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Happiness Is A Glass Half Empty


vadarama
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Stumbled across this wonderful essay tonight and wanted to share. It compares perfectionism and obsessive positive thinking with a more effective and grounded, failure-confronting approach. I struggle with extreme anxiety and a daydreaming addiction, partially because for decades I felt compelled to anticipate heaven and disregard the petty concerns of the material world. Hope, faith and the pursuit of glory were mandated, while "evil," dark thoughts inched me ever closer to the lake of fire and its perverted demons. Thus, I tried to focus on my impending eternity with Perfection Incarnate and simply endure until then, praying unceasingly to be spared the prospect of Hell. 

 

Can anyone else relate?

 

 

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What you describe is probably my biggest beef with christianity, and my biggest remaining challenge. Because I was taught that all of this world didn't really matter because someday I would inevitably experience a perfect world, it continues to be a real struggle for me to embrace the real world with all its frustrations, failures, and compromises. I know that perfection is a myth. I know that failure is part of learning and growth. I know I have to accept what is even as I work to make it better--and that the process of working never ends.

 

But it's hard because I was given a completely different foundation than that to work with.

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Vadarama, thank you so much for posting this! 

 

I have read the essay, and it resonates with me a lot! So much, that I began to read his book the same day. (oliver burkham - the antidote - happiness for people who can´t stand positive thinking)

 

I have finished the book, and I can already see that it has caused a change in perspective.  I realize, that the problems I have now (which started 3-4 years ago) are due to this perfectionism,  this trying too hard to get everything right,or the trying to hard to be happy. 

 

I wish I could could write more eloquently, this rambling doens´t do the book sufficient justice :P 

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Great article, thanks for the link! I too suffer from extreme anxiety, and I've been learning about ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), which is similar to what this guy is suggesting. It's about stopping the process of trying to run from negative emotions, and coming to where you can accept your emotions, whatever they are, and learn to deal with them accordingly. When you quit trying to run from any negative emotions, you find that things aren't as bad/scary as they first seemed.

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Starting now to read The Antidote book! I suspect it'll be very helpful. Thanks so much, for recommending, dutchie!

 

bfuddled, I had never heard of ACT before, but it seems extremely useful. Really appreciate you referencing it. I just had therapy today (only my third session ever) and was challenged by the idea of actually confronting how I feel in the present instead of idealizing the future and agonizing over my inability to live up to what I hope to achieve. I think a new approach will help me, in my efforts to become comfortable in my own humanity, to really do the emotional work of healing (in conjunction with the intellectual work I focus on). And maybe I should stop thinking of everything as such hard work. 

 

In The Antidote, the author begins with an Alan Watts quote from my favorite of his books, The Wisdom of Insecurity

 

"I have always been fascinated by the law of reversed effort. Sometimes I call it 'the backwards law.' When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float...insecurity is the result of trying to be secure...contrariwise, salvation and sanity consist in the most radical recognition that we have no way of saving ourselves."

 

thereisnoperfect, your username is so apt. Ha. I felt some relief about the loss of heaven when I deconverted. since it always seemed kind of tedious and terrifying, but I never addressed how my belief in heaven colored my perception of life itself. This world, from what I can tell, is the closest we'll ever get to perfect, and I have to be okay with that. I think that's part of growing up- realizing my ideals are ideal and not real in any literal sense. 

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"Non-depressed people, research suggests, generally have a less accurate and overly optimistic grasp of their true ability to influence events than do those who are suffering from depression."

 

I came to the conclusion years ago that frequently depressed folks many time see the world as it actually is, resulting ironically in mental illness. I decided that the healthy mind is one that has developed techniques that help one to avoid reality, not face it. Example: Do we feel better by starkly facing the fact every day that we are going to die? Of course not. Indeed I believe that the things that occupy us most of time have the side effect of fooling ourselves into forgetting about death, possible serious illness, potential  serious accidents, etc. Work, sports, hobbies, sex, music, reading and a host of other activities work well in this area.  Mark Twain said something like, "Don't give up on your illusions. you may live a long life but it won't be a happy one." Of course, he didn't mean to become a fanatic, but to use your illusions wisely.   bill

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Glad to be of any help. I decided that i´m going to read it again, but slowly, more intensely. Maybe I will do a book study here smile.png

 

Please let me know if you like the book. I find it interesting that in every chapter he deals with a different concept, a different subject. If one chapter does not resonate, it might be so that 

other chapters are more agreeable.  

 

Since it always seemed kind of tedious and terrifying, but I never addressed how my belief in heaven colored my perception of life itself. This world, from what I can tell, is the closest we'll ever get to perfect, and I have to be okay with that. I think that's part of growing up- realizing my ideals are ideal and not real in any literal sense. 

