Cynicism is our national religion

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The consequences of the 1960s and 1970s continue to yield vast cultural destruction. Our national identity is no longer clear or shared by anyone. The right emphasizes patriotic virtue-signaling displays. The left now starts to show its scorn for America rather openly.

Gen Xers were not taught that America is a great nation, but rather a deeply flawed and ambiguous force in the world today. And this was LONG BEFORE TRUMP.

For 60 years we’ve been steadily fed a barrage of reasons to lose faith in our civic institutions, our industries, our reputation as the land of opportunity, etc. Indeed, we’ve been taught AND given plenty of reason to hate our institutions- news media, religious institutions, “MEN!,” etc., etc.

But it’s taking a toll on us all.

Anything you want you can get delivered to you right now

That’s a problem for many of us. Whether it’s alcohol, weed, women, in large segments of the western world in and around cities, you can order nearly anything you want.

Why is this a problem and not simply an amazing thing? Because our brains were not meant for this many choices, this much discipline, simply to get through each day.

Modern life forces us to make too many choices. That’s why we’re all overwhelmed. Life used to be a lot simpler.

Hating kids is cynicism in the extreme

When I was a liberal, I used to complain about children. How loud they were, how annoying, how they destroy the planet. There is, of course, some truth to this. But at its root, it is cynicism in the extreme.

Then I became a father and grew to reject these narrow, short-sighted, misanthropic views. Becoming a parent is part of the natural process of renewal that all humans need to witness and share. Seeing the world through the eyes of your own child erodes some of that cynicism and replaces it with joy. Parenthood is such an amazing experience. Almost everyone should do it.

Everything you buy complicates your life

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No one thinks about this because we live in an ultra-materialistic society, but it’s true. Aside from food and toilet paper, pretty much everything you buy adds to the number of things you have to maintain and keep somewhere. It may also require getting rid of something old, another hassle you have to deal with. Then, if it is technology, for example, you need it to work consistently.

I love my wi-fi Bluetooth speakers. LOVE THEM. I can take them all around my house and on to the front and back porches. But… when they don’t work, about 5% of the time I practically fly into a rage. Obviously, this is my problem but you see the point.

The more stuff we have, the more we are weighed down by it. The less we have, the less we have to worry about. Lesson in there.

7 Tips to Beat Anxiety

Most of us struggle with anxiety from time to time. That’s totally normal. It’s when it takes over your life and alters your behavior for the worse that you need to take some steps. Here are 7 tips that can make a big difference:

Plan ahead. This is BY FAR the most important tip. Take the time to think through how your day is going to go and what small or large things you can do to make it all go more smoothly. Nearly every situation you can encounter may be endured with proper planning.

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Give yourself enough, or even extra, time. I used to be late all the time. Then I discovered the joy of planning better and started getting most places early. It’s wonderful. So relaxing. So calming. Try it!

Call out the negative voice. Simply point out to that voice in your head, “I’m sorry, but that’s not helpful right now.” Learning to control that voice will change your life!

Explore medication and therapy. Medications can really help and dismissing them is just foolish. So, consider a variety of medications from supplements to cannabis to help take some of the struggle out of your day. And get thee to therapy. We ALL need it. All of us. So figure out a way.

Exercise! This alone can have a major impact on a person’s anxiety level. Push yourself a little bit. Sweat some of that negative energy out and you’ll feel better.

Build a spiritual practice. Try to incorporate some moments of spirituality into every day. Say a brief prayer of gratitude before each meal. Take a moment to kiss your spouse or pet your dog. And once per week, as a family, go to church or synagogue or meeting house and give thanks.

Forgive yourself and others. We all make mistakes. Some of them really awful. But we do so out of ignorance or lack of self-control or confusion. So, forgive yourself. And forgive those who’ve… You get the picture. Again, religion serves to remind us so well of compassion, forgiveness, service, sacrifice- all of the things that humans really need to learn and which give life meaning.

Vengeance is a lazy form of grief

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This African proverb is among the most powerful words I’ve ever read. When you think about it, you know it’s true. We often wish harm to those who hurt us, but usually it is because we’ve been deeply hurt by them.

Is it laziness, though? It takes work to understand your anger and hurt. It takes real self-exploration to grasp the source of pain.

But it’s worth it. And if it can help you heal and reach a place of forgiveness, then it may help you overcome much more.

Atheism is bad for your health

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Atheism is bad for your health. How, you say? Well, it forces you to fill up your time and worldview with something other than religion and that is usually something pretty incoherent. Let’s be honest. Religion is imperfect, but it gives a person some structure.

For another, atheism enables the flourishing of anxiety and depression. In a religious tradition you are supposed to put God first, never yourself. So the endless ruminating and dwelling in one’s own mind and about one’s own problems yields unnecessarily self-destructive thoughts.

Then there is the absence of moral guidance. For years I argued with my conservative religious friends about who was more “moral.” I was a liberal and I was wrong. In my travels I learned that without a religion humans are deeply confused about right and wrong. Not the big things. All but the sociopaths get the big things, but we are confused about the smaller ways that we choose good and evil, right and wrong, leaving us vulnerable in the modern world.

Without religion, most of us are lost. Even, perhaps especially, if we don’t know it.