Something I have been thinking about a bit is how easy it is to always be thinking about the what if. In today’s world that can lead you down a pretty dark path.
Like anything that you make part of your life, if you take it too far it can start to affect other areas of your life and your overall health and well being.
I know this because my job outside of our farm and vineyard is to think about disasters and preparedness all the time. For me, this comes a bit naturally because I grew up that way thanks to my father and his time in the Vietnam War. His father was a man of the Great Depression who’s family has never completely recovered from the losses of the Civil War.
I also come from a background where people had to hide out a lot. Fear of abuse by authorities was a way of life for some and their spouses who technically were breaking the law by marrying them.
Then there is the secretiveness that comes from people making moonshine to make ends meet.
Most of the natives in this area went down the Trail of Tears but those that didn’t had to hide out and get by the best they could. Some ran off into the mountains of Kentucky where white sympathizers and other native people helped hide them and of course they intermarried.
The attitude of being secretive and suspicious is behavior and survival traits that were passed down through the generations. People in my family just now started talking a little bit about our roots.
Then there are those that look at the family history book and the countless hours of research that a relative put into and they never mention it again, just shake their head because it rips away the veil of secrecy that they were raised under.
Something I am not that great at doing is thinking about things that are not dark or troublesome.
To write the things I do I have to read a lot and think a lot about solutions, various life scenarios of people I have never met, and imagine the results of actions. To do a good job I talk to people that have been through hell and back and I hear about what their kids have gone through too. This all takes a lot of time and energy.
A few months back I saw a comment thread on Facebook where someone was upset about prepping sites and groups all being repetitive. They said they were just going to stop taking part in forums, groups, or reading some sites due to this. I don’t respond to a lot of random threads on prepper group pages on Facebook but did to this one.
I explained that a lot of people that are writing for prepping sites are doing it as a part-time job. Writing things that go beyond the normal topics takes a lot of time that they don’t have between work, family, school, etc.
Also, another factor comes into play and that is the fact that writing the really harsh, brutal, and different articles is draining. Your mind goes to dark places that you got to crawl out of. This affects you. After writing a few of these I have to step back sometimes and just do something else and try not to think about those things. That type of effect on your mental health is not easy on the people around you at all.
I can’t blame people for choosing not to write about some of these things especially if they have not researched them or had some type of personal experience and may not get that much in return for dwelling on the dark side of humanity and nature.
That being said, let’s talk about some ways to not be like I am a lot of the time, dwelling on the doom. Some of these methods I use myself and some I need to do a lot more of.
Talk about something else with your spouse or partner besides prepping.
Matt has to put up with me talking about all kinds of dark things. He actually helps me out a lot by offering his input or telling me something that would make a good topic. Sometimes though it is good to talk about history, literature, video games, our sheep, dogs, etc.
If you find that you are talking about doom or disaster all the time or your spouse tells you that you are or seems to change the subject a lot, maybe that is a sign that you need to make an effort to talk about something else. If you don’t you may find yourself in a situation where they and your kids come to hate prepping in general or that they don’t want to do some things with you.
Do some things that get labeled as prepping, but are not just doom and gloom. Instead of fantasizing about an EMP, plan out your garden for the coming season or something like that.
Let’s face it there are some disasters and things to prep for that people get really excited about. I am talking about the big ones’s folks! Nuclear war, EMPs, asteroids, martial law, etc.
There are so many other aspects of prepping that are not dark and worthy of the doom song. Here are some ideas
