Friday, September 3, 2021

Countering False Philosophies

Warning, the JPMs in this post are high.

One of the most evil philosophies of this time is the so-called "balance of good and evil" that I have seen some people advocate with complete sincerity. I am not talking about the Biblical concept of not being able to know joy without sorrow, etc. which is absolutely not the same thing; I am talking about the concept that too much good is just as bad as too much evil. This is reflected in the "parallel world" story of popular fiction where there exists a world that has to be the exact opposite of ours for there to be balance. I know (almost) nobody truly believes this, but I do know people who absolutely believe that the concept of Heaven is abominable because it would be "so boring."

Evil is not to be countenanced and we should always strive for good—to make the world a better place for all people. We can make it a better place and we can do better. Always look within yourself and work to overcome your own flaws, then work to overcome the evils in this world. Be supportive and loving toward others, rather than hateful and judgmental.

There is no such thing as "too much good" or "too little bad."

I find it abhorrent when people justify bad things by saying "it is God's will," and equally abhorrent when people take risks with their own lives and justify it by saying, "if it's my time there's nothing I can do about it," with the implied corollary that a person can't bring about their own death when it's not their time. This is not true! God has a plan for us, yes, but we can destroy that plan because we do have free will. We can destroy this plan for others as well, which is why murder is such an abhorrent sin in God's eyes. There is enough risk in this world already without us making foolishly risky choices with our health and our lives.

It is true that it is God's will that we be tested in mortal life. It is true that the world is not perfect and that is by design, but this is the case so we can overcome, to build ourselves and others up, so we can face God in the end have Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25:23)

A truly evil philosophy that I have seen Christians espouse is the false version of the Doctrine of Grace. In this version it is seen that we literally can't do anything to save ourselves, and that it is purely the salvation of Christ that saves us no matter what. What makes this so pernicious is that it is so close to the truth that people accept it, and then feel like when they do wrong, it's actually okay as long as they have "accepted Christ as their savior."

The problem with this is that while we cannot save ourselves, we can certainly turn away from the salvation of Christ in many ways, even if we still believe in Him. Jesus gave us a blueprint of things He expects us to do, and without an active effort to work toward those things we are effectively walking away from His salvation. It is summed well by James 2:26, which says that "faith without works is dead."

We cannot say we have accepted Christ and His salvation if we are not doing our best to do as he has asked of us; we cannot be perfect no matter how hard we try, but we should always strive to be better.

Friday, August 6, 2021

I don't write as often as I would like to, because I don't live a very interesting life and I don't know what people might care about. It's hard to say anything that I haven't already said.

Plus, my thinker is on the fritz.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Playing with Lego

A couple of months ago I visited my sister and we got to playing with her impressive Lego collection. I built this.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Dead Time

"Dead time" is the time used to do something repetitive or tedious, such as showering, shaving, washing dishes, doing laundry, and even sleeping has a certain amount of tediousness to it. It's not actually dead time because something useful and important is getting done, but it feels like wasted time and tends to frustrate me.

Oddly enough, real dead time, like waiting in a line, doesn't bother me much because I can usually spend at least some of that time doing something interesting to me, like playing Lego Tower or reading a few pages of a novel on my Kindle e-reader. In fact, I welcome it because it's usually time I can have to myself without feeling guilty.

I try to make my dead time more interesting by having something to think about, or something to listen to like a podcast, but it's still time I'd rather be doing something else. I often find myself putting off these tasks as long as I can, to the point that I now have to set reminders to encourage me to get them done in a timely manner, which has led to a lot of notifications from my phone. The problem is, after a certain number of notifications I start ignoring them.

I admire people who can find interest or even joy in doing these daily tasks, and I have a desire to learn to do so myself, but so far I haven't been able to cultivate the right mindset.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Letting Things Go

I have a harder time than most, I think, letting posessions go. I have music CD's I never listen to, DVD's I will probably never watch again, and plenty of items in drawers or in storage I have forgotten about that I will probably never use again. And yet, when I look at these items I think, "What if?" What if I could use them again at some point in the future? What if I did need them after I got rid of them? If I give them away, will they be properly taken care of, as I have cared for them?

I'm not a hoarder by any stretch of the imagination, but I definitely have more stuff (junk?) than I need and it affects me psychologically. I think one reason I have such a hard time letting things go is that I grew up poor, and I am still poor. Anything I own is a potential futurure savings if I can somehow use it again, instead of buying something new. The problem with that is that my posessions start to control me in unhealthy ways. I'm not a "your posessions own you" type of person, but I can understand why some people say that.

I watched some of Marie Kondo's Tidying Up series on Netflix and instead of inspiring me, it gave me anxiety. How can people just let things go like that? What if, on some level, everything I own gives me joy? Of course that's not the case, but this is one of the many ways my anxiety lies to me—it decives me into thinking fear of letting something go is at least in part rooted in "joy" of owning it.

