What Makes People Unable to Rest
Economically, it’s scary out there. Though unemployment figures declined last week, most people know the data are heavily massaged. In the old days a part time worker was included in the statistics if they worked an hour a month in a family business – without pay. In our local area, where official unemployment runs about 12% the numbers of people who have stopped looking for work is so high, along with those working part-time who want to work full-time, that real unemployment is really about twice that figure – Depression era numbers. No wonder people feel out of sorts, worried, dismayed – often incapable of rest.
Even those with good jobs worry, with reason. As Michael Lewis and others have written, the economic crisis was simply a matter of when not if, as financial companies were incentivized to play enormously leveraged risks that eventually had to blow up. We became Enron America. The AIG story is one of many – people used credit default swaps to bet on bonds, put the money into derivatives, and then played Russian roulette again and again. Bonds on firms like Lehman outfits were leveraged 40-50 times, the profits booked immediately so that both the traders and AIG looked like geniuses. Their declared bet was that a critical investment bank like Lehman could never fail – because that would mean the whole economy was gone.
We may still be here but the problems have not been fixed. As Nouriel Roubini pointed out, the people who crashed the plane are flying the plane, and are now more ensconced in the pilot’s seat than before. There are still more than 600 trillion dollars of derivatives out there without a transparent market or effective regulation. And thanks to a Supreme Court that “strictly” reads the Constitution in a manner the Founding Fathers would find beyond bizarre, corporations now have rights similar to individuals – the best government money can buy has been sold. Financial firms have five lobbyists for every Congressman, and the new chief aide to the president is a Daley from the Chicago Daley dynasty, a former secretary of Commerce and major executive at the nation’s second biggest bank, where he worked as lobbyist. Sometimes it appears that financial and political America have merged.
I write this not to distress people but to point out that things indeed are difficult, and you have to get cracking to fix them – starting with your own concerns.
Social Rest and Social Connection
In the Depression, you didn’t get a job reading Craigslist or even checking the classifieds – you got it through personal connections. Even in an Internet age connections are key, even more so when times are tough. You want to use those social connections in multiple ways, including:
1. Economic survival
2. Social support
3. Social rest – helping your body rebuild itself the way it’s built.
You can accomplish these tasks by using techniques of social rest I describe in detail in “The Power of Rest.” One to use special connection touch – you make a list of people you particularly trust and admire. Then you contact them and ask that you be able to call them, anytime and anywhere, because you value their judgment and advice.
They can be parents; relatives; close friends; academic and business mentors; people you trust.
In economically parlous times, you want to make and use these connections. Humans network in various ways, for we are profoundly social beings. Our use of social connection is critical to our physical health, but particularly these days, also to our economic health.
Human connections often ramify geometrically. You may not know someone who can get you a job, but your friends, mentors, former mates, even mere acquaintances, very well do. You access them by using social rest – which has the added benefit of providing you more social and individual confidence.
People touch on spiritual issues whenever they consider why they’re on the planet and what they’re supposed to do. The result is spiritual rest techniques are particularly useful in times of stress. The Power of Rest has a bunch, but people these days tell me they are using moving through time and space and the one minute prayer, quite a lot. That spiritual rest techniques can be accomplished within a minute is particularly helpful, as many individuals do not think aid can come so quickly.
Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques – Making Things Work
When times are tough you want to think of solutions, not just problems. One technique is taking out 3-5 minutes every day before dinner, then writing down in a notebook the five biggest problems you face and what you plan to do with them.
Such a technique can do more than prevent sleepless nights. You consider potential solutions, then you try them. As you try them, you evaluate them. You see what works. The next evening, you write down the remaining problems, modifying their potential solutions.
That’s what the brain and body does – it learns. It tries different solutions faced by whatever the environment throws up, and then rebuilds itself accordingly.
So much of this process is unconscious we generally pay it little attention. Yet constantly learning, constantly changing the way the body renews itself is how we stay healthy – even survive. No day is the same. Your brain is rewired into a different configuration every morning you wake up.
That’s the power of rest – regeneration. That’s how your body really works, not by “slowly decaying” but by constantly rebuilding itself based on what it has experienced and done. Remember – what you do is what you become. And that same power of regeneration resides in your mind, with its capacity to consistently create new solutions for novel problems.
You regenerate your body to live and thrive. You can do the same for your mind. In this economy, that can really help.
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