Advice for lonely men living lives of quiet desperation

Lonely, unhappy, despondant man contemplating his marriage

I don’t know if this advice will find its way back to the man who needs help resolving the problem that was posted here. Maybe someone who’s good at doing the footwork can help get the word back. I committed to an answer because other men can benefit too. Here’s the heart of the original letter as posted on American Conservative:

Because I write anonymously, I will lay my cards on the table. I am a church-going Republican who has been married for 18 years, with two children. I have never been unfaithful to my wife, and have a close relationship with my children, who get high marks in school, and by all indications are well-adjusted. My life looks attractive from the outside, but within, I am in a substantial amount of pain.

My marriage has emptied out. Our firstborn came shortly after our one-year anniversary. My wife, who holds a master’s degree and planned to teach, wanted to be a stay at home mother, because she wanted our children to have what she had not. Though this plan was not without obvious sacrifices, I readily agreed to it. We could get by on my salary alone, and I could see the benefits to our child, and future children. It made her happy … for a while. Our second child came, and soon my wife began to complain that she was unfulfilled at home. She began to show resentment towards me for my work. To make a long story short: we decided that she would take a job. Given the complications of the academic job market, I had to resign from my position to take one at another college that offered my wife a teaching gig as part of a package deal. We moved a thousand miles away.

The results have been unsatisfying, to put it charitably. Professional life has not been the cure for dissatisfaction that she had hoped it would be. She complains about her colleagues incessantly, and resents me for the pleasure I take in my teaching. I can do no right by her. Though I enjoy my students, and get on tolerably well with my co-workers, I grieve for the old friends I left behind in our previous residence. My colleagues are pleasant, but if I dropped dead tomorrow, nobody would miss me. People here keep to themselves. I am not permitted within my marriage to talk about my loneliness. I am not permitted to do anything but listen to my wife, angry at the world, blame me and others for her unhappiness. I have to force myself not to think for long about this, or I would derail myself with my anger. Self pity is a luxury I cannot afford.

Here is a man who is lonely despite being married with family. As a result, he’s unhappy. If I could talk to him directly, I’d let him do more talking while I did more listening, but I don’t know him personally and he might never find out I responded, so we’ll have to go with what we have.

Happiness isn’t a matter of any specific level of comfort, wealth, things to enjoy, or a relationship with any specific person. I know a man who has permanent injuries from a horrible car accident. He has nerve damage and his mobility is impaired. He’s in chronic pain. He’s unlikely to find a wife who is willing to share his lot in life. He does have a job, and lives with his brother who looks after him, at the cost of giving up his own independence. His brother makes the decisions that impact his life. He accepts his circumstances and makes the best of them. He’s not only cheerful, he enthusiastically greets customers where he works and tries to bring some sunshine into their lives. Truth be told, he’s happier than most of them.

On the other hand, there are seemingly a lot of celebrities who had everything: fame, fortune, good looks, career success, who ended up overdosing on the drugs they were trying to find happiness in, or got depressed and committed suicide.

Happiness is largely a function of expectations. The more prerequisites you think you need before you can be happy, the harder it becomes to achieve happiness.

If you think “I can’t be happy without a career”, then indeed you can’t.

But here’s the thing: it turns into a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition. In other words, if you believe that you can’t be happy without a career, then you’ll be dissatisfied. But having a career is no guarantee that you’ll be happy! So suppose that you believe that you need a career to be happy, you get one, but you’re still not happy. Then what? You add more preconditions to your happiness, of course! “I can’t be happy unless my colleagues treat me the way I want them to.” Instead of getting closer, fulfillment gets ever more elusive.

Generally speaking, happiness is largely a function of

  • Setting realistic goals for your life.
  • Enjoying the process of reaching those goals itself, instead of just achieving the goal. In other words, let’s say you wanted to lose a little excess weight. You should enjoy your healthy diet and exercise long before you achieve your goal. Chasing goals is not the key to happiness; you put off being happy until you achieve them, get frustrated when you don’t, and take them for granted after a while if you do achieve them.
  • Being grateful for your blessings. Whatever you are grateful for contributes to your happiness. Whatever you take for granted, doesn’t.

How to deal with your wife’s unhappiness

Now maybe you’d like to know how to fix your wife. You can’t. You might be able to help her, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but she’s not your problem. You are.

You too put unnecessary prerequisites on your own happiness. For starters, you apparently don’t know how to be happy if your wife isn’t. More to the point, you make your own happiness depend on something you have NO control over. That’s a guaranteed formula for unhappiness.

You can’t open up her head, push a button, and make her be happy and say nice things to you.

You only have control over your own feelings, and that only to the extent that you accept your own responsibility for them and take charge of them. You might need help doing that, and that’s what I would like to accomplish.

She complains about her colleagues incessantly

That’s not the problem. The problem is never the problem; the problem is your reaction to the problem.

Suppose that she comes home from work, grumpy and complaining. How do you react? Do you feel miserable because she’s miserable? THAT is the problem.

Sympathy means “I am happy when you are happy. I am sad when you are sad.” It can be useful in some circumstances to build rapport, but it’s dangerous, especially for a man, and especially when negative emotions are involved. Even women only get away with so much. I’ve seen a lot of women’s friendships blow out because eventually one or the other got tired of them both dragging each other down.

What works better than sympathy is compassion. “I want you to be happy. I don’t want you to be sad.” Compassion does not require sympathy, and in fact works better without it so that one doesn’t drag the other down.

The best version is

“I am happy. I want you to be happy too.”

When she comes home in a bad mood, instead of you reacting sympathetically to her bad mood, how about she reacts sympathetically to your cheerful, compassionate mood?

If your mood depends on her mood, then your willingness to listen to her complaints is probably minimal. You’d probably rather be doing something else, maybe with someone else. If instead you can maintain your own good mood regardless of hers, then you can listen and let her talk herself through it.

One thing it’s important for men to understand: when she complains, she’s not asking for advice. It makes women angry when men respond to complaints with advice. What she expects is for you to shut up and listen. Once she calms down and is in a better mood, you might give some good advice after you’ve listened long enough to understand what the problem really is. But first you have to do your homework. If a salesman starts launching into his sales pitch the moment you walk in the door, that’s called “sales pressure” and it makes most people feel uncomfortable. What works better is if he shuts up, lets you do most of the talking, listens, asks questions, and really tries to understand your needs before making any recommendations.

How to respond to criticism: as little as possible!

I can do no right by her.

Do you need her approval to be happy? You’re guaranteeing that you won’t get it. There’s somewhat of a paradox as regards approval: if you’re needy for it, other people assume you’re unworthy of it.

Suppose that she criticizes you. Really digs in. Here is a template for responding:

“OK. It’s too bad you think so.” Then shrug it off, and take the kids roller-skating. She can either come along, or sit in the dark and suffer.

You don’t need to try to change her mind about you or anything else. Nothing you say or do will help, and if you assume otherwise, it’s just going to set you up for frustration and despair.

I am not permitted within my marriage to talk about my loneliness.

Welcome to the club; neither can any other married man on the planet. Telling your wife your problems will only undermine her confidence in you. That’s why most men confide in a male friend if they have any. First of all, he’s not married to you so doesn’t take your problems as personally. Second, he’s less likely to get upset over them.

That said, you’ll start losing friends if you make drag them down complaining too much.

The problem with complaining at all is that it’s impotent. It doesn’t contribute to a solution, but instead keeps your attention focused on the problem.

If you have a problem, you only have two options for dealing with it:

✔ Come to terms with the situation
✔ Take action

They’re not mutually-exclusive. Try first coming to terms with the situation. Take a deep breath, sigh, and tell yourself “so it is”. Then, once you calm down and realize that life goes on, ask yourself “OK, what’s the next step?”

Sometimes you need help talking yourself through a problem that’s bigger than you can handle. Try taking it to God through prayer. That’s the suggestion offered by Miles Christi.

If you catch yourself starting to sound whiny, or you’re going in circles over and over about the problem and getting stuck there, remind yourself that’s not helping. Accept the situation and move on.

Now one of your stated problems is that you don’t have friends you can confide in, so let’s address that.

How to have friends

Your lack of friends is part of a bigger problem related to your marriage and family: you can’t use relationships to fill an emptiness. “I need you to make me whole”. It doesn’t work.

Relationships are made out of integral wholes, not broken pieces hoping that other broken pieces will fix them.

Think of it this way: how do you feel when a beggar in a park makes eye contact with you, and starts to approach you? Do you feel eager for the interaction, or do you roll your eyes and think “oh NO!” If he thinks you look like an easy target, he’s probably quite eager for the interaction. Notice that there’s an asymmetry to the situation?

The beggar is needy. He has a problem and would like to transfer some of it to you. He has nothing to offer in exchange, and it’s a zero-sum game: he only benefits to the extent you incur a net loss.

Functional relationships are based on transactions and synergy. Each party to the transaction benefits from the exchange. If you buy bread from the baker, it’s because you want the bread more than you want the money you spent to buy it. The baker wants the money more than the bread. You’re both happier than you were before the exchange.

