Mandates and Metaverses and Tik Tok videos and capitol break-ins — and that was only 2021.
America has been hurting for a while now, and our collective mental health is hitting an all-time low.
But there are people who get above it. It’s the ones too busy living their lives to get caught up in the insanity.
If you’re worried about what’s going on, what’s on your newsfeed, and where the country is headed, here are a few things you need to remember:
You Have the Power to Decide What You Consume
Information flows in and out of your life through algorithms. You might have forgotten, but you have the ability to engage with other things or walk away from media altogether.
I know it’s hard to do when you’re addicted to always knowing what’s going on.
But you can do it. Especially when you realize media consumption is only making your life worse. You are not helping yourself, or the world, by destroying your mind with infinite feeds.
- You can choose to read a book about a topic instead of taking someone else’s word for it.
- You don’t have to spend time with people who always fill you with doom and dread.
- You don’t have to consume anything. You could immerse yourself in your life and your work.
You Are Allowed to Believe Whatever You Like
Even if you feel like you’re surrounded by insanity, you can maintain your integrity.
Don’t feel pressured. You have to be honest with yourself about how you see the world, or else you’ll spend your life repressing your true feelings.
You don’t have to wave your flag passionately and tell people what they should think, but you do have a right to your opinion, even if other people would prefer you didn’t. You’re allowed that in America.
To quote a great man, Ralph Waldo Emerson:
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Don’t force yourself to agree with something you don’t believe in.
That being said, before you argue with someone, remember this…
Division Is the Problem, Not the Other Side
I’m not saying you have to like everyone’s opinion.
And I’m not saying you have to hang out with people you can't stand or pretend to like anyone.
But I am saying that everything is weaker, and we are all worse off when we believe our next-door neighbors are our enemies.
Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist who studies why people who are morally good become divided in what they believe. Here’s what he says about morality:
Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.
People can’t reach a common ground if they believe their political opponents are the ones ruining the country. And like Dr. Haidt says, “our fate is shared.”
There is only one thing that can change another person’s mind: Empathy.
If you really want to change someone’s mind on a moral or political matter, you’ll need to see things from that person’s angle as well as your own…Empathy is an antidote to righteousness, although it’s very difficult to empathize across a moral divide
There can be no empathy if we only see robots or NPCs, or soldiers of the enemy ideology. Most people aren’t walking stereotypes of their politics. They’re more nuanced than that. They hurt and feel fear like you do, believe me.
Think Like a Stoic
Stoicism is a philosophy that’s all about choice. The Stoic Epictetus said:
The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.
All the scary things that are happening: the rapid evolution of technology, the volatile politics, the global affairs, are enough to occupy your mind forever.
You could choose to constantly be anxious, but the truth is, you can't control any of that. So let it go.
You can only control what you do. You can only exemplify what you think the world (or America) needs. You decide how you treat people. You decide how you treat yourself. You decide what kind of person you’ll be, and what kind of life you’ll live.
You can make the world worse or you can make it better. And by the way, your actions do matter. You can influence others, give them hope, or make them lose it, depending on how you treat them.
Stoics have a “so be it” mentality when something bad happens to them. I think the only way to adopt this mentality is to trust yourself.
Trust that if something bad happens, you will be able to handle it. You’ve endured difficulties before, and you got through it. So, whatever happens, happens.
Trusting yourself is one of the strongest aspects of being mentally healthy, in any time period.
To quote Helen Keller:
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
The biggest risk you can take with your sanity in America is to stay scared.
Stay inside, go to work (or work from home), drown in the news, get angry on social media, eat garbage, get trashed. And then do it all again, and again, and again.
I don’t want to sound preachy, but come on. Is that really what you want your life to be? You still have a choice. You always do.
You could be making memories. You could be mastering skills. You could be cultivating relationships and experiences. You could get above all this nonsense and actually care about your life.
The people who profit off your attention (and your precious time) don't like people who think for themselves and act in their own best interest. So be a rebel, and don’t do what they want. The only things keeping you in place are your habits and your fears.
You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize you spent all your time being used as a product for tech companies. You could refuse to let any of this affect your thoughts or your actions.
Carve out your life and make it a sanctuary.
Stay Sane, Stay Well, Stay Focused
Maybe this is optimistic, but I feel that if enough good people keep their integrity, then we can survive any existential threat, whether it be technology, or brainwashing, or oppression of any kind.
There are plenty of good people left in America. Not everyone has become an insane pundit. If you take anything from this article, take that.
So, if you want to be well in America in the coming year, remember these things:
- You decide what media you take in.
- You have a right to believe what you believe.
- If you get into a political argument, try to be empathic, and realize that they are worried about the country too.
- Stoicism can keep you mentally healthy.
- Life is meant to be lived, not flooded with nonsense.
I don’t know when the chaos is going to die down. So, just live your life. Be good to people. Help out. Focus on your goals. That’s what I’m going to do. And you know what? That’s enough.