• Tue. Oct 27th, 2020

Saturday Night Owls: When the future feels hopeless, we aren't helpless to change our mindset

ByAdiantku

Sep 27, 2020

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

Arthur C. Brooks at The Atlantic writes—What to Do When the Future Feels Hopeless. Humans like to feel optimistic about and in control of where their life is headed. The pandemic has made it very hard to feel that way:

[…] Because of the pandemic, the future feels difficult and uncertain, and few of us have much control over it, beyond doing our best to keep ourselves and those around us safe. […]  Gallup survey data show that pessimism about the future of the pandemic in the U.S. is rising. This is infecting our general outlook: “I wake up every day with nothing to look forward to,” a friend recently confessed to me. “I feel like staying in bed.”

We make light of pessimism, even creating amusing pessimistic characters, such as Eeyore and Charlie Brown. But in real life, pessimism is no laughing matter. Research shows that it is highly correlated with suicide. Young adults who are pessimistic are disproportionately likely to suffer poor health in middle age. Similarly, scholars have shown that having a sense of low personal control links adverse economic circumstances to poor health and impaired emotional functioning. Low personal control in the workplace—called low decision latitude by psychologists—especially in combination with high pressure, was found to be a significant predictor of depression and low job satisfaction among workers in one 1990 study. […]

Not only do many people feel pessimistic about their personal future right now; there’s also an overwhelming collective sense of powerlessness and negativity. It’s not just that my future feels bleak, so does ours. And since the pandemic is a collective phenomenon, there is little any of us can do to ignore it or avoid the constraints it imposes on our lives. There’s very little novelty to break up our days, few new faces, little movement, few fun events to look forward to. All we can do is wait—for a vaccine, for the election, for herd immunity, for something, anything, that might change our prospects.

But we are not helpless. While there’s little we can do to change the harsh realities of the pandemic, we can change the mindset we use to face them. By doing two things, we can improve our ability to cope with this situation, as well as with negativity and feelings of powerlessness in the future.

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QUOTATION

“I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”
~~Antonio Gramsci, Letters from Prison (1926-30)

TWEET OF THE DAY

It’s not just SCOTUS: Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC has scheduled committee votes next week on 5 more Trump judicial picks. Includes Kathryn Mizelle, who was rated Not Qualified, is only 8 years out of law school, and has not tried a case since her admission to the bar. An outrage.

— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) September 26, 2020

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2009—Forty-Nine Out of Fifty Governors Managed to Take the Call:

Yesterday, the White House held a conference call between Vice President Biden and governors of U.S. states and territories. The purpose of the call, according to the White House pool report, was to “exhort the states to collect and submit quarterly numbers of jobs created and saved by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act by the deadline of Oct. 10.” Forty-nine state governors or their representatives joined the call. The one person who skipped it? Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).

Jindal has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Recovery Act — at the same time he goes around the state and takes credit for the federal dollars he was handing out. In July, Jindal declared the legislation a “stimulus that has not stimulated.” Yet he had no problems with handing out giant checks with his name on them…that contained millions of dollars of Recovery Act funds for job training programs, housing assistance programs, homelessness prevention programs, police training, criminal justice technology upgrades, and community development block grants.

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