It might be strange and maybe even taboo to think of it that way, because you’ve probably been trained to be altruistic and sacrificial, but personal relationships are the same way. You have to take care of your own needs, or you have nothing to offer anyone else, at least, not once your time and resources are used up. There is a sneaky paradox that the same people who encourage you to be altruistic and sacrificial are not themselves altruistic or sacrificial; they’re only trying to win points with third parties by shaming benefits out of you at your cost. They don’t care about you. I do, so I’m giving you better advice. Each party to a relationship, whether of marriage, friendship, or parent-child relationship, has to benefit some way from the deal. Even parents benefit from the otherwise thankless job of raising children, by way of genetic continuity. If there’s no mutual benefit, there’s no potential for a functional relationship. So instead of telling you to give to others, I’m telling you to have something to give in the first place, so that you can receive as well.

What do you have to offer potential friends?

Nobody is going to want to be your friend because you’re nice, or because you’re a Catholic faithful to the sacraments, or conservative, or for any other attribute you think of yourself as. Nobody is going to like you because of what you think you “are”.

Instead of complaining about lack of friends, ask yourself what you can do to give someone else a compelling reason to want to be your friend.

How do you or would you contribute to his happiness?

It’s like opening a shop, and then complaining about lack of customers. It’s not about you needing money; it’s about you making a compelling offer for something that other people want. That’s why it helps to not be needy yourself before going into a relationship, so that you can focus on thinking about what will make other people happy and fulfill their desires.

Don’t panic if you don’t have a ready answer. If other people aren’t saying nice things to you and about you, you might falsely conclude that there’s something wrong with you. The only thing wrong is the unrealistic expectation. You do have a gift to give the world. You might need to work on it, but that’s true of everyone. You come into the world with nothing to offer. Your parents loved you and took care of you only because of their instincts towards genetic continuity. Thereafter it was up to you to create value and offer it to the world.

Even whatever innate genetic blessings you were born with aren’t necessarily anyone else’s blessings except to the extent that you find ways to make them so. Did you graduate at the head of your class? Beat all your friends at chess? Handsome devil? Athletic? Good for you! Nobody cares. A more likely response is jealousy. Beware. You’d think that women would like having a prize bull to bring home, but in this narcissistic age even women more often react with jealousy than interest. She wants attention too, and the prize bull is distracting it away from her. The only way that you can turn your blessings into someone else’s blessings is by channeling them into benefits for others.

Imagine a school talent show. One kid brings his violin and plays a difficult showpiece by Paganini. Nobody cares. Nobody’s impressed. Most of them don’t have a passion for that kind of music, and they resent what they interpret as “showing off”. It doesn’t please them, it makes them angry and jealous. The kid is going to get beat up behind the school one day. If it were a more popular style of music, they’d be more forgiving, because they’d enjoy the music. If he told jokes and they laughed, better still.

This explains the seeming mystery as to why some seeming losers are popular, and some winners unpopular. Hint: the loser is supplying benefits you’re probably unaware of, maybe some illicit ones. Don’t get jealous, and don’t get your ego or your own self-esteem wrapped up in it; instead figure out what your gift to others is, or could be, and how to present it to them in a way that makes them happier.

Also beware of being nice to people and doing them favors unsolicited. That might seem like a way of offering someone a benefit, but it comes at the risk of being seen as low-status. Only make compelling offers that you have reason to believe the other person will appreciate. Use your empathy.

People don’t care who you “are”. They’ll forget what you do. They’ll remember how you make them feel.

I have reconciled myself to the fact that loneliness is my fate in this parish.

You might very well have trouble fitting in. A lot of people have similar complaints nowadays. It’s the result of widespread social breakdown. Back around the year 1900, people typically had around thirty or so friends of the caliper that nowadays at best they might have one or two. It’s fairly common for men, and white men in particular if that happens to apply to you, not to have any friends at all.

People used to sit on their porches on hot summer evenings after work, drinking lemonade, and when their neighbors walked past, they’d stop for a visit. People don’t do things like that anymore.

In some cultures, Friday night after work is time to go to a dance hall to meet friends and strangers. Especially young and unmarried people, but even married people show up to dance with their spouses. Mainstream Americans don’t do that anymore.

In Asia, people tend to do things in groups, like Tai Chi in the parks. Sometimes the participants get to know each other individually, but even if not, they enjoy the group spirit. Americans have no cultural equivalent; all that died out in several cultural shifts after the world wars and during the Vietnam War. We shifted into a self-oriented consumer culture, where people seek self-fulfillment through passive consumption of consumer entertainment and happiness pills. To explain exactly what went wrong is beyond the scope of this article; it’s not something we can fix by ourselves so let’s fix what’s within our own personal control.

What I suggest is muddling through the best you can, starting with what you have, and then taking the next step.

Yes, I am a theological conservative in a relatively liberal church, but I’m not interested in doctrinal combat, and I can’t say with confidence that the vibe in this parish would be much different if it were more conservative.

Never mind the ideology; that’s superficial. Take a closer look at the demographics, which is actually the bigger issue and possibly the basis of differences in ideology. Do you have peers? Other men you can relate easily to because they’re enough like you? Other dads of other families in the congregation? Or is your parish full of singles, DINKs, and elderly widows/widowers?

You can fit in even if you’re odd-man-out, but it gets harder, and right now you need easier. You might very well need to look elsewhere.

A lot of people I know complain that all their friends are virtual friends over the internet. The problem is finding peers. It’s probably not that there aren’t any prospects at all where you live, it’s that the density is low, and circumstances suboptimal for finding them.

That means you have to proactively go looking for peers and take the initiative to make friends. It won’t happen spontaneously.

I suggest joining a men’s group or forum online, then escalating to chat sessions and phone calls, then if at all possible, face-time. What doesn’t work very well is social media: most of the interactions are very superficial, and consist of non-stops bids for attention and validation. You need to get beyond that point.

The ultimate goal is shoulder-to-shoulder time (imagine a group of Amish men working in an old-fashioned barn-raising). More about that another time.

How to avoid depression

First stabilize your own mood so you’re an integral whole instead of a broken part looking for others to complete him. Here are some quick fixes:

  • Daily exercise. No time but plenty of excuses? Try yoga; you can do it in your own home in an area the size of a yoga mat, just before bed. You can get instruction online or through videos. Look for programs either specifically for men, or at least marketed to men; they’ll have a higher ratio of strength-building exercises to balance and stretches, not that those aren’t useful in their own right.
  • Time outdoors twice a day for at least 10 minutes each. If nothing else take a short, brisk walk.
  • Regular time spent in a natural environment. A park if nothing else.
  • Play with your kids. Start a habit of family game night. Wrassle with your boys or shoot some hoops with them. Take your daughters out for lunch or to a movie. Date night with dad. Not once; make these events regular habits.
  • Find reasons to call up old friends. Birthdays. Holidays.
  • Be mindful of the blessings you already have. What you are grateful for contributes to your happiness. What you take for granted, doesn’t.

Self-esteem

You also need to work on your self-esteem. Unfortunately, that’s a loaded term, because many psychologists use it to mean “feeling good about yourself”. Actually, it works better if you just feel good, without needing to have a high opinion of yourself (that’s arrogance, or maybe psychological narcissism, which we’re having an epidemic of at the moment).

What you want to be is what some people call “comfortable in your own skin”. You accept yourself the way you are, even as you have a plan for self-improvement. You don’t think of yourself as being “broken” and needing to be fixed, you think of yourself as being OK the way you are, on a personal path of progress that sometimes includes some experiences of learning the hard way. You accept other people the way they are. You have come to terms with your circumstances, even as you have a plan for making things more to your own liking.

I hope that this article helps you find your way to a happier, more fulfilling life. If you have ideas for improving it, have needs that I haven’t addressed, or want to give me feedback regarding what resonated, please let me know in the comments. Let’s start a conversation to give each other feedback and share ideas.

Resources:

Here’s a book written by fellow married Catholic man Michael Sebastian

Tom Brady kissed his son. Facebook loses its mind.

Tom Brady

Kiss Between Tom Brady, 11-Year-Old Son Raises Questions About Parent-Child Affection

Quick synopsis if you’re in a hurry: On video, Tom Brady suggested his son owed him a kiss for a favor regarding a fantasy-football activity, the son gave him a quick peck right on the lips, Brady implied it wasn’t enough, and the son gave him a longer one. Some people who saw the video got upset by this. Other people didn’t.

This hit a little bit of a raw nerve with me, because I’ve witnessed cases where it has gotten out of hand—like vegetarian or homeschooling families getting CPS called on them.  I’ve been informed by feminists that “it’s rape” and “an act of violence” if I put my arm around my daughter to comfort her when she’s distraught. Some women tend to view any affection initiated by men or even boys as being unwanted sexual contact, regardless of the nature, or whether the recipient thinks so.

Contrary to the expressed opinions of some women, men have distinct “warm-fuzzy” feelings, triggered by the hormone oxytocin, just like women do. These are distinct from “hot-and-bothered” feelings some women imagine when they see a man being affectionate with children. When you see a man playing with a puppy or a kitten, he’s not thinking about how to have sex with it.

The overwhelming majority of us also have built-in brakes on our sexual impulses, like having protective, rather than sexual, feelings for pre-pubescent children. Most alpha males seem to have a built-in instinct to react aggressively to sexual exploitation of children. And most men have impulse control commensurate with our stronger sexual drives, sufficient to overcome temptations we don’t have built-in resistance to most of the time.

Some men lack impulse control, but so do some women. Something about glass houses and throwing stones.

There’s also a meme going around feminist circles that you should “respect” other people’s bad moods and not try to help them out of them, as if neurotic and irritable personalities were a good thing.

I do not think I need their permission to raise my kids according to my own good judgment regarding what’s best for them.

Is it OK for a man to kiss his son on the lips, or not? (same rule for daughters? or different?)

