Wednesday, June 02, 2010

How do you keeping from cracking?

Does the news upset you to the point where you feel it's hard to watch or read anymore? I think we all feel this way at times. For me, lately, I have a hard time reading about crimes or atrocities committed against men who have little recourse in the legal system or whose lives are deemed by society to be expendable. Readers mail in many of these articles and at times, I feel helpless and angry to the point where I wonder if there is much I can do. And yes, keep sending those in because I do appreciate hearing from all of you.

But when my anger and frustration get to be too much, this is when I decide to pursue more positive activities for a while until my mental state goes back to neutral and I can think more clearly. My positive activity has been to re-read a book entitled Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Armed Assault and to think about returning to the Kra Maga lessons I was taking about two years ago that I described here.

I think feeling that you have some control over your own life despite all that goes on in the world is important. How do you manage to make your own life better, freer or more fun, despite the problems going on in the world? Do you have hobbies, interests or pursuits that lead you to a more positive place? If so, share them with me (us) and maybe we can learn something.

39 Comments:

Blogger Cham said...

It depends on what is bothering me. I live in multiple worlds, with several different friends with vastly different interests. I have lots of varied hobbies. I can be outdoors or indoors, I can be downtown or in the woods. I can be in my house, living in my car or on a mountaintop. If the city starts to bug me I leave. If my job starts to get to me I go downtown and do something else. Diversification is the key.

2:35 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger TMink said...

I go fishing or smoke a cigar with my buds or play Everquest.
Trey

3:11 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger Larry J said...

Flying my private plane is my favorite escape from daily concerns. The immediate requirements of flying the plane, navigating, communicating, evaluating the weather, and watching out for traffic override the terrestrial nuisances.

3:48 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

As I said on another thread, I have to willfully tone down my empathy receptors to prevent a wholesale breakdown.

Anger and depression follow protracted reading about divorce, modern marriage or the financial demands of the modern American woman.

I also get pissed off reading equivocators about the Duke lacrosse rape hoax. Even today, days after the team won the national championship, newscasters and writers are still peddling trash about the case, backing away from the truth and alleging the case was anything but a total vindication for the falsely-accused players and criminal embarrassment for the DA, the accuser, the city of Durham and the university.

Anyway, usually when it gets to be too much, I get away from people and "hole up" - either watching some football tapes, reading about left-brain stuff or doing some coding. Nothing like moving forward on a long-term hobby goal to get me cooled off.

4:24 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

"I feel helpless and angry to the point where I wonder if there is much I can do. "

What you can do - post it on the blog, with commentary or without, and come back later and count the comments. Lots of men don't have an in-person place to talk about it (lest we be "not real men"), so just the fact you give us a place to discuss this stuff without harsh judgment should give you a good feeling you are doing something.

4:27 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger Kevin M said...

For me, it's fly fishing, reading a good book, cooking or hanging out with my buds over beer and telling them the same stuff most people tell shrinks for $125/hour. My friends don't charge nearly that, and never say, "I'm sorry, but our time is up."

As for feeling helpless and wondering if this planet is on a steady collision course with lunacy, yes, it is. Always was. Strong indications it will remain on that course.

Fly fishing...beer w/friends, etc., is the only hope for any of us.

4:49 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

"How do you manage to make your own life better, freer or more fun, despite the problems going on in the world?"

Sex helps. So does alcohol, though the effect wears off more quickly. And there's always screaming at the top of one's lungs until one passes out.

Seriously, the antidote to the news is personal planning for greater freedom, and the execution of said plans. What such plans should address will vary among individuals, but nearly all of us have access to some technique for evading the long arm of the State. For example, Rose Wilder Lane decided to grow her own food, thus minimizing the effect of taxation on her. Garet Garrett became so disgusted with property taxes that he moved into a cave. Quite a lot of people are "disconnecting:" generating their own power and doing without luxuries such as cable television.

There are ways -- and in each case, you can preen about having given the State a thumb in the eye, even if Leviathan hasn't taken official notice.

5:01 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger wild chicken said...

I've dropped out. I started playing in a band again, listening to 60-year-old jazz, and practicing my music. Which all has nothing to do with anything else and I like it that way.

6:07 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger jlbussey said...

Gardening and photography. Which compliment one another very well. They remind me that the world is still a beautiful place even with all of the ugliness in it.

6:18 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger Stormbringer said...

Although writing my own Weblog articles is therapeutic, that can backfire when I write something that attracts trolls and I have to shut down the comments for a while. So, one of my outlets needs an outlet.

Having recently come back to my faith after about 15 years absent (it's rude to put God on the back burner), I'm taking some comfort in getting close to him again. Also, hearing and reading good teachings.

