Tag Archives: mental health

Surviving on Projects

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I regularly complain about how the Pandemic has affected my projects -writing, coding, etc. You, my readers, get a front-row seat to that more than you or I would like. But I must note that having projects kept me sane during the Pandemic.

The Pandemic disrupted everything in our lives. We could not do anything as we once did without the threat of infection. We watched many of our fellow citizens fail us, and we watch them continue to fail us. Nothing is the same, and humans like at least a little sameness.

But having projects – a book, a website, a podcast – gives one structure and stability. These at least act as an anchor for one’s sense of self, a place that reminds you of who you are. Writing, art, charity, and other deep passionate activities can be expressions of who you are. Projects help us survive by letting us actively be who we are.

Every time you write, or draw or phone bank, about something that matters, that’s you being you. Maintaining these projects throughout the chaos of the Pandemic keeps you from losing who you are.

I recently realized how important this was when I assessed the impact of the Pandemic on people. In discussions with friends and family, I saw how having any project kept people mentally healthy. People without projects often faired worse.

There are lessons here for us to learn about ourselves, but for others as well. As we try to move forward in the changing Pandemic, we can maintain our projects. We can also involve others who need a focus to join our projects – or start their own.

The Pandemic has a ways to go in the US, and farther to go in the world. Socializing and society is changing. Having something that matters is going to be critical for the well-being of many.

Steven Savage

Stringing It All Together

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

As I’ve often said, fun is important to us. It refreshes us, it helps us find ourselves, it connects us to others. But sometimes it’s hard to have fun, to find joy in the large. Where are the hours or days of joy that we want or need?

Well, first, human moods are always changing. I think rare is the time someone experiences joy near constantly, except for some transcendent experiences. But, still, there are times we need an extended period of being mostly-happy – and I’m sure a lot of us would like something like that right now.

I think the important thing is to string moments of joy together.

We an go looking for the Big Happy, the Giant Bliss and maybe we can’t have that. Or we shouldn’t. Or, as I will address later, that’s not a solid thing.

Instead, I’m finding as I age that happiness is when we can string together small moments together. An hour with a book, an evening with a friend, a thirty minute run in a video game. If we can’t have the Big Happy, we can have many small happies – manageable moments of fun and joy.

First, this is practical. In our busy days and trying times, we might not be able to get a week off or a free day. We can work in fun when possible.

Secondly, this makes fun resilient. When we can have many joyful moments, the loss of one or the other may not trouble us as much – we change a schedule or power through a challenge. When we have fun moments strung along our lives like beads in a necklace, we can overcome one missing bead.

In fact, I’d say that the small moments are the way we build a Big Happy. As we can find joy in small moments, they come together in larger ones. Perhaps that’s the best kind of fun – pieces adding up to a whole.

Third and finally, I find that these little moments of joy and fun make life more manageable. It’s one thing to look forward to an ill-defined week long vacation. To know you’re going to have a chocolate bar or play a game makes fun solid, manageable, and real. Tie enough of those moments together and you have something larger.

We can stack fun and joy together to build something bigger. It may be easier.

And these days, maybe the best thing we can do.

Steven Savage

Social Ruggedization

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

You didn’t see any blog posts from me last week as life was busy and disrupted due to the coronavirus. Don’t worry, I’m fine, its just that there were a lot of changes.

I, my girlfriend, and a lot of people we know are working from home, which is a huge schedule change. We’re in a shelter-in-place order here. Then there’s the collapsing economy and so on.

You’ll understand the lack of blog posts and the large amount of junk food consumed.

So now a lot of us find ourselves in a disease crisis, not leaving home, and worrying about the state of the world. We’re all working to stay connected, stick together and make it through. So I wanted to talk about “social ruggedization.”

I’ve heard people use the term “ruggedizing” to refer to dealing with climate change – we need to make our cities and supply chains rugged in the face of disruption. The same goes for our social systems, from our world to our countries to our own social groups.

This crisis has shown the need to build resilient social systems. That’s not just my job, or your job, it’s everyone’s job. So here’s what I’m doing and a few suggestions from what I’ve learned.

Connect Regularly: People need some kind of regular checkin to connect. This could be a regular event like a weekly call. It could be a regular tool people use for communication like Discord. Sync up.

Overcome Space: Right now we’ve got to overcome the space between us, but remember there’s always space between us. It may be the space of a schedule change, or someone is laid up, or simple distance. Be pre-emptively planning to connect with people.

Share Events: There’s doing things together, but you can also share events passively. A lot of my friends and I do viewing parties where we just hang out, watch TV and do our creative projects, and so on. We’ll move those online – and streaming and so on make it easier.

Check In: Reach out to people to see how they’re doing regularly. Right now I post a daily update to some social media and check in with a few people via text messages. It’s a way to let people know you’re OK, hear from them, and encourage them to do the same.

Pool Resources: Start getting ready to share resources now. It could be food, it could be technology, or something. Start getting into the habit of helping each other and covering each other. We need it and have always need it.

Built The Society You Want: Focus on building real connections and social structures you want. Have a vision. Make it work.

Share and Promote Ruggedization: Share and promote making serious, surviving social structures. Share tips like this. Share technology that works. You want a stable society, share what you learned in making your own little stable society.

Meet New People: Go on and meet new people. YOu might make new friends and make new connections. Sure, be selective and have standards, but see who else fits them.

Connect People: In these tough times, I’ve been working to introduce people to each other. This way folks make more social connections and find allies and resources.

I hope you’re doing well in surviving these crazy times. Reach out to me with your thoughts and your ideas – or just reach out.

Steven Savage