If the answer is “no”, that’s what psychologists call a “taboo”. The word originates among the Polynesians, but similar concepts occur in other cultures, such as “haram” in Muslim cultures. English borrowed the Polynesian word because it didn’t already have a word for the concept of something that is socially unacceptable even without a specifically communicated rule prohibiting it. In fact, it might even be a taboo to so much as talk about the taboo!

Taboos are unconscious judgments. People don’t consciously analyze whether we need any particular taboo, or what its functional purpose, if any, is. Some of them have purposes, like taboos on asking people how much money they make, or asking women how much they weigh; you’re trying to save someone’s feelings. Many taboos have no purpose than anyone can credibly explain. For example, food taboos are common in various cultures, and some of them derive from completely made-up cultural fables, like a character in the story ate something, and something bad but completely unrealistic happened to them. Sometimes the taboos last longer than the story, so that many cultures have taboos that they can’t explain why they exist, because there’s no objective evidence they can point to that it causes any problem.

That brings us to the next question:

What is the basis for deciding whether a given action is taboo or not?

Complete this sentence, and then show me the data: Tom Brady shouldn’t kiss his son on the lips because it will definitely cause this specific problem: _____.

Taboos are not necessarily rational, because they’re not the end result of rational processes. To make a long story short, a few are innate, most of them are learned, and a few such as regulating affection tend to be a bit of both.

When they’re learned, they’re learned unconsciously. It’s not your mom telling you were naughty to ask a woman her weight or her age, it’s the horror you sense in her mood when she tells you. You become upset that she got upset over what you innocently said before knowing any better, and then you start reacting the same way she does. It’s a little more complicated than that, because the whole process of sensitizing you to her reactions doesn’t happen all at once, but that’s the process.

Learned taboos are spawned when someone gets upset. They spread virally when other people get upset that someone got upset.

Lip contact is potentially taboo because aside from the possibility of cleanliness taboos (germs!), they are very sensitive. Sensitive parts of our body are more likely to be associated with taboos.

For whatever reason, Tom Brady didn’t learn a taboo against kissing his son on the lips.

It might have to do with being a football player. Masculine men tend to be more affectionate with children, including sons, than less masculine men, contrary to a common assumption. First of all, he probably has strong biological impulses generally, including affectionate ones, due to high hormone levels, second, he probably doesn’t react much to other people’s moods and feelings so he’s less prone to internalizing other people’s taboos , and third, he is probably very secure in his own masculinity and sexuality.

The boy is 11. For most dads, the taboo against kissing him would tend to kick in at puberty, when he starts displaying secondary sexual characteristics like a deeper voice and facial hair. It’s normal for fathers to cuddle and kiss their baby sons, and then get progressively less affectionate as their sons develop more masculine characteristics. I do know some men who still kiss their adult sons. I don’t, but I can’t think of any rational objections. I think it’s normal and natural for human parents to form lifelong bonds with their offspring, and some amount of affection tends to strengthen those bonds.

The next question:

Who gets to decide what’s taboo?

I’ll leave that there. If they’re not harming their kids, I don’t feel the need to police other people’s parenting practices, especially not on subjective criteria.

One important aside comment:

Some taboos have political significance, or are politically-motivated, regardless of merits. Outrage mafias are spawning more and more political taboos at an accelerating rate.

Last question, and maybe the most important not because it’s a big deal, but because it was probably triggered by something that IS a big deal:

Was it wrong to give the boy the impression that the kiss was expected in exchange for favors?

Instead of criticizing Brady, what would make more sense to me would be to address his likely motives for doing so:

  • fear of being taken for granted.
  • fear of not being loved by his kids.

As far as I can tell, most fathers seem to have the same fears. Not without good reason too.

Imagine a rich man who hires nannies to raise his kids, and dispatches them off to boarding school once they’re old enough. That by the way is the exact pattern of most of the very rich. It’s not good for the kids, but in all fairness, the fathers are under pressure to produce wealth, some of it on their own account, and some on other people’s. Imagine for example having the responsibility to manage a multi-billion-dollar transnational corporation. It would probably work better if management responsibilities were allocated in a less hierarchical way, so that super-human expectations aren’t made of any one man, but we’re only starting to figure out how to do that.

Those kids don’t bond to their father. If they bond to anyone, it’s their nannies, but even that gets thwarted with various behaviors of jealous parents. It’s a common problem among the very rich, and causes them to grow up with emotional problems.

It’s not a conscious transaction. The kids don’t think, “well, dear old dad foot the bill for the nannies and room and board. He paid for college. So I guess I owe the old boy love and loyalty.” Uh-uh. Not going to happen. “Love” is an unconsciously-learned response.

Love, by the way, is not an emotion. It’s a complex of other emotions, like being happy when someone is in your presence, or sad when they’re away, or worried about losing them. Your kids won’t be sad when you’re gone if they were never made happy by your presence. Footing the bill for their lunch is too abstract to trigger that feeling.

Fathers are still expected to be breadwinners, but nothing about breadwinning per-se will endear you to your kids. The only reimbursement is genetic continuity; there’s no emotional pay-back.

Instead of granting a favor involving something he does on his own, it works better if you share an activity you both enjoy. Like tossing a football out in the yard together, or wrassling with him, teaching him a skill he wants to acquire, or anything else you might do together that would make him associate his own happiness to your existence in his life. Same applies as regards father-daughter activities.

As a dad, you have to provide for your offsprings’ material needs. You’re under social pressure and legal obligation to do that; any way about it, it’s going to get taken for granted, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But it will contribute to your own happiness and satisfaction with life if you participate directly their happiness and satisfaction with life. You might run into obstacles from other people when you try to do just that, because they want you to optimize economic production, not your own happiness. Resist. You’re welcome.

Taking care of someone else’s material needs won’t make them love you, as unfair as that is. It’s not that the beneficiary is being ungrateful; it’s that love happens through unconscious processes that your behind-the-scenes efforts won’t trigger.

Supplying someone else with perks above and beyond their needs won’t make them love you either. Don’t give kids “stuff’; give them your attention.

Taking care of someone else’s emotional needs is what makes them love you. That’s just the way it is.

Here are some feelings that are natural for your offspring to associate specifically to you: feeling protected by you because you were mindful of their safety and talked to them about it. Having fun with you because you spent time playing with them.

Family history of heart disease or cancer? Try these lifestyle changes.

The following article is for information only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult with your doctor regarding any concerns you may have regarding heart disease.

Mark is a smart, good-looking guy, so I don’t think his genetics are all that bad overall. He’s just a very open, honest guy willing to talk about problems that other men have too. If he has a family history of heart disease, then the problem might very well have a genetic component. Or for that matter, it might be a family history of certain lifestyle habits. He’s wise to accept that he might have genetic risk factors, and to be willing to avoid indulgences.

Mark often qualifies his observations with “n = 1”, meaning that it’s a single data point consisting of his own experiences; he’s not claiming that every man will have the same experience. I agree. Your mileage may vary as regards any information in this article, though it is broadly applicable and should be given due consideration.

Regardless of genetics, inflammation is one of the primary causes of heart disease. Inflammation damages tissues. Apparently your body uses cholesterol to patch up weakened arterial walls. The cholesterol was actually a symptom, not a cause, contrary to earlier beliefs about heart disease which caused a great deal of bad advice among my generation. People were avoiding negligible amounts of cholesterol in their diets while ingesting large amounts of trans fats that were advertised as “cholesterol-free.”

Even if the susceptibility to heart disease is genetic, it might very well be a case of one body’s defenses against inflammation not being as strong as someone else’s who is highly resistant to heart-disease. So, reduce the inflammation.

Inflammation also increases risk of cancer. Fight inflammation, and you reduce your risk of both diseases.

First lifestyle change: Low inflammation diet

Here is Harvard Medical School’s list of foods that cause inflammation (verbatim from their website; don’t blame me):

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard
I’ve already caused an uproar on Twitter for listing red meat, even though it’s Harvard Medical School listing it, not me personally, because there’s a meme going around that it’s heart-healthy because it’s “paleo”, and because many people have strong emotional associations to eating red meat.

There’s another meme going around that weak, effeminate men get that way from eating soy. I’ve observed that crowd at close range; at the risk of piling more generalities on, most of them eat about the same as the rest of you (in fact, “soy-boys” tend to have neurotic, conformist personalities that get obsessed easily, like believing that all soy is GMO (it’s not) or that they’re allergic to it (rare); their female counterparts are the type who report vegetarian parents to Child Protective Services); their hormonal problem is primarily genetic, and even to the extent that it’s exacerbated by endocrine disruptors, those are mostly byproducts of technology. That’s a story I cover elsewhere.

This is about helping men with possible genetic susceptibility to heart disease live longer. It’s not about anyone else’s emotions, conditioned beliefs, or self-image.

“Paleo”. Consider replacing some of the red meat with other sources of protein, & sugary fruits like grapes with blueberries

Not everything that’s “natural” is optimal (strychnine is natural and organic!). Not everything that’s optimal is natural. Humans have probably been eating red meat longer than they have fish (primates are usually lousy swimmers by nature, and terrified of water), but fish-eaters like the Japanese and Icelanders tend to live longer than red meat eaters. Not eating red meat probably is unnatural for humans. Regardless, it’s a fact that pescatarians and vegans average more longevity than red-meat-eaters.

