These days, I’m more likely to feel hopeless than sad, more likely to feel as if nothing is ever enough, as if nothing really makes a difference, as if our whole human civilization is unraveling and there is nothing I or anyone can do about it. It’s a different feeling from sadness, and perhaps it needs a different, more complex set of ideas for coping with it. Here’s what I came up with to that end:
Give up hope. That’s right, get off the hope/despair roller coaster and realize once and for all: It’s hopeless! You should have known when a U.S. presidential candidate won an election on a platform of mere hope that it was time to give it up. Embrace hopelessness! It’s OK! It makes sense. But we can, should, and must still be intentional, responsible, and joyful.
Explore your gifts and passions with someone you love. Get together with someone you love and tell each other what you really care about, what you have real passion for, what you think really needs to be done in the world, what you think you could actually contribute to usefully and would really enjoy doing. Then tell each other what you think each other’s gifts to the world are—the things that other person is uniquely good at doing. I bet you’ll feel things starting to shift, in ways that are practical and intentional, instead of just desperately, uselessly hopeful.
Be good to yourself. We’re fucked, and you know it, but still you’re doing your part, taking responsibility, doing important work to mitigate or help adapt to the hopeless future we all face, right? So ease off. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Give yourself a break. Pamper yourself. Celebrate the fact that you’re smart enough, informed enough, strong enough, sensitive enough to feel utterly hopeless.Read more: http://www.utne.com/Spirituality/Ten-Things-Feeling-Hopeless-Dave-Pollard.aspx#ixzz1DWQw06LW
This article is extremely thought-provoking and revelatory. It’s actually plainly just right fucking awesome.
But I do have a bit of a problem with one of the lines later on: “You are the way you are for a reason. It’s absurd to hope that some stupid book is going to change it.”
I don’t think the author intends for this to mean “Don’t bother trying to change your negative behaviours”, but it does sound quite a lot like that.
No, a book certainly will not change you. You can change you, yes — but a book can not.
If you choose to read anything that might be dubbed “self-help”, or material otherwise considered empowering (much of the content on this blog, for example), then you also get to choose if and how it will affect you and change in your life.
Change and transformation and growth — none of these comes from a book. They come from people who are empowered to take action. You can be advised on how to do this using information from books, or on blogs, or in articles.
Hope removes agency. The action-taking must be your own, and you must take it for it to be effective.