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A society with good emotional hygiene


Holmbo
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I don't know how common the concept of emotional hygiene is. I've only come across it quite recently but I like the idea of it. The idea is that just as we have habits to take care of ours and others physical health, such as brushing teeth daily, exercising or not sneeze on people, we should have habits to take care of our psychological health. The habits are supposed to for example help avoid negative thinking or to make us more aware of our psychological well being.

 

I feel like our society is much less equipped to handle emotional well being than physical. Do you agree? What kind of societal rules or habits do you think would help people to stay more healthy?
 

One thing I think would help is if everyone was more mindful of peoples need to reflect and concentrate without interruptions. For example at my work its common that people come to each other with short questions and reflections any time of the day. Usually they are small but every time it is an interruption to that persons concentration, and also to the people nearby because we share offices. I wish my work was better structured to handle this. Maybe designated hours were no one is allowed to interrupt.

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This reminds me a lot of a topic that's been coming up frequently on the Discord lately--overall, expressing one's emotions in any nonstandard way, or expressing nonstandard emotions in general, is considered forbidden by society, and I think that's the root of a lot of problems in a lot of areas. It's like you're only allowed to talk about your emotions if you're a 14-year-old on Tumblr who listens to Evanescence, or a cis woman on her period who's crying into a box of chocolate--and both of those stereotypes are ridiculed to within an inch of their lives specifically because "haha, look at those angsty people who can't control their emotions". If we as a society just allowed people to own their emotions (mostly negative ones, because society already expects everyone to be happy all the time, but also just being allowed to be happy about things that society doesn't consider worthy of specific happiness), and had a better idea of how to respond constructively when someone airs them, the root of a lot of systemic problems could be weakened to the point where those problems would be significantly more tractable.

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On 07/09/2017 at 8:08 PM, Holmbo said:

I feel like our society is much less equipped to handle emotional well being than physical. Do you agree?

 

Pretty much. Although, I think it's not great at either, to be honest. More communal spaces and time/opportunity for exercising in them would help on the physical side, as well as maybe better teaching around diet and nutrition in schools. But I think people generally have a better idea about steps they can take as individuals (diet, exercise, etc.) to handle their physical health - regardless of whether they actually act on them (a lot don't). In contrast, when it comes to emotional health, fewer potential proactive options would readily come to most people's minds, probably.

 

Some ideas I've had are: 

 

Introducing kids to the concept of managing and discussing their emotional wellbeing from a young age (I don't know what sex and citizenship education is like in Swedish schools @Holmbo but in the UK it's pretty much nonexistent, in my experience). And when something isn't introduced and discussed communally (e.g. in schools) you can see where people might get the idea that emotions are a somewhat private and shameful thing, as @Dodecahedron314 was mentioning above. You could maybe gently introduce emotional self-monitoring/awareness techniques from a young age too e.g. certain forms of meditation. Also, make citizenship more practical, by having kids get involved in community projects and/or run some aspects of the school themselves (like in the 'democratic schools' @SoulWolf was educating me about recently :)) As I think helping others helps us to feel good about ourselves.

 

3 hours ago, Dodecahedron314 said:

If we as a society just allowed people to own their emotions (mostly negative ones, because society already expects everyone to be happy all the time, but also just being allowed to be happy about things that society doesn't consider worthy of specific happiness), and had a better idea of how to respond constructively when someone airs them

Yes, yes and yes. 

 

I've found that in environmentalist circles, for example, a kind of 'privatisation of hopelessness' occurs. One is encouraged to 'remain positive' and 'not give in to despair' over climate change. And whilst I understand the sentiment behind this, it does often seem to lead to people bottling up despair and not feeling that it is an appropriate thing to express in a public context (at least, I know this happened in my case).

 

And people should, of course, be 'allowed' to be happy in 'non-standard' ways, provided they aren't interfering directly with another's happiness by doing so. To quote John Stuart Mill: 

 

The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

 

Or, alternatively, Oscar Wilde:

 

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people's lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognizes infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one's neighbor that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.

 

Or even Maude, from the film Harold and Maude ;)

 

I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are *this*, yet allow themselves to be treated as *that*

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On 07 September 2017 at 9:08 PM, Holmbo said:

I feel like our society is much less equipped to handle emotional well being than physical. Do you agree?

I agree it's pretty bad at handling emotional needs, but it's not all that great with physical needs either. I call them emotional needs, because of this website. He has a lot of info there that I think you might find interesting too.