 

So true! Now, as a ex-christian, i can start to see the world true evolution, it make sense that there is pain, ugliness, no perfection. It is okay that things are broken. Also the saying ´shit happens´, i find oddly comforting. 

 

When you hold the perception that your idea of a perfect world / self / relationship / etc,  should become reality, it inevitably is going to lead to a lot of anxiety. I have been there, and still dealing with it in some way, but the presence of these thoughts / that worldview is a mere fraction of what it use to be. 

 

When I was still in the grip of perfectionism, I could walk trough a city - and saw all the improvement that ´should´ be made. You can see this from a designer, who sees it as inspiration, but I experienced it in a very differnt way: the imperfection hurt me. Glad that i can see the ridiculousness of it now!

 

 

Great article, thanks for the link! I too suffer from extreme anxiety, and I've been learning about ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), which is similar to what this guy is suggesting. It's about stopping the process of trying to run from negative emotions, and coming to where you can accept your emotions, whatever they are, and learn to deal with them accordingly. When you quit trying to run from any negative emotions, you find that things aren't as bad/scary as they first seemed.

 

Thanks for the book advice! I didn´t know about that branche of therapy. I just did a quick search, and there are selfhelp books on this topic. I will look into it smile.png

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Glad to be of any help. I decided that i´m going to read it again, but slowly, more intensely. Maybe I will do a book study here smile.png

 

Please let me know if you like the book. I find it interesting that in every chapter he deals with a different concept, a different subject. If one chapter does not resonate, it might be so that 

other chapters are more agreeable.  

 

 

A book study is a great idea! I almost suggested it myself; am now 60% through reading it, and I looooove it. 

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"Non-depressed people, research suggests, generally have a less accurate and overly optimistic grasp of their true ability to influence events than do those who are suffering from depression."

 

I came to the conclusion years ago that frequently depressed folks many time see the world as it actually is, resulting ironically in mental illness. I decided that the healthy mind is one that has developed techniques that help one to avoid reality, not face it. Example: Do we feel better by starkly facing the fact every day that we are going to die? Of course not. Indeed I believe that the things that occupy us most of time have the side effect of fooling ourselves into forgetting about death, possible serious illness, potential  serious accidents, etc. Work, sports, hobbies, sex, music, reading and a host of other activities work well in this area.  Mark Twain said something like, "Don't give up on your illusions. you may live a long life but it won't be a happy one." Of course, he didn't mean to become a fanatic, but to use your illusions wisely.   bill

 

I don´t know somebody personally, who is depressed, but my view on depression is a bit different. Please correct me if somebody reading this, who has a personal experience with depression, or who knows somebody who is (was) depressed.  I thought that the central point in depression is that they don´t see any reasons to live anymore. Death becomes a escape. I don´t think the issue is that thinking to much about death is the cause of a depressed person, but rather a result.

 

Bill, didn´t you have the feeling that your live became more precious when you became an ex-christian? Suddenly you would not live forever, but you became mortal. I see that when you realize that there is a end to a experience (a book, a meal, live) it becomes so much more valuable. 

 

In my life I have seen the consequences of avoiding. Avoiding in my thinking, avoiding to take action.. I now want to take a different root. Face my fears and accept that there is death, sickness, failure in live :) 

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Glad to be of any help. I decided that i´m going to read it again, but slowly, more intensely. Maybe I will do a book study here smile.png

 

Please let me know if you like the book. I find it interesting that in every chapter he deals with a different concept, a different subject. If one chapter does not resonate, it might be so that 

other chapters are more agreeable.  

 

 

A book study is a great idea! I almost suggested it myself; am now 60% through reading it, and I looooove it. 

 

 

:) You convinced me. Tomorrow I will go on holiday, but next week I will start a tread about it here on ex-c. 

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Great article, thanks for the link! I too suffer from extreme anxiety, and I've been learning about ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), which is similar to what this guy is suggesting. It's about stopping the process of trying to run from negative emotions, and coming to where you can accept your emotions, whatever they are, and learn to deal with them accordingly. When you quit trying to run from any negative emotions, you find that things aren't as bad/scary as they first seemed.

 

Thanks for the book advice! I didn´t know about that branche of therapy. I just did a quick search, and there are selfhelp books on this topic. I will look into it smile.png

 

 

Check out this one by Steven Hayes. He's one of the biggest developers of ACT and the book is the best I've found so far to explain the process and give you real exercises to help implement it. He's got a few videos on youtube too that I liked, just search for his name.

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