controlling your response to the uncontrollable

Most people don’t deal well with uncertainty.  This is why the serenity pray is still so important – to everyone.

I take a humanistic approach, meaning, I take a realistic and compassionate approach to the problem.

1. What can I control? Really. Having a science-based approach helps me know what is within my control and what is not.   The key to the serenity prayer – is knowing the difference between the things you can control and the things you can’t. Science can help you. That is what is known as wisdom.

2. I work on something else. When something is beyond my control. Instead of spending my time worrying about it. I find something that is within my control and work on that. It might be something tangential. It might be completely off topic. But I find giving myself something constructive to do helps me not waste time worrying about something I don’t have control over.

3. Flipping Coins and other superstitious behavior. I know flipping coins won’t help me know how something will turn out. But it still helps me reduce stress and gives me a good laugh. Most of our superstitious behaviors are to help us feel like we have control over things we don’t control at all. It gives us the illusion of control. And that illusion can be very calming. To take advantage of this without getting lost in fantasy/magical/wish fulfillment – I flip coins.  Not having control over something is very very stressful. If we can trick our brains into relaxing – we will be much better off. So I engage in coin flipping to help convince my brain – it’s under control so it will relax and let me focus on things that actually would be constructive. The key is to not take whatever superstitious thing you do seriously. Give your brain the illusion of control – but be aware – it’s still beyond your control. And yes – this does work. It’s like a placebo for the brain.

I have a 6 hour online course called Living Made Simpler that teaches humanist coping skills - step by step to help you learn how to be more effective at - life without resorting to supernaturalism.

Living Wages Are Ethical And Good for Society - A Lesson in Humanistic Business Management

I talk politics with people a lot. Rationally and civilly and I realize this may make me an oddity. But if we don't rationally discuss public policy - our public policy won't be rational.

One of the discussions I have fairly regularly has to do with the purpose of a minimum wage.  Some people seem to think that this is an introductory wage. For teens entering the workforce. The minimum wage laws were actually enacted to make sure that no one who worked - would work for starvation wages and excessive hours. In other words, the minimum wage is to ensure that labor - is not exploited.

According to FDR - who helped get this law passed - the law freed industry from "dishonorable competition brought about not only by overworking and underpaying labor, but by destructive business practices."  -

He goes on to say that because of the minimum wage law - "business itself recognizes more clearly than at any previous time in our history the advantages and the obligations of cooperation and self-discipline, and the patriotic need of ending unsound financing and unfair practices of all kinds."

In other words, there are greedy bad people running businesses and those bad people exploit the laws. They cheat. Not only their business partners, but their employees. They cheat everyone. And this cheating, drives wages down and that hurts - everyone. Because if employees are living on starvation wages - they not only suffer, the country suffers as no one but the very wealthy can afford to consume. We have to continually protect our businesses against what FDR calls "incorrigible minorities."

Minimum wages and living wages are a necessary topic of conversation for people concerned about Humanistic Business Practices. And FDR's warnings are just as valid today as when he first shared them.

"We must continue to recognize that incorrigible minorities within an industry, or in the whole field of trade and industry, should not be allowed to write the rules of unfair play and compel all others to compete upon their low level. We must make certain that the privilege of cooperating to prevent unfair competition will not be transformed into a license to strangle fair competition under the apparent sanction of the law. Small enterprises especially should be given added protection against discrimination and oppression."

We should recognize people who request the right to oppress and exploit other people for what they are. Incorrigible Minorities.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Prof. Ben Teehankee on this topic a few weeks ago.  In the meantime, if you are in a position to fix people's wages - please do not exploit them to gain an unfair advantage. Ethical wages and good jobs  - benefits your company and our society and the race to the bottom is only promoted by people who incorrigible people. Let's not join them on their race to the bottom.


Like a lot of people,  I find that I am cycling through fits of rage and depression and then coping by ignoring. I find I have to engage in quite a bit of self care.

Part of the problem is that we are all being subjected to media designed to enrage us - behaviorally speaking. The other part is that because people are enraged - they are engaging in incredibly stupid really harmful really incredibly stupid crappy things that make us upset.

Like - how exactly are we supposed to respond to toddlers being taken from their parents and put in baby jails? How are we supposed to respond to kids being shot in schools?

Rage seems like a pretty rational response at times.  Being angry and enraged is the right response to things that are happening. That is my emotional and moral sense kicking in to tell me - something absolutely needs to change.

There are 2 things I try to think of to help me think more rationally.

1) is the thing I'm enraged about even true?  Because spending my time being enraged about fake news - isn't productive. And we are ALL being subjected to fake news stories. So - spending some time critically examine the stories to make sure that I don't get enraged over something that isn't even true - is very very helpful.  Especially if it turns out the story was fake.

2) If the thing is true - like babies in jail and kids being shot in school - and I am right to be enraged, then the question is: how?  How to change what is happening so that we don't have this problem.  Being enraged doesn't help me think strategically or take action.

Our emotions tell us to pay attention.  Our rational minds tell us how to solve the problem. We need both. 

The problem I have been having is my feelings of rage are so strong I can't seem to function and I normally function really well. So - what I do is I focus on 1 problem. The world is overwhelming. So what can I work on and have a positive impact on. It doesn't mean I'm not outraged about the things that I should be outraged about. It means that I am aware of my limitations and I am focusing my work. Trusting that others are doing the same.

I have written about this before:

Have Courage

As I was preparing to write this post - I realized that the word courage includes the word - rage. Rage  put into action - is courage?  I don't know what the origin of the term is - but I like the idea that courage is rage at injustice encouraging us to take action to fix the problem.

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