Tuesday, February 17, 2009

more worldview

I really like this discussion. I learn so much from our blog chat. My concept of heaven is to be able to talk about anything I want with anyone I want. And to have people just be totally honest and open. Sometimes I feel like our discussions here approach my heaven.

Now that I've written that corny thing everyone will turn from their screens in disgust and read no further. I guess that's the risk I take. Trust me, I don't get sappy again in this post. (Hmm, risk and trust--topics for another post...)

I should probably clarify a statement in the previous post. I said, "An attitude of victimization is one of the few things that makes my skin crawl." What I meant here is that the thought of having that type of worldview MYSELF makes my skin crawl. NOT that people who live like victims make my skin crawl. That would be a rather coarse lack of compassion, wouldn't it? I mean, I'm not going to say I am completely judgement-free. I do make hasty judgements sometimes, but I also feel empathy and have a sincere desire to help. I want to understand different worldviews better, and that's why I'm thinking about it and talking about it in the first place. I would like to help people to feel more empowered and optimistic, so I'd like to know why they are not that way.

1. It's a mix of nature and nurture.

2. Poverty is possibly influenced by worldview, but there are many other factors.

3. It's a choice, at least to some extent.

4. It's sometimes not a choice if you have depression, and we shouldn't judge.

5. There are situations where even the most optimistic people could lose hope.

A friend commented in a private email something that occurred to me, too, and included, in part, the following:
6. According to our theology (Church of Jesus Christ of LDS), people lived pre-mortal lives where they were free to make choices and develop talents, which may explain some predispositions we appear to be born with. We believe "the light of Christ" is given to all people at their birth. The light of Christ helps people to recognize truth, and have faith and hope. My friend wonders if that ability to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, the belief that something great awaits you right around the corner, "is the light of Christ able to manifest itself stronger in those individuals, perhaps in direct proportion to their pre-mortal obedience."

I do believe that people can choose to become more optimistic. Maybe that sounds obvious or simplistic. I think there are many days and many situations where I could go either way. I can choose despair or hope. That is particularly evident to me this time of year when I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. There are many days that I am overcome with negative thoughts and I have to think up a thousand and one ways to distract myself. It takes a great deal of effort to keep myself from getting into a negative rut. I feel unreasonable urges to strike out at family and friends. I feel apathy. There are many days that I feel exhaustion, both physical and mental. I feel sad for no reason. I take no joy in the things that usually bring me joy. I can't focus. I forget things easily.
However, I see no reason to let SAD define me. That would be admitting defeat. I choose to be productive, loving, joyful, and optimistic during winter months. It is much, much harder than in the summer, and I'm nowhere near as effective at anything I try to do at this time, but I don't just give up. This too shall pass.

My life would be so much better and I would be so much happier if I didn't have SAD, right? I don't know. Maybe not. I've found that when I have to work very hard to be happy, I value it more. When suddenly I can not possibly eat food the food I've always loved, I've discovered new recipes I never would have found otherwise. I have found new interests when I am looking for distraction. [Bleep!], I've traveled the globe in the library and online. I am more aware of my thought patterns and feelings than I would be without SAD, and I feel more power to change them for good. Practice makes perfect. I feel more empathy for people who struggle with depression because I do, too. And when spring finally rolls around, I feel like Sally in the deli scene of "When Harry Met Sally."


Anonymous said...

I would be very careful using anything in this life to determine obedience or disobedience in the pre-mortal life. Why we were blessed with what we are in this life and why we are given the trials we are is a mystery of God, and I don't think it's very wise to delve into it too deeply (I know you're not delving, I'm just saying), especially when we know so little of what the Lord has already given us to understand.

Anonymous said...

I do agree that it does have something to do with the Light of Christ. And that some are blessed with a higher sensitivity to that than others. I just don't know that it's in direct correlation with obedience.

Dave Thurston said...

A few years ago, I heard Mr. Rogers quoted when he was listening to a well-meaning individual say "We are collecting coats for the underpriveleged."

Mr. Rogers' response was something along the lines, "we're all underpriveleged - some of us don't have money, some don't have love, some don't have happiness. . ."

I am quite lucky that I don't suffer from depression and don't too often get overwhelmed; but having written that, I'm sure that (although I can't easily self-identify) there are several areas that are my down-areas.

And I agree with you, the other side of the coin for people with depression is that when they're up, they (perhaps) have the enviable position to see how great just, plain "normal-happiness" is.

A little analagous to the world without pain wouldn't know or appreciate joy.

Now I've rambled. I appreciate your post and your writing.

Dina said...

Did you just use the word "hell?" :)

I have lots of thoughts on this subject, having many really difficult things happen to me in my life, but no time to write this morning. But, then again, most of us have had difficulties. I'm just grateful I wasn't born in abject poverty. I have been given so many opportunities to "change my stars" (A Knights Tale--great movie!) that how can I not be happy and optimistic?