 

On 07 September 2017 at 9:08 PM, Holmbo said:

What kind of societal rules or habits do you think would help people to stay more healthy?

I don't know about rules (I think rules are problematic for a whole bunch of reasons), but for habits, I think avoiding 'toxic' people as much as possible is probably one of the healthiest things to do, for most people. The opposite also applies: spend more time with uplifting people. :)

This is a big reason why I have so many issues with schools - they're not generally optional, and it's really hard to avoid the toxic people if they're in your class, or if they're your teachers. Or your parents (that's the worst). So I don't really believe in 'teaching' emotional hygiene at a school when the students usually aren't even allowed to take care of their own emotional needs while they're there. Especially not as a subject with tests and exams.... that just ruins everything that could have been good :rofl: 

Good role models would be preferable.

 

I also don't really believe that getting rid of 'negative' feelings is a good idea. That's like just taking painkillers if you break your arm, without ever getting it fixed or put in a cast. I'd rather encourage people to look for the source of their feelings, figure out why they feel that way, and maybe they can figure out a solution that way (and hopefully it's not illegal).

 

On 09 September 2017 at 9:09 PM, NullVector said:

I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are *this*, yet allow themselves to be treated as *that*

Nice quote. I'm gonna save it in my collection. :) 

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55 minutes ago, SoulWolf said:

I'd rather encourage people to look for the source of their feelings, figure out why they feel that way, and maybe they can figure out a solution that way (and hopefully it's not illegal)

 

This is where I struggle. The things that make me feel most unhappy are to do with the general trajectory of global society as we head into the future (climate-change, etc.). I don't know of any 'solutions'. It can't be fixed at an individual level. And some of the more effective actions individuals could take potentially are illegal ones :/

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18 hours ago, NullVector said:

This is where I struggle. The things that make me feel most unhappy are to do with the general trajectory of global society as we head into the future (climate-change, etc.). I don't know of any 'solutions'. It can't be fixed at an individual level. And some of the more effective actions individuals could take potentially are illegal ones :/

 

Yeah, I struggle with this too. Big things that require more people to do stuff are hard. Sometimes the illegal things are the right thing to do... but I guess every little bit helps, even just sharing some link on Facebook, maybe it's just enough to get one or two more people to think about something important.

 

Someone I know actually feels like it's wrong to feel happy when there's so much wrong in the world. I don't blame him, but sometimes (quite often) I just need to completely ignore the world around me and just do fun stuff, for the sake of my sanity.

 

As for general emotional hygeine, I've recently figured out that where I sit in public is important. I can't sit somewhere where there are people behind me where I can't see them, that makes me very uncomfortable. It took me a really long time to figure out why sometimes I'm anxious as all hell while out and about, while other times it's fine. Now I know why. It would have been nice to know this sooner though. :P 

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On 2017-09-09 at 9:09 PM, NullVector said:

 

Pretty much. Although, I think it's not great at either, to be honest. More communal spaces and time/opportunity for exercising in them would help on the physical side, as well as maybe better teaching around diet and nutrition in schools. But I think people generally have a better idea about steps they can take as individuals (diet, exercise, etc.) to handle their physical health - regardless of whether they actually act on them (a lot don't). In contrast, when it comes to emotional health, fewer potential proactive options would readily come to most people's minds, probably.

 

 

That's true too. But we do at least have a lot of knowledge of what we should do, even if we don't always do it. Like, if someone does a lot of exercise they'll get praise but no one praises anyone for spending time forming close friendships.

On 2017-09-10 at 10:00 PM, SoulWolf said:

I don't know about rules (I think rules are problematic for a whole bunch of reasons), but for habits, I think avoiding 'toxic' people as much as possible is probably one of the healthiest things to do, for most people. The opposite also applies: spend more time with uplifting people. :)
 

Perhaps I should have written custom rather than rule. We have so many things about physical health we implicitly know to do, (mostly related to keeping our bodily fluids from spreading about but still). I would love it if in the future people find it just as rude to stress someone out for no good reason as they'd do today at someone getting snot on them.

On 2017-09-11 at 5:39 PM, SoulWolf said:

As for general emotional hygeine, I've recently figured out that where I sit in public is important. I can't sit somewhere where there are people behind me where I can't see them, that makes me very uncomfortable. It took me a really long time to figure out why sometimes I'm anxious as all hell while out and about, while other times it's fine. Now I know why. It would have been nice to know this sooner though. :P 

 

Reminds me of a person in a book I read recently. A close and common orbit. Of course that person was a former space ship computer :D

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On 9/11/2017 at 4:39 PM, SoulWolf said:

Someone I know actually feels like it's wrong to feel happy when there's so much wrong in the world.

