period than they were prior to its start — and still easier than they’ll be after it’s through.

One of the most difficult things about existential angst, is that it can be isolatingly individual, of indeterminate length, with a cause, and solution, that is vexingly difficult to pin down. During the pandemic, however, the cause of one’s angst became external, clear, tangible, and universal, with an end date that was at least (semi) defined. People could point to the pandemic and say, “That’s why I’m feeling off,” and reason to themselves: “Once x, y, and z return to normal, then I’ll feel fine.” This buttressing, in the form of having a definable explanation for one’s malaise, thus allowed for that malaise to be both more acute and easier to bear.

In the post-COVID landscape, feelings of existential angst may return to their pre-pandemic levels, and yet are likely to stand out in starker, more disorienting relief than ever. When a weight once wholly carried, is for a time buttressed by supports, but then loses those supports, the original weight feels heavier than before.

This hypothesis may seem off the mark at the moment. Hope and optimism are in the air; a light at the end of the tunnel is warming the blood. We feel certain that a resumption in indoor dining, and parties, and travel will entirely eliminate our feelings of existential angst. And indeed they will, for a time. When the dopamine that accompanies novelty (or the re-novelization of old habits) surges, we’ll be all aglow with anticipation and excitement and momentum.

But when that parabolic arc of dopamine hits its peak and begins its descent — which it always, always does — we’ll recognize the old feelings of angst again, once more shorn of any ready-made concrete cause. And the re-realization that visits to the local ramen bar and trips to Hawaii don’t resolve the desire for greater meaning, the resettling of the full weight of yearning on the soul, may usher in a widespread existential crisis.

When it comes to “emergency prep,” we prepare for natural disasters by building bug out bags, prepare for a breakdown of the utility grid by storing up a long-term water supply, and will one day ready ourselves for the possibility of a future pandemic by . . . buying toilet paper? But are we preparing for a potential existential emergency? Is there any way to prepare for such a crisis?

Perhaps the best form of preparation is simply to accept that while existential angst may lessen and deepen according to one’s external circumstances, it will never entirely go away. To accept that restlessness is intrinsic to the human experience. That we are, as Kierkeegaard argued, made up of both the infinite and the finite, and that these two parts of our nature will always be in conflict and never entirely fit together in a neat, tensionless way.

While existential restlessness can never be extinguished, it can be tamed. The other part of existential emergency prep, then, is to start asking bigger questions, studying profounder writings and ideas that may furnish tools on how to get a handle on things. Ironically, while your angst may have gotten deeper during the pandemic, your media consumption may have gotten shallower; more Netflix, more Twitter scrolling, more headline scanning. Less pearl diving.

To avoid emerging from a health crisis, only to step into an existential one, reverse that trend and start getting into heartier fare. Start stocking your existential cupboard with sustaining insights and perspectives that transcend this moment of time. And start equipping your philosophical first aid kit with supplies that will help you survive whatever moments come next — daily habits in thinking and doing that point not only beyond restaurant-dining and world-traveling, but beyond the narrow, and ultimately unsatisfying, confines of the self.

By: Brett and Kate McKay

Source: Are You Prepared for the Coming Existential Crisis? | The Art of Manliness

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People often speak of going through an ‘existential crisis’; but what do they really mean by the term? And when can it be useful to have it to hand? To undertake the journey of self-exploration the Existentialists thought crucial, take a look at our “Know Yourself” cards: http://bit.ly/29NH4Px Watch more films on SELF in our playlist: http://bit.ly/TSOLself If you like our films, take a look at our shop (we ship worldwide): http://bit.ly/29kPm2S FURTHER READING
You can read more about self and other topics on our blog TheBookofLife.org: http://bit.ly/29weaXW SOCIAL MEDIA Feel free to follow us at the links below: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theschoolofl… Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheSchoolOfLife Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theschoolof… CREDITS Produced in collaboration with Damn Fine Media http://www.damnfinemedia.co.uk #TheSchoolOfLife

 

Stop Telling Chronically Ill People to ‘Stay Positive’

Have you considered listing all the positive things happening in your life?” my therapist asked me.

I winced a bit at my therapist’s words. Not because I thought gratitude for the good in my life was a bad thing, but because it glossed over the complexities of all that I was feeling.I was talking to her about my chronic illnesses and the way it impacts my depression — and her response felt invalidating, to say the least.

She wasn’t the first person to suggest this to me — not even the first medical professional. But every time someone suggests positivity as a solution to my pain, it feels like a direct hit to my spirit.

Sitting in her office I began to question myself: Maybe I do need to be more positive about this? Maybe I shouldn’t be complaining about these things? Maybe it isn’t as bad as I think?

Maybe my attitude is making all this worse?

Positivity culture: Because it could be worse, right?

We live in a culture steeped in positivity.

Between memes spouting messages meant to uplift (“Your life only gets better when you get better!” “Negativity: Uninstalling”), online talks extolling the virtues of optimism, and countless self-help books to choose from, we are surrounded by the push to be positive.

We are emotional creatures, capable of experiencing a wide range of feelings. However, the emotions that are deemed preferable (or even acceptable) are far more limited.

