How to Even…Deal with Stress

By CL Bledsoe & Michael Gushue

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Real Talk: Everyone reading this blog will eventually die. That is why it’s a good idea to buy things on credit. Unless you’re living an arguably much more interesting (though shorter) life than ours, we’ll all spend our lives as part of a society. Society is a term used to summarize all of the accomplishments people have made in an attempt to get as far away from nature as possible. Because nature sucks. Things want to eat us there. And they did, until we figured out how to kill them back. That gave us a little breathing room so we could figure out air conditioning and how to have sex with absolutely anything.

Unfortunately, our monkey brains have a hard time dealing with society. See, there are hundreds of subcultures, social mores, and cultural norms determined by all sorts of arbitrary things, but the main quality all societies share is that they have rules. These rules came about for all sorts of reasons, all of them laughably obsolete. Two thousand years ago, they seemed very important, but now, with the advent of refrigerators and science, not so much.

All this should demonstrate to you that we, as a species, are very silly and shouldn’t be trusted with any responsibility whatsoever.

What further complicates matters is that these rules are subjective and change depending on random factors, such as location or who is breaking the rule and whether or not they’re backed by a racist police state. There really is no rhyme or reason to society because it wasn’t something that was planned, like the internet, or your sock drawer. Oh, sure, there have been plenty of people with grand ideas to help people, like, say, the founders of Wikipedia or Taco Bell. And then there are people who keep trying to edit pictures of their own genitals into photos of…well, anything, really (like a picture of a chalupa).

Bottom line: keeping up with all these rules is stressful. Is it less stressful than being eaten by a sabre-toothed chihuahua? Yeah, sure, but at least you could probably convince some of your tribemates to come help you throw a surprise stab party to get rid of that chihuahua, thereby eliminating that particular stress. And once the being-eaten bit was over, so was your stress. Now, we have long-term stress with no real ways to solve it. And society is inescapable. Human society is everywhere people are, and people are everywhere they can possibly survive. We have to follow all these rules, many of which are unspoken until we break them. So what to do?

Clarifying Tip: There are many different cultures in the world. When we say “society” or “culture” we might be referring to all of them, some of them, or the main one we’re currently living in. It’s all very confusing and we hate it. But no matter how many strongly worded letters we write, no one seems interested in putting us in charge of everything. Go figure.

So what do we do?

Stay in bed. Just never leave. Sure, eventually, your muscles will atrophy, you’ll starve to death, and you’ll have to deal with needing to but not going to the bathroom. But how great will it be until that happens? We suggest moving your bed to the bathroom. Or, perhaps cutting a poop hole in your mattress. If you’re ambitious you can run a waste chute over to your neighbor’s garden or window box. That way, you’re basically composting. Move your TV into the bed/bathroom or watch Netflix on your laptop until your internet gets shut off. (If you have the foresight, run an extension cord to your neighbor’s place.) Odds are, you’ll have died of thirst long before then.

Side note: the biggest drawback to this is that somebody will have to dispose of your body. That’s kind of a bummer to put on somebody. Luckily, if you have pets, there’s a decent chance they’ll eat you. Problem solved!

Colonize Mars. You may be thinking, hey, doesn’t Mars lack an atmosphere? True, but it also lacks people. That means, on Mars, there will be no society. No racist cops. No people driving slow in the left lane. No people explaining our jokes to us on social media. There won’t even be social media! We’ll be free to create our own utopia without all the backwards cultural baggage weighing us down back on Earth. Some jerk will just bring their own sucky society, though, and mess it up for the rest of us. So, no bibles or Ayn Rand books allowed.

Of course, once we get to Mars and miraculously don’t die (spoiler, we brought a whole other rocket full of Cheez Its) we may discover all sorts of things, which would be cool. Maybe there’s water on Mars. Great! We need mixers. Maybe there’s already life there. Great! We brought board games.

Succeed in Society. We just put this here as a joke. Unless you’re born rich or don’t have a mescaline problem, you’ll never succeed in society.

New Agey BS

When people talk about stress, they often focus on symptoms, like I can’t stop spitting on this picture of my boss, or I ran out of tears so no one can even tell I’m crying anymore, while ignoring the root cause, which is that your boss is an asshole and your life sucks. These same people will then suggest some method of dealing with those symptoms, but this doesn’t address the underlying issue. Say, you’re having a streak of bad luck. The New Agey crowd will say you should hang some crystal to focus your energy, or something equally ridiculous, like you need a chakra cleanse (see How To Even…Cleanse Your Chakras in a future blog post). The reality is that you are probably cursed by a demon. Hanging crystals will do nothing for a demon except possibly give it decorating ideas. What you actually need to do is invoke a ritual of summoning in order to speak with the demon and see how you pissed it off. It could be something simple, like that you stepped on its foot or neglected to sacrifice your first born. Discussing the demon’s feelings, its wants and needs, could do a lot to clear the air and make you both feel a lot better about things. If all else fails, you could trade your eternal soul for the demon’s servitude, and unleash its wrath on all who would do you wrong, like that jerk who honked at you yesterday when you were stopped to let that pedestrian cross the road.

Take Out Your Bullshit On Everyone Around You

This is a very popular reaction to stress. The basic idea is that, when you’re feeling bad, it must be because of the people around you. This may well be true in certain ways, but dollars to donuts, the people responsible aren’t the ones you’re being a jerk to. That just means you’re spreading general bullshit around, which creates more bullshit, which will probably splash back on you. But, again, none of this solves the problem. Maybe the problem can’t be solved. In this situation, we would like to recommend that you jump off a cliff immediately (see How To Even…Jump Off a Cliff in a future blog post).

