Avoid “mental rebelling” to be happier

Originally published at: Avoid "mental rebelling" to be happier | Boing Boing

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Buddy, I would starve to death.
But how much is the course?


More than $100, but they have a reasonable payment plan.


We must imagine a doormat happy?

Yeah, no, sorry.


This just sounds like blanket denial as a means of coping. Surely it depends on the circumstance behind how you came to be in the situation you’re in and whether any lessons can be learned from it.

Taking the “I just lost $100” example, if it was genuinely an accident then yeah stop beating yourself up about it and accept that sometimes, shit happens.

But, if you were callously stuffing that much money into your pocket and it fell out take it as a lesson learned and put your money back into your wallet properly so it doesn’t happen again. Or if you lost it because you were throwing it up in the air and a gust of wind took it down the street then accept that a fool and their money are soon parted and don’t do that again as one of the consequences is that you could lose that money.

Crafting denial stories are just as useless as berating yourself without analysing what happened and adjusting your behaviour as a result.


Or, ya know, try sitting with your feelings, sharing them with another, exploring them. Be kind to yourself, especially when you’re ashamed. Therapy helps, if that’s available and works for you.

I started the linked article and got this far

Many of us might be feeling bad about life at the moment. One approach that may improve your mood is shifting your psychological “baseline” of what you view as normal to reflect the reality you’re currently living in.

which made me think of this

which made me cease reading said article.


“. . because something is happening that I believe should not be happening and I am dwelling on it to the point of discomfort.”

Yeah, me too, but it’s because I lost my job. Not dwelling is like saying “don’t look down” when you are at the edge of a precipice.

The article is good/correct, and the steps to acceptance seem like good steps to take, but it still enrages me a bit because when you are busy dwelling on the bad to the point of discomfort, taking the steps to acceptance seem like a surefire path to increasing your own bad feelings.

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Imagine how much happier I would’ve been these last four years if I’d just accepted autocracy as my new baseline!


Acceptance four years ago might look like:

  • Fully acknowledging that Trump is president

  • Noting any negative self-talk (“I can’t live in a world where Trump is President”) but letting those thoughts drift away without getting stuck in them

  • Experiencing the full psychological loss right NOW (not trying to delay the feeling of rage or denying that Trump is president)

  • Acknowledging that you can survive with Trump as FUCKING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

  • Attempting to move your baseline (the state you were in before Trump was president) to be one that doesn’t involve having Obama as president, so that not having Obama as president feels normal instead of bad. You want to get yourself to the mental state where suddenly having Obama as president would feel like gaining Obama, not feel like simply losing Trump.

It didn’t work, I can tell you that.


Clearer Thinking: “Look, we just invented stoicism!”
Epictetus: “I´m not rolling in my grave. For it is not “things” that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance. But I can roll my eyes, right?”


Smiling helps.



I just imagine we had actual Adolf Hitler as president for four years and when I look at the newspaper I feel okilly-dokilly!


It’s one thing to try and find the upsides; my best example was reframing road rage “motherf*ckers cutting me off and almost killing me!” to “hey, that nice person just let someone merge in; it’s a bleeding miracle!”.

But just Pollyanna-ing through life like “this is fine” for everything is bullshit. There are things that we should get mad about (Trump), and blaming yourself for losing shit is how you start trying to do better (put that thing in a safe place). Otherwise we’d all just roll over and accept whatever the most assholish types wanted in life, and that shit cannot stand.


dating app GIF


AKA “lowering the bar”
EDIT: @anon18773919 beat me to it…


So far my approach to coping has been “plan only for the next few days and hope for the best”. It has worked but is far from ideal. I used to plan for the next five to ten years, so it doesn’t create much of a sense of stability.

As others have said here, this article’s approach only appears to work for dealing with problems people find in themselves. Large external factors aren’t seriously addressed. I can’t fathom how you would apply this to rapidly mutating COVID, 1/3 of the federal government pining to be Myanmar’s junta, or global warming.


I’ve always wondered about the general “don’t feel bad- other people have it worse!” approach they sprinkled in there. Yeah, not everyone has what you have. So I guess you’re not allowed to feel bad unless you’re the verifiably worst-off person in the world. (There was a webcomic about that somewhere- not sufficiently interested in it to dig it up.) I know, it’s a logical fallacy to posit the extreme, then ridicule that extreme as an argument. But that kind of advice seems like it’s just setting you up to feel guilty and keep everything bottled up unhealthily. You shouldn’t complain, because someone else has it worse! Screw that. Whining about every minor setback is one thing, but if you legitimately have it rough or have suffered a loss, you’re allowed to feel it!


Isn’t that the case for most of us? If I am carrying £100* it means that I need to buy something that costs £100. It isn’t pocket change.

Philosophy for rich people doesn’t interest me

* after a prolonged period of being in poverty I used to carry a £50 note in my purse all the time to prove to myself that I was not short of money anymore. I don’t need to do that anymore and I shouldn’t have felt the need in the first place. Sometimes the baselines are unacceptable.


As I read this post I kept expecting it to be a BB store ad. Was waiting for “And now you can buy happiness for 99% off the MSRP at the BB Store…”


Absolutely this!!
My friend gave me a single dollar 20 years ago and I have carried it in my purse to this day, for pretty much the same reason.