Keeping Calm in Stressful Situations

Throughout our lives we are subjected to many situations that cause us frustration or fear or anxiety or any other number of negative emotions. We always wish we can avoid these kinds of encounters, but the reality is that most of our life is centered around conflict of some kind. In some ways this is a good thing because it is only when we are placed under strain and have to push our way through a situation that we are able to grow into something more than we already are.

I just went through something that was very stressful and could have ended in a catastrophically bad way, but that result was avoided because I was able to de-escalate the situation. High levels of emotion were involved and there was a lot of chaos in the fray, but in the end it all turned out to be nothing and we were able to resolve the situation with no lasting negative results. I won’t go into any real detail here, as it was a very personal situation that didn’t involve just me, but suffice it to say if it had been handled differently it could have been life altering.

If there is something we can learn from this kind of situation, it is that allowing our emotions to control our behavior almost never generates the kinds of results we would prefer to have. When we rush headlong into a fight or make snap decisions out of fear or make assumptions about a person based solely on very limited information, we have very little chance of thinking clearly and rationally approaching whatever the problem is to come up with a clear and logical solution. Emotion by its very nature is chaotic, the very opposite of what is needed in a crisis.

As I stated in the very first post for this blog, one of the things I hope to accomplish during the course of my writing is to not only discuss different topics that are important to me, but also to help people move toward a more logic based way of thinking. Our society today has shifted away from looking for efficient, effective solutions to our problems in favor of spinning our wheels trying to do things that make us feel good. There is little thought put into the decisions we make as a nation today, and the same is true for many of us in our own personal lives.

Perhaps the best skill we can hope to master is that of emotional self control. The ability to maintain our calm in any situation is something that is difficult to attain and even more difficult to do consistently. Depending on where you fall on that spectrum of control, getting to a place where you are able to always manage hectic situations in a good way could take many years to reach. I previously mentioned that behavioral issues usually take a very long time and require a lot of effort to change, and this definitely falls into that category.

It’s one thing to understand that we need to be calm in stressful situations, but something quite different to actually start doing it. Many people will be looking for some trick to make an easy transition from where they are now to where they want to be, but like nearly anything worth doing in life there just isn’t any easy way to make it happen. You just have to place your focus on making the change and maintain a constant readiness when the situations you have to deal with come up. To use a common parlance: practice makes perfect.

Obviously I’m not recommending you place yourself in stressful situations just to practice being calm. The chemicals your body generates during these times is not good for you and can be harmful over long periods of time. The idea is to spend time every day actively thinking about becoming better about how you handle conflict and get yourself mentally prepared every day for it. Go through scenarios in your mind and figure out the best way to handle them. Think about the different people you might interact with and how an argument might erupt and the best way to resolve it. Mental practice beforehand, however theoretical, at least gets your mind in the game before a potential situation. Waiting until you’re in it is far too late.

Too many times we are led down the easy path by people promising easy answers to hard questions. If it’s important for us to put a significant amount of time into searching for an answer, it probably doesn’t have an easy solution. Making things better for ourselves almost always requires hard work and dedication. That’s just the way things are. At least until they come up with a way to program bad behavior out of us. I’m not sure I’d want to live in that kind of world.

What do you think about emotional discipline? Do you struggle with keeping control during conflict? Have you ever had something terrible happen as a result of your inability to keep your cool? As we continue forward in this new society we live in today, we are seeing an increasing lack of emotional control. It is only when we can take a step back and try to look at things objectively that we can come up with the best solutions to our problems.

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Existential Questions: The Soul

I’d like to think that this is the start of a new arc of articles covering some different thoughts about many of the philosophical ideas human beings have come up with over the years, but we’ll just have to wait and see how that pans out. As I was ruminating over ideas for the next article, I was reminded about how lately I’ve been thinking about one of the biggest existential questions most people wonder about: do I have a soul? That question immediately sparks other ideas to write about, but only time will tell if that can turn into a complete series.

It is interesting how our perceptions change as we age. When we are young, we are hardly concerned with the later stages of our lives, fully focused on the moment and what we want for the near future. Our attention is easily snared by shallow, unfulfilling things like attractive members of the opposite sex or partying or any other number of other “fun” activities. Barely more than children, most young adults never really think about anything beyond the here and now.