There’s a reason, and it’s a strange and counter-intuitive one. Due to a mutation that happened to our ancestors around 5 million years ago, we no longer produce a chemical called Neu5Gc. It triggers our immune systems as foreign. Other mammals still produce it, so mammalian meat is at least somewhat inflammatory to us.

Processed meats are particularly bad because of their preservatives.

 

Heart-attack food. Red meat, sugary glaze, and deep-fried carbs.

In the spirit of Mark’s n = 1, I should mention that my buddy Tom gorges on red meat. He hunts deer and other game, and that’s his and his family’s prime source of protein. His dad who is also a hunter is quite robust for his age. There might be a genetic trait that goes the other way, giving that family high tolerances for red meat. Or maybe its habits like eating much less processed food than average Americans do that compensate. I do know that Tom is happy to get some of his protein from other sources, such as corn and beans which complement each other’s imbalanced protein. He enjoys meat, red or otherwise, but doesn’t have neurotic emotional reactions to the matter (or anything else).

It’s not necessary to go vegan. But what if you want to? Some of the first low-inflammation diets that were tried (which do in fact work) were vegan. I don’t think there’s anything magical about not eating any foods derived from animals as regards avoiding inflammation; more likely they loaded the diets up with vegetables knowing they were low-inflammation or even anti-inflammatory. It’s pretty easy to design heart-attack food that’s vegan! If you want to go vegan, you’ll avoid a few high-inflammation foods but you still need to avoid foods like deep-fried potatoes, sugary drinks, and too much refined carbohydrate.

Sugar-coated poison pills. Breakfasts seem prone to excessive carbs. Eat a breakfast more like lunch & dinner, or skip it entirely.

As far as carbohydrates go, the really bad one is sugar, specifically either fructose or sucrose. One of the worst ways to ingest sugar is in solution in a sugary drink, like a soda. Even particularly sweet fruit juices, like orange juice, apple juice, and grape juice are a bad idea. “Diet” soft-drinks have their own problems, including encouraging the wrong species of gut bacteria. Ironically this is why “diet” sodas can make you fat despite having no calories or negligible calories. Drink unsweetened green tea or herbal teas instead. Heating the water to brew the tea kills parasites that might be lurking in your water.

Starches are much less inflammatory than sugars. The reason it matters whether they are refined or not is because fiber slows down digestion, and therefor the degree to which blood sugar levels spike.

More of these, please

Generally it’s a good idea to get plenty of fiber. That’s one reason that a low-inflammation diet should have a high ratio of vegetables and preferably low-sugar fruits like blueberries. Another reason is because many fruits and vegetables are rich in anti-oxidants.

Notice that some fats are listed as inflammatory. The particularly bad ones are trans-fats, which are specifically fats that have been damaged through high heat, and also rancid fats, which have been oxidized. Trans fats used to be in most processed foods, but are getting less common and are regulated in some jurisdictions. They are typically made from liquid vegetable oils artificially turned into solid fats by hydroginating them. Ironically, part of the reason for doing that was to avoid the propensity for some polyunsaturated vegetable oils from going rancid, and rancidity is a health-hazard too.

The relatively healthier fats include cold-water fish oil, and stable vegetable oils such as olive oil and canola oil. Contrary to a popular meme, canola oil isn’t GMO; it was naturally bred. The stuff I buy is cold-pressed because I don’t want hexane in my diet. Olive oil is fairly stable at room temperature, but not at high heat; use it for salad dressing, not deep frying. Light sauteeing is OK. Generally high-heat frying and deep frying are not good ideas anyway. If you must indulge in deep-fried foods, preferably on rare occasions, try rice bran oil and keep the temperature down. Better yet is air-frying (coating food in oil, then frying it in a convection oven or dedicated air-fryer); it uses less fat so there is no temptation to re-use cooking oil after exposing it to heat.

Second lifestyle change: intermittent fasting

Scientists have long realized that caloric restriction prolongs the lifespans of lab rodents. It works on humans too. But it’s only necessary to fast intermittently. Intermittent fasting restores insulin effectiveness; that’s probably the part that reduces susceptibility to heart disease.  It also probably triggers some housekeeping operations in the body that scavenge damaged—and therefor potentially pre-cancerous—cells.

More lifestyle changes

Young man meditatingStress triggers the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has a useful purpose; the problem is when you get stuck in constant “fight or flight” mode. Humans are prone to chronic stress because of our ability to run simulations of the future. It’s less of a problem for other species because their ability to anticipate future problems is much less than ours; instead they live in the moment.

  • Unwind and unplug at least an hour before bedtime, so that your mind is calm.
  • Get enough good-quality sleep.
  • Train your attention and your thought-stream so that you don’t pointlessly worry about things.
  • Take action, then stop worrying.
  • Face-time with friends and family, doing things you enjoy doing. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just spending time with loved ones will improve your enjoyment of living.
  • Daily time outdoors.
  • Daily exercise.

Here’s a question one of Nassim Taleb’s buddies posted, with different but comparable images:
The assumption is that all other factors are comparable. One of these builds impressive muscles, but at the cost of inflammation and cortisol production. Nassim Taleb does weightlifting, which is probably why his buddy sent him the comparison.

I do yoga, but I can’t do Vrschikasana (“scorpion pose” that the man on the right is doing). Obviously requires not only a lot of strength and balance, but control over a lot of different muscles at the same time. What I have been able to accomplish is regaining a lot of muscle tone and range of motion. I also do much more walking than average Americans. If you don’t get any other exercise in, arrange your lifestyle so that you get plenty of walking in, instead of driving everywhere and sitting down all the time.

Hatha yoga is safer than free weights overall (no risk of dropping weights on your throat while bench-pressing; NB sad story on other end of link), but there are some dangerous poses (asanas). The important thing with any type of exercise is to know your limits and find a comfortable challenge, not too hard, not too easy.

Yoga has a reputation for being something that rich old ladies do (eg what Hillary Clinton was talking about on all that email she deleted). That’s because it’s very adaptable to different needs. Men can simply change the ratio of strength-building poses to flexibility and balance-building poses, though flexibility and balance are good too. There are a number of yoga programs specifically for men.

DDP yoga is not quite classic yoga, but in any case here is a video showing Arthur Boorman’s impressive recovery of strength and range-of-motion:

Johnny Grube (wildmantraining.com) uses body-weight and isometric exercise in his own training. The benefits include lower inflammation, no need for special equipment or gym fees, and flexibility regarding where and when you work out. He likes to work out outdoors whenever possible.

Further reading:

Resources:

or

Bad news about this common over-the-counter drug you’ve probably used!

A bottle of Ibuprofen

Aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen all have anti-androgenic effects. Ibuprofen is the worst.

There seem to be a lot of chemicals that disrupt male hormones. Ibuprofen is very commonly prescribed by doctors, and it’s also commonly taken without a prescription. It’s so commonly used, it makes me wonder if THIS is one of the main culprits in the war on testosterone. I will do more research and add it to the list of chemicals to beware of in my free report.

Ibuprofen linked to male infertility, study says

Original research paper here.

Highlights:

  • Ibuprofen has a negative impact on the testicles of young men. When taking ibuprofen in doses commonly used by athletes, a small sample of young men developed a hormonal condition that typically begins, if at all, during middle age. This condition is linked to reduced fertility.
  • Advil and Motrin are two brand names for ibuprofen, an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • Jégou and a team of French and Danish researchers had been exploring the health effects when a mother-to-be took any one of three mild pain relievers found in medicine chests around the globe: aspirin, acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol and sold under the brand name Tylenol) and ibuprofen.
  • Their early experiments, published in several papers, showed that when taken during pregnancy, all three of these mild medicines affected the testicles of male babies. (Ibuprofen the worst)
  • For the men taking ibuprofen, within 14 days, their luteinizing hormones — which are secreted by the pituitary gland and stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone — became coordinated with the level of ibuprofen circulating in their blood. At the same time, the ratio of testosterone to luteinizing hormones decreased, a sign of dysfunctional testicles.
  • This hormonal imbalance produced compensated hypogonadism, a condition associated with impaired fertility, depression and increased risk for cardiovascular events, including heart failure and stroke.
  • …”in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro” — in the living body, outside the living body and in the test tube — …ibuprofen has a direct effect on the testicles and so testosterone
  • …of the three mild analgesics examined, ibuprofen had “the broadest endocrine-disturbing properties identified so far in men.”

Russians re-learning family values

A happy family posing on the beach.

When the USSR collapsed, conservatives, or more likely “cuckservatives”, declared victory, and dropped what little guard they ever had, never having noticed the subversion of their movement by the Trotskyites Bill Buckley welcomed into the movement. Then millions of communist party members fled Russia and flooded into the western countries that welcomed them with opened arms, thereby causing a bizarre and dramatic switch in roles. The western countries devolved into the God-hating commies and Russia reverted back to traditional values!

Headline news:

Russia to introduce “family values” classes into schools

…Kuznetsova expressed the idea of ​​creating a course called “Family Studies” or “Lessons of Family Happiness” this summer. So, according to her proposal, classes should be aimed at promoting traditional family values ​​and promote the protection of motherhood and childhood.

I recall Creepy Joe Biden gloating about how the Russians were going to die out because of low birth rates and high death rates—similar to how he has been known to gloat about European-Americans dying out. My guess is that now liberated from their soviet masters, their demographic decline has probably hit bottom for now and will eventually start recovering due to new policies like this one.

