Brainwash

Since the start of the pandemic I’ve been seeking guidance in how to think. Even when the world isn’t breaking, living with my brain can feel like shlepping a full set of Louis Vuitton luggage of agitated thoughts. One bright spot in these troubled times — a pandemic positive, if you will — is the abundance of practical insight into how to come to terms with these extraordinary events. 

Mark Manson’s Motherf*ckin’ Mondays newsletter provides advice rooted in his trickster blend of evidence-based self-help and kind common sense. Neuroscientist, actor and social media maven Mayim Bialik exudes sympathetic, mameleh energy, while Eckhart Tolle summons the universal spine: Do you think humanity evolves in times that aren’t steeped in adversity?

Some share their take in real-time. Ten Percent Happier’s 3pm weekday livestreams feature a stable of meditators affiliated with the TPH app. Host Dan Harris announces a topic  chosen by the visiting teacher tailored to alleviate pandemic stress, such as practical hope, mindful speech, anger or technology. A five-minute meditation follows, after which they discuss a couple of live-chat questions. (This livestream includes the answer to a question chatted by yours truly at 11 minutes in.)

Regardless of the source, a dialectical thread weaves through all of the advice: acceptance is inextricable from change. While self-compassion is essential, it’s important to witness behavioral drift towards self-indulgence. At the same time, it’s pointless to judge yourself for unwillingness or inability to be a pandemic achiever. (On Twitter they’re called influenzers.) 

If not new, these insights are, for me, validating, deepening and truly hard won. The luggage is a little lighter — minus a valise or two.

 

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