All posts tagged depression

I hear too many people telling me how they found this new philosophy or spirituality that surely will make them happy. Usually it’s fairly complicated, involves Eastern customs and an old man with a beard wearing a bed sheet. I’m not knocking Eastern Philosophy. It just seems to me that anyone who has some ability with words and fancies guru outfits will always find eager listeners. Being a coffee shop junkie, I hear it all. New-age mumbo-jumbo mixes with Buddhism and quotes from various self-help books. It’s like a soup for the soul in which you can’t recognize the original vegetables. Sometimes they even throw in Jesus, like adding brown beef chunks to the broth. Unlike real vegetable soup however, it certainly doesn’t make sense.

Trying to be happy is missing the point. Being happy is mostly a personal decision. Anyone who has a roof over their head, has enough food, lives in a relatively safe place and is not clinically depressed can make that choice.

It’s no wonder people are confused and stressed with the number of stimuli assaulting us every day. Take your garden variety supermarket; flashy colors everywhere, lights, music, promotions, coupons, aisles of products jumping at us from all sides. Television shows us fictitious lives of beautiful people with all their toys. The average shot length for movies in the U.S. (ASL) Went from around fifteen seconds in the fifties to 2.5 seconds in 2007. Society pressures us to adopt everyone else’s standards, to perform as well and look as good as the guy or woman next door. So many expectations breed depression.

The first thing to do in your life is simplify it. Don’t try to buy things because others do and you think it will make you look better. It’s not a competition. If you try to attain a social status you don’t have, it will stress you to no end and you’ll never be happy, even with a Lamborghini in your garage. Rich people commit suicide too, hum, I wonder why.. Stop watching the damn TV every day! You will find more interesting things to do, more on that later.. Simplify your finances, your work, anything you can find that doesn’t have to be as complicated as it is. You will be amazed at how many hours a week you can save, not to mention your stress level going way down.

The second one is to do things. I don’t mean sit on the couch and play video games. Build things for yourself, anything. I work on my laptop computer, programming. At the end of the day, when I close it, there is nothing for me to look at. The satisfaction from doing my work disappears at the same time my computer memory empties, when I pull the plug. We need to build things, and look at them. For your brain to be happy, it needs to move your body, that’s what it’s for! Otherwise, we might as well be a tree, no brains needed there.. Exercise to make your brain produce the chemicals it needs. You’ll lose weight and look better too, it’s a winner. Before television, many more people knew how to read and play music. There is no satisfaction be be gleaned from watching a screen hours on end.

The third one is to go places. We need to see different things. No, not the mall! I mean landscapes. There has to be something green within driving distance of where you live, you know, trees, grass, that sort of things.. Not the local football field, real wilderness. I am thinking about buying a kayak to explore the West Coast of Florida. I used to fly around during flight training to log hours. A fellow student would come back from, let’s say West Palm Beach, telling us there was a good looking girl behind the front desk at the FBO, and five Cessnas would take-off from Sarasota in a hurry. It was great. It’s not that we were all so obsessed, but just going somewhere else was exiting and uplifting. Just walking sometimes does the trick. You can also end-up pretty far on a bicycle when you forget what time it is.

The fourth one is to see other people. We are gregarious creatures by nature. I often go to Sarasota News and Books to sit outside with a cup of tea and watch people passing by. Soon or later, someone I know comes along and we end-up a full table, in an animated discussion. Last time I did that, I found myself playing Boggle with a bunch of friends! I might appear distant to some, but I like people. Why would I go to coffee shops all the time when I could make tea, coffee and chocolates at home? It’s human nature. When I hear “I don’t like people,” I usually don’t believe it. Self deception, that’s what it is. Hermits are few and far between, I’ve never met a real one. the best part of this tendency is that you can do things and go places with other people!

I am no expert in psychology. I just know that I enjoy life, always have, always will. I don’t need spirituality, religion, gurus and whatnots. If you do and it works for you, that’s fine by me. I just wanted to say that life is incredible and beautiful, and just looking around us and remembering it it all it takes sometimes to bring forth a smile. If you are never happy, go see a doctor, seriously, they can help, to a point. In the end, it’s always up to you. Have a great day, I am!

I just stumbled on an excellent article in the New York Times, “Time to Reboot America.” The author couldn’t have said it better: “Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I’ve argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.” I didn’t have that impression landing in Philadephia sixteen years ago from Charles De Gaulle for my first time in the United States. However, I should have known America was in trouble when I saw my first American household appliances! Twenty years ago, my mother’s washing machine had a microprocessor in it. My credit card had an embedded chip; technology which took ten years to cross the Atlantic. I still need to tell my washing machine how much laundry is in it, and turn and old style knob to turn it on. Then, when the washing is finished, I must take the laundry, stuff it in a no less obsolescent dryer, and turn another 1960s style mechanical knob. Energy efficient? I doubt it.

My first American car was a Ford 1978 LTD. It was great, confortable, the AC worked, and I paid only $750 for it. It had a few little quirks, but all in all, it worked. The fuel consumption was appaling, but why care? Gas was less than a dollar a gallon, almost four times less than in France. We thought gas reserves would last forever, we still do.

Today, I still can’t take a high speed train (look 3:25 to 3:55) from Sarasota to Tampa or Orlando. I must drive on I4 to get to the East coast. I you have driven on I4, you understand.. No amount of money could get me to commute daily from Tampa to Orlando via I4.