Putting on a happy face and presenting a cheery disposition to the world — even when going through really tough stuff — is applauded. People who push through hard times with a smile are praised for their bravery and courage.

Conversely, people who express their feelings of frustration, sadness, depression, anger, or grief — all very normal parts of the human experience — are often met with comments of “it could be worse” or “maybe it would help to change your attitude about it.”

This positivity culture transfers over to assumptions about our health, too.

We’re told that if we have a good attitude, we will heal faster. Or, if we’re sick, it’s because of some negativity we put out into the world and we need to be more conscious of our energy.

It becomes our job, as sick people, to make ourselves well through our positivity, or at the very least to have a perpetually good attitude about the things we’re going through — even if that means hiding what we’re truly feeling.

I admit that I have bought into many of these ideas. I’ve read the books and learned about the secret to manifesting good into my life, to not to sweat the small stuff, and how to be a badass. I’ve attended lectures about visualizing all I want into existence and listened to podcasts about choosing happiness.

For the most part I see the good in things and people, look for the silver lining in unpleasant situations, and see the glass as half full. But, despite all that, I’m still sick.

I still have days where I feel most every emotion in the book except for the positive ones. And I need that to be okay.

Chronic illness can’t always be met with a smile

While positivity culture is intended to be uplifting and helpful, for those of us dealing with disabilities and chronic illness, it can be detrimental.

When I’m on day three of a flare-up — when I can’t do anything but cry and rock because the meds can’t touch the pain, when the noise of the clock in the next room feels excruciating, and the cat’s fur against my skin hurts — I find myself at a loss.

I’m grappling with both the symptoms of my chronic illnesses, as well as guilt and feelings of failure associated with the ways I’ve internalized the messages of positivity culture.

And in that way, people with chronic illnesses like mine just can’t win. In a culture that demands we face chronic illness inauthentically, we’re asked to deny our own humanity by concealing our pain with a “can-do” attitude and a smile.

Positivity culture can often be weaponized as a way of blaming people with chronic illnesses for their struggles, which many of us go on to internalize.

More times than I can count, I’ve questioned myself. Did I bring this on myself? Am I just having a bad outlook? If I’d meditated more, said more kind things to myself, or thought more positive thoughts, would I still be here in this bed right now?

When I then check my Facebook and a friend has posted a meme about the power of a positive attitude, or when I see my therapist and she tells me to list the good things in my life, these feelings of self-doubt and self-blame are just reinforced.

‘Not fit for human consumption’

Chronic illness is already a very isolating thing, with most people not understanding what you’re going through, and all the time spent in bed or homebound. And the truth is, positivity culture adds to the isolation of chronic illness, magnifying it.

I often worry that if I express the reality of what I’m going through — if I talk about being in pain, or if I say how frustrated I am at having to stay in bed — that I’ll be judged.

I’ve had others say to me before that “It’s no fun to talk to you when you’re always complaining about your health,” while still others have remarked that me and my illnesses were “too much to handle.”

On my worst days, I started to pull back from people. I’d keep quiet and not let anyone know what I was going through, except for those closest to me, like my partner and child.

Even to them, though, I’d jokingly say that I wasn’t “fit for human consumption,” trying to maintain some humor while also letting them know it may be best to just leave me alone.

Truthfully, I felt shame about the negative emotional state I was in. I’d internalized the messages of positivity culture. On days where my symptoms are especially severe, I don’t have the ability to put on a “happy face” or gloss over the things going on with me.

I learned to hide my anger, grief, and hopelessness. And I held onto the idea that my “negativity” made me a burden, instead of a human being.

We are allowed to be authentically ourselves

Last week, I was lying in bed in the early afternoon — lights off, curled up in a ball with tears quietly running down my face. I was hurting, and I was depressed about hurting, especially when I thought about being bed-bound on a day I’d had so much planned.

But there was a shift that happened for me, ever so subtle, when my partner walked in to check on me and asked me what I needed. They listened as I told them all the things I was feeling and held me as I cried.

When they left, I didn’t feel so alone, and even though I was still hurting and feeling low, it somehow felt more manageable.

That moment acted as an important reminder. The times when I tend to isolate are also the times that I actually need my loved ones around me the most — when what I want, more than anything, is to be able to be honest about how I’m really feeling.

Sometimes all I really want to do is have a good cry and complain to someone about how hard this is — someone to just sit with me and witness what I’m going through.

I don’t want to have to be positive, nor do I want someone to encourage me to change my attitude.

I just want to be able to express my full range of emotions, to be open and raw, and have that be totally okay.

I’m still working on slowly unravelling the messages that positivity culture has ingrained in me. I still have to consciously remind myself that it’s normal and perfectly okay to not be optimistic all the time.

What I’ve come to realize, though, is that I am my most healthy self — both physically and emotionally — when I give myself permission to feel the full spectrum of emotions, and surround myself with people who support me in that.

This culture of relentless positivity won’t change overnight. But it’s my hope that, the next time a therapist or a well-meaning friend asks me to look at the positive, I’ll find the courage to name what I need.