But I've done something else, too. Although I cannot become a full-fledged Minimalist, I have been decluttering my life spiritually but also physically. Why is this stuff in storage? It's not really all that important to me if it's in boxes and I'm paying to store stuff I don't even look at! And those books... what, I'll learn all that stuff by virtue of owning them??? Feel like I'm looking at other lives, I was someone else when I was into (that). Move it, repack, move — no more. Discarding, donating, finding good homes and so forth. VERY helpful.

8:08 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

Stormbringer,

I also like to do a rash of decluttering when it strikes me - I have a lot of stuff in banker's boxes, some from parts of life (like grad school) I haven't totally dealt with emotionally so I'm not ready to toss it.

It also reminds me of good times in my life, so if I'm down, I'm reminded of the possibilty of getting on my groove again.

Also as an INFJ, I have a heavy J and love to get things organized.

8:42 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger JB said...

I do yoga and meditation. Every morning, I stretch body, mind, and spirit; get them limber, then focus my concentration onto complete integration. I picture three circles, one each for body, mind, and spirit -- I visualize these circles coming into alignment as I use breathing exercises to purge all three of impurities. This way, I can allow the energy of the universe to flow through me, without impediment.
Then, I picture the integrated circle widening out in my sphere of influence. First, I focus on how I can allow the energy of the universe to flow through me in a way that blesses and benefits my spouse, and my immediate family. As I picture the circle expanding, I focus and feel the energy of the universe flowing through me on behalf of my friends, neighbors, colleagues... well, you can see where this is going.
I never feel compelled to "fix" what is not mine to fix. I feel most peaceful when I am applying the energy of the universe to the benefit of myself and others in ways that allow flow through my energy circles. Everything outside of those circles belongs to someone else, and it is not mine to take from them.

10:28 PM, June 02, 2010  
Blogger don said...

Yes, all this negative energy and thermodynamic change is disheartening. So when it seems exhausting, between the news and the pressures of keeping my business keeping on.... then i slip down to the sailboat and that has proved to be intensely transforming and blows the cares and concerns away. Some weeks it takes more than one trip out the harbor to keep the peace.

Other than that, I have always wanted one day to 'cave' and be unavailable to anything planned, just one day a week to depressurize... sort of a 'man cave' thing that may be a gender thing as it was presented in gray's book 'men from mars and women from wherever' book... thoughts?

1:31 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger pdwalker said...

Beer.

Beer with Friends.

It couldn't be any easier.

1:37 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger don said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:44 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Lola said...

I go out to work in my garden (growing food so hopefully I get a lower grocery bill this summer) and of course there's my knitting and spinning wheels.

7:33 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger grichens said...

FWP wrote: "Seriously, the antidote to the news is personal planning for greater freedom, and the execution of said plans."

Hence, the appeal of John Galt. As for me, moving to the Cayman Islands and cutting back my business by 90% has helped - so has fishing, listening to jazz & classical music and working out.

Unfortunately, the same inherent traits that drove me here still draw me to the news like a moth to a flame. At least I now know that others are grappling with the same demons. Thanks.

7:42 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger dividebytube said...

Reading a good book, cooking, working on electronics or just hiking in the woods has always been my stress relievers. I've also made a point not to read _everything_ but just a few articles a day. Too much information keeps me awake at 3AM!

7:55 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Think Extraordinary said...

the same inherent traits that drove me here still draw me to the news like a moth to a flame. At least I now know that others are grappling with the same demons. Thanks.

8:12 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Think Extraordinary said...

As I picture the circle expanding, I focus and feel the energy of the universe flowing through me on behalf of my friends, neighbors, colleagues...Extraordinary Thing

8:14 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger The Elder said...

Golf.

There's nothing as peaceful as walking through a beautiful place, enjoying the trees, the birds, and the wildlife while hitting a little ball AS HARD AS YOU CAN!!!!!!

I admit . . . that particular combination does affect my score.

8:31 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Mary Grabar said...

A colleague reminded me of a humorous column I had written for Townhall a few years ago, and I think I will resume that genre. Some of the best humor comes from people under dictatorships. I have one about the Useless Idiot Reporters at NPR coming out in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, probably this weekend.

Other advice:

Don't watch the news right before bed.

Take long walks on nature paths.

Dance like a whirling dervish (contra).

8:38 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Sissy Willis said...

Mainly I blog, which requires keeping up with "the news." Making sense of it all by shaping one's thoughts into a coherent essay and sending the thing out into cyberspace with a click of the "publish" button can produce a certain catharsis and sense of control.

9:29 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger wildswan said...

When it gets to be too much:

Don't do news in the morning

Stronger:
Do news once a day

Still stronger
No news for three days

Don't worry - the problems won't go away while you are gone.

10:02 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Facing the MSM with its selective grim stories, and the blogosphere to fill in the MSM's huge deliberate omissions, the future doesn't look cheerful. But I wholeheartedly agree about getting away from that screen-of-doom to exercise positive , particularly creative, activities.