Fortunately, there are times when I am able to go through a drawer, or a box, or even a closet and look at several items and wonder, "Why am I still keeping this?" I am learning not to hold on to things that don't serve some real purpose for me, and there are times when I can see something and tell myself that even though it still has use, it doesn't have use for me, and that I should donate it to a thrift store or give it away. The trick is to not immediately fill these empty spaces up again.

I probably shouldn't be as hard on myself about this as I tend to be, because reusing and repurposing things instead of getting rid of them has its own merit, as long as I don't let these potentially reusable items clutter my life and cause mental distress. I'm also limited by my health in how much I can physically do, and often there are other priorities over decluttering.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Dealing With Social Isolation

Social isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak is going to be harder for some than for others. Because of my health problems I've become somewhat used to social isolation, but it was very difficult for me at first. I don't know if I can help others deal with it, but these are some of my ideas.

If you are religious, pray and meditate, if you aren't, just meditate. Studies have shown the effectiveness of both in reducing stress and increasing well-being, among other things.

Keep yourself socially connected virtually, but be very careful to avoid the toxic areas of the internet. Early on when I had to start staying home instead of going out, I spent a lot of time on IRC and Usenet. These are largely supplanted by modern social networking and forums, which can be both good and bad, just like IRC and Usenet was (and is). Find forums for your interests and avoid the comment sections of YouTube and most online articles. Definitely avoid news sites that are sensationalizing current events.

Focus on the things you can still do, but don't try to do them all at once. Set a schedule, making sure to include both chores and things you enjoy, and pace it out. In the beginning of my social isolation I made the mistake of engaging in marathon reading sessions over days or weeks and that left me feeling empty, more isolated, and frustrated. It was only when I learned to limit my reading sessions to a few hours at most, and make time for other things—especially the important things like daily chores—that I started to feel more balanced. I also found people online that I could talk to about what I had been reading.

Distraction can be a useful tool if you are experiencing anxiety about the current situation, but it won't eliminate the anxiety, especially if distraction becomes avoidance. It is better to find a way to keep updated without being overwhelmed, and don't excessively research! There is such a thing as excessive vigilance, and it will feed anxiety like nothing else. And remember what I said about avoiding sensationalized news.

Try to find ways to help others who might also be struggling with isolation. Maybe you can set up a conference Skype call among friends. Maybe you can donate a 1-month subscription to a streaming site to someone who can't afford it. Or donate money directly to non-profit organizations that may be impacted. For example, homeless shelters aren't prepared for this situation. Is there a way you can help them? Leave a comment below with your ideas.

Make sure you're getting enough sleep, and enough water. Don't excessively exercise or neglect your exercise routine.

Try to be extra patient with each other. Those slightly annoying little habits of others can become major irritants due to extended close proximity, if you let them. Be forgiving. Be apologetic. Be kind.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Birthday Party, Sleep Study Update, Migraines and Health Issues

Recently I went up to Rexburg to spend a day celebrating my close friend Nancy's birthday. She lives with my sister and I got transportation from a mutual friend. We had a lot of fun talking, playing games, playing with Lego, eating a yummy dinner and a wonderful "Thee Genius" birthday cake, and watching Phineas and Ferb—a series I think everyone should see. At one point most of us fell asleep in the comfy chairs and couches in the living room.

Although I enjoy spending time with friends, I don't get to do it as often as I want to due to poor health and personal responsibilities. One day I want to spend the night or even a long weekend in Rexburg, but right now I can't work out the logistics that would allow me to do that safely. As it is I must bring a HEPA filter with me and stay reasonably close to it while it runs. To sleep overnight I'd have to bring my own specially cleaned sheets, and sleep in a room cleaned and prepared for me, bring my own soap for showering—I have to shower daily—and have an emergency plan in place in case my health "crashes" for some unforeseen reason.

I had to repeat the home sleep study because they didn't get good enough data the first time, but the second time I took an over the counter sleep aid and I slept better. Unfortunately they can't get me into the office for a follow-up appointment until the second week of next month. I hope they have a good idea of what's happening while I sleep and they can do something to help me, because I'm still so exhausted, and stimulants do little to help me.

I've had a difficult few days with increased pain, difficulty thinking, and the always-present anxiety that gets worse when my other symptoms get bad. Yesterday I believe I had another silent migraine which forced me to rest most of the day; I get frustrated when I feel like I haven't been at least minimally productive each day, so I have to remind myself that sometimes the best thing I can do is to just try to recover.

I'm wondering if the cold snap my area has been experiencing has contributed to my health problems. I tend to suffer more when there's more smoke, smog, and general pollution in the air, and there was a hay fire in the area that spread smoke over Rexburg and, to a lesser degree, Idaho Falls.