 

I would make a distinction here between feeling happy in oneself (experiencing some measure of internal peace even in the midst of a troubled world) vs. feeling unhappy about the external state of that world and therefore feeling motivated to change it (Martin Luther King Jr identified the tension here and called it 'creative maladjustment').

 

There is also something to what your friend is saying taken at face value too, I think. I was reminded of this from Bakunin:

Quote

It is not true that the freedom of one man is limited by that of other men. Man is really free to the extent that his freedom, fully acknowledged and mirrored by the free consent of his fellowmen, finds confirmation and expansion in their liberty. Man is truly free only among equally free men; the slavery of even one human being violates humanity and negates the freedom of all.

(similarly, the unhappiness of even one human being violates humanity and negates the happiness of all)

 

On 9/11/2017 at 4:39 PM, SoulWolf said:

but sometimes (quite often) I just need to completely ignore the world around me and just do fun stuff, for the sake of my sanity.

 

Actually, this is super, super important, I think. And I also think it's completely artificial to have these two separate categories of "things I do for myself" vs. "things I do for other people". Doing nice things 'just' for ourselves makes us act nicer to other people, less likely to lash out, etc, so it's also doing a nice thing for other people. Doing nice things for other people makes us feel happy, I think, so it's also doing a nice thing for ourselves. So, when looked at in this way, no need for us to feel guilty about doing the former sometimes in place of the latter :) (similarly, no need to feel smug about doing the latter in place of the former :P)

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On 2017-09-14 at 10:23 PM, NullVector said:

Actually, this is super, super important, I think. And I also think it's completely artificial to have these two separate categories of "things I do for myself" vs. "things I do for other people". Doing nice things 'just' for ourselves makes us act nicer to other people, less likely to lash out, etc, so it's also doing a nice thing for other people. Doing nice things for other people makes us feel happy, I think, so it's also doing a nice thing for ourselves. So, when looked at in this way, no need for us to feel guilty about doing the former sometimes in place of the latter :) (similarly, no need to feel smug about doing the latter in place of the former :P)

 

I agree.
Another thing that can make me feel bad is if I'm spending time doing something that is not "IMPORTANT". To help me get a more healthy outlook at that I've decided that I believe the meaning of human life is creativity and therefore everytime I do something creative or partake in a product of it I'm furthering our purpose. :P

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On 9/29/2017 at 6:16 AM, Holmbo said:

Another thing that can make me feel bad is if I'm spending time doing something that is not "IMPORTANT".

 

But what counts as  "IMPORTANT" anyway? I think of it like this. All that work being done to keep people alive and society ticking over absolutely needs to happen. But there has to be more than that, otherwise, frankly, why bother with all that work in the first place! That's where the creative work rides in to the rescue. It means there is actually a point to all of the maintenance work. You could say it's what makes the latter actually "IMPORTANT" :P The maintenance work lays the foundations for life being truly fulfilling; but it doesn't provide that fulfillment in and of itself, that has to come from some place else. Like how the anarchists say that people need bread and roses. So which of the two is more "IMPORTANT"? I don't think the question makes very much sense.

 

Hence I find it strange when people do things like question the "economic value" of the arts. I find that way of thinking about things to be totally back to front. Like, why are you bothering with an economic system in the first place? Surely it's only really there to enable things like the arts to be possible? So, don't ask what the economic value of the arts are; rather, ask what the human value of the economic system is. 

 

I heard that when they started building the SSC (particle accelerator in the US that never got finished) somebody asked one of the scientists the question how it would contribute to national defence. And the answer given was something like: it will contribute nothing to national defence; except to make the nation worth defending. I liked that answer :)

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On 10/09/2017 at 9:00 PM, SoulWolf said:

I agree it's pretty bad at handling emotional needs, but it's not all that great with physical needs either. I call them emotional needs, because of this website. He has a lot of info there that I think you might find interesting too.

Something which struck me about this site was how child focussed it was.
Most of the information about adults felt rather tacked on as an afterthought.

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On 30 September 2017 at 2:02 PM, Mark said:

Something which struck me about this site was how child focussed it was.
Most of the information about adults felt rather tacked on as an afterthought.

Yeah, it is very child focused, because a lot of adults ignore children's emotional needs, more so than adults. Or adults are at least allowed to stand up for themselves, or leave situations where they are being neglected/abused/etc more easily.

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