And I also take inspiration from others who've been in worse positions yet. Today it's one Ivo Andric, whose country was overrun by the Germans in 1941 and who lived under harsh occupation until the end of the war. In that time, he himself drew inspiration from the verbally transmitted legends of Yugoslavia - particularly Bosnia - and used them as foundations to write "The Bridge on the Drina", thus bringing uplifting cheer to generations of folks ever since.

10:15 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Mary Grabar said...

I read that book in a course on Eastern European literature. I didn't know anyone else had read it!

10:18 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger ALP said...

I cope by going back into history and realizing that life was a lot more brutal, dirty, unpredictable ect... hundreds of years ago. My family line on both sides have come so far - poor Italians on one side, poor German farmers on the other. On the Italian side, the women lived lives of pumping out babies. On the German side, they lived the misery of trying to grow sugar beets in the midwest in rotten soil. Life gets better.

10:21 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Fly fishing, birding, walking -- especially hiking on "my" mountain in the Napa Valley -- praying and meditating, making dinner for my wife, writing, looking out over my olive grove, talking to friends.

Even my work, since it is on occasion helpful to someone who needs help, is restful.

I also get some consolation from the feeling that the world is getting so crazy that things have to get better.

Jamie Irons

10:37 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger mbabbitt said...

Very good point. I am glad you brought this up. Between the Oil spill, the health care debacle (my job is in health insurance industry) the Middle East slow motion disaster, the Global Warming eco-religion wanting to destroy our society and tax us to death, and the corruption of the Obama administration, I often just can't stand waking up in the morning as it seems that the crazies are now the normals in control. To cope, I cut back on the news I read or listen too, work in my garden, read religious works to remind me of the Big Picture, and go on drives to scenic places to unwind. My fear is not that I will miss out on the news, but that I will not show up in life to do my small part to change the world that troubles me so greatly. It is so tempting to just want to escape from the responsibilities of life permanently.

10:40 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Bill White said...

I don't do news from tv or newspapers anymore. My main source of news is your husband, with whom I can good-naturedly roll my eyes and chuckle at the idiots in the news. I don't know how he stays so upbeat while being immersed in that constant stream of muck. You two should write a book!

I chill out by studying medieval Latin. My big goal for the last half (God willing) of my life is to learn Latin well enough to translate these guys: http://cyprianproject.info/PL.htm
(well, there are other goals, too, like getting our kids into adulthood reasonably sane, etc.)

11:07 AM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Jay Manifold said...

I’ve never entirely understood the concept that bad news – in the sense of current-events, public-affairs news as reported by media organizations, rather than bad personal news – is somehow stressful. Unpleasant, sure, and sometimes the overall context can be worrying; as Spider Robinson once pointed out in an essay, the entire Baby Boom generation grew up believing we would be annihilated in a nuclear war before reaching middle age, let alone elderhood. But I just don’t have the same kind of reaction to hearing about nuclear saber-rattling by ignorant savages on the other side of the planet as I would if someone close to me had a nervous breakdown.

My general advice would be to implement the “caveman therapy” lifestyle changes as investigated by Ilardi at KU: “…consuming more omega-3 fatty acids; using engaging activity to combat rumination; getting regular sunlight exposure; increasing physical exercise; connecting more with others socially; and getting increased (and healthier) sleep.” And there’s Philippians 4:12, however it may be implemented.

What I actually do, other than the above, is read a lot and volunteer for my local amateur astronomical society. I have found that the older I get, the more I enjoy showing and explaining something I’ve seen hundreds of times to someone who’s seeing it for the first time than I enjoy finding something (arguably more interesting) for the first time, alone. Perhaps a general lesson is lurking in there somewhere.

1:13 PM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Sissy Willis said...

Jay: Good relaxation advice, but ...

You miss the point regarding why "the news" is so unsettling to tea party types like myself, who see the lights dimming on the Shining City Upon a Hill as statists infiltrate every corner of our lives and eviscerate our freedoms, substituting top-down, soul-deadening bureaucracies for the grassroots rugged individualism that is our birthright.

1:50 PM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger dr.alistair said...

play soccer. train with weights. ride my kona road bike for miles and miles. read. Aldous huxley`s the devils of loudon is next.....build my first all tube point to point guitar amplifier.

dig in the garden. plant vegetables .

and still the news finds me every time i go to get my e-mail at yahoo...you know, just in case i might be in a good mood.

someone called me uninformed the other day because i hadn`t heard that isreali forces shot some people on a boat.

i had. i just wasn`t goiung to put energy into a meaningless conversation that had the potential to collapse into an arguement.

2:10 PM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Jay Manifold said...