Because every one of us, especially when we’re struggling, deserves to have the full spectrum of our emotions and experiences witnessed — and that doesn’t make us a burden. That makes us human.


Angie Ebba

Angie Ebba is a queer disabled artist who teaches writing workshops and performs nationwide. Angie believes in the power of art, writing, and performance to help us gain a better understanding of ourselves, build community, and make change. You can find Angie on her website, her blog, or Facebook.

 

Source: Stop Telling Chronically Ill People to ‘Stay Positive’

Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid

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Editors’ Note: Following the huge popularity of this post, article source Amy Morin has authored a guest post on exercises to increase mental strength here and Cheryl Conner has interviewed Amy in a Forbes video chat about this article here.

For all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean even more. Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous articles talk about critical characteristics of mental strength—tenacity, “grit,” optimism, and an unfailing ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to “fail up.”

However, we can also define mental strength by identifying the things mentally strong individuals don’t do. Over the weekend, I was impressed by this list compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker,  that she shared in LifeHack. It impressed me enough I’d also like to share her list here along with my thoughts on how each of these items is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”

2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.

3.    Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear,” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.

5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.

7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences—but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.

9. Resent Other People’s Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.

10. Give Up After Failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.

11. Fear Alone Time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they don’t depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.

12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining the realization that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.

13. Expect Immediate Results. Whether it’s a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are “in it for the long haul”. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have “staying power.” And they understand that genuine changes take time. Do you have mental strength? Are there elements on this list you need more of? With thanks to Amy Morin, I would like to reinforce my own abilities further in each of these areas today. How about you?

Cheryl Snapp Conner is a frequent speaker and author on reputation and thought leadership. You can subscribe to her team’s bi-weekly newsletter, The Snappington Post, here.

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I am an entrepreneur and communications expert from Salt Lake City and founder of SnappConner PR. I am the author of Beyond PR

 

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/11/18/mentally-strong-people-the-13-things-they-avoid/#2bd3b0056d75

7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose – Mark Manson – Pocket

One day, when my brother was 18, he waltzed into the living room and proudly announced to my mother and me that one day he was going to be a senator. My mom probably gave him the “That’s nice, dear,” treatment while I’m sure I was distracted by a bowl of Cheerios or something. But for fifteen years, this purpose informed all of my brother’s life decisions: what he studied in school, where he chose to live, who he connected with, and even what he did with many of his vacations and weekends……..

Source: 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose – Mark Manson – Pocket

50 Ways To Live On Your Own Terms – Benjamin Hardy – Pocket

Although people think they perform better on caffeine, the truth is, they really don’t. Actually, we’ve become so dependent on caffeine that we use it to simply get back to our status-quo. When we’re off it, we under perform and become incapable.

Source: 50 Ways To Live On Your Own Terms – Benjamin Hardy – Pocket

Lessons Learned — Ricardo

As the sky smiles, the street tears the chunks Fear units more than courage, a rock has sunk Wants the knowledge, he is back to that youth The barefoot cries, are unknown to love & truth He’ll never forget, lessons learned through hurt A tasted victory, a forced witness, a false rebirth A wish for […]

via Lessons Learned — Ricardo

A Very Happy New Year to all couples and all lovers! — Success Inspirers’ World

May your loftiest dream come true this year! May you be blessed with love, prosperity and joy throughout the year!

via A very Happy New Year to all couples and all lovers! — Success Inspirers’ World

SHARING THE LAST AND FIRST OF THE YEAR – Marilyn Armstrong — Serendipity – Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Share Your World 12-31-18 Writing this on the last day of the year to be published on the first of the new one, so it is the last and the first. May everyone’s New Year be full of joy, laughter, health, and hope! For the parents in the crowd: What would be the absolute worst name […]

via SHARING THE LAST AND FIRST OF THE YEAR – Marilyn Armstrong — Serendipity – Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

No More Snooze Button: A Complete Guide To Waking Up Feeling Fantastic – Linda Geddes

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Do you wake up to the sound of birdsong or an electronic ringtone? Perhaps you use a dawn simulator or an app that won’t stop beeping until you have walked at least 100 paces. It is increasingly unlikely that you groggily grope for the stop button on a traditional alarm clock. According to John Lewis, alarm clock sales are down 16% on 2017. Instead, many people are relying on phone alarms or dawn simulators, which claim to more gently rouse you from slumber. Now the clocks have gone back and the days are shortening, it may seem harder than ever to get out of bed. So, what is the best way to wake up……….

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/29/complete-guide-to-waking-up-feeling-fantastic

 

 

 

 

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How To Train Your Brain To Go Positive Instead Of Negative – Loretta Breuning

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Our brain is not designed to create happiness, as much as we wish it were so. Our brain evolved to promote survival. It saves the happy chemicals (dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) for opportunities to meet a survival need, and only releases them in short spurts which are quickly metabolized. This motivates us to keep taking steps that stimulate our happy chemicals. You can end up with a lot of unhappy chemicals in your quest to stimulate the happy ones, especially near the end of a stressful workday……..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/12/21/how-to-train-your-brain-to-go-positive-instead-of-negative/#707a40525a58

 

 

 

 

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