Exercise your freedom of choice

I am comfortable.  My mental state is calm.  I know what's going on in my immediate environment.  I am fed.  My couch is soft.

I'm not a role model.  What I like may be completely different from what you like.  That's fine.

But I'm not freaked out.  And that state, that non-freaked-outedness, is something that's taken a lifetime to find, and I'd like to teach everybody how to do it.

I'm doing this, partly, for my own benefit.  You guys are freaking out too much and it's causing me to retreat from you.  I can't watch the news anymore.  It is toxic.  More and more things are becoming politicized.  Lines are getting drawn on things that should definitely not have lines on them.  I don't want the brand of cooler I buy for drinks to be a political statement, but somehow, now, it is.

So let's go back to calm.  Let's go back to everything's okay.  There are things to worry about, I know, but we can only start working on those once we're at a calm center.  And I promise you that things don't look nearly as bad when you're not all wrapped up in them.

Step one: stop watching the news.  Stop reading the news.  Objections I expect: "if you don't pay attention, they'll get away with it".  Yes, that is absolutely true.  However.  If you don't pay attention, most of the bullshit goes away.  The rest of it, we have reporters and judges and a whole system to deal with it.  Let them do their job.

If you're constantly outraged, your outrage becomes noise.  I know that things are outrageous and we should be out in the streets with flaming pitchforks.  And hey, maybe one day we'll do that!  It'd be fun.  So set your lines, the ones that are marked "if this happens, it's time to take action", and then wait.

I promise, if the horrible thing you're thinking of happens, you'll find out, without you seeking out that information.  We are in a deluge of information right now and even with an umbrella, some of it will get on you.

Step two: find something completely apolitical that captures your attention, and explore it.  This can be literally anything.  For me personally, it's been making music.  I've been screwing around with a little synthesizer.  It's fun!  And there's lots of totally free content out there for inspiration and instruction.

We live in a world where, whatever your interest is, you can find community.  You can find people who have done it before and who are willing to help you get to where you want to go.  People like helping people, and that's true across all cultures.  Empathy is a biological guarantee.

How do you feel when someone asks you for help?  Unless you suspect ulterior motives, you probably feel accomplished.  Aiding others is not a zero-sum game (they win, you lose).  It's positive expected value for everyone.

Step three: get outside.  Leave technology.  Your brain needs a rest.  We're essentially shackled to a neurological slot machine in the form of a smartphone.  I'm not going into the details of how we get addicted to technology in this post, but c'mon, you know it's an addiction.  So prove that you have willpower and prove that you're a conscious agent by rejecting technology for a while.  Brains are very, very plastic; they will reset themselves, given time away from a stimulus.

But you need to take that time!  There's a whole system in place, let's call it "western civilization", that wants you to continue to be addicted to constant gratification.  It's built on convincing you that there's a problem, and, given some of your money, that problem can be solved.  The system was not designed by anyone evil or anything like that.  It just kind of happened.  And all things considered, it does a decent job of keeping a bunch of people fed and clothed.

But it ain't perfect, and it sure doesn't want you looking outside of it for answers.  To see the system clearly, you have to step outside of it, and the most surefire way to do that is to unplug.  The system isn't organic.  It's digital.  So avoid the digital.

That's it.  Do these things, methodically and consistently, and you will calm down.  Then you won't need instructions anymore, because you'll be tuned in to your own body and your own mind and your own desires, and that's the truest instrument you can get.

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