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
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.