I like the idea of building mental scaffolding as a way of creating some sort of internal control, and one of the best ways to do this is to read a lot of high quality literature, as it is often seen that it is through literature that we can understand human nature and ultimately hope to understand ourselves better. In going this it gives us the strength and wherewithal to deal with those external events or triggers. It makes me think of Francis Spufford’s book ‘The Child that Books Built’, and how important reading is in the formative years to help us understand the world and ourselves better.
Reading about the modern world also helps. Two of the best books that I have read on this are by Matt Haig - Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes From a Nervous Planet. As he says in the former (partly me thinking about the question of aging in the chat in the live session today):
‘The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind. To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business’
The list of 40 reasons to live is here. It’s well worth a read. Maybe not surprisingly, but I particularly like no. 6 and no. 36.