“The cost of sanity, in this society, is a certain level of alienation”

The late psychonaut/philosopher Terence McKenna once said "The cost of sanity, in this society, is a certain level of alienation," and I think my regular readers will immediately and experientially understand exactly what he was talking about. It's not always easy to be on the outside of consensus reality. Our entire society, after all, has been built upon consensus — upon a shared agreement about what specific mouth sounds mean, on what money is and how it works, on how we should all behave toward each other in public spaces, and on what normal human behavior in general looks like. We all share a learned agreement that we picked up from our culture in early childhood that it's normal and acceptable to stand around with your hands in your pockets and babble about the weather to anyone who gets too...

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New research suggests anthropomorphising your emotions can help you control them

In the Pixar film Inside Out, the emotions of an 11-year-old girl are personified as perky Joy, petulant Disgust and hulking Anger. Sadness - voiced by The American Office's Phyllis Smith - is, predictably, a downer with a deep side-parting and a chunky knit. Amy Poehler's Joy can hardly stand to be around her, like a colleague you would time your trips to the tea point to avoid. But the takeaway of the 2015 film - said by Variety to "for ever change the way people think about the way people think" - was that both emotions were necessary, and Sadness was as valid a part of life as Joy. Now there is a case for not only accepting Sadness, as in Inside Out - but embodying her, too. Researchers from Hong Kong and Texas recently found that individuals asked...

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Ikigai: The Japanese secret to living a long and more fulfilling life

For Japanese workers in big cities, a typical work day begins with a state called sushi-zume, a term which likens commuters squeezed into a crowded train car to tightly packed grains of rice in sushi. The stress doesn't stop there. The country's notorious work culture ensures most people put in long hours at the office, governed by strict hierarchical rules. Overwork is not uncommon and the last trains home on weekdays around midnight are filled with people in suits. How do they manage? The secret may have to do with what Japanese call ikigai. There is no direct English translation, but it's a term that embodies the idea of happiness in living. Essentially, ikigai is the reason why you get up in the morning. To those in the West who are more familiar with the concept of ikigai, it's often...

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A surefire cure for despair

"I can't go on. I'll go on." ~ Samuel Beckett Sometimes it just gets to be too goddamn much. You just finished a soul-draining argument with a family member who insists that Putin controls all major world events because that's what the TV said so it must be true, then you check the poll numbers for the upcoming elections in the US and UK and you see your favorite candidates just don't have the kind of numbers they're going to need, the latest revelation that the US and its allies deceived the world about what's happening in Syria has been completely swept under the rug by the establishment news churn, Bolivia has been taken over by US-backed Christian fascists, and now you're watching Mike Pompeo's stupid asshole face spouting some made-up bullshit about Iran that you know the news media...

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