One mystery to me is why the Chinese culturally recovered from Communism so much faster than the Russians, despite having their own cultural purges like the Great Cultural Revolution. My guess is that it has something to do with having had to survive cultural purges, repressive governments, and civilization-collapse in their own pre-communist history.

Every new dad should know how to do this…

A father holding a crying baby

Knowing how to calm a distraught baby reduces stress on mom, baby, and dad himself, and reduces the risk of abuse. Something else that reduces the risk of abuse is if you don’t react to a baby crying by getting upset yourself. If you handed me a screaming baby while I’m hooked up to stress monitors, I could probably come pretty close to flatlining my stress response, like a Buddhist monk. Learning how to stabilize your own emotions is a topic for another time.

Generally speaking, being bundled up (“swaddled”), white noise and rhythmic motion tend to be soothing to babies. That’s why they often fall asleep during car rides. That’s why new parents have been known to drive around with them to get them to calm down. But you can create rhythmic motion holding the baby against your chest as you rock in a rocking chair, and you can play a white-noise generator or CD in the background.

By the way, all of the conventional advice I got during my own time with newborns was horrible. That’s why I went looking for better.

The Baby-gami book listed below is probably out of print; follow the link and look for a used copy. Aside from wrapping them to keep them warm, snug, and calm, it shows you how to carry them in a fabric. But be careful whenever carrying a baby in a wrap, whether your own, or store-bought: sometimes a strap wraps around their neck and strangles them! Smaller babies carry better if they’re in the FRONT so that you can see them and monitor what’s going on.

Resources:

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s how to keep the haters from spoiling it…

A cornucopia overflowing with fruits, vegetables, and grains.

What you are grateful for contributes to your happiness. What you take for granted, doesn’t. I’m grateful for my family, and for still having access to plenty of food. I don’t take that for granted, because I know that food supplies are getting tight worldwide.

To me, Thanksgiving is a typical religious harvest-festival. It’s related to Erntedankfest in some German lands. It’s also a similar concept to Diwali in India, celebrating and giving thanks for the rice harvest. Personally, I resist turning it into a secularized, commercialized celebration of gluttony.

What’s for dinner at Kalkin’s house? A typical Thanksgiving dinner at my house involves traditional crops from the New World, such as cranberries, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, wild rice, corn, and beans, but in varied forms, not quite traditional but not too exotic either. Cranberry pie or tarts. Corn or cranberry tea-bread. Pumpkin or sweet-potato stuffed pastries. Stuffed pumpkins. Mixed-grain pilafs with plenty of wild-rice. It would be very typical for me that a pie or pastry be the savory main course instead of dessert. This year it’s pumpkin-spice birthday cake for my wife. Compared to most families, we eat a much lighter meal, in fact not significantly heavier than on any other day, though perhaps a little richer. Compared to most Americans, we eat a much higher volume of vegetables, around 3 times or so as much. Home-made desserts are only slightly sweet, for both aesthetic reasons and so as not to spike our insulin levels. For the same reason I do not add sugar or marshmallows to sweet-potatoes; aren’t they already sweet enough?! This year the sweet potatoes have PURPLE flesh; those used to be more common and are still common in some countries but got rare in the USA. I like the orange ones too, preferably deep orange.

One of my buddies who hunts plans his annual “meat-induced coma”. At his house, the main course is usually venison. He likes to talk to his kids about family solidarity.

The America-hating, God-hating controlled media, political class, and several politically-activist organizations have published a number of articles about how to promote their political agendas around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Several have even openly encouraged picking fights! I’m also seeing numerous claims that Thanksgiving is “racist”, implying that it shouldn’t be celebrated at all, as part of the neoMarxist cultural cleansing of America.

I have a better idea: preserve family integrity and focus on spending good times with people you love. Be a good host or a good guest; be the man who causes everyone’s face to light up when he enters the room, because they know they’re going to have a good time.

But here are some tips just in case some approval-seeking family members drink the kool-aid:

  • Expressing disagreement often backfires. Instead of discouraging someone from advocating bad ideas, it actually reinforced the behavior! It actually gives them a little jolt of dopamine—a neurochemical reward. “I was a good boy or girl and deserve a pat on the head for political advocacy!”
  • It especially backfires if they consider you low status, or they secretly don’t like you anyway. It’s the same reason bullies feel good by hurting low-status people.
  • They seek the approval of high-status people, astonishingly even if the high-status person is nowhere in sight and has no idea what they’ve done. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs salivating with no food in sight; a completely conditioned response that has nothing to do with anything relevant to the event.
  • Instead of expressing disagreement, react as little as possible.
  • By all means, avoid getting upset! Instead of taking it as a challenge, think of the other person as being a little crazy, and you’re trying to help control the craziness.
  • Bear in mind that it was the haters that put them up to this. They’re not usually creative enough to think this stuff up on their own. They’re looking for approval and validation. Don’t hold it against them that they are all-too-human.
  • Say as little as possible in response. Ideally, look back intently like you’re really paying strong attention, and waiting for them to say something more, as if you’re waiting for them to get to the point. This might seem counterintuitive. Aren’t you hoping they’ll shut up? Well, they will feel increasingly awkward and frustrated if you keep waiting for more without giving them any feedback to encourage them.
  • Give as little verbal feedback as possible, neither positive nor negative. “Oh. I see. Really? Is that so?”
  • DON’T tell them what you are thinking, even if they ask. Stay quiet! Oddly enough, let them do all the talking. Trust me. This is a trick used in high-stakes negotiations when one side is weak.
  • Turn it into a game. Have fun with it. See if you can get them to keep talking until they get flustered.
  • Once you’ve exhausted them, change the subject.
  • Once the topic is something else, give positive feedback for anything you agree with. “You’re right! Good point! I agree!”

There are some tricks I could teach you above and beyond this one, but they would take a lot more time to explain. KISMIF (keep it simple, make it fun).

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, fill it with love and family solidarity, and may your travels be safe and comfortable.

How to win the war on Christmas

Church in model village

The war on Christmas is real. Some Christians suspect that the “war on Christmas” is just a symptom of a “war on Christians”, and they might be right. Christians are being mislead who is really behind it. There’s been a lot of propaganda to blame it on Muslims, in order to foment a war between Christians and Muslims that the Muslims are favored to win. Actually, it has to do with your own ruling class who set up the confrontation. Except for Wahabists in Saudi Arabia, and among them only the leadership—a tiny minority—the vast majority of Muslims worldwide don’t care if Christians celebrate Christmas. There are problems in Pakistan too, but that’s largely due to Saudi Arabs who ended up there after waging jihad in neighboring Afghanistan. They’re the same ones who blew up the Buddhist statues in the Bamiyan valley, so don’t feel too singled out.

Contrary to propaganda you might have heard, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not persecute Christians or interfere with their religious observations. Here’s a traditional Christmas celebration in Iran, broadcast by the state television network:

You can find more of them from private sources, so it’s not “Potemkin Village” propaganda.

Aleppo, Syria, has a large Christian population. Their Muslim neighbors don’t stop them from celebrating Christmas, only Saudi-backed ISIS did that while it occupied the country. Aside: please notice the colors on the flags, and compare them to the colors you see on flags in the institutional media. You are constantly being lied to regarding what really happened there. Your ruling class secretly sponsors ISIS; one of their objectives was to wipe out religious and ethnic minorities from Syria and Iraq in order to placate the xenophobic Saudis and ostensibly stabilize the region under Saudi rule.

It would be strange if Buddhists generally were offended by Christmas, given that typical Buddhist practices include training themselves not to react negatively to their experiences, and practicing empathy. Buddhist-majority countries like Thailand typically tolerate Christmas celebrations by Christian minorities.

There are some Hindu nationalists who resent religious minorities, but not a critical mass of them to impact Christmas celebrations in Goa and other Christian enclaves of India.

The Chinese government is repressive, but Chinese culture per se has long been fairly tolerant of many different religious practices, usually casual and often mixed together. In some parts of China Christmas is fairly jolly and more ostentatious than in the USA.

As far as I can tell, even most atheists don’t object to a secularized Christmas that many of them choose to celebrate. That might be a problem in itself since it displaces the actual religious holiday, but the two can certainly co-exist to the extent that practitioners are mindful of secularization and commercialization of their own practices. In other words, nobody’s forcing Frosty the Snowman on you.

Regardless of widespread tolerance for Christmas among most non-Christians, it’s pretty obvious that there are some influential people and groups who find Christmas distasteful. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, or groveling for acceptance of your holidays, I suggest a much different approach. One that might actually improve the situation. But first, bear with me as I put the situation into perspective, which has a lot to do with how the situation actually came into being.

Imagine a society in which:

  • Christians are mostly peasants or low-skilled workers.
  • Christians are not welcome at 1st or 2nd-tier universities, regardless of grades or test scores, especially not if their religious affiliation is easy to spot, such as if they graduated from a Christian high-school. It’s worth noting that in the Soviet Union, the lack of welcome was explicit.
  • If they do get in, they’ll keep their religious affiliations quiet.
  • There have been instances of professors harassing students for their Christian beliefs, and in a few cases, they’ve been expelled.
  • When Christians do become prosperous, they usually stop observing, and possibly even become hostile to their former affiliates.
  • Christians are relatively sparse among the professional classes compared to their numbers in the general population, and other-than-Christians are much more heavily represented relative to their numbers in the general population.
  • The few professionals who are Christian tend to keep quiet about it, out of fear or shame.
  • Aside from appearances for the sake of pretending to have something in common with average people, the political and ruling classes are almost entirely non-religious, and the highest of their ranks are almost entirely atheistic.
Showed up in an Afroamerican church with a photographer, then handed story to publicist, while exploring feasibility of political campaign. What do you think?
Photo courtesy Presidência do México (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons

All of these bullet points are or have been true in various times and places. The ruling classes in most of the western countries have been usually been somewhere in the range between casually practicing but not particularly devout, to profoundly atheistic, for some centuries now. Scholars have noticed that some of them used formulaic God-talk in public speeches, but rarely or not at all in private letters. There have been some notable exceptions, but that’s just it, they were exceptions. Nowadays if anything the rule has fewer exceptions.

The Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands is a blatant fraud; the party marketed itself as Christian as a trust-building measure in the aftermath of WW2. This is a secular party actively replacing the Christian population of Germany with Muslim immigrants and shutting down or secularizing traditional public displays of Christian culture.

It’s also worth noting that the religion which the rich and famous and the political classes no longer practice is often something other than Christianity. These days a lot of them have pedigrees that never included any Christians.

What I am trying to get at is

Christians are an underclass in most countries where they live. More to the point, increasingly they are an unappreciated and even unwanted underclass. It has long been an illusion that the people in charge are like you and care about you and about the same things you care about. It doesn’t make sense to simultaneously accept an inferior role AND complain about losing the culture wars to post-Modernists and neoMarxists; things are going against you because you don’t run the system, you take orders and contribute to your own demise.

That’s an observation intended to be helpful, not critical. Some Christians have a sense that they should be an underclass, like the kinds of people that Jesus ministered to. If that’s the case, they have no basis to complain about the war on Christmas (or Christians), which explains their passivity. Regardless, that’s the basis of your war on Christmas. Your ruling class is overwhelmingly non-Christian, and furthermore, even the ones whose ancestors practiced Christianity are ashamed to associate with you.

If Christians believe that they should be poor, it turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy. You will never become prosperous unless you seek prosperity. You’ll never seek prosperity unless it occurs to you to do so.

Are Christians obliged to be poor, according to the gospels? Here are some Gospel stories and references that have been (mis?)interpreted that way:

  • The story of the rich man and Lazarus
  • The story of the rich man who congratulated himself for his abundant harvest and planned a life of luxury and ease, only to “lose his soul” that evening
  • The saying that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven
  • Jesus telling the rich young man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor

Calvinistic sects of Christianity tend to have the opposite idea: they tend to believe that wealth is a sign of God’s favor. One peculiarity of Calvinistic Christian sects is that they were early to ignore the Biblical prohibition on lending money for interest. As a result, they were early participants in the banking industry and therefor capitalism generally. One specific Calvinistic sect adhering to Dominionism goes further and asserts that Christians should actually take over and become the ruling class. (This is a lightning-rod for outrage, but to me seems no worse than the ruling class that actually is being the ruling class. You’ll report to one boss or another, and it’s to your advantage to report to a ruling class that is at least somewhat similar to yourself).

The result was not, however, Christian domination of wealth and finance but instead, former Christians abandon their religious practice wholesale as they become wealthier and obtain formal education from what are now overtly anti-Christian universities.

Often it turns into a strange cycle:

  • Poor people are more religious, and have more children, than rich people.
  • Some of them become rich.
  • If so they abandon religion.
  • Sometimes they devolve into coke-snorting party animals (ie, more present-oriented).
  • They stop having children, or sometimes if they do have any, they revert to poverty after the family wealth has been squandered.
  • They are replaced by formerly poor and religious people who repeat the cycle.

The full cycle usually takes several generations: grampa worked hard and put his children through college, dad got rich, son was lazy wastrel who lived off dad and then his inheritance, great-grandson (if any) grows up fatherless and impoverished.

Similar cycles occur among other religious sects, including ones that don’t embrace poverty as a virtue. It probably has to do with a correlation between religious practice or belief and present versus future-orientation, but the correlation is segmented:

  • Specific Christian sects that emphasize that your fate is a result of Divine action, instead of your own choices, tend to be present-oriented and tend to stay poor.
  • Other religious sects, Christian or otherwise, that emphasize more of a sense of conscientiousness and responsibility, that give their adherents reasons to look forward to rather than fear the future (ie, death), tend to be more future-oriented, produce better performers, and often accumulate wealth and education.
  • More generally, wealth is strongly correlated to specific religious affiliations. Zoroastrians aka Mazdayani are some of the wealthiest people on earth per-capita. Reform Jews include the highest concentration of billionaires worldwide. Hindus in the USA have the highest per-capita income but I suspect not net worth. I’m the other way around; high net worth but modest income. Lousy at finding compelling reasons for other people to give me money except when they make the mistake of taking the other side of a wager in asset markets.

The success of those who accumulate wealth and education erodes as first it’s passed along to generations that didn’t earn it themselves. They lose faith in future rewards, start becoming very present-oriented, and succumb to the temptation to pursue wealth for the sake of hedonism or power, and to assume or at least hope that hedonistic pleasures or power over others will lead to lasting happiness and fulfillment. Wealth is spiritually dangerous because it leads to temptations poor people don’t have to worry about. That’s what the Gospel is warning you about. Poor people don’t have to worry about cocaine addictions, high-maintenance mistresses, obsessions about money, or abusing their employees.

Poverty is not a virtue. The poor simply have fewer choices and temptations. If you’re impotent, chastity isn’t a virtue. Being virtuous is when you make good choices despite bad ones being within easy reach.

You could, as a conscious choice, pursue prosperity as a way of having choices and power to do good, without illusions that being rich will make you happy, or feel fulfilled.

Imagine:

  • Having lots of money in the bank and not spending it on reasons to be happy.
  • Being grateful for what you already have.
  • Saving money for opportunities when they happen.
  • Having money to have choices.
  • Doing what you want to do for a living, instead of what you have to do for a living. This will contribute far more to your happiness than “stuff”.
  • Leveraging your wealth for good. You could, for example, own a company that sells people products that improve their lives, employ people who need jobs, and treat your employees respectfully.

Now, how this strategy applies to Christmas:

  • Don’t buy stuff, from people who don’t respect you, with money you don’t have, for people who don’t want it, hoping they’ll reciprocate with feelings they don’t have.
  • If the beneficiaries of your gifts reciprocate at all, it will be with an ugly tie.
  • People love you, or not, because of the way they feel when you are in their lives.
  • Avoid giving wives, kids, or friends stuff. Give them your time and attention.
  • If you must give gifts for face-saving reasons, give small token gifts that will contribute to their enjoyment of life.
  • Preferably, things that aren’t bad for them, like candy or booze. Don’t give vices as gifts.
  • Don’t host extravagant parties.
  • Don’t buy gifts if you are already in debt! Tell your friends and family that you can’t afford gifts, because it’s the truth.
  • Don’t borrow money for gifts and entertaining! Don’t shop with a credit card!

Something I have heard is that the best gifts are things that people would buy for themselves. The problem with this theory is that they already do.

Even when they don’t, I’ve heard:

Don’t buy me anything. Give me the money so that I can buy myself exactly what I want.

People used to be ashamed to sound entitled like that, but they’re not anymore. Now we know what they really think.

Headline news:

An alarming number of shoppers are still paying off debt from last Christmas

Majority Of Americans Would Skip Holiday Gift-Giving, Survey Says

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For many people, giving and receiving gifts are one of the big parts of the holidays. However, a new survey shows that 69 percent of Americans would skip exchanging gifts if their family and friends agreed to it. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Bank, also showed that 60 percent of those surveyed said they would spend more time with friends and family if they didn’t have to worry about buying or making gifts.

Then celebrate Christmas in ways that are meaningful (that usually means “non-commercial”):

  • Take your kids to visit elders. Sing carols to them like people used to do in the old days.
  • Take a goodie-bag to a sick friend or relative.
  • Call or write to someone you know to be lonely. When people are lonely, there’s usually a reason, such as having little value to offer others in exchange for their time and attention. So you give them enough time to make a call or letter and expect nothing in return.
  • Be kind and respectful to someone you don’t particularly like.
  • Invite military personnel to your home for Christmas supper.
  • Or buy gifts of necessary items (eg warm cloths) for military orphans.
  • Dedicate your acts of service to the Divine.

It’s a win-win situation. Your lower-key Christmas will attract less unwanted resentment. It’s less expensive, so it doesn’t contribute to impoverishing you and thereby relegating you to a despised underclass. And you put the meaning back into it, to make it really a special time of year, instead of a disappointment that makes people grumpy and depressed.

Enjoy a safe & jolly CHRISTMAS.

Facing a life-threatening condition without despair

The problem is never the problem; the problem is your reaction to the problem.

If we had a big party just before we expired, with friends and family, all smiles and laughter to the end, and went out with a song in our hearts, then even death wouldn’t seem particularly tragic. It would just seem like the end of a mundane process.

It IS just the end of a process.

Death is not a problem; the problem is suffering as a result of pain and fear.

It’s not the end of any thing. As far as we’re aware, nothing comes into existence, nothing goes out of existence, things just change form. There is no self; it’s just a purposeful illusion that helps us to maintain biological integrity. When our life’s work is finished, nothing that’s real disappears!

तत् त्वम सि — Thou art that
You are the Kosmos looking back on itself. Not just part of it; you are the whole thing experiencing itself. Your sense of separateness is an illusion caused by thoughts localized around lots of different perspectives that don’t communicate directly.