Sissy, make no mistake, as a libertarian I think the next decade is going to suck in lots of ways. But to me, that means that what the situation truly requires is for me to be an encourager; made easier by my belief that these things happen in cycles.

3:26 PM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:34 PM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger AST said...

I have dealt with things by sinking into a deep depression.

8:52 PM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Retriever said...

Teach Sunday School, or talk to a neighbor's kids. Kids are usually starved of friendly adult attention, with families split up or living far away from extended family members. Particularly if you have teenagers or young adults in the family who are big on pushing you away.

Go to church. Go to a couples Alpha course and suspend cynicism or discouragement at the state of the world.

Dig in the garden. Walk the dog. Blog. Buy a DSLR and take thousands of photographs. Plant only old fashioned scented roses, and pick armfuls of them for the house. Ditto peonies and lilies. Knit a scarf for your husband out of the softest wool you can find (non itchy) and think of something kind you want to do for him every time you start a new row. Write it down on a piece of paper and give him a jar with the vouchers written down inside it.

Unplug the internet connection for 24 hours and see how much time you have to read a really good book you haven't "had time" for.

Commit to visit an elderly person in a nursing home every week and bring them small gifts and read to them if they want you to. Ask them to tell you the story of their life, and write it down. Every person has a story worth being recorded.

Go to a flower show or a botanical garden. Take funny pictures of animals at a zoo.

Volunteer regularly in your local elementary school to help kids learn to read.

Give money or gifts anonymously to individuals who you know need it. Pay someone else's bill (a good place is at the pharmacy where old people are often having sticker shock when their medicine is no longer covered or the pharmacy is out of the generic but the person needs the medicine now. Whisper to the cashier to put the brand name one (that is in stock) on your credit card, and to tell the person that they had exactly the amount they needed about to go back to the manufacturer so they can have it for free as nobody else had had a scrip for it.

When I am most jaded or discouraged, doing something kind for someone else (despite my natural selfishness) brings back hope and light to the day. Of course, do as I say not as I do....

9:06 PM, June 03, 2010  
Blogger Hodge said...

Interesting that you mention Krav Maga. I do yoga several times a week and the folks in the Krav Maga class are always lined up at the door waiting for the studio, impatient and irritated. You can get run over in their rush to get into the place and start the testosterone/meathead routine. However, since you mentioned it, I looked at a few of their publications and thought, "damn, if I weren't so mellow after yoga, I might stay for a class." It's now on my list.

OK -- back to the topic at hand. I think the best thing would be to take a news break. That includes talk radio. Although I generally agree with Boortz and Rush, listening to them gets me worked up about the liberal outrage du jour and I don't need that. Also includes The Intertubes. Maybe except Glenn.

For me, it's pick one -- but if you can do all of them several days running, it's a total re-charge:
Yoga, vigorous exercise (I'm in that 60-plus category they wrote about in Younger Next Year -- per your earlier thread), an hour in my back yard feeding the koi, monitoring the bird nests and rambling among the ever-changing greenery (thanks to my spouse -- her project), an hour with a good book completely apart from work or news/politics (recently re-read Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl -- really puts things into perspective), a few minutes re-developing my calluses by playing my vintage Martin, a really cold Martini (in the summer -- a good single malt in the winter), a stogie (only every few months), and a half-hour of that silly new age be-here-now mindfulness meditation crap. Loving sex and a good night's sleep. Wake up. Repeat, only do more of them and do them with more energy.

Uh, do I sound self-centered, or what? Been reading too much Ayn Rand. Sounds like the old Steve Martin SNL clip "yeah, yeah, yeah, peace for all the children and all that..." but volunteering is also on the list. Volunteering for some cause that will help people help themselves -- not that will keep reminding them that they might be victims.

11:10 PM, June 04, 2010  
Blogger Ryan Haag said...

Honestly, I don't watch cable news networks. I specifically turn them off at work, because I feel they really make you dumber throughout the day. You're better off watching the local news and reading about specific topics (Wikipedia being a great source of information links).

As for positive hobbies, I set monthly goals. For example, being in the military, my staff job has me doing a lot of very tedious paperwork, and its hard to feel like a warrior in the Navy if you edit powerpoint all day. So I made it a goal to work out three times during the week (we're supposed to have time to do that anyway) and spend at least 1 hour a week shooting pistols and rifles at our local range.

Suddenly, I got more efficient at work, lost some weight, and felt a lot less stressed out.

I recommend doing something once a week that you can track progress on. Shooting is a good one: I can see the progress I make in tighter shot patterns week by week. Learning a foreign language, breaking out that old engineering book and doing some problems, or something else constructive will put you in a better mood. It doesn't need to take a lot of time, but the progress lets you feel like you have taken back a piece of your life, and that you don't just allow life to happen to you.

7:45 AM, June 05, 2010  

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