Why are so many perpetually upset and could a little dose of existentialism and/or nihilism help?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Seattle, Feb 22, 2022.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    We all know people who seems to always be upset or angry or depressed, for varying reasons. Some may be upset that the "American Dream" isn't working out for them. Other are depressed because they aren't "happy" and if only they were married, had a baby, a certain job or amount of money, etc. then they would be happy...only to find out that they still aren't happy.

    Some may be lonely, feel they have "wasted" years not "achieving". Others worry about what the culture, others, their parents expectations are.

    All these are cases of having a subjective "belief" and then the negative emotions began. "Life isn't fair", "That's not right" or "but what about the poor in Africa".

    Existentialism would tell us that there is no objective meaning out there in the universe and that meaning is what we bring to the game.

    Nihilism would suggest that there is no meaning, reality is just what it is. Both concepts (I think) came from a rejection of religion back in the day but I think even in a room full of atheists (meaning take religion out of the picture entirely) these concepts have a lot going for them (depending on how you choose to define them, of course).

    Most people are actually pretty well off by historical standards. Most have food, shelter and the standard conveniences of the day (computer/phone, car). Even though there is a lot of talk about income/wealth disparity...as Warren Buffet told a college audience, "my life is about like yours in most meaningful ways. You probably eat better than I do" (he eats fast food), he has a modest house. He said "I just travel a lot better than you do" (he has a jet).

    The point being that other than the amount of zeros in some account, most people don't have a lot to worry about, yet they do worry, seemingly constantly.

    If we accept that life is what it is in a Tao Te Ching kind of a way, we experience life as a dog might. Living in the moment, not expecting to be "happy" but being glad when that feeling comes up every now and then. If you don't like the dog analogy, pick another.

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    In more regimented times people were unhappy if they weren't married by 20, with many kids by 30 and divorce was a big stigma. Anything you did that didn't conform to what the culture expected was a source of stress.

    Whether it was "coming out" or getting a divorce or not having kids or getting married it was all something that lead to personal unhappiness. Existentialism would suggest that you just make up your own rules and nihilism would suggest that there are no rules.

    Kids in Japan commit suicide due to their parents educational expectations. In the U.S., it's not such an issue but it does cause a lot of stress. In some countries it's not a stressor at all.

    Today it's gross (and illegal) for an old dude to marry a 15 year old female. It's not a problem if the guy is 80 and the female is 18, but 15 puts you in jail.

    100 years ago and it didn't even violate cultural norms in most places. That's not to say that our current view isn't a better way to behave but it's best if we remember that cultural standards very much depend on the times.

    Most of what stresses people out today seems to just be being at odds with society's current beliefs... "you should get married, have kids, be productive, consider status, etc".

    Society is generally healthier (I'm guessing) when individuals are allowed to be themselves. No, I'm not suggesting bringing back slavery or child brides but most of the things that get people so worked up (always angry, depressed, overly emotional about, etc) are self-provoked.

    Most people aren't upset with themselves, it's always that the government should be doing more for them. These are the angry people generally.

    The depressed people (not speaking of the clinically depressed here) are generally depressed by not reaching society's expectations in their interpretation..."I'm disappointing my parents" "I should have a better job" , etc.

    It's probably better to just accept reality, live in the moment, don't expect anything unless you do something to change outcomes in reality and accept that life just is about existing and anything more than that is dependent on your actions. Also, appreciate being alive with all that brings.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2022
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  3. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

    You seem to have overlooked the people who are perpetually upset because they think the government is doing too much for others. They perceive those others as undeserving, or taking advantage. They do not necessarily want more government help themselves, (although they will certainly take it if they can get it), but they definitely want less for others.

    As for whether any philosophy would help those people, I really don't know. They would probably be happy for a minute if abortion was banned outright, but then they would soon get all upset again over something else that doesn't even affect them personally, like gay marriage.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2022
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  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I would include them in the angry group as well. It's all about coming up with a "belief" in the first place and then letting that make you angry as opposed to just dealing with reality as it is but that is a perfect example, not being gay and being worried about gay marriage?
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  7. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Ode to a mouse comes to mind:
    " ...But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
    In proving foresight may be vain:
    The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men,
    Gang aft a-gley,
    An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
    For promis'd joy.

    Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
    The present only toucheth thee:
    But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
    On prospects drear!
    An' forward, tho' I canna see,
    I guess an' fear!"
  8. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

    My point was that there seem to be just as many people who get upset that the government does too much (for others) than there are people who get upset that the government does too little (for them). But I agree both types fall into the perpetually upset category.
  9. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Yes, for every argument on one side there is another argument on the other side. That's pretty much a given I think. My point was about dealing with reality and not getting upset because of beliefs that we generate in the first place.

    You can't really win the "belief" arguments anyway for the most part. Are people upset because they believe that the government is giving too much to others? Some are I'm sure. Could it also be not about worrying about the government giving too much to others but more about the government having nothing to give without tax payers so it's really worrying about too much being taken from the tax payer.

    As I said, there is two sides to every argument and you aren't really going to "win" such arguments. It also doesn't matter because you don't need to be able to figure out why someone is opposed to your view point. It can be because they are more informed than you, because they are a "bad" person or just because it's a good idea taken too far.

    The motivation doesn't matter if you are opposed to the result in any event.
  10. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

    What would "dealing with their own reality" actually entail for someone who it perpetually upset about some belief they may have generated for themselves? I suppose a step in the right direction would be if they could at least acknowledge that whatever issue they are focused on is not as important in their life as they had been making it out to be. The "first world problems" meme works that way. Things are not so bad, and could be much worse.
  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I said "dealing with reality" not "dealing with their own reality"

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    Yes, put things in perspective, understand that there are two legitimate sides to most issues so don't always read the worst interpretation into the other person's remarks.

    Most issues aren't ones that should engage someone. They are just the current reality that need to be dealt with. The "rich" aren't generally speaking, villains. The "poor", generally speaking, aren't "lazy", etc.

    High housing prices effect everyone and that's the reality but it's not because "investors" are driving the prices up anymore than first time home buys are pushing the prices up.

    It's not easy to flip houses. It's not free, easy money. Competition takes the "easy money" out of most transactions. If someone is fixing up houses so that renters can rent them...that's not why someone can't afford to buy a house.

    Realizing something like that would be dealing with reality IMO (just as an example).
  12. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

    Oops, my error! That is actually a very important distinction, especially in the 'post-facts' era that we often find ourselves in these days.

    I agree, and I think that I try to live that way.
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