Reach for success friends … motivate yourself by tracking markers … measure what you can brag about … self-help narcissism.

Self-help advice reflects the beliefs and priorities of the era that spawned it.Illustration by Nishant Choksi

New breakdown of the old thinking that has led to a nation of gullibles whose tradition goes way back to the ideas of success formulas leading to a shopping list of hopes all under the guise of an American Dream.

My first recommended mandatory reading of 2018. Your loss if you don’t but if you don’t, by no means walk around thinking you are smart,  hep and keeping up with the in crowd.

Improving Ourselves to Death:  What the self-help gurus and their critics reveal about our times.

Excerpts:

you’ve made new resolutions for 2018, and the first one is not to make resolutions. Instead, you’re going to “set goals,” in the terminology of the productivity guru Tim Ferriss—preferably ones that are measurable and have timelines, so you can keep track of your success.

Reach for success friends … motivate yourself by tracking markers … measure what you can brag about … self-help narcissism.

Once your goals are in place, it might be smart to design a methodology that will encourage you to accomplish them. Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit,” recommends a three-step self-conditioning process. You want to get to the gym more? Pick a cue (sneakers by the door); choose a reward that will motivate you to act on it (a piece of chocolate); execute. Bravo! You are now Pavlov and his dog.

So what’s the secret for aspiring to POSITIVELY THOUGHT OUT desires for prosperity and success?

In retrospect, “The Secret,” which sold more than twenty million copies worldwide, seems a testament to the predatory optimism that characterized the years leading up to the financial crisis. People dreamed big, and, in a day of easy money, found that their dreams could come true. Then the global economy crashed, and we were shaken violently awake—at least for a time.

This article is a different way of whispering to us that our own new clothes aren’t real … we are still naked.

The desire to achieve and to demonstrate perfection is not simply stressful; it can also be fatal, according to the British journalist Will Storr. His forthcoming book, “Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us” (Overlook), opens, alarmingly, with a chapter on suicide. Storr is disturbed by the prevalence of suicide in the United States and Britain, and blames the horror and shame of failing to meet the sky-high expectations we set for ourselves. He cites surveys that show that adolescent girls are increasingly unhappy with their bodies, and that a growing number of men are suffering from muscle dysmorphia; he interviews psychologists and professors who describe an epidemic of crippling anxiety among university students yoked to the phenomenon of “perfectionist presentation”—the tendency, especially on social media, to make life look like a string of enviable triumphs. Storr confesses that he, too, is dogged by self-loathing and suicidal thoughts. “We’re living in an age of perfectionism, and perfection is the idea that kills,” he writes. “People are suffering and dying under the torture of the fantasy self they’re failing to become.”

Storr’s explanation for how we got into this predicament has three strands. First, there is nature. “Because of the way our brains function, our sense of ‘me’ naturally runs in narrative mode,” he writes; studies show that we are hardwired to see life as a story in which we star. At the same time, he says, we are tribal creatures, evolved during our hunter-gatherer years to value coöperation and, at the same time, to respect hierarchy and covet status—“to get along and get ahead.”

Next comes culture—a trajectory that wends its way from the ancient Greeks, with their idea that humans are rational creatures who must strive in order to fulfill their highest potential, to Christianity, with its doctrine of a sinful self that requires salvation, to Freud, who’s “just a self-hating, sex-afeared, secular reinvention” of the same, and, finally, to the perilous American pursuit of happiness. Storr has conflicted feelings about the American view that the self is fundamentally good, and thus worthy of comfort and satisfaction. On the one hand, it’s a nice change from Christian guilt. On the other, it has “infected” the rest of the world with aspirational narcissism. Storr has harsh words for positive psychology, and for the self-esteem movement. He reserves special scorn for the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, which pioneered the Human Potential Movement back in the nineteen-sixties and has recently gained popularity with the Silicon Valley crowd.

Finally, there’s the economy. Survival in the hypercompetitive, globalized economy, where workers have fewer protections and are more disposable than ever, requires that we try to become faster, smarter, and more creative. (To this list of marketable qualities I’d add one with a softer edge: niceness, which the gig economy and its five-star rating system have made indispensable to everyone from cabdrivers to plumbers.) Anything less than our best won’t cut it.

Read it and weep … then wake up … and don’t look in the mirror with an eye to who you might see behind you watching your reaching for success.

 

When a Kindergarten fiscal Konservative asks, “How ya gonna pay fer it?” , here’s your answer.

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When a Kindergarten fiscal Konservative asks, “How ya gonna pay fer it?” , here’s your answer.
(This page is huge)
On Republican rationale for “reforming” health care, education, and all the other pious patriotic talk about supposedly wanting our country to “live within a budget” …
Hell that’s what most of us have always had to do (well those of us who learned how to spend less than we take in). We’ve always done that.
So how come we don’t look at all our budget expenses and adjust spending according to legitimate Constitutional priorities , i.e. the “insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare” stuff?
How much – regardless of which party is in charge – are we spending on the following … and why?
Ask your Congresspersons that question. Ask them to tell you why we need to spend so much on this particular budget item at the expense of, say, universal health care, free college education, housing solutions for homelessness.
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Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (American Empire Project) Chalmers Johnson and it’s $10 on Kindle and less than $15 in paperback

Never will America be commanded to blow them away in the name of the Lord.

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Don’t you know that God is a God of WAR?

The Lord’s Air Force?

It has come to my attention that there are religious fools, (which usually starts among the officers) currently serving with you. These American pretend soldiers are not your typical noble American warriors who have sworn an oath to defend the country and Constitution.

Rather, they have taken it upon themselves to pretend that the old Testament God who gets mad enough to kill people is still in charge. They believe that the same false god inspired the U.S. Constitution and formation of a military order of soldiers who are to be primarily warriors for His Son.

Do not be tempted to take their spiritual opinions, advice and counsel as gospel my child. America is not God’s chosen weapon of vengeance nor enforcement of a freedom all over the world that would be won with blood and at the gunpoint of a self-righteous American exceptionalism.

America is not the home of modern versions of medieval crusaders who plundered, raped and killed while believing that God and Jesus wanted them to do so.

Reverend Jerry Falwell

America is not the home of generals whom God has ordained nor has Jesus authorized to kill indiscriminately in His name.

Never will America be commanded to blow them away in the name of the Lord.

Never will you be legally authorized by any officer or non-com to commit murder or any atrocity as your duty to God and country.

If you commit such acts you will be guilty of shedding innocent blood and will not be able to blame it on the moral cowards who commanded you.

If you fall into that kind of pit I encourage you to make immediate contact with a wise civic and moral mind who might try with you to do whatever it takes to protect your life, your integrity and your soul.

Unlike those military liars, genuine Americans cannot nor will not ever demand that you blindly accept their own moral judgments in place of your own.

Unlike those military liars I CAN promise you that you WILL be accountable for blindly accepting as some sort of duty and obligatory response to the foolish evangelizing they believe they have the power to force on you.

There ARE people in and close to the military who will back you up should you ever have to stand up to your officers and noncoms who want you to believe they can punish you for ignoring their religious attitudes and practices.

Our Mission

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

MRFF recognizes that military life requires individual adherence to shared patriotic principles. MRFF also recognizes the need for military personnel to at times temporarily relinquish some Constitutionally granted personal freedoms for the sake of military discipline and objectives.

However, MRFF believes that religious faith is a Constitutionally guaranteed freedom that must never be compromised, except in the most limited of military circumstances, because of its fundamental importance to the preservation of the American nation and the American way of life.

Additionally, MRFF adheres strongly to the principle that religious faith is a deeply personal matter, and that no American has the right to question another American’s beliefs as long as they do not unwontedly intrude on the public space or the privacy or safety of another individual.

Therefore, MRFF holds that:

No religion or religious philosophy may be advanced by the United States Armed Forces over any other religion or religious philosophy.

No member of the United States Armed Forces may be compelled in any way to conform to a particular religion or religious philosophy.

No member of the United States Armed Forces may be compelled in any way to witness or engage in any religious exercise.

No member of the military may be compelled to curtail – except in the most limited of military circumstances and when it directly impacts military discipline, morale and the successful completion of a specific military goal – the free exercise of their religious practices or beliefs.

Students at United States military academies are entitled to the same Constitutional rights pertaining to religious freedoms and the free exercise of those freedoms to which all other members of the United States Armed Forces military are entitled.

No member of the military may be compelled to endure unwanted religious proselytization, evangelization or persuasion of any sort in a military setting and/or by a military superior or civilian employee of the military.

The full exercise of religious freedom includes the right not to subscribe to any particular religion or religious philosophy. The so-called “unchurched” cede no Constitutional rights by want of their separation from organized faith.

It is the responsibility of the military hierarchy to ensure that the free exercise of religious freedoms of all enlisted personnel are respected and served.

All military personnel have the right to employ appropriate judicial means to protect their religious rights.

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I praise you for your willingness to serve our country.