A question for those with SAD. It seems obvious, but why don't you live somewhere that it's sunny most of the time? I know there's the whole employment issue, but I think I'd be trying hard! Dont' beat me up, I'm just honestly wondering.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Wow, you've had some great discussions going while I was away for the weekend.

I do believe a person's worldview is a mixture of nature and nurture with more nurture than nature. But that may just be because of my own family history of grandparents working their way out of poverty and passing on what they've learned.

I can attest to #5. I am one of those perpetually optimistic people but when I had my two miscarriages I could literally feel I was on the edge. My body felt different and I knew I had to make a choice. I could give in to the depression or fight and work my way back to my "normal" self. I chose to fight but it was hard. It gave me a glipmse into what my poor SIL has to deal with every single day battling her depression.

I do believe according to your #6 that the choices we made before coming here determined our conditions at birth here just as the choices we make here will determine what "reward" we will receive at the judgement. It is all conditional upon the choices we make with the knowledge we have and with the knowledge God has of every person and what they are capable of doing, handling, being.

Ave said...

I have always enjoyed mentally delving into the realms of the unknown and asking the question why. Maybe that is the reason I love the movie "A Room With a View." I think God expects us to question everything, including his existance so that we may know truth. I find the idea that people who live in poverty stricken areas may possibly have more of the light of Christ very interesting and insightful to contemplate. I hope they do. Every night I try to think of a new way to pray for these people and maybe they are doing the same for me. I don't know what to think of optimism, I think I used to be far more optimistic when I was much younger, now I feel more realistic, which to me isn't so great.

Anonymous said...

Don't make the mistake so many people do of confusing pessimism with realism. Life isn't mostly bad. I think I've lived a fairly normal life - and for those of you who know me, I really mean that; it doesn't matter so much where you live as what happens to you - and I definitely haven't had a mostly bad life. I think life is pretty well-rounded for everyone in one way or another.

I do think that we should question everything. I don't think we should worry about understanding things we obviously aren't ready to understand. Of course, one person is more ready than others. I'm just taking the advice Joseph Smith handed. Just because we enjoy it doesn't make it smart.

I agree with Chocolate that the choices we made in the pre-mortal life have an effect on what we are given here to an extent. But I think it's more in the, "I'm strong enough to take this on" kind of way rather than the "obedience gave me money" kind of way. I think choosing to come here was the biggest choice, and we were all rewarded for that. Obviously though, I don't know any of this for sure. It's all just what I believe at this point.

Anonymous said...

I like to cling to the trunk. but those that like to play on the branches go for it.

Calandria said...

Mal, now that I see your second comment I know where you're coming from on the idea of premortal obedience. I don't think anyone was suggesting that people who were obedient in the premortal life are rewarded with an earthly life of riches and privilege. I know that some people do really believe that but I certainly don't. I think we were thinking more along the lines of spiritual gifts--faith, hope, and charity.

Dina, all people have difficulties, but yours do seem way beyond what most people I know have experienced. I remember I met you three days before your husband died--we were both dropping off our eldest daughters at nursery. It took me months after that to get up the courage to talk with you again because I stupidly felt like I had no idea what to say. What a dunce I was! You've always been an incredible example of strength and endurance to me. (Hope I didn't embarrass you TOO much saying that here :-))

Good question about why people with SADD would choose to live in northern climes. I didn't start having symptoms of SADD until about four to five years ago. We haven't had the opportunity to live elsewhere because of J's work. Now let's say I did suddenly have the opportunity. Would I immediately pick up and hightail it for the equator? I used to think so, but now I wonder. For one thing, it's not all about me. I live in a family with five other people. I'd want to consider what's best for them, too. Also, if I could live anywhere, I may prefer to live near my family and in a state I adore--Maine, even though it wouldn't be an improvement at all for my SADD. This sounds weird to me even as I say it, but I'm not sure I would move south just to get more sun. Actually, some people with SADD who move to sunnier places don't experience much of a change in their symptoms.

Yes, I did use the word "hell." Isn't that terrible? And I just read today in this month's New Era about a boy who has started a no-cussing movement. I need to clean up my act. I will delete the offensive word!

Dina said...

HA! I'm not trying to censor your blog.

Thank you for the nice compliment. I am just optimistic by nature. I hope that never changes. Not saying that I don't feel things deeply, or that I'm not effected and tried by circumstance, but I'm a firm believer in "you can't change what happens to you, just how you react."

As to the "Dina avoidance" issue--I had a close friend that NEVER mentioned his death. Not once. It was like the elephant in the room. It's always better to say SOMETHING, even if it doesn't come out just as you'd like it to. Things we learn along this journey of life...

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like everyone who has read and commented on this topic are from goodly parents. On the nurture side you learn you learn choice. I have friends who had horrible childhood’s. For them doing the basics like feeding, clothing and disciplining their children in an uphill battle. When you bring into this the ‘light of Christ’ you realize it is only the ‘wanting’ or ‘feeling’ that you want to be a good parent but not ‘knowing’. Knowledge is what you get from parents, friends and education…nurture. Choice is a conscious decision which comes from feeling but being able to make a choice is nurture or education.
Depression is a technical word with a specific definition. When one is truly depressed they can ‘choose’ to try to get out but nothing they do works. SAD is a technical diagnosis with long reaching physical effects. For me, I was in hospital before they figured out what was wrong. By that time I had no resistance to viruses at all and had been constantly ill with colds, flues, and bacterial infections for 4 years. Choice is then irrelevant. There was no depression because there was no feeling. Technically that is depression even though I did not ‘feel’ depressed. I felt nothing.
Why live in a place with more then 330 days of overcast a year? Choice. I choose to stay married and live with my children. I can not legally take them to the States without his permission (an American law). Will living in a sunnier place make a difference? Most definitely. I wouldn’t have to spend an hour every morning wasting time sitting in front of this #*!*# light and taking meds that make me fat.

JW? I love your comment and you to by the way.

Calandria said...

JW, I loved your comment too. Made me smile!

Calandria said...

Auntie, I know that your SAD experience is absolutely more debilitating than mine. I hope you didn't think I was minimizing it in my post.

Dina said...

I was not taking anyone's comments to be directed towards someone who has clinical depression. That's an entirely different conversation. I don't think the original post was intended to mean people that suffer in that way. Was I wrong? I have lots of firsthand experience with depression. Not myself, but living with my father with was clinically depressed his whole life, hospitalized multiple times and ended up taking his own life 1 1/2 years ago.

I think Calandria was talking about general ups and downs (sometimes difficult) things that happen in life.

Anonymous said...

Don't you girls worry about me. I am very thick skinned. :D

Calandria said...

Okay, so even with the smiley face, that worries me. As Dina said, I wasn't talking about that level of depression and I don't think anyone else was either. I was thinking of the people who are crying all over their spilt milk and wondering why they don't clean it up and pour themselves another glass.

Also, I never meant to suggest that people who experience depression were not obedient in the premortal life. People who have depression can also have abundant spiritual gifts.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Hell is not a swear word. It's in the Bible! At least that's the excuse my husband uses. :D

I love Dina's comment "you can't change what happens to you, just how you react." If only we all followed that philosphy!

Dave Thurston said...

OK, I'm advertising, but (in my defense) the picture of the lady in South Africa can't be easily posted to this comment.

I had mini-revelation while writing something this evening.

See: http://www.orangeshirtguy.com/v_jstatht_-_grief_joy.html

Anonymous said...

Dave, that is a lovely thought. Is that your blog? Can I subscribe?

Calandria, Now you can say anything about me but don't knock my smilies. My smilies may be bald but they have nice complexions and being earless is not a handicap.

Anonymous said...

Calandria, I think I understand where you are coming from
when you say that you have issues with victimization. I think it stems from our upbrining. We both came from families that didn't have much as far as worldly posessions, yet I didn't realize we were poor until years later. But that never held us back from becoming successful, intelligent, caring individuals. So it is a little difficult for us to understand why others let things like poverty hold them back.

But that comes down to your mention of nurture. We had parents who did their best to provide for us and to push us to do more. And planted the seed that we could do anything that we set our minds to. Regardless of our background, I think that pushed us to be better people. But it is east to forget that even though our economic situations weren't stellar, we had emotional support that other people don't have.

Mallory, I appreciate your dedication to faith, but don't ever stop asking why. If you question everything and still believe, then your faith will only be stronger.

Dina, I have SAD and moved to a place with more than 300 sunny days per year. I tried to move back to New England to be closer to my family, but I was miserable. I'm not as strong as Calandria. Even here, I still have problems with wanting to hibernate in winter. It is tough. I know I have a fabulous life, but there are months that are miserable. I've just learned to hide it.

Yesweareonmars, I sit in the lobby at work every morning. My coworkers think it is to socialize, but really it is to get a dosage of sunlight so I can make it through the day. :-)

Dave Thurston said...

Mars, yes it is my blog - and my stress relief and reflection. It has an RSS feed, you should be able to paste the link into your RSS aggregrator - there should be an RSS button as well.

Calandria (accept my apologies for writing notes on your comments page).

athena said...

hell is not a swear word. i like it. :) i said god almighty on my blog and someone said she was offended that i had taken the lord's name in vain. oh well. . .

"I didn't realize we were poor until years later. But that never held us back from becoming successful, intelligent, caring individuals. So it is a little difficult for us to understand why others let things like poverty hold them back."

me too. i didn't realise we were poor until we moved from the country to the city and saw what others had. i'm inclined to think that maybe it's a lack of education or information that's holding them back too. while my sister was a single mum she made her way through university. after eight years of schooling part time she finally got her degree in architectural drafting and is now working and earning a living. i think if she hadn't had access to that information and knowing it was out there she would be in poverty.

Calandria said...

Dave, thank you for posting the link! That's a great picture and I also appreciated the thoughts that went with it.