The time eventually comes, however, when we are beginning to approach the second half of our lives, and certain questions start coming up that we never really put much thought into during the first half. Among those questions is what happens after we die? It wasn’t much of a relevant issue when we still had so much of our lives in front of us, but as the number of years we have left continues getting smaller than the years we have behind us, the question becomes much more pertinent.

There are many differing viewpoints on the topic, ranging from one end of the spectrum to the other. Some believe that you cease to exist at the moment of death. Others believe that you live forever in perfect happiness. The truth is likely somewhere in between. Extremes don’t tend to be the norm in nature, and it seems likely that whatever follows our existence here will be something reflective of what we’re experiencing now.

Certain schools of thought try to use existing scientific evidence to disprove anything spiritual, claiming that our inability to quantify it means there is no reason to believe it exists. This is a rational viewpoint to some extent, but it could be argued that biology itself should discourage this viewpoint. One of the primary factors in biological evolution is the idea that a trait is only retained if it increases a species survivability over time. While basic intelligence obviously meets this criteria, the level of consciousness that we humans enjoy seems more of a luxury than a survival advantage, and biological evolution typically filters out unnecessary traits.

It is certainly true that we could be a case of “luck of the draw” and we just happened to get lucky enough to develop consciousness through a nearly impossibly large set of variables. Mathematicians will tell us that anything is certain to happen at least once if you get enough tries at it. However, making the assumption that there are an infinite number of attempts available for a particular thing never really made much sense to me. It seems more likely that consciousness is something outside of our biological development.

If this is the case, then we have to start wondering where our consciousness comes from. If we reject the idea that our consciousness is simply a function of our biology, it has to reside somewhere outside of our bodies, or at least separate from the physical functions of it. This is where the idea of the soul comes from. It is a separate part of us that can’t be quantified in our physical world, but has an effect on it all the same. When we are talking about anything spiritual, it is this part of our existence that we are talking about.

Like anything in life, going down the path I’ve taken in this article makes a number of basic assumptions. Unfortunately, you can’t arrive at any position in life without making at least one or two of them because we never have complete enough information to make a fully informed decision. It gets even more murky when we get into all things spiritual. At some point, you simply have to decide to accept certain things more based on feeling than fact because you know you’ll never get a completely true answer to all the variables surrounding it.

That said, since we can’t really prove scientifically whether or not our consciousness is separate from our biology, but it makes more logical sense that evolution would have trimmed that fat off, then it is fair to make the assumption that it is separate. If it is something outside of our physical form, it must exist in another place or form outside of something we know and understand. The logical end point for this line of reasoning is inevitably that we have a soul in one form or another.

Of course, this isn’t the complete answer to the question of the soul. It would be arrogant to think that any single article could ever exhaustively explain something so esoteric and complex, but that really wasn’t the point. I am not here to convince anyone of anything, and your personal beliefs are yours alone. The goal is to put out ideas that my readers might not have thought about, or to present them in a way that provokes additional thought on the topic. Sometimes it just takes hearing one thing to get us thinking differently about things.

What do you think about the idea of the soul? Do you lean more towards a biological explanation, or might there be something more? What would you need to see before believing in something more spiritual? We tend to need quite a lot of evidence to accept most things, but when we can’t get those answer we must sometimes bridge the gap ourselves. The answer we get from those leaps of faith can certainly be wrong, but if you have a solid foundation of logic behind the way you see the world.

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The Joy and Bane of Video Games

Everything in life is best when taken in moderation. This is a common theme among many practices in our lives, especially when it comes to things that can be harmful when taken to extremes. The effects of addictive behavior are most obvious when our addictions create behaviors that are obvious or dangerous others, but some of our vices are only harmful to ourselves primarily and can have a secondary negative effect on the people around us that may not be as clear.

