Shawn Maxam begins his Culture of Chronic Unhappiness series by discussing our collective obsession with creating false catastrophes in our personal lives.
If some great catastrophe is not announced every morning, we feel a certain void. Nothing in the paper today, we sigh.
The worst-possible scenario is the lens we are socialized to view the world through. Hyperbole and superlatives are necessary to discuss the most trivial situation in media, pop culture, politics, sport and our daily lives. This tendency to overreact is apart of the larger ‘culture of chronic unhappiness’ that we are now all participating in. Perspective and nuance is a necessity so we don’t all don’t collapse from stress and to ensure we maintain solid emotional and mental health.
Bad things happen but tragedy is fortunately rare in most of our lives.We need to separate the concept of tragedy from basic modern life discomforts aka first world problems. Let’s see if we can use some language to view our personal lives outside of the pervasive culture of chronic unhappiness. Time for resilience building.
Complaining or Venting & Processing or Problem-Solving:
Complaining is revisiting a situation repeatedly that has had minor impact on your life. Venting is discussing a (negative) situation once or twice. Processing is talking through the situation where you discuss your feelings and why he you felt that way. Problem-solving is figuring out how to resolve the situation or issue and preventing some of the more negative feelings about the experience from reoccurring.
Our general behavior is maximizing in a negative manner not only the feelings we have about an issue or situation but turning the most trivial discomforts and minor annoying life experiences into a crisis i.e. in the words of comedian Louis CK – waiting on the airport tarmac before take-off is a problem now.
The Difference between Problems, Issues and a Crisis:
Problems are resolvable.
Issues are specific underlying emotional experiences that are still have an impact on how you behave or how you think about the world.
Crisis is a current or past situation that is life-altering in scope and needs or needed immediate attention.
Cultivating a optimistic attitude is essentially crafting an armor of positive protection against the constant negativity and criticisms of basic modern life circumstances. This is the cornerstone to building a bit of resilience and surviving the ubiquitous culture of chronic unhappiness.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
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Flickr image by Ludo29