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August 6, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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Lose Yo Shit

Staying calm by freaking the fuck out

 

 

‘He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man’ ~ Samuel Johnson

So one day Bulldog gets dumped, at work, over the phone. He cries in the bathroom and his coworker Frasier, who’s a psychiatrist, consoles: ‘You know, often through pain we can achieve emotional growth,’ and so on until Bulldog interrupts. ‘Doc, doc, you’re hurting my head… can’t you stop being a shrink and just be, like, a guy?’ and then Frasier says, ‘A guy?’ and then scratches his head and flails:

Screw her! You don’t need her, she’s trash, you’re better off without her!… She’s a bitch, all she did was save you the trouble of having to dump her… she was nothing, she was less than nothing!

Et cetera, and Bulldog goes back to work with a big smile on his face.

It begs the question, why should Bulldog agonise over transcending his limited perspective while people pay big money to see Michael McIntyre bitch for minutes about the nuisance of sharing his segment of a revolving door, worship Patsy Stone, and Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David build whole careers out of splitting hairs and whining and it’s practically compulsory viewing? Clearly we are missing something. In fact maybe the whole ’90s positive psychology thing was just a big sham to give those guys a monopoly on the huge market for schadenfreude we could all be capitalising on.

Good people, bitterness and malice get us nowhere, please, it’s true. It’s just that perhaps while you’re going through the mental acrobatics of distancing yourself from a situation you’re intimately tangled with in order to be the mature person you invented and aspire to be and constantly feel inadequate in comparison to, you are depriving your confidante of a good opportunity to laugh at your suffering. And sometimes when you are counting to ten and thinking what would the Buddha do, it’s just a waste of good material when you could stop at three and ask What Would Basil Fawlty Do?

Let me qualify this with some bangin’ 1950s psychiatry from Viktor Frankl:

our current mental hygiene philosophy stresses the idea that people ought to be happy, that unhappiness is a symptom of maladjustment. Such a value system may be responsible for the fact that the burden of unavoidable unhappiness is increased by unhappiness about being unhappy.

Touche. Furthermore, when a patient,

fights the ideas which haunt him… he increases their power to disturb him, since pressure precipitates counter pressure… as soon as the patient stops fighting his obsessions and instead tries to ridicule them by dealing with them in an ironical way… the vicious circle is cut, the symptom diminishes and finally atrophies.

So pretty much, next time you’re cooking together with your flatmate and he’s chopping the potatoes all freaking wrong, don’t say, “Oh I see, you have a different technique, well it looks okay but would you mind awfully blah blah,” just think Gollum and exclaim, ‘What’s it doing? Stupid, fat Hobbit! It ruins it!’ and banish him from the kitchen. Exaggerate your petty grievances until they shrink in comparison to the scale of your performance! Why should David Mitchell have all the fun?! ▲

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