The list goes on and on. I do have another list, with all the good things about America; it is longer than the bad one, that’s why I’m still here, for now. We have NASA, a top of the line computer industry, the Internet, medical research as good as in Europe, Universities like MIT. Then, why do I feel like I live in 1975 sometimes? We don’t produce much here anymore, everything is service based. Most of the stuff I owed says “Made in China” or Japan, Taiwan, etc. When I think of American products, I think “rugged,” “old fashion,” “reliable” (except for cars).. Certainly not “high-tech.”

America needs to look East, not at it’s own navel. I am affraid Obama will plunge us into a socialist/protectionist era that will be the last nail in the coffin. At least we might not spend billions in unecessary wars abroad. This is not the time however to close our borders to commerce. We need to produce so that my next cell phone says “Made In USA.” We will be in competition with Europe and Asia, whether we like it or not. We should be the ones selling them goods. American high schools produce students who are two years behind Europeans. When I went to college in Florida, to perfect my English, I thought it was a joke. The college level math was the same as when I was 12. Yes, I agree, time to Reboot America.

School reforms: We need to be more demanding on both students and schools. Schools should be held accountable for their results. The “everyone wins, you’re doing great” bullshit needs to stop. If you suck, someone has to tell you, so that you can correct your attitude. When I was in school, no student would ever dare to talk back to a teacher. Today, teachers get assaulted in class! Why? Simple: No consequences. Being suspended is not a punishment, it’s a gift. Parents don’t care anymore. When you’re 15, you don’t care about your future, you care about right now, maybe tomorrow. There should be immediate consequences to lazyness. Also, why do kids still have to learn how many ounces are in a pound, and a flurry of other stupid measurements when there is a metric system? Want to know how many litres are in a 3x3x3 meter tank? Simple: 3x3x3=27 x 1000 = 27000 litres. And guess what, it weights 27000Kg, 27 metric tons. I don’t need to spend fiften minutes on the problem, I can do it in my head in 5 seconds. Australia went metric in 1970. If they can do it, why not America? NASA uses metric, otherwise we’d probably never go back to the moon in our lifetimes.. As to schools teaching stupid theories like creationism, don’t even get me started on that…

Free markets: Why Ron Paul wasn’t elected is beyond my comprehension. Here is a politician who understands exactly what this country needs, and he doesn’t even make it to the last round. We need businesses, and we need them to be successful. Here is where Europe failed and America can prevail. Europeans have this funny idea that a business has social obligations beyond not causing harm to people. That’s not the purpose of a business. In France, money is seen as somewhat dirty. The European attitude is that the government and businesses must take care of the people who have the right to be fed, clothed, and pampered, given what they need. They just shot themselves in the foot, just not the same foot we shot ourselves in. Businesses are the life blood of the country. Nobody else can produce wealth, except maybe the Federal Reserve when they print money, which compounds the problem. Wee need to compete with Europe and Asia on the same footing, not with artificial tariffs to level the field in our favor. Opening the markets might hurt us for a while, but long term, it is our only salvation.

No bailouts: If a company fails, they ought to go out of business. Taking taxpayer’s money to save a business is stealing, clear and simple. Since when does a Republican government use socialist tactics to redistribute wealth? I think they do it because they want a quick fix, a patch that will hold for a bit before cracking wide open, but that will make them look godd right now, until retirement with a bit of luck..

Better news: American news on television is a dog and pony show. How can a nation be aware of it’s lagging behind if it doesn’t look at the countries that are a decade ahead of them technologically. I once had a flat tire on my old Ford near Alachua County Florida. A pickup truck stopped and a guy offered me help (after yelling to his wife “Get back in the fucking truck!”). Anyway, I guess he was nice to me. Hearing my accent he asked “Where you from?” I said “France.” “What state is that?” he replied. “It’s overseas..” “Ah” he said, “do you have power over there?” I’m not making this up! That’s an extreme of course, and I couldn’t resist mentioning the story. We never hear most of what goes on in the world here on TV, except when it affects us directly, and immediately. Did you know that France launches satellites in orbit for cheaper than NASA, and I think more often with it’s Arianne rocket? Stop watching “Desperate Housewives” go to BBC, and even then, I’m not sure their US programs are the same the rest of the world sees.. I have access to about 300 channels, but I can’t hardly ever find an interesting show. Get your news from foreign agencies on the web.

Promote reading books: In 1982, 60% of young adults engaged in literary reading, while in 2002, only 43% do*. I don’t have recent numbers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it went down even more. Understanding other cultures and philosophy by reading could probably save us a lot of grief with our foreign policies. Even our politicians sometimes lack basic knowledge of geography and foreign ideology. When was the last time you bought a book or went to the library?

Maybe next time we can also talk about getting rid of the Federal Reserve…

I have heard about the demise of America for decades, never paid too much attention to those predictions. The signs were there, it’s easy to see them now in retrospect. How low it will go is hard to tell, the depression is here. We just don’t want to see it. We refuse to imagine the consequences, and we don’t want to see the solutions. Americans need to get educated and take their heads out of the sand. The United States was a great nation, not so long ago. We have great minds, visionaries, we can do it again.

* US Census 2002.