Welcome to 2023. If you're reading this you have reason to be grateful. Not because of my amazing writing, but because you woke up today. Times ripe for change are also ripe for reflection. Brace yourself, the headlines are coming.
The "new year" is an arbitrary point. Factually the new year started two weeks ago when The Earth started getting closer to the sun. I've often mused and lamented that the irony of endings (years, lifetimes, etc.) is that they force us to reconcile what's important, what's worth and needing resolving, and that we either have or have not been leading a life in that direction.
Stop setting goals and start building habits. "Vision boards" don't work and "manifesting" as it's often practiced is equally "woo-woo." Each misrepresents what's required to achieve a given outcome.
Putting nice pictures on a poster board (or a perfectly aligned, color-coded, calendar schedule for that matter) isn't the same as doing those things. Yet, we've already given our brain a tickle of a reward – dopamine. The problem is that we haven't actually done anything yet.
Many people "manifest" themselves already on the podium; which equates only to wishful thinking. The real value of manifesting is in embracing struggle. That is, to try and psychically "manifest" how difficult it will be on your journey. It has nothing to do with the finish line and everything to do with preparing yourself mentally for the process of getting there.
Similarly millions of "goals" will be set this week. Does it make you feel good to tell people that your goal is X? Do you like the words coming out of your mouth? I do. This is the problem with goals and the items above.
A simple paper calendar can serve as a mirror. Write the things that are important to you, that would make your life better. Then simply, throughout the course of the year, tally how many times you do something to contribute to that "goal." The interval is arbitrary (minutes, hours, etc.), but you will learn some things at the end.
For example, if I read five times as many books as I went on dates in 2022 either I'm an extremely fast reader or my romantic life is pretty grim. However, if I add that I went on as many "friend-dates" as books read, a different picture is painted. In either case the focus is colored. The question of "what's important" has been answered whether I like it or not.
Clearly there's a symbiosis between "important" and "better." Often we delude ourselves about both.
"What we have to discover is that there is no safety, that seeking is painful, and that when we imagine that we have found it, we don't like it."
~ Alan Watts
Authoritative control and overreach is not a conspiracy. It's a strategy who's most recent revision is at least 100 years old. There is a concerted effort to keep people weak, sick, fat, separated, and ill-informed. If you control the:
- information, and
- weapons (or weaponize the above)
You control the people.
"The intense and coordinated international effort to facilitate an artificially designed transformation of the global food industry, based on Agenda 2030, is a testimony to the fact that we are witnessing the pendulum of civilization swinging back in many advanced societies, where striving to achieve a comfortable life could rapidly be replaced by a struggle for bare necessities in a lower level of existence, which is not supposed to occur in advanced societies."
Some people can't help themselves from saying the quite part out loud; perhaps intentionally to see who will raise an eyebrow and who will turn a blind eye.
"The documents reveal a symbiotic relationship between the AND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), its Foundation and corporations. Corporations assist the AND and ANDF with financial contributions. AND acts as a pro-industry voice in some policy venues, and with public positions that clash with AND’s mission to improve health globally."
"Public health" at every level has all the conflicts of interest – financial incentives from production to distribution. "Public trust" in government recommendations appears to be eroding faster than row-cropped top soil; but that doesn't stop things like this from getting published:
"Chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart conditions are mislabeled “lifestyle” diseases, when behaviors are not the central problem. Difficult life circumstances cause disease. In other words, the predominant reason Black women get sick is not because they eat the wrong things but because their lives are often stressful and their neighborhoods are often polluted."
Imagine considering it empowering to tell someone that they have no control over their life or their body and that they must accept:
- your life is stressful,
- someone else is to blame,
- there's nothing you can do about it, and only
- a centralized system of authority, granted more power / control can save you.
So, you're telling me my health issues are caused by stress? Yes. What can I do about that? Here's your prescription ma'am. What about the pollution in my neighborhood? It's part of progress, you don't want those filthy cows around do you?!
As the saying goes, you cannot make these things up. Even if exercise has profound effects on disease outcomes (r), you're apparently a racist if you do exercise and especially if you advocate persons of color doing so. Heaven forbid anyone get out of line and start taking control of their own lives! Thinking for yourself is becoming more of a crime than an art.
If you can't smell that the same pendulum creates both a vacuum of masculinity (que Liver King and the giga-chads) and just-as-hawkish-as-the-boys neofeminists (you-go-girl, but stay in your lane) you aren't paying attention to history, or your life – distract, avoid, pacify, would you like fries and 2-day shipping with that?
Shout Out / Misc.
A friend of mine just started a fitness app / service online. His trailer (below) highlights an important point. People's short attention spans are easily seduced by "motivational" apparatuses. "Fitness" magazines, everything from Wo/Men's Health to Flex and Climbing to UFC will happily sell you a meal plan, workout, or supplement "of the month."
They also won't tell you that those workouts are performed by professional and / or geared athletes. In other words, they're intentionally misleading and exploitative – the Liver King being no exception to this tried and true method.
So, people feel defeated or get injured, and flip to the next convenient section on "self care" which really just perpetuates a cycle of shame to sell you next month's issue – "new year, new you" conveniently comes after a candy holiday, a pie holiday, a cookie holiday, and a boozer holiday.
"Stay Hard MFer!" Let's do Tyson's calisthenics on top of Goggins' running, plus some CrossFit, sauna, 18-hour fasting, and cold plunges... Oh, you broke after a week? I'm shocked. But at least you know where you're at now.
That's a good thing. Perhaps it's your information sources that need more adjusting than your expectations; and you lack the experience to provide validation. In crypto terms, "proof of stake" versus "proof of work." In kind, some call proof-of-work "proof of waste." However, it is arguably the only "proof" as "stake" can change on a whim.
The inevitable inquiry is "do you want to be better or feel better?" The later only requires a monthly subscription or other drug of choice. The former may produce the later but will require humility, discomfort, and much failure; all of which are spent in vain lest they are accompanied by impartial assessment.
Where you're going does not care about where you've been and paradoxically getting anywhere is incumbent upon knowing where you're at. Your neighborhood is polluted and your life is stressful? That isn't an accident, and acknowledging the truth doesn't make it suck less any more than pity or anxiety has any effect on the future's outcome.
Resentment is one of the ugly cousins (along with shame and guilt); typically developing from one's anger at someone else and pity for themselves. But, you can choose a different narrative for yourself. You can choose to create a different world than you were born into and shaped by (unfair, racist, fascist, sexist, xxx-phobic, etc.).
Or, you can choose to, perhaps justifiably, wallow in and be consumed by that resentment and allow it's cycles of abuse to perpetuate throughout another generation. There is no choice, you already know what you have to do. By the time you chose, you will have already acted, and by the time of your next reflection your actions will have already counted.
Member Only Post Recap:
- Subscriber only posts now include the "Mere Psychotherapy" series I wrote reflecting on my time as a therapist in residency.