For myself, I struggle with an extremely addictive personality. For most of my life I have had a problem with moderating my behavior in certain activities, partly because they are so enjoyable and partly because of the hyper-focused way that my mind works. What this means in reality is that anything I engage in that I find fun and that requires any amount of dedicated focus is likely to turn into an addiction, even if only for a short period of time. Once it’s no longer fun, the addiction fades away.

The problem arises when you have an endless supply of new versions of whatever your addiction happens to be. For many people, video games fall into this category, and I am certainly included in that group. My entire life from childhood to now has included a significant amount of digital interactive entertainment, from the early console systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System (really showing my age here) all the way up to the modern online gaming era that included monster role playing games like World of Warcraft.

As I stated before, there are two components to a video game addiction that causes problems. The first is the part that gets us involved in the first place: fun. We start out playing a game because we find it enjoyable, and the more fun something is, the more time we want to spend doing it. We get snared into that great feeling we get when we’re doing something we like, and that creates an urge to keep playing even when we know we should stop.

The second part is the focus aspect. The reason this is important is that virtually all video games are designed to grab your attention and hold it for the entire time you are playing. It is rare to find a truly engaging game that doesn’t require you to put most or all of your attention on it constantly. As a result, your mind shuts out the world around you and you are immersed in the fantasy world that has been created for you.

As I said at the beginning of this article, neither of these two things are necessarily bad on their own. Escaping reality for a short period of time can be quite healthy, providing a relief from the stress and pressure of our daily lives. The problem arises when you find yourself wanting to spend more and more of your time in that world and can’t bring yourself back to the real one. When you pull yourself away and all you can think about is getting back to the game, you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms. It is classic addiction.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to resolve this kind of thing. Video game addiction ranges from a mild problem to full blown ruining of people’s lives. Unlike a drug addiction, there are no harmful chemicals that can cause us to “overdose”, so it is much like a functioning alcoholic in that the person is damaged and this causes problems for the people around them, but they can still go on being addicted and make things work. It isn’t optimal, just functioning.

This is the joy and bane of videos games, at least when it comes to someone like me with an addictive personality. For most things in my life, I have brief explosions of addictive behavior, which is fine because I also quickly become bored and move on. Video games, on the other hand, change so much and so fast that I never seem to get bored. Individual games fall away, but gaming itself has stood the test of time. I am a functioning video game addict, and I’m not alone. Odds are that if this came up in your search, you might be too.

What do you think about video game addiction? Do you or someone you know struggle with it? Where do you draw the line between simply enjoying a game and becoming addicted to it? This isn’t the deepest of topics covered on this blog, but sometimes the simple things affect us the most. Knowing you have a problem and finding a way to break free of it are two different things, and one is much harder than the other.

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Maintaining Relationships with Emotional Problems

I tend to have tunnel vision. It’s one of my major flaws that I’ve never seemed to be able to figure out how to effectively deal with. As my attention is grabbed by one thing or another, I tend to become hyper interested in whatever it is I am doing and everything else falls out of my consciousness. The result of this is that I tend to have difficulty maintaining any real amount of focus on anything else as my mind races in lockstep with whatever current activity I’m involved in.

One of the consequences of this flaw in my makeup is that I tend to have a great deal of difficulty in maintaining my relationships with other people. This isn’t because I don’t care about the people in my life. On the contrary, when a need arises I set everything aside to make sure whatever they need is taken care of. However, when it comes to the day to day process of interacting with the people who are important to me in my life, I tend to not do a very good job of maintaining contact at the level that they would prefer.

There is an over-tendency to jump to medical diagnoses when it comes to behavioral problems such as this, throwing around terms like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but I think most of the time this is just an excuse for people to not have to change their ways. If we can blame a medical problem for our behavior, then we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions and we don’t have to put any effort into changing.

The other end of the spectrum is just as bad. When people don’t understand why you have the behavior that you do, it is difficult for them to accept that you might want to change but can’t do it overnight. Some of the people in your life might tell you that you should just be able to stop doing what they don’t like as if it is like flipping a switch. Behavioral habits just don’t work like that.

