Giving appreciation and forgiveness have both been shown to promote mental health, well-being and happiness.
Consider and appreciate the biggest miracle gift of all.
You and I exist.
No one can explain that.
We cannot even comprehend the alternative — that nothing at all exists.
By default, nothing should exist, not even space and time. No energy or matter, no information or knowledge.
Yet here we are!
Even grasping the notion of God as creator does not help explain, since how could any God possibly exist?
As for our mental health, much of the stress and background anxiety we experience today is a result of the growing civil complexity. We have too many things happening too fast. Its making us all emotionally sick.
Our species has been too successful. Civilization is approaching the maximum, a tipping point, beyond which civil order is not sustainable. It is called a diseconomy of scale and it results in diminishing returns on investment. In other words, it will take too much energy and effort to maintain order. We facing the universal and inevitable Scaling Laws of Nature.
We are beginning to live in fear that someone Evil is trying to control us. Is it the radical right or the radical left? Is it a violent religious sect? Is the super-rich? Is it the impending robot nation and cyber-masters? Someone with too much testosterone in their system wants total control — winner take all!
When the background anxiety reaches a feverish pitch we grasp for the offending target. All our worries consolidate around and fixate on that source of our concern. We go into an instinctive ‘fight or flight‘ mode.
And, yes, many testosterone pumped sociopaths are in fact trying to self-actualize by grabbing the opportunities amidst the chaos. They sense your fear and leverage it. So paranoia is not unjustified. It may be your hero who’s telling you exactly what you want to hear. You’ve been anesthetized by reassuring words and more importantly, the hero’s confident persuasive body language.
Problem is, we are blindfolded by information overload, propaganda and disinformation. We draw a blank, suspended in a dancing landscape. We desperately seek a simple fact, a single target as our enemy. We reduce to right and wrong, good and evil. “Where is the off switch?”
We cancel the Evil ones and their propagandists while blindly following our Saint’s dictums and mantras like faithful worshipers and soldiers.
But reality is not simple. Though times have been simpler in the past, its hard to recover any sense of a common destiny, an implicit bond of trust, or a oneness with something bigger.
Yet, as surely as we face an Evil enemy, we must also face our own fears and understand that those fears are there to protect us. They are trying to do their job. Maybe it is our fear itself that we must manage first before we can continue our search for truth and goodness in the confusion and chaos.
Elements of Our Nature
The miracle gift we have received consists of just two ‘things’ — entities and events, embedded in space and time. We are entities and we live in a continuous stream of events. There are only two events (processes) that living entities like us do in time — they come together and they go apart. Like addition and subtraction operating in every infinitesimal fraction of an instant.
Hence, in our most reptilian brain we approach or avoid. We approach opportunities to continue and we avoid threats so we can continue. We feel love and joy as we approach opportunities and we feel hate and fear as we avoid threats. Its simple. Its biological.
In a sharply polarized political landscape our social instincts are hard at work getting us to align with one side or the other. “You are with us or you are against us”, say both sides. “You must choose!”
Throughout history, war has usually been about neighbouring geographic communities struggling for control over territorial resources. But our current scenario is a dramatic moment of radical civil bifurcation. Its not about geography. But it is a psycho-social phenomenon. Knowing that no one has a monopoly on truth and goodness, you can choose to work the middle ground between right and left.
Left and right are artificial constructs, legacies of a bygone era. There is no scientific basis for this bipolar spectrum. At either extreme we can have either anarchy or totalitarianism. There is no way only one side can be correct. But your needs for defense and social solidarity will align you with one or the other.
You can know in your heart that Nature (or God) created people who are different for a purpose. Its not an accident that we all vary in personality, intelligence, innate preferences and talents. We were designed by Nature to work together and share in the collective outcomes – whether you’re left or right!
These diverse gifts make us stronger as a species. That’s why there are so many of us!
If there is one thing to be grateful for at this Thanksgiving 2020, it is that you still have the faculties to see through your fears and hates. You have the potential to see the goodness in others in spite of both outward and inward differences.
You know that Humanity would not be where it is today, with all of our knowledge, progress and well-being unless people we don’t know or understand were creating a continuous stream of value for the common good.
I include entrepreneurs, inventors, bookkeepers and social workers. I appreciate their work and the work of engineers and equipment operators, teachers and administrators. I am grateful for those retired from their past labours as well as those young who are yet to contribute.
In spite of any political, religious, racial, or ethnic differences, I appreciate your contribution to making our world a better place.
As for the sociopaths (Narcissistic, Histrionic and Anti-social personality disorders) among us ? Without empathy, they should not be holding public office or running public corporations. If they commit crimes, they should not be punished, but locked up. I do believe that Nature makes the occasional mistake. Some may be treated, and others, maybe no so much.
The world can be a better place if we take this to heart and once again, in the spirit of community, see the goodness in others. It would be good for our mental health to take time to break down social, cultural, economic and political barriers and explore our common Humanity in each of us.