There is no separate “self”; it’s an illusion. You needn’t fear losing something that doesn’t exist.

We are Awareness experiencing streams of sensory input. Sensory experiences come in and out of Awareness. But our true nature, Awareness, exists outside time and has no moving parts to wear out!

What happens is that we fall in love with individual streams of sensory input, start identifying with them, and develop an “ego”. The ego is a purposeful illusion, that helps us maintain biological boundaries and give us an incentive to fight for survival as long as possible. That part is good.

The only bad part is identifying with something that never did have any tangible existence, and then worrying about something going away, that never actually existed.

Ultimately, it’s all good. Suffering implies enjoyment. Death implies birth. Sickness implies health. We tend to think of all these conditions as “opposites”, but they are necessarily two sides of the same coin; only in your imagination, within conceptual boundaries that exist only in your mind, can you have one without the other. It’s mind-boggling, but if we never experienced suffering, we wouldn’t recognize bliss. As any artist can tell you, there’s no foreground without a background!

Without suffering there is no compassion. There wouldn’t even be love, because love implies feelings like care & loss that wouldn’t exist if there was no need for care and no possibility of loss.

Mindfulness of suffering reminds me to be compassionate to everyone, including even people I don’t like. I remember that they suffer too, and that their behaviors that cause me to suffer are a result of trying to avoid suffering themselves.

Without suffering, there would also be no compassion; we’d all be completely selfish. Some would argue “no loss”. Are they so sure about that? Would our experiences be that much less rich for not ever having experienced compassion?

What about courage? Is that worth experiencing?

If you can experience life from something closer to a God’s-eye point of view, you embrace it all, even the suffering. You kiss the wheel of Samsara, the cycle of birth, suffering and enjoyment, and death. Samsara is nothing more or less than the other side of Nirvana. Their dual nature is an illusion of your mind, which separates things out with conceptual boundaries that exist only in your mind so that it can process reality in workable chunks.

Ask for help handling pain

Pain is our friend; its purpose is to alert us to harm that needs our attention. If it’s chronic and associated with a condition you already know about, then it’s no longer needed. You can ask your doctor for help to at least take the edge off it.

Handle pain by handling suffering

I am myself in chronic pain. I don’t take any pain medications because I don’t feel any need. Maybe someday I will, but not today.

Suffering is not the same thing as pain; suffering is more like mental anguish. If you can reduce suffering, your tolerance of pain increases. This isn’t my opinion; it’s an experimentally-derived empirical fact. If people are in a good mood, their tolerance of pain is much higher than if they’re already miserable. This is how my own pain is quite tolerable to me. I am content, and happy most of the time.

You can reduce suffering by dissociating from the body. Sri Ramana Maharshi maintained peace of mind through the process of cancer. He would look at his aching arm, where the tumor was, and calmly remark “poor arm”. I do the same thing with my chronic pain. “My body is in pain. I’m OK. I enjoy life. I have work yet to accomplish (finishing raising a young daughter!), and I am grateful for the time I have left to work on it”.

  • Happiness solves all problems. Keep your spirits as high as you can.
  • Start noticing blessings. What you are grateful for, contributes to your happiness. What you take for granted, doesn’t.
  • Spend time with family and friends, doing things you enjoy, up to your ability. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Just a phone call will raise your spirits. If that isn’t possible, recall warm, happy memories. Think loving thoughts of them, and they will ease your own mind.
  • Mindfulness training can help reduce anxiety caused by over-thinking things you have no control over.
  • Exercise if you’re up to it, and just time outdoors, at least 10 minutes twice a day, can help keep your spirits up.

You are a part of the team that’s fighting for your life. Your immune system is working hard to destroy disease and heal your body. Enjoy the comfort of rest and relaxation when you need them. This fight is part of your divine purpose.

This post is dedicated with love to my wife, who has been living with stage 4 cancer for about 5 years now, and with the warm hand of friendship across the aether that connects us to Justin Raimondo who has been diagnosed with late-stage adeenocaricinoma cancer. Justin is the editor of Antiwar.com. He has dedicated his life to the causes of peace and freedom.

Learn more:

Who is raising your kids?

ho spends more time with your kids: you, or daycare workers and teachers? What about you versus the television or computer? American elementary school students spend about 6 1/2 to just over 7 hours in school each day. Some of them stay after school for after-school programs, some come home to an empty house, and…

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What’s stealing men’s mojo?

There’s been a lot of bad news for men about plunging testosterone levels. That’s the hormone that makes them manly, and gives them a healthy appetite for sexual activity.


News headlines:

Men’s testosterone levels declined in last 20 years

JANUARY 19, 2007 / 3:32 AM
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new study has found a “substantial” drop in U.S. men’s testosterone levels since the 1980s, but the reasons for the decline remain unclear.

Modern life rough on men

August 18th, 2011 07:30 AM ET
(CNN Health) Didn’t men use to be more masculine? …studies show that testosterone levels in men have been on the decline for decades.

Today’s men are not nearly as strong as their dads were, researchers say

By Christopher Ingraham August 15, 2016
Washington Post

Why don’t Japanese men like having sex?

By Gareth May11:41AM GMT 22 Jan 2015
(The Telegraph)

The Japan Family Planning Association interviewed 3,000 subjects about their sex lives (both men and women). The study revealed that nearly 50 per cent of those quizzed didn’t have sex in the month previous to the interview. 48.3 per cent of men had not had sex for a month (an increase in 5 per cent from 2012).
Most startling of all, however, was that 20 per cent of men aged between 25 and 29 – the period of a man’s life usually dedicated to the spreading of wild oats – expressed little interest in sex at all.


There is also the probably related problem of plunging male fertility. The same organs that produce most of a man’s testosterone also produce sperm.

Male Fertility Countdown

Dec 8th 2012
Yet another study suggests sperm numbers are falling in rich countries
(The Economist)


The problem is so bad that that it may very well contribute to the demise of entire countries where birth-rates are already well below replacement level. It’s also causing pathological imbalances between the ying and yang of several cultures.

The problem has actually been going on for a long time, but it’s been getting worse at an accelerating pace in recent generations. My geeky personality is not one to let a problem go unsolved if I can help it, not if it might impact me, my sons, or anyone else I care about. So I decided to collect information, follow leads, and come up with a list of lifestyle changes to reduce exposure to the most common known and suspected endocrine disruptors.

Then I wrote up what I discovered into a report. Enter your name and email address, and an answer for the bot trap, and you’ll receive the report and a subscription to our newsletter. Don’t worry, there’s no catch, and no spam involved; the newsletter is just an occasional summary of recent articles from my online magazine. That way, you don’t have to keep visiting to find interesting articles to read; they’ll come to you by mail. If you decide it’s not for you, you can just unsubscribe.

  • Discover how something you probably do every day might be damaging your man-parts (no, not that…).
  • Learn about the class of endocrine disruptors known as phthalates, and what the biggest source of ingesting them is.
  • Find out what to do about the endocrine disruptors in your food and possibly your drinking water.

Disclaimer: this report is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. This report is about lifestyle changes designed to reduce environmental hormone disruption and promote natural hormone production. It’s not about diagnosing or treating any medical condition. Consult with a physician before starting a diet or exercise program.

Your free report should show up within an hour of submitting the form, as an attachment to an email.

Secure your kids’ unfair advantages NOW!

When the media want to express a potentially controversial opinion, they turn it into a question:

Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

What the headline editor actually means is

Having a loving family is an unfair advantage.

This is an opinion piece published by ABC in Australia. Australia, like the rest of the Anglosphere, is culturally messed-up. It’s basically about how families should be abolished because they create “unfair” advantages for children growing up in nurturing families, as if it were the fault of good parents that some other parents can’t or don’t provide as many advantages to their own children.

For the record, abolition of the family has been tried several times. The Communists (you know, the biggest all-time mass murderers on the planet, in all of history) intentionally broke up at least some families in several countries, and the Zionists tried it on themselves on their Kibbutzim (agrarian or semi-agrarian collectives in Israel). Kibbutzim still exist, though collective child-rearing was apparently mostly phased out by the late 1980s. It is extremely taboo to criticize Kibbutzim in Israel, but apparently some people who grew up in one didn’t appreciate the “favor” and would rather have had a nice, normal family.

Back to the editorial:

Some still think the traditional family has a lot to answer for, but some plausible arguments remain in favour of it. Joe Gelonesi meets a philosopher with a rescue plan very much in tune with the times.

Beware of media references to anonymous authorities. Beware of people who tell you that they’re trying to save something from itself, especially if its none of their business! That’s typically a pretext for a controversial change, or getting rid of it altogether.

So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality and fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.

The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

The editorial goes on with some kiss-off suggestions for “rescuing” the family as opposed to just abolishing it outright, that entail parents doing less for their own kids, and more for kids collectively, presumably through government institutions.

  • Why should these people get to decide what’s best for the rest of us?! By what right?! Who died and left the philosophers God?!
  • They claim to be motivated by a desire for equality. If that’s even true, which I doubt, so what? Equality isn’t a value. It doesn’t make the world a better place.
  • People aren’t equal, and you can’t make them equal. Whoever has the power to take away from one and give to another is obviously above the peasants who don’t have that power. That’s presumably rather the point!
  • More likely, they want to abolish families for the same reason that farmers don’t usually let their livestock raise their own broods anymore. This is an assault on your personal autonomy. Do not allow this!
  • Aside from thinking of the rest of us as their livestock, the real reason the rich and powerful are open to ideas like these is that they don’t raise their own children anyway; nannies do. It sounds like a good idea to them because it’s similar to something they’re already doing.
  • These philosophers want to take something away from you. The correct response is to defend what’s yours.