By far the most difficult situation is when your significant other stands in opposition to whatever behavioral issue you might be dealing with, especially when their is no understanding on their part about what your behavior is and why. They become hurt when you don’t act in the way they wish that you would, taking it as a sign that you don’t care. As a result, the situation is not only created by the fact that you have a negative habit in your behavior, it is amplified exponentially by the emotional hurt caused by a lack of understanding on both sides.

The goal would seem to be that each party in any relationship should approach the situation with a default attitude of not making any assumptions until enough evidence has been acquired to make a conclusion. Are they ignoring me because they don’t care, or are they busy with something and it’s just the way they are that causes them to forget everything else? Do they take care of the important things I need them to do, or do they let me down when it really counts?

At the same time, both sides should also be putting effort into resolving whatever behavioral issues are causing strain in the relationship. Ample patience and understanding should be had on both sides in understanding that the process of changing a habit takes a very long time, and behavioral habits are perhaps the most difficult to adjust. When we remember that some things take a lifetime to change, we start to see that even small, tiny changes can be a huge sign that the person really cares about making us happy.

In the end, the attitude on both sides should be something to the effect of “I love you the way you are no matter what, but I have hope this thing I don’t like will change someday”. This way our love can be unconditional and we don’t place unnecessary stress on the other person, but we keep the focus on trying to reduce the strain in the relationship caused by things we don’t like. If both sides can adopt this philosophy, then the frustration of dealing with interpersonal problems becomes much easier to deal with.

What do you think about relational stress? Do you have a behavioral quality that is causing problems in your own relationships? What steps are you taking to not only change your own behaviors, but become understanding of other people’s issues and support their efforts to change them? Relationships are perhaps the most important part of our life, and learning to improve them can have a drastic effect on our happiness and contentment.

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How Should You Carry Your Firearm?

In the current “popular” push against law enforcement, more and more states are beginning to pass laws that advance the rights of their citizens to keep and bear arms. Many people will see this as a bad thing, specifically because they feel that the erosion of a system of policing the public increases the chances something bad will happen. It’s difficult to know with any certainty just how bad things might get based on the change of one variable.

At any rate, it’s happening and it’s something we’re going to have to learn to live with, for a while at least. As certain people gain access to fewer restrictions on firearms, it is important to take a moment to consider all the aspects included in that very complex decision. Many people will simply buy a pistol, shove it in a cheap holster and go on about their business. The reality is that responsible carry of a dangerous weapon requires a bit more thought than that.

There are myriad things to go over when it comes to buying and carrying a firearm, but the focus of this article is the difference between openly carrying your firearm versus concealing it on your person. Both sides have pros and cons, and most people don’t think enough about what they’re doing before choosing an option, assuming both are available to them. Let’s take a moment to go over what these options mean and why you would pick one or the other.

Openly carrying is the most basic and versatile way to carry a handgun. This is usually place on the hip attached to a belt in a holster specifically designed for the size of weapon you are carrying. It provides the quickest access to your weapon in an emergency, and potentially provides a deterrent to criminals who might be considering you for a target. On the other hand, it also draws a lot of negative attention, and if a situation erupts into violence you will likely be the first person attacked in an effort to subdue the most obvious threat.

Concealed carry is the act of placing your weapon on your person in such a way that it is not clear that you are armed. This is typically done in similar fashion to the basic open carry method, except that the weapon is covered in some manner, typically with a shirt or other article of clothing. This concealment makes accessing your weapon more difficult, but has the positive effect of removing the constant tension associated with interacting with a public not comfortable with firearms. It also avoids undue attention by people with violent intent, as well as the attention of law enforcement.

As a person who believes in maximum individual liberty, I will always advocate for the most options to every person. Both open and concealed carry should be maximally available to all citizens, but I would also highly recommend that a method of concealed carry be used when going about your daily life. Many times it simply isn’t worth the trouble you might get into walking around with a publicly visible weapon on your person.

This is not to say that you should be timid about defending yourself. It is not cowardice to conceal your method of self defense, simply strategic planning. If your goal is to show off your weapon, you might want to rethink why you carry. Being smart about the methods you use to prevent harm to yourself or others is simply the best way to think about things, and when it comes to a tool as deadly as a firearm, more caution is always better than less.