Here’s the thing. Let’s say you’re broke. The collection agencies have progressed beyond calling you at odd hours and are currently sleeping on your couch and eating all your cereal. You’re not bad with your money; you just don’t make enough. You work all the time and still can’t break even, much less get ahead. You go to work, and when your coworker asks you a question or for help with something, you snap at them. But it’s not their fault your broke. It’s not the fault of the person who drove slow in front of you on the way in or the cashier who was slow to ring up your purchases at the store while you waited, nervous that your card might be declined. None of these people pay you, so none of them is responsible for your struggles. It’s your boss’s fault. Or it’s the owner of the company — whoever set the wage. They’re exploiting you. But if you take your bullshit out on them, you’re afraid you’ll get fired. So you make other people’s lives miserable.

That’s dumb. You’re dumb. Stop being dumb. What you need to do is figure out where your boss (or the company owner) parks their car. And then follow them to where they live. But don’t hurt them or damage their property. That could get you arrested.

Hey, you know what everybody hates? Vermin. Bugs, mice, Republicans. Whenever someone finds one of these things in their house, no matter how immaculate a home they keep, it throws them off guard. They start wondering what else might be in there. Suddenly, all the security they’ve developed, their self-assuredness in the world, falters. This is a taste of what it is to be poor. Just a taste.

You don’t want to break into your boss’s or the company owner’s home. That would be illegal and expensive. But, with a little study, you can find plenty of places for bugs and mice to enter a person’s home. You’ll need a lot of bugs and mice to make sure they establish a solid colony. If you find all of this distasteful, you could just pee in their coffee cup like everybody else does.

Developing an Addiction

If your life sucks, maybe the best thing is to get away from your life. But maybe you can’t afford a vacation, and you have to be back to work in the morning. What to do? We recommend horse tranquilizers. Hey, everybody loves horses, right? And it’s cruel that people give them drugs. So, why not keep them away from the horses by doing them yourself? You would be kind of a hero.

If you don’t know any shady veterinarians, you could try other large mammal tranquilizers. Make friends at the zoo, perhaps, or order it from Amazon.

Eating

One hundred thousand years ago, our ancestors had good days and bad days. A good day was when you had something to eat. A bad day was when you didn’t. Too many bad days in a row, and you’d have a very, very bad day. On the day after that day, your friends and relatives would wrap you in leaves, throw you in a pit, and cover you with stones. Because you were dead. This provided a lot of incentive to maximize the number of good days you could have. To achieve this, you’d go out and hunt a wooly mammoth, or a wooly chicken, or a wooly hot dog. If you caught one, you rewarded yourself by eating it.

Thus, from then until now, eating has been a soothing activity that makes us feel better because we instinctively know that it staves off bad things, like death. Or feeling feelings.This makes eating an ideal way to deal with stress. Plus, in these modern times, you don’t have to go out and try to stick a spear in some wooly waffle’s guts. You can even have waffle guts delivered right to your door.

But, you ask, is there a downside to all this emotional eating? The simple answer is no. That said, society does tend to frown on eating as a way to deal with stress. But as Royal Tenenbaum says, what doesn’t society frown on these days? Answer: everything but polyamory, which we’ve heard society can’t get enough of. (Note: this is not true.) People will try to tell you that stress eating is unhealthy, and causes guilt and nausea. This may be true (spoiler: it is), but who said we had the answer for everything? I mean, we did, but not right here. You eat a couple of containers of ice cream. Five gallon containers. Your stress goes away, and you’re stimulating the economy. But you get fat. You can work with this. Diet, exercise. Whatever those things are, we’ve heard they can help you “lose weight.” You end up better off.

Lobotomy

All medical professionals these days agree that almost anything is preferable to a lobotomy. Did you notice that the word “almost” is in there? We’re not going to parse this, and we are in no way claiming that getting a lobotomy will actually reduce stress, or that you should even consider it. That’s between you and your knitting needle. We’re just asking a question. Exactly how much stress are you experiencing?

***

Unfortunately, most ways of dealing with stress actually lead to stress in a different form; you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, which works great, since Peter is really absent-minded and timid. But eventually, Peter’s going to buy a better security system or learn karate. Then where will you be? What if you could get rid of all stress? Wouldn’t that be great? Sitting around all day, stressless. Attractive. Well-liked. Thin. But remember those monkey brains we mentioned? They’re actually hard-wired to need stress. Without it, we tend to make our own. In fact, and this is going to be difficult to believe, but a lot of the stress we deal with in life is actually created by our monkey brains to make themselves comfortable. Stress is like the broth we cook our noodles in. Sure, there are plenty of genuinely stressful things in life — like getting out of bed and everything that follows it — but what would truly happen if we simply walked away from that? Or, if we viewed those stressful things in a different way, one less focused on stress and more on enjoyment or opportunity? We’ll tell you what would happen: society would collapse in a matter of minutes. Remember when we said our monkey brains need stress? That great joke about the noodles? Were you not reading? Sheesh. THANKS FOR NOTHING. Actually, maybe you should get that inability to pay attention looked at. There might be something seriously wrong. You should probably worry about that all day. Also, YOU’RE WELCOME, WORLD.

The only blog you’ll ever need. By Michael Gushue & CL Bledsoe Archives: https://medium.com/@howtoeven/how-to-even-archives-3eeea1f52d31

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