A very good friend once described me as “the ultimate fan.” He meant it affectionately (I think). When I become a genuine fan of something, I want to learn everything I can about it, I’m willing to drop a whole lot of dough to support whatever the thing is, and I’m generally able to maintain high levels of enthusiasm for the thing over time. So yes, I like to think my friend was right.
But I don’t become a fan of just anything. For instance, from kindergarten through college, I never went to a single school sporting event of any kind, and the entire concept of “school spirit” strikes me as misguided. With sports in general, the closest I ever came to being a fan of anything was with the New York Yankees because Dad is an almost-lifelong fan. I was a fairweather fan at best; once Rivera and Jeter retired, I kinda retired with them.
When it comes to me personally, I become a fan of individual people and art, not huge groups or institutions. Nonetheless, I can appreciate that there are many catalysts for how and why people become fans of things. So now I would like to expound on the subject of fandom here, delineating the healthy ways that people become fans of things–and also the self-destructive habits that can develop when fans become obsessive. Read more
Everybody can handle a small failure. If I lose a boss fight one too many times in a video game, my controller is likely to take a violent and irrational beating, but the loss will not cause me enduring emotional trauma or paralyze my ability to function afterward. The reason “small” failures are small though is that they come with minor and unambiguous consequences. The biggest failures we face in life come with a wide spectrum of negative consequences that all strike simultaneously, which in the process exacerbate each other so that the total anguish we feel actually becomes disproportionately high relative to the act of failure itself. This amplified anguish born from the intersections of separate types of negative consequences cannot be easily extinguished, specifically because of its ephemeral, comes-and-goes nature. What must be done instead then is to identify the individual threads of suffering that are created from major failures, so that when these threads intersect, we can rationalize the anguish we are feeling and ultimately overcome it. Read more
The more miserable you become, the more you cling to silver linings wherever you can find them. As I have touched upon in brief before, misery can be a good thing in doses. I have described misery as the floor in a metaphorical tower, where climbing the tower steps is symbolic of working toward a goal, and the top of the tower represents achievement of the goal. I have called the floor the “most comfortable place in the world to be, because there is nowhere left to fall,” but that is not entirely true. In the most extreme circumstance of misery, the floor can fall out from under you in a scenario otherwise known as suicide.
In your darkest hour, it might become that no silver lining catches your eye. It might be that you feel completely empty, and you cannot find any value in your life at all. What you might not be suspecting is that this pitch-black void could be precisely the thing to save your life–if every other measure has failed. Read more
Likely few people would outright classify themselves as pessimists, but they do exist. The decision to actively see the glass half-empty, or to unconsciously see the glass half-empty on a regular basis, is problematic. I mean, if you make a living as a bartender, then this is a very lucrative and optimistic way of thinking. But for everybody else, the glass half-empty mindset is impractical and, dare I say, quite immature. Read more
[This is a spinoff continuation of a previous article.]
So we’ve uncovered the mildly insidious, but mostly innocuous true nature of friendship. We have especially established how valuable validation is in our lives. Next up, I would like to touch upon the nature of personal storytelling in our lives, and what function it plays in providing us comfort.
According to children’s movies and a slew of Japanese video games, the “power of friendship” is the single greatest force in the universe. Explanation for why that’s the case is seldom given though. Today, I would like to offer up some thoughts on the value of friendship, especially why it makes you and me look a little desperate.
Allow me to take a minute to explain why sharing your insights with the world is a waste of time, and why I’m an idiot for sharing this with you.
Our Ideas Are Not Original, Including This One
To start, I am going to reference a quote. I usually find it pretentious to see literary quotes thrown into articles, but by doing so here, I will help to prove my overall point: Read more
Misery gets a bad rap. It is The Godfather Part III of human emotions. Given the choice between misery and literally anything else, misery will lose. This is an unfair and near-sighted bias. Let’s take a moment to talk about the sunny side of misery.