What do you think about carrying a weapon? Can you think of reasons why you would choose either carrying openly or concealing it? What method do you think would work best in your daily life? Most of the time, we don’t really think about the details of how we do things and we are able to get away with it. This might work for a time when it comes to your firearm, but the consequences are simply far too high to leave things to chance.

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Filling in Your Time

One of the more difficult things about sustaining a blog is coming up with topics to go over without becoming repetitive or irrelevant. It is a primary factor in the failure of most creative endeavors such as blog writing or video content creation. What do you do when the ideas start to run dry, but you have a schedule to keep and you risk losing the attention of your audience by skipping a few articles or episodes?

Some people believe in the idea of quality of quantity, and I can get behind that on most things. I’d rather have one of something really good than ten of something cheap and flimsy. Unfortunately, in a world where everything is controlled by algorithms and the whims of a flighty society, you can’t always stick with the way you’d prefer to do things. Compromise is one of those ugly words we all have to get accustomed to.

I’d love to sit down once per week and just write a single, very detailed article on a specific topic, working out all of the details and providing a premium product that most other writers couldn’t produce. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that if you want to get noticed on the internet at all, you have to try to beat the calculations by publishing as much content as possible as quickly as possible. Thus, writing an article a day for the time being is the pathway I’ve chosen to take in this early stage of building my brand.

Sometimes you just have to learn how to fill in your time. Many times there isn’t anything specific on your agenda and you can either take a break from what you’re doing or find something else to close the gap between one important thing and the next. If you’re lucky, you can find something useful to do that adds meaning to your work, but many times you’re just marking time until you can get back to doing what is important to you.

This article is a prime example of this philosophy. Not having had time the last few days to sit down and either think about what I want to share with my readers, or find something in politics or society to write about, I started to wonder what I could write to span the gap between today and when I get my next idea. That in itself was somewhat inspirational as a topic, because most of the time we find something to fill our down time with activity and don’t really think about it. We just call it relieving boredom when it’s our own personal time.

You can’t really do that in the working world. Rarely are we in a position where the job we’re doing is something we find interesting. Some people are able to live their dream and make money doing what they love, but statistically it just isn’t possible for most of humanity to find this. “The world needs ditch diggers” is a phrase I grew up hearing, the point being that many of us will be forced to do the jobs no one else wants because it’s all we can find. There is an awful lot of boredom in the world.

At any rate, while we typically don’t like the idea of doing things just to do them, and prefer to have a quality product rather than just a place holder, many times it just isn’t feasible to do any better than insert a generic effort in between the things we really care about. Keeping a routine is an important part to maintaining something like writing a blog, or even just doing your day job. As I stated before, sometimes all you can do is just put in the bare minimum.

What do you think about going through the motions? How many things in your life require this kind of effort? Are you able to pull yourself up and get things done when you run into situations like this? Sometimes you just have to do something that isn’t your best work to keep yourself moving. Getting stuck on perfection is very dangerous if it ends up derailing your routine. Sometimes routine is all we have.

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Am I a Good Person?

One of my favorite songs right now is a parody music video by a YouTube content creator by the name of TheOdd1sOut entitled Good Person. In the video, the performer goes through several examples of a completely self absorbed person who does a number of “good” things in an effort to show what a virtuous person they are, but each example is nullified by an equally bad or selfish thing that shows his true colors. The message of the video is funny but clear: the point of doing good things is to be good, not to look good.

This is a perfect satirical statement about our society today. Too many people are far more interested in their own optics rather than actually getting anything done. In a nation where the average person craves fame more than value, it is difficult to find people who you can count on to do the right thing even most of the time. More often than not, what we see in public is vastly different than who the person really is in their private life.

Most of us struggle with this in our own lives from time to time, so it is difficult to become too angry with these people. One of the hardest things for a person to do is to break away from the crowd and stand up for something that isn’t very popular. It doesn’t matter if the thing we believe in is factually correct or morally righteous. Our fear of rejection or even physical harm can sometimes prevent us from doing the right thing. It’s easy to be noble when there aren’t any consequences for it. The task becomes infinitely more difficult when we have to face opposition.

