A Friend on FaceBook has asked this question several times in recent weeks. I am writing this specifically for that person. Mainly, I will merely reiterate things I’ve said before on this blog; whereas that person doesn’t normally read this blog.
This could get quite long, and I’ve given myself a deadline, so I’m striving to put the most important information first.
If I try to take seriously all the conflicting claims made by different sides in different debates, I wind up being so confused I question my own sanity. What to do?
Here — Now — Can.
To establish peace of mind, I set my attention on those things of which I can be absolutely certain; namely, what I can see, hear and touch right here, right now. The tablet I’m typing on, the table it’s sitting on, the chair I’m sitting in, the clothes I have on, the Coke that’s also sitting on the table; the hotel room I’m in. The certainty I gain from attending to these things is great enough that I don’t necessarily need to be certain of much of anything else.
For example, I don’t need to believe anything anybody says.
* At this point, I am dealing with facts, with What Is — not theories, opinions, beliefs or value judgments. Those are the things people dispute. The facts aren’t disputable. If there is a dispute, it’s about theories, opinions, beliefs or value judgments — not facts.
* Almost never is there anything about the facts, here and now, that deserves to upset me.
* There are many things we don’t know and will never know. I am secure enough, knowing what is indisputable, that I have no worry about what I don’t know.
Peace of mind is paramount.
I am convinced that everything the real Jesus really taught, pertained to obtaining and maintaining peace of mind. My little book, The Way of Peace, examines his teachings from that point of view.
My call of God is to do the best I can in every contact I have, in person, with another person; to make the best use I can of the resources at my disposal; to deal the best I can with the inevitable problems life throws at me — flat tires, job conflicts, toothaches. The things I deal with in person from moment to moment, in other words. Maintaining peace of mind is essential to that mission — to be my best and do my best.
There are things I intentionally ignore because I know they disturb my peace of mind — certain authors, certain films, certain thought systems. A handy example: about the only reason anybody Blocks anyone on FaceBook is, and I feel safe saying this, because the person disturbs one’s peace of mind.
There’s a lot more I let go of. God only calls on me to deal with situations where I have choice, responsibility and power. From a recent post:
The Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I stretch out my arms like Jesus on the cross, and find there — from the farthest fingertip of my right hand to the farthest fingertip of my left — the limits of (1) the things I can change, (2) my responsibility, and (3) my power.
Everything else is OUT OF MY HANDS, literally OUT OF REACH.
What IS at hand, what IS in reach — there are the things I can change. The things I can do something about. Where I have power — and responsibility.
It is up to me to do the best I can with what I’ve got, in the circumstances I’m in, right now.
I need not concern myself with anything I can’t do anything about.
Peace of mind has its enemies.
Various people, for various reasons, dislike What Is — dislike facts. So they pay attention, and try to get you to pay attention, to not-facts. In other words, fallacies. There are known patterns to the games they play.
On this website, I posted a copy of a book about how to spot those games, Guides to Straight Thinking, by Stuart Chase. That’s more difficult than most people I know can handle, so I also wrote my own little book, Free Speech Handbook. If you look at that, you’ll quickly see how many people in politics and the media are constantly breaking all the rules. I try not to listen to anyone who does.
Be aware of your feelings; feelings come first.
An advantage of keeping one’s attention here-and-now, is that it makes it much easier to be aware of one’s feelings, one’s emotions, from moment to moment. That, in turn, is crucial to self-management — to presenting my best self to each person or situation that comes my way.
I think we were raised to believe that one’s feelings are an inevitable response to things that happen. One can control one’s actions, but not one’s feelings. I observe now that, for the most part, one’s feelings wander randomly throughout the day. How I respond to any event rises from how I am already feeling at that moment. The feelings come first, and thoughts and actions follow.
I discuss this in some depth here: “Seeing red” is real. But how does it happen?
Awareness of my own feelings makes it easier to be aware of others’ feelings, and this has become crucial to me in evaluating who and what to believe. What is this person feeling? What feelings does she or he want to make me feel?
Be aware of “The Itch.”
“The Itch” is what I call a state I’m sometimes in, of wanting to be angry, wanting a fight.
I suppose almost everyone feels that from time to time.
We choose music to listen to, based on how we want to feel: we choose music that will make us feel the way we want. I think the same thing happens with the web sites we visit, the news sources we listen to.
One of our Friends is a big fan of Dan Bongino, a man who is angry all the time and wants everyone else to be angry, too. I’ve become convinced that she only checks him out at times when she herself wants to be angry also.
Any source that wants me to feel angry or afraid, is not to be trusted. I’ve posted it so many times, it deserves to be a hashtag: “Haters lie.” You can probably search my profile and find one example after another.
Be aware of transference.
What haters complain about usually isn’t what their real trouble is. As a matter of humanity and compassion, it is well to know that they themselves don’t know the real source of their pain. I discuss that in some detail here: Referred pain.
If it sounds crazy, it probably is.
Related: Ulterior motives are funny.