S. 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 concept of “the worst-possible scenario” is the lens we are generally socialized to view the world through now. It is necessary to use hyperbole and superlatives to discuss the most trivial situation in media, pop culture, politics, sport and our daily lives. Our collective tendency to overreact to everything is apart of the larger ‘culture of chronic unhappiness’ that we all participate in. It may be useful for each of us to have perspective so we all don’t collapse from stress. Looking at situations with a bit of nuance can ensure we maintain solid emotional and mental health.
In life bad things do happen but fortunately tragedy is 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 repeatedly revisiting a situation 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 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 happening again.
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 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 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 basically building an armor of positive protection against the constant criticisms of modern life circumstances. This is the cornerstone to developing a bit of resilience and surviving the ubiquitous culture of chronic unhappiness.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
Thank you so much for reading, sharing and commenting.
Flickr image by Ludo29