Still, a lack of courageous people in our society is exactly why we see the societal rot that we live with today. Career politicians are the most obvious and corrupt example of this. If you look back on the average representative, you will likely find a multitude of positional changes as you move through their history. Sometimes it is a genuine change of heart on an issue, but most of the time it is either political expediency or a necessary evil to save their job. Rarely does a politician truly sacrifice himself on the alter of truth.

On a more basic level, this is a problem not only with the people charged with leading our nation, but also with the general public at large. Most of us want to look like we’ll always do the right thing, but when an opportunity comes along that’s just too tempting to ignore we’ll happily jump into a situation that is harmful to someone else to line our own pockets. The riots over the last year or so are evidence of this. Average people stealing and destroying the livelihoods of their own neighbors, ostensibly because they’re angry about some esoteric problem but the reality is that it’s because they have an excuse to be evil and can get away with it.

There are a lot of places to lay the blame for this kind of behavior. The feckless media we have today certainly doesn’t help. They always cover the things that make us hate each other while ignoring the things we’ve done that make our nation great. The movie and television industry is no better, showing us as much violence and sex and other mind rotting material as they can cram through their production lines. Social media platforms filter out the things we really should be seeing in favor of those that pit us against each other, a divide and conquer strategy as old as time.

The bottom line, however, is that it doesn’t matter if we have corrupt politicians or a hollowed out media industry or even social networking conglomerates actively working against us. No matter what you see in your daily life, the only person responsible for your actions is you. When you set aside the noise of all the excuses laid out in this article and look at yourself in the mirror, all you’re left with is the actions you chose to take. It becomes very difficult to sidestep the guilt when there’s no one to blame but yourself.

The point of this article is not to make anyone feel bad, but to point out that being a good person is an internal thing. Much like being in love, no one else can tell you if you’re virtuous. You just know because you do virtuous things with no thought of reward. This is probably the hardest thing to do, because human beings are naturally selfish and want to get paid for their efforts. But the truth is that the best rewards have nothing to do with anyone else. It is feeling good about ourselves that is the greatest payment we can ever receive.

What do you think about fake goodness? How do you feel when you find out someone you thought was good never really was? Are you able to tell the difference between a truly selfless person and someone who just wants to get something from you? There’s nothing you can really do about the people in life who just want to get what they can for themselves, but you can always do something to make yourself a better person. The better you make yourself, the more you’ll be able to see people for who they truly are.

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The count just hit 100! It’s super motivating to see my audience growing. Here’s hoping we get to 200! Thank you all for following the blog!

Overcoming Your Negative Reactions

One of the themes of this blog is going over the negative things that are going on in the world today, and it’s very easy to get scared to the point where you stop thinking rationally and start having wild fantasies about how bad things might get. I certainly go through this fairly regularly, and given what is going on in the world today I don’t believe these feelings are unwarranted. The world is moving toward a place where things might get extremely chaotic and it is a good thing to become mentally prepared for such times.

However, if you spend too much of your time focused on such things, it starts to consume your life entirely. We watch as politicians do what they’ve always done, just on a grander scale and wonder what we can do about it. We watch as aggressive nations like China push their own boundaries in a bid for control of more of the world, and we wonder what we can do about it. We watch as the government continues to print money and send us further and further down the path of hyper inflation, and we wonder what we can do about it. The country seems to be falling apart, and for much of our time all we can do is wonder what we can do about it.

The trick to all of this is to keep these things in their proper context. It is true that there is a volatile mix of chaotic events that are converging together in this place and time to upset the world we’ve become accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean we have to spend every day living in fear of what might happen tomorrow. Existing in this way not only causes us to waste our present, but also to give up on our future. Regardless of the looming shadow of chaos that seems to be on our horizon, we must continue pushing forward with the hope that we can come through on the other side in one piece.

All of these issues are temporary ones, and will pass with enough time. We might struggle to get through them, and some of our plans might be put on hold or cancelled entirely, but that does not mean that there aren’t things we can be doing in the meantime to push our lives forward. As I’ve stated in the past, sometimes live altering changes can be a good thing. It can open doors we never expected to be made available to us and put us in places we never thought we could reach.

