HOW TO SURVIVE IN AN ABSURD WORLD
First of all let me apologize to all of my female friends for the gender-biased title to this post. It is a quote from the Bible so, that being said, it is what it is (as they say in the modern world) and impossible to make gender neutral. That said, the maxim applies equally to all regardless of gender. Many years ago, the great American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way "[A] man becomes what he thinks about all day long." Now why is this important today?
We are in the midst of a crisis the magnitude of which many, if not most, of us have never experienced. I speak now of the so-called covid 'pandemic'. Now before you stop reading, this article is not going to be any sort of political statement. Rather, I hope to address the practicalities of survival in what is, in my view, an absurd set of circumstances. What do I mean?
Currently, we are being told that the rate of suicide in the population is showing a dramatic increase. Indeed, a whole host of social problems have emerged. People have lost their jobs and their businesses. It seems that every hour of every day media news reports begin with a recitation of the day's most recent covid 'numbers'. Politicians continue to beat on the drums of economic lock-down, curfew and other sorts of draconian social measures that have dramatically affected our basic freedoms but which, the politicians say, are designed to keep us safe. We are living in an environment saturated with fear, anxiety and insecurity. Many people say they are experiencing symptoms of depression as a direct result of isolation. So-called conspiracy theorists suggest that we are being fed a daily diet of misinformation. Many reputable physicians have expressed, in no uncertain terms, the view that they do not see the point of an individual wearing a mask. Those opinions, however, have been silenced. I do not think that it is unfair to say that, in the wake of conflicting opinon, misinformation and uncertainty that has been generated, many in the population have fallen into panic mode and, consequently, have effectively lost the ability to think rationally for themselves. So how does one cope psychologically in such an environment? Is it even possible to actually thrive in such circumstances?
Now at this point I must confess that, when all of the fear-mongering began back in March of 2020, I too wondered whether we might actually be in the 'end times'. However, we now know that the statistics on covid morbidity at that time were grossly inflated! Moreover, on a more personal level, as time went by the income from my own business was dramatically affected. The telephone just stopped ringing. Needless to say, that fact by itself became, for me, the source of increasing levels of anxiety. And so we come to the whole point of this article. How do you effectively respond to a whole array of negative influences in your life? The answer to that question lies in how you respond psychologically!
A teacher who I have followed for many years often reminds us to 'guard your mind'. By this he means that you have to be vigilant about what you allow yourself to think about. If you allow yourself to think about all of the negatives, you are exposing yourself to the risk that all of that negativity may soon overwhelm you psychologically and emotionally. When a person allows herself or himself to dwell upon negative thoughts, a person begins to lose the ability to function, at all levels, in an effective manner. We now know that the things we think about generate corresponding emotions good or bad.
Cutting-edge biology tells us that negative emotion has a corresponding negative impact on the body. If you allow negative thought to dominate your mind over extended periods of time, along with the negative emotion that invariably corresponds to those negative thoughts, the door to 'dis-ease' opens wide. The key, therefore, is to dwell upon thoughts that uplift and encourge. In short, you should occupy your mind with thoughts that generate positive emotions. In other words, thoughts that make you feel good!
Well, you say, that is easier said than done. I agree. The key is, as in other areas of life, you must practice the art of thinking good feeling thoughts. Doing so takes discipline. But with continued practice, as with all things, you become better at it. As Emerson suggested, you become what you think about all day long! And that is what is meant by those who have suggested that 'happiness is a choice'. Do you want to be a happy person? You and only you determine what you allow into your mind every minute and every hour of every day! Adopt the practice of positive, life-giving thought patterns. When you do this your life assumes a completely different trajectory. And that is the key to thriving in an absurd world.
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Grant Edward Rayner B.Comm., LL.B.
London, Ontario, Canada