What would really happen if these philosophers got their way would be:

  • The wealth gap would INCREASE, not decrease, because you wouldn’t be allowed to make choices for your own benefit.
  • The winners would be cheaters and sociopaths, like in the former Soviet Union where a few high-ranking members of the Communist party ended up as billionaires through mafia activity, and everyone else was a peasant living in squalor.
  • This scheme creates a backwards dependency chain. Quarks do not depend on electrons to maintain their integrity. Electrons do not depend on atoms to maintain their integrity. Atoms do not depend on cells to maintain their integrity. Individuals should not depend on collectives to maintain their integrity; that’s not sustainable. This scheme and others like it are already destroying the integrity of the system.

Obviously, don’t feel guilty giving your children every advantage that you have earned through your own effort!

Coming soon: tips for subscribers from a book about how to help your children, and yourself, survive in the post-employment economy. It’s full of ideas about how to learn marketable skills faster and cheaper than conventional ways.

 

Stop calling heart-attack food “paleo”

I keep seeing on social media where some guy will post photos of his ribs-and-booze supper, someone else will chime in warning him that his diet is unhealthy, and he insists that “no, no, food pyramid is all wrong, this is the way you’re supposed to eat. It’s paleo.”

The USDA food pyramid might very well be wrong, but so is the idea that prehistoric people ate “lots of meat and no carbs”. Exactly how they ate depended on where in the world they were; they ate what was available locally. Most of them would have eaten a high ratio of foraged wild vegetables.

It would have some carbs too—just not as high a ratio, not refined, not fried, and not necessarily year-round. Simple sugars—like the ones found in that barbeque sauce those ribs are drenched in—are worse than starches, because they hit the bloodstream so fast. In excess, they trigger insulin desensitization. The ratio of carbohydrates increased once humans were civilized, because carbohydrates are easy to store, and stored food is what makes predictable processes possible. Those were mostly starches; until historically fairly recently, refined sugar was a luxury reserved for the rich.

This is closer to “paleo”, but balance probably not optimal.

Carbs supported the calorie-intensive heavy-labor lifestyle associated with farming and construction. Carbs are not as calorie-dense as either fat or protein, but they burn more efficiently. Hunter-gatherers don’t do heavy labor; by definition they don’t do farming or heavy construction. They spend their work hours foraging and sneaking up on prey, and a lot of their time is spent resting and playing. As people living in urban and suburban areas have shifted into more sedentary lifestyles, their need for carbs has shifted back down again.

To put this into perspective, life is all about maintaining homeostasis, or in other word, a balance between deadly extremes. Too hot, and you die of heat-stroke. Too cold, and you die of hypothermia. Too wet and you drown. Too dry and you die of thirst. As soon as your diet starts getting extreme, suspect that you are getting too much of one thing and not enough of another. Our ancestors knew this, but fat Americans, and increasingly Europeans, are falling for food fads.

“Diet”, by the way, is a noun, not a verb. Diet is what you eat regularly, not something you do only after you get fat again. Eat sensibly all the time, instead of starving yourself or eating fake diet foods to compensate for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle.

  • Whatever else you eat, eat a high ratio of green veggies to slow down your digestion and clean out your guts.
  • That’s not a serving of veggies, it’s a garnish! Most Americans should eat about 2 or 3 times as much green veggies as they actually do.
  • Watery, quick-growing vegetables like cucumbers, zucchini, and lettuce are insubstantial. Eat hearty cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage or collards, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, daily, every meal. Generous daily servings of bok choi (and fish) are how people in Hong Kong live so long despite extreme urban stress.
  • Green veggies, not corn or potatoes, both of which are loaded with carbs. You can eat carbs but don’t count them as your serving of veggies.
  • Avoid fried carbs. Some of them are carcinogenic. Avoid potato chips and french-fries (chips in UK).
  • Favor low-sugar fruits like blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, and tomatoes over sugary fruits like grapes and pineapple.
  • Avoid processed foods and especially fast-food. Especially avoid sodas, even diet sodas.
  • Don’t eat preserved meat! It’s full of nitrates associated with heart disease and cancer. I’m looking at you, mein deutscher Junge! I’m aware that a lot of publicity has come out recently claiming that nitrates and nitrites are good for you, but I suspect that’s PR, not real science.
  • Don’t eat hydrogenated fats (“trans-fats”); your body’s mechanisms to get them out of your arteries can’t handle their broken structures. Not realizing that trans-fats were the real culprit was what triggered the anti-fat hysteria of the 1970s and 1980s. Fast foods are loaded with these; they’re created when oil is used for deep frying over and over again. Avoid deep-fried and breaded foods generally. Use coconut oil in lieu of shortening for baked goods; you’ll get used to and eventually start liking the flavor.
  • Polyunsaturated oils (like sunflower oil or safflower oil) are suspect; they go rancid easily and might be doing that in your body. Eat them in moderation and preferably in natural rather than refined forms. Use olive oil for salad dressing, and sauté in cold-pressed canola.
More of these, please

The problem with making generalities is that they obscure some important details. Diets are often grossly classified in terms of ideologies rather than in terms of optimal health.

With that qualification, “pescatarians” average the greatest longevity (all other factors being the same), followed by strict vegans. That makes sense, because pescaterians are getting more (preferably cold-water) fish oil, and therefor a more nearly optimal ratio of omega fatty acids. Eating a lot of fish is probably what contributes to Japanese longevity despite a lot of other bad habits. The vegans are probably getting more fiber, and they are probably more conscious of everything they eat; in other words, it’s probably not eschewing animal products altogether that contributes to their longevity; it’s all that brown rice, quinoa, and kale that they do eat.

If meat-eaters avoid preserved meats, the longevity gap between themselves and vegetarians narrows, which is why I am wary of preserved meats.

One of the world’s healthiest cuisines

“Vegetarian” doesn’t mean much; it’s a diet defined by what is not eaten rather than what is. It’s a diet defined by ideology, not optimal health. It could be very healthy or unhealthy. I would guess that roughly the healthiest vegetarian diet on the planet would be that of southern India; that and the relative rarity of vices among Indians (drugs and booze less common than in Europe and the Americas; satellite porn usually the worst of it) are why southern Indians live longer than most people who live at same level of poverty, and even longer than many people who are more affluent but have unhealthy habits.

Additional reading:

I’d post some cookbooks if I didn’t think they would probably be faddish, and the authors not lousy cooks. Maybe someone else can recommend one, and I’ll post it later. I think I eat healthy but my diet isn’t mainstream enough to recommend to a broad audience. You probably already know what is healthy; if you just do more of your own cooking, and stop eating processed foods and fast foods, that would be enough to get you back to the trimmer physiques of your recent ancestors.

This is worth reading to understand some of the mechanisms, even if you don’t have heart disease or cancer yet. It’s sort of like needing to buy insurance before your house burns down. It’s also worth mentioning that the author is a bit of a shady character, but that doesn’t bother me. He’s recommending a low-inflammation diet because he thinks it works, not because he’s trying to be a goody-goody.

Meditation works just fine for men

Professor Jordan Peterson tweeted a link to this article:

Mindfulness meditation helps women but not men, first study suggests

Researchers have found that mindfulness meditation doesn’t work as well to treat depression in men as it does for women.

That’s an interesting result, but it needs to be put into perspective:

Curing depression is not the primary purpose of meditation. Mindfulness meditation has been found to relieve symptoms of depression in at least some people, but that was not the purpose for which it was developed.

By the same token, it’s worth noting in passing that it wasn’t developed as a relaxation technique either. Relaxation is part of the process, but it’s a means, not an end.

A man who meditates is likely to develop something usually translated as “equanimity”उपेक्षा (upekṣā) in Sanksrit. It’s when you don’t respond to your experiences with strong (and especially negative) emotions. We know that meditation promotes equanimity in men because nearly every guru or pandit who has weighed in on the subject is a man, and that that was his experience.

Equanimity takes longer to develop than the typical short-term clinical research study. Modern medicine as a child of Modernity is  fixes that don’t require commitment: “here, take this pill”.

I would conjecture that equanimity reduces the risk of stress-induced depression.

The article conjectures that the reason that meditation “doesn’t work” (that is, doesn’t give instant gratification) for men is because men tend to deal with their problems through distraction.

I don’t think that’s universally true; back when I had problems, I never felt sufficiently in control of my life to come up with ways of distracting myself. Luckily though I have a naturally resilient personality; I sprang back quickly after falling apart.

That said, I know that a lot of my buddies do in fact distract themselves from problems. It keeps them from over-reacting to their problems long enough to keep them from doing something rash, but it also leads them into temptation to develop an addiction to whatever they’re distracting themselves with, plus problems that are not dealt with don’t usually just go away.

Meditation is a perfectly worthwhile activity for men. It has a lot of interesting side-effects, including helping you train your attention so that you’re paying attention to what is important, instead of wasting your life channel-surfing while bored when you could have been organizing your life to save time for things you really care about. It can also lead to something called “Enlightenment”, but if you don’t know what that means you’ll have to wait until I have enough bandwidth for a complicated explanation.

Meditation is also a good way for a man to learn how to stabilize his mood, as long as he understands that it’s not a quick cure for depression. Instant cures usually involve popping pills, but then you pay a high price later.