Of course, there is always risk in such situations, but to dwell on this is pointless. Even in our modern society with so many rules and structures, we have only created the illusion of safety. We enter into much more risk than we ever realize simply by being employed by a company or getting into our cars or walking down the street. None of us can ever really know what is going to happen to us, and any feeling of security is only an illusion.

Knowing this, it becomes important for us to stop viewing the potentially chaotic future we see before us as something to fear and start looking for ways to take advantage of what might be coming our way. Like any venture, there will be risk, and some of that might include life and limb, but no one ever makes it big without putting something valuable on the line. If you lose, then at least you tried and don’t have to live the rest of your life wondering what might have been.

So as we watch the world we grew up in starting to slowly crumble away, it is imperative that we see all of these negative things for what they are: things that are happening that we can’t control and all we can do is control ourselves. Keep your eyes open for the things coming your way that you can do something about and stand ready to do what is necessary. Don’t let the media or even some of the things I share here in this blog get you down. In the end, human beings have shown that we have the capacity to pull through the worst possible situations. You can too.

What do you think about the chaos in the world today? How many times have you felt discouraged after watching or reading about something bad happening? Are you prepared for some of the things we might have to face in the near future? Many times, all it takes is a slight adjustment in our attitudes to make all the difference in our lives. Being prepared for the worst, but hoping for the best, can steel us for the trying times ahead. Be prepared.

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The Mass of Men Lead Lives of Quiet Desperation

Sometimes you hear something that just makes you stop what you’re doing and reflect on things for a while. No matter how long you think about various things in your life, there are certain words that just hit you really hard and cause you to either think about something in a completely new way, or crystalize a feeling you’ve always had deep down inside you. These aren’t usually life changing words, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you have a moment of clarity.

Henry David Thoreau is one of the most well known writers in American history. Most of us don’t know any of his works, but his legacy is so strong that even most uneducated people at least know his name. People like this leave us with pearls of wisdom just like the title of this article. There is something powerful in such a simple phrase that speaks to us on another level. You hear it and it calls to your soul.

Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this quote. There have been many times in the past that I’ve come across it, either through reading or in media in one form or another. It is a well known quote and is used to describe something that many people deal with every day: lost dreams. These kinds of phrases resonate with us so powerfully because they speak to something very real in our lives that affects the very core of our being. Those are the things that simply can’t be denied.

What really sparks these feelings is when we look at ourselves and realize that we aren’t living the kind of life we wish we could. It doesn’t matter if you have fame or fortune, or if you are popular or powerful or any of the things that society has claimed we should want. None of these are the things that make us feel like we’ve truly made it in the world. There is nothing so shallow that can save us from the desperation of the unfulfilled life.

The only escape from this desperation is finding something in our life that gives it meaning. Money is great, and can certainly help us try out many different things in the hope of finding something that does it, but money by itself is useless. The same is true of power, at least when that power results in relationships based on fear of consequence rather than true respect. Fame is the worst way to try and fill the hole inside, as there is no intimacy with the people who fawn over you. It is empty.

Mostly, though, it is those of us who struggle at the bottom of society who quietly despair through our lives, unfulfilled with the grind of life absent some sort of meaningful purpose. Being proficient at a thing simply isn’t enough. We need to feel as if we are leaving a legacy, and that can only happen if we are doing something that resonates with the people around us. It is in the thoughts of others that we ultimately escape the despair.

Like most men, I struggle with the despair of my wasted life. I am attempting to break the chains of that horrible feeling and step out into the light to make something meaningful, but decades of playing it safe out of fear makes it really hard to do. What I do know is that I’m tired of that feeling and it’s past time to shove off the despair and start living the life I’ve always wanted. The trick is just figuring out how to do it.

What do you think about living in despair? Do you think the people in your life quietly suffer with how their lives turned out? How can you support your friends and help them to seize the kind of life they really want? What would you need to do the same? We live our lives in quiet despair because we are too afraid to make a move, and no one around us is brave enough to encourage us to act. How much better could our lives be if we all carried each other forward?

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