Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Overall I Consider Being Alive to be a Positive Thing: Five Reasons Why

So, the last post I wrote was about suicide. It was vague and didn't have any practical advice at dealing with depression.
So, here I'm going to note down a few things that I try to keep firmly in mind whenever I do feel down.
Thinking about these things might not work for you. When I'm depressed my mind seems to become extra sneaky and good at talking myself out of seeing anything as positive.
For me, the knack seems to be generating enough wonder to penetrate even a thick shell of cynicism.

So here they are, five positive things, the contemplation of which helps me battle depression:

1. A mind is essentially billions of dollars worth of wetware. I mostly use mine to play video games, and write inane blog-posts, but it is constantly performing astronomical calculations of co-ordination, regulation and analysis.
It also gets to interact with other advanced systems. So advanced that no one can predict what they might do from moment to moment or how they might develop over the course of a lifetime.
That's just cool.

2. Civilization is changing all the time and in a lot of ways it is changing for the better. Admittedly, there is still a very long way to go in a lot of places. Ignorance and greed are abundant. But free movement of information is starting to be the norm rather than the exception and the ways in which people collaborate for the greater good all over the world really make me hopeful that we're going to continue on an upward trend.
Doing good is becoming easier and more rewarding. Being an arsehole is becoming more difficult.

3. There is a m**f**ing lot of exceptional art out there. A person could gorge on it for years and never run out of the marvelous. There are hundreds of thousands of institutions dedicated to collecting and sharing the creative offspring of generations of humans. Libraries, museums, galleries, websites, theme parks, gardens...

4. The world is infinite, or it might as well be. A spoonful of dirt from the garden holds massive amounts of tiny organisms; The tip of your finger contains a multitude of cells, molecules and atoms; The solar system is so large we have trouble comprehending it (let alone the galaxy or the universe); Time extends beyond our understanding in both (or more) directions. Science is endlessly fascinating.

5. If you want to know what the meaning of life is, you're asking the wrong question. Meaning is relative and in an infinite world it can't possibly exist as an absolute.
But why should that matter? Words like meaning and purpose are simply a method of assigning value to things. Once you accept that every aspect of life is truly a personal decision, rather than one that needs to fit into some kind of universal scaffold, you begin to be free.

This was not as cheerful as I expected it to be when I started out. But thinking about this stuff really does help me to stop feeling desperately depressed.
Funny animal videos also help.

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