It’s a cliché, but worth repeating that time is by far the most valuable thing you have. Except for money of course, but time is money as well.
I am terrible about doing productive activities. If I do two hours of productive stuff a day it’s a great day for me. I waste a lot of time on the internet and doing stuff I can hardly remember.
Goofing off or watching TV produces no stress because it demands nothing from you. Reading shit on the internet produces stress- if you’re liberal you’re outraged at the sinister right-wing conspiracy, if you’re conservative you’re enraged at the sinister left-wing conspiracy, or if your beliefs are not easily categorized you’re pissed about some other stuff people are doing- but it’s not about you, and thus easier to take.
Doing productive activities to improve yourself produces stress and for me it’s unpleasant. If I’m applying for a job I think I probably won’t get the job anyway, if I’m doing some self-improvement I think it probably won’t work. If I’m exercising I’m thinking I probably won’t get in shape, but I at least can think I’m keeping my condition from deteriorating. That’s not all that motivating so I don’t work out that much.
The confidence book guy likes to talk about your “inner voice”, which has had me evaluating my thought processes. Cognitive behavioral therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy are based on the idea that a person can examine his thoughts, decide whether they are correct or not, and then keep or discard them. A person suffering from mental anguish is simply thinking incorrectly, and can easily correct his thinking with a little insight. This is an excessively reductionist and unempathetic view of the matter, while not being entirely wrong. The truth though is more complicated.
“Positive thinking” is the mantra in our society. Negative thinking and unpleasant thoughts are to be avoided. Negative thoughts and beliefs about oneself are especially to be avoided. And yet one must have some negative and unpleasant thoughts, about the environment, and other people. In excess, even if true, they are destructive and counterproductive. But where is this balance?
I have trouble with the idea I shouldn’t think ill of others. As Roy Baty said in “Blade Runner”, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe….” I have less trouble with the idea that I shouldn’t think ill of myself, and yet I come from a religious background where intense critical self-examination is demanded.
Often lower-status people get a lot of negative feedback. There are different ways of dealing with it. You may have noticed some people who are very servile and always looking for positive attention. Usually these people are fairly goofy, and have a kind of forced bonhommie. This seems like a way of saying “Don’t hit me!” These people are usually treated with some indulgence, but they arent’ respected. On the other hand there are people who are hostile and surly, and they may wear certain kinds of clothes to project a tough or anti-social image.
If you have had an excessive amount of negative feedback you may become unable to process it. I have to figure out a way to process the right amount to improve myself, but not so much as to become discouraged.