Monday, June 19, 2023

Maintaining Mental Hygiene - The Company You Keep!

Mental hygiene is like personal hygiene - you have to work at it!

Crazy is the new sane.  You see it all over, particularly with a famous ex-President who TYPES IN ALL CAPS. that "Mutants" are after him. The Zombie apocalypse is upon us! Worse yet, there are literally hundreds of people who believe in his bullshit.  Well, maybe more than hundreds, like I said, crazy is the new sane.

So, how do we keep your sanity in this crazy world we live in?  Well, one has to, first, not be crazy - which is harder to do these days in the world of social media, 24-hour news, and wild conspiracy theories online.  So many people start out sane and then drive themselves insane by obsessing about the "news" and politics, or by believing in stupid nonsense like conspiracy theories and bigfoot.

And let me be clear about this: If you believe in conspiracy theories, you are, by definition, insane.  Seek medical help.  But one way to help yourself is to realize there is no personal profit to you by believing in conspiracy theories or raging about politics, so just let it go.  You go down the rabbit-hole of the Internet, you will end up a Qanonsense believer or a Bride of ISIS and be very, very unhappy and very, very insane.  And there are no insane happy people.  Maybe that is the definition of insanity - perpetual unhappiness.

If you have your shit half together and are a happy-go-lucky kind of person, you will find that crazy people are attracted to you like a magnet - and stick like Velcro.  Why is this?  Well, the crazy person can't get their shit together and being around happy, normal people makes them happy.  And the normal person is likely to be kind and decent and try to "help" the crazy person - which works out great for crazy, as they get something out of the relationship.

But hanging out with crazy people isn't good for your mental health - and it may cause strain on your marriage as well.  Worst case scenario?   They might drive you crazy as well.

We are all susceptible to suggestion and influence - whether we like to admit it or not.  We get our normative cues from our surroundings.  So if you grew up Catholic, you are likely to be Catholic - not because it is something you came to by yourself, but were indoctrinated into since birth. But no Catholic will ever admit to that.  And I am not taking a piss on the Catholic church, just using it as an example.  Other religions and belief systems work the same way.

You grow up redneck, you are going to be redneck. You hang out with people who believe in Poverty Stories, for example, you tend to start to believe them as well.  You are the company you keep and you should choose your friends wisely.

I see all the time, online, complaints from young people who whine that they don't have any friends or that they want to be like the "popular" kids.  Two things to consider here.  First, sometimes having fewer friends is a blessing, particularly when friends are crazy or not fun to be around.  Second, if you are really that ostracized, maybe it is time to look inwardly and figure out if maybe you are the crazy friend no one wants to hang out with.  Complaining about having no friends is one "tell" in this instance.

We all suffer from some form of social anxiety - some are just better at handling it than others.  There is this pressure when you are with people - pressure to be nice and not piss others off, at least if you are a decent person, that is.  Others are less concerned.

When the thought of spending time or visiting certain people fills you with anxiety, maybe the problem isn't you - it's them.  And it might not be that they are evil people, only that you just don't care for them.  People are like flavors of ice cream - some you like, some you tolerate, and others you spit out.  No sense torturing yourself ordering unflavored ice milk - unless that's your thing.

Passive-aggressive people can also drive you nuts.  Funny thing, though, they will be the first to dump you, once you establish boundaries and make it clear you are not going to put up with their nonsense.  Often, this is a blessing in disguise.

All you need is one good friend, and failing that, being your own best friend.  Yet I see "memes" online about how people hate themselves and are depressed all the time.  I know people who have gone through life for 70 years this way - and will go to their graves sad and miserable and lonely, only because they are convinced that "everything is bad" and "nothing is good" even if they are sitting on a pile of money and have everything they could want out of life.

I know multiple people who own two or three houses - paid for! - who regale me with how awful they have it and how their house is no good.  "Why not sell it and buy a house you like?" I say.  They don't reply - they give you that look your dog gives you when you hide the ball - along with a Scooby-doo "huh?"

"What do you mean change my life and be happy?" they say.  And when they do change their life, they don't sit down and figure out what it is they want and research that and figure out how to obtain it.  No, they lurch from one impulse to another - never, ever, happy, because you aren't suppose to be happy for some reason.  I don't get it - must be a scarred childhood or bad genes or something.

As I wind down the last 20 years or so of my life, I am a little scared of what is to come, but content with what I have.  I am happy, but even better, content, as happiness all the time is not necessarily a normal thing for humans, but overall contentment is a far more rewarding thing.  Seeking out "happiness" and then being miserable when it doesn't occur 24/7 is a sure way to be miserable.

Life is really, really short, and to go though it miserable - expecting happiness or contentment "later" or "some day" is just dumb.  I see people all the time on Old People Island, going to their graves, miserable as hell, and miserable their whole lives.  You talk to them (when they were alive, of course) and they have a litany of grievances about life, the government, the restaurant they went to - and so on and so forth.

It's obscene.  They are overpaid, over-fed, and over-stimulated and still unhappy.  You talk to a 20-something who is struggling to pay the rent and has given up on the idea of home ownership - and yet they are still cautiously optimistic.  Then you talk to a 65-year-old who has a paid-for house, a pension, and is collecting Social Security, and to hear them tell it, they got a raw deal.

Maybe they should trade places with the 20-something.  Or trade places with the elderly people I see working at low-wage jobs just to get by, as they fail to save for retirement.  They have it hard.

You can make yourself miserable if you choose to do so.  But it is a choice.  They have anti-depressant drugs out there, if you can't manage depression by yourself.  But just wallowing in it and enjoying it in some weird way  - or thinking that being miserable all the time is some sort of more "authentic" way of living?

Sorry, no sale!  Go sell crazy somewhere else!