Most of us think that the goal of life should be happiness. We define happiness as the opposite of suffering and act as though if we can only get rid of the bad “stuff”, we’ll be left with only the good. The problem is that this is impossible. Some type of suffering is wired into living, whether it involves the inevitability of physical decline, disappointments in relationships, and/or painful feelings of some kind. Instead of fetishizing happiness, we should strive to live our lives aligned with our values, those principles that reflect our deepest aspirations and our best selves. And in the process of doing so, that can be truly a good enough life.
Cynicism is a plague in our society. There is a personal psychological dimension of it and a social or political version. On a personal level, cynicism is the belief that the way things are is the way they’re supposed to be. People complain about their lives but, at the same time, believe that they have no freedom to change any of it. That’s cynicism. On a social and political level, the belief that the world is somehow hardwired to favor the rich and screw everyone else, while partially true, is cynical because it ignores a long history of successful movements for social change. Progressives – who should, by all accounts know better—are highly susceptible to various forms of cynicism.
Dreams are unconsciously intended to help people master psychological difficulties. Sometimes they offer warnings, other times encouragement. One can not only learn about oneself from analyzing one’s dreams, but dreams can help steer us toward greater health and safety.
Masculinity is founded on the renunciation of femininity. Boys have to emphasize their difference from their female mothers as they simultaneously attempt to separate from them. Thus, masculinity is based on negating femininity which makes it inherently brittle and unstable. Boys further learn to devalue femininity in order to reinforce their sense of separateness and difference. Normal love and intimacy threatens these defenses. Boys, and later men, use objectification and emotional withdrawal in their attempts to feel safe.