to be enjoyed, not endured
Emotional wellbeing is: in the present, real, comfortable, moral, self aware, aware of others, flexible but true, playful and alive.

From Oliver James:

Emotional health is the sense that what is happening, is happening now. It is experiencing the world as first-hand, immediate, rather than only knowing what was experienced when you reflect upon it later. You are, as the sports commentators put it, ‘in the zone’.

You feel real rather than false. You are comfortable in your skin: you do not wish you could be someone else, nor do you look down on others for not being like you. You know what you are thinking and feeling, even if sometimes that only means knowing that you don’t know.

You have your own consistent ethical code which enables you to distinguish right from wrong. You are stoical in the face of adversity, realistic in your ideas and often seem to be wise in your judgements.

You have the capacity for insight into your own actions. You can sometimes spot in advance when you are about to make a mistake and avoid it, or can see when you are reacting irrationally to a situation and correct yourself – so having crashed the car, you do not do it again; you can notice that the lights have changed or a wall is approaching, and turn the steering wheel. This gives you that nectar of the soul, the capacity for choice, and therefore, for change. Such self-awareness is what sets us apart from other animals.

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peculiar scramble for status

In a study on ‘authoritarian personality’ conducted in the late 1940s, the sociologist Adorno and colleagues asked their subjects to react to the the following two statements:

Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn.

Every person should have complete faith in some supernatural power whose decisions he obeys without question.

Their findings included the following nine characteristics associated with the “authoritarian personality” :

rigid adherence to convention;

submission to the authorities of the in-group;

aggression against those who deviated from convention;

opposition to imaginative, subjective or soft-hearted experience;

superstition and rigid belief categories;

obsession with strength and powerful father figures;

generalized hostility and anger at humanity;

the tendency to believe that wild and dangerous things are going on in the world, a projection of repressed emotions;

and an obsession with sex.

A decade later another sociologist Hafstadter linked the pervasive ‘pseudo-conservativism’ in America to life here being hardscrabble, unpredictable, diverse and status obsessed.  In essence, the authoritarian personality is ubiquitous, and derives from instability.  He wrote:

“pseudo-conservatism is in good part a product of the rootlessness and heterogeneity of American life and, above all, of its peculiar scramble for status and its peculiar search for secure identity.”

“Pseudo-Conservatism Revisited – 1965,” Hofstadter

There are dark eventualities implicit in these social realities.  Hafstadter describes one below:  how a minority could manipulate an insecure population such as ours to make a perpetually unstable state.

 “[I]n a populist culture like ours, which seems to lack a responsible elite with political and moral autonomy, and in which it is possible to exploit the wildest currents of public sentiment for private purposes, it is at least conceivable that a highly organized, vocal, active and well-financed minority could create a political climate in which the rational pursuit of our well-being and safety would become impossible.”

“Pseudo-Conservatism Revisited – 1965,” Hofstadter

Is more being said now about the pursuit of well being or as Aristotle called it eudaimonia – thriving – as a reaction against the reductive way of living so well described in these observations made by Hafstadter and Adorno?  One can hope.  Writing on empathy, community, sustainability, and wellbeing provide antidotes to a susceptibility to authoritarian personality and a culture of fear.

[All quotations are taken from Gary Kamiya’s article,  The infantile style in American politics, in Salon]

February 16, 2012, 9:31 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , , , , ,

Math time.  Equations are given so no need to memorize them.

The first equation – from Umair Haque’s article on measuring the economy from the Atlantic, which I have excerpted below – is the standard measure of economic strength used universally by economists today.  It describes an idea of economic health using a fairly simple mix of some basic concepts:  consumption, government, investment and trade.

We live in a market age and we are all more or less conversant with these terms.  We’ve seen the idea represented by this very base equation come to occupy a central place in how we organize our society.  These are the terms of our market society lingua franca.

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