New shit is hitting the fan every day. To survive it, we’re going to need to build good habits.
Overwhelmed by everything that’s going on right now? Don’t be: you don’t have to be in control to make inexorable progress.
Simply, let’s divide problems into three categories:
1) Stuff simple enough that you don’t need a strategy for it, you just do it.
2) Stuff complicated enough that you need a high-level, overall plan to get through it.
3) Stuff so big or complicated it’s overwhelming (also known as “complex”), and your brain can’t handle a high-level plan.
For most of us, the past few days have taken us to zone #3. The number of horrifying things that are happening right now is so high that I’m not even going to bother to enumerate them because it will be both depressing and depressingly quickly obsolete.
So what should we do if there’s too much shit to handle?
Be a better person, one step at a time.
That’s it. If you are overwhelmed by the landscape, stop spending precious inner resources trying to make sense of it. We want to make it hold still in our heads, but that’s not going to happen because it isn’t still.
Instead, switch to reasoning with instinct, because that’s what our brains use to process complexity. Focus on yourself, because that is what you can change.
What does your instinct tell you you should be doing differently or better right now?
For a lot of us, it’s likely to be learning to speak out, defend others, take action, actively donate, or something related. But perhaps it isn’t — maybe your instinct is pulling you to be more truthful or harder working. Or to confront your demons. Whatever it is, believe it.
We’re in this for the long haul, which means we’re all going to have to level up to do it. That means it’s worth it to invest in moral attributes and abilities. Any moral attributes and abilities.
Pick one to start with and run with it.
The world is a large place, so the most effective thing you can do is to be the best person you can be, and you’re the one who knows what that looks like.
The most critical thing for all of us to do, that each of us can do today, is gain XP. Because we may have been saving up our potions, but even burning them all right now is not going to get us through this.
So however you’re feeling, whatever else comes down the pipeline, let it. Then just turn to the next challenge right in front of you, and get it done. Don’t wait. Hit the bear. Call the representative. Get the XP. Go to the next one. Get it done. If it’s too much pick something smaller that you can get done immediately, then come back later when you’re bigger and stronger.
Will it work? Can your action make a difference? Is it the best use of your limited time or resources? There are hundreds of people being paid right now to manipulate your thoughts and feelings on exactly those questions. Plus, this is new ground so honestly nobody really knows. So if you can’t figure out the answer, don’t bother wasting time dwelling on it. Just do the thing anyway: you’ll level up either way.
In the long run, an army of really good people with great habits can flexibly make any complex problem tractable. An army of bad people with cruel habits can only apply power in one way. I’ll see you at endgame.