Protect and Survive (and maybe thrive…)

aka Staying Sane and Surviving Christmas and New Year.

It is a fun, fun time of the year. But people put themselves under too much pressure!

Many of my MintVine surveys, which are excellent payers in terms of Amazon vouchers by the way (why not join free right here ) seem to be trying to persuade me I must be very stressed about attending parties, buying food, presents, wrapping them, even Christmas jumpers and how things must be photographed and boasted about on Facebook. Feh!

And then there are the many people who feel lonely at this time of year and may make terrible relationship decisions…

Aim for survival first, it is the layers at the base of Maslow’s pyramid below that count first, the higher ones are just fancy icing! There are so many unneeded wants constantly generated in a consumerist society that you would never end chasing like a hungry ghost.

Currently reading Derren Brown’s “Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine” , only part way through, but a good read, Stoic-heavy, philosophy also beloved of Tim Ferriss, but a good extract here from a writer called William Irvine who provided a thought experiment in “On Desire: Why We Want What We Want” which may give some perspective regarding trying to compete with others and keep up with the Joneses (with added thoughts from Derren):-

“Suppose you woke up one morning to discover that you were the last person on earth: during the night, aliens had spirited away everyone but you. Suppose that despite the absence of other people, the world’s buildings, houses, stores, and roads remained as they had been the night before. Cars were where their now-vanished owners had parked them, and gas for these cars was plentiful at now-unattended gas stations. The electricity still worked. It would be a world like this world, except that everyone but you was gone. You would, of course, be very lonely, but let us ignore the emotional aspects of being the last person, and instead focus our attention on the material aspects.

In the situation described, you could satisfy many material desires that you can’t satisfy in our actual world. You could have the car of your dreams. You could even have a showroom full of expensive cars. You could have the house of your dreams – or live in a palace. You could wear very expensive clothes. You could acquire not just a big diamond ring but the Hope Diamond itself. The interesting question is this: without people around, would you still want these things? Would the material desires you harbored when the world was full of people still be present in you if other people vanished? Probably not. Without anyone else to impress, why own an expensive car, a palace, fancy clothes, or jewelry?

Irvine continues to suggest that, alone in this imagined world, you might try these luxuries for a while but would soon, for example, find a dwelling that was easy to maintain rather than live in a palace, obtain clothes that were comfortable rather than expensive, and would probably lose all interest in your appearance. The thought experiment shows that we choose our lifestyles – our houses, our clothes, our watches – with other people in mind. One way or another, we project a style designed to make others admire or envy us. That style may not, of course, be about what’s strictly fashionable. We all have some sort of image we like to project, and whether that image is trendy, tweedy or just a mess, there will be something we’re identifying with and choosing to show the world. We cannot really criticise the fashion victim for being a slave to convention when we are living according to an equally well-defined alternative protocol, however heretical or hipster or highbrow it might be. We have all drawn our style references and aesthetics from somewhere. And if we say we never give any conscious thought to what we wear, the chances are very high that we at least dress a lot like others in our peer group. We’ve all seen friends walking along the street sporting minor variations on the same wardrobe.

Irvine’s thought exercise shows that our desires would diminish drastically if we didn’t need to impress anyone. Our requirements would probably become limited to what we might think of as ‘natural’ or essential desires: food, water, shelter and so on. This does not sound like a particularly pleasant existence or a lifestyle we would choose, but we would certainly be liberated from a desire to impress others. We might find this notion – that we spend so much energy and time seeking the approval of our peers – quite eye-opening.”

Black Mirror S03E01 “Nosedive” available on Netflix is also worth a watch in terms of the horrid nonsense of competing on social media.

Anything else may be helped by this little Astral Projects blog page:-

Good luck!


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