What Are You Mad About?

Of all the things in your life, or in the news, what makes you the most angry? What are you mad about?

Emotions are complicated. It might be difficult to separate feelings of, say, sadness from feelings of anger. Sorting through those issues might make you evaluate what, exactly, anger is.

We seem to have an excess of anger these days. People are mad about nearly everything, as politicians and media outlets use anger as a tool to manipulate voters or viewers. If you can convince someone to be angry, you might be able to convince them to vote the way you want, or to stick around through a commercial break.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘How much of our thoughts are our own?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How much is enough?’


Not all anger, however, is manufactured or unjustified. In some cases, people are right to be outraged over some injustice or bad behavior on the part of someone else.

How can you tell the difference? Is the difference between legitimate and manufactured anger emotional, logical, or is there any difference at all? By examining where your anger comes from, and who stands to benefit from your being angry, can you protect against being manipulated by someone else?

What makes you mad? What does your anger make you do? How can you tell what  you actually should be mad about, as opposed to what other people want?

Related questions: Angry or afraid? What is the right amount of emotion? How does media manipulate you?

How Do You Stand Up To A Bully?

Whether it is on a playground, in a board room, or in international politics, you are likely to find yourself, at some point, faced with a bully. How should you handle it?

There is one school of thought that the only language a bully understands is violence. The best way to deal with one on the schoolyard, as this theory goes, is to bloody their nose.

Of course, this is not universally applicable. If you punch a bullying co-worker in the nose, you are likely to be fired.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘Where does authority come from?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What does your favorite music say about you?’


Another possible way of dealing with a bully is to ignore them. Don’t let them goad you into an action you may regret. However, if an aggressive action goes unanswered, it might embolden more abusive behavior.

So what is the best way to handle this situation? How should you stand up to a bully?

Related questions: Why do we put up with unhappiness? How can we build confidence? Hold firm or compromise? How much power does an individual have?

 

Should We Pay Attention To The News?

Sometimes it seems that trust with our journalistic enterprises is at an al-time low. Should we even pay attention to the news?

One problem with the way we consume our news is that it is becoming ever more partisan. Whatever your political beliefs may be, there is a cable channel, website, or newspaper that will reinforce that view. Other sources are, of course, “fake news” and must be lying.

In addition, the way the news is currently being reported is hyper-sensationalized. If it bleeds, it leads, as the saying goes. Whatever gets ratings or clicks is what tends to drive news cycles these days.

So that seems like a problem with how the news is presented, not with the news itself. If we could simply supply some journalistic standards, maybe we could fix the current problem of divisive, misleading  coverage that oftentimes spills over into overt propaganda.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘How much of our thoughts are our own?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How much is enough?’


But even politically neutral, factual reporting creates a problem: a distorted view of reality. Negative stories tend to be more noteworthy than positive ones. A child being abused is news, but 10,000 children not being being abused isn’t.

If you hear a constant drumbeat of negative news stories, your natural inclination is to think the world is worse than it actually is. To illustrate, violence has been falling in the U.S. for decades now, and yet many Americans think crime is worse than it has ever been.

And yet, in order to have a functioning democracy, you need to have a well-informed electorate. How can we, as a society, be well-informed without reporters reporting on that society?

Is there a way to tune out the news and yet stay informed? Is there a way to fix the current broken system to make it work better for us? Should we pay attention to the news, or ignore it for our own well-being?

Related questions: What news from the last year made you optimistic? How can we encourage debate? How do you know who to trust? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?

 

 

What Motivates You?

To help you make the most of your life, it is helpful to know several things about yourself. One of the most important is: What motivates you?

Understanding your motivations can help you become more clear and directed when it comes to acting on what is important to you. It can also help you avoid efforts by others to manipulate you into taking action when you otherwise wouldn’t.

For example, let’s think about click-bait. As you surf the web, you may see an ad for something that tries to appeal to your motivation. “Learn this one trick to lose weight” could be a sample advertisement, that targets two different motivations: curiosity (what is the one trick?) and fear (I’m too fat).

There are many different types of motivations possible. In the example above, we saw curiosity and fear, which are prime motivators for many people.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How much of our thoughts are our own?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How much is enough?’


We are a naturally curious species, which for the most part has allowed us to ascend, for better or worse, to the place we now inhabit in the ecosystem. Being curious about how the world works has spurred a remarkable series of advances in science and technology.

But fear is also motivates us. We are often afraid of what we don’t know, plus we can fear rejection from society. There are many organizations that rely on these fears to manipulate and control you.

On opposite ends of the motivation spectrum, we are also motivated by anger or by love. What other motivations can you think of?

Related questions: What is important? What deserves your attention? How much of our thoughts are our own? How does media manipulate you? What five ideals are most important to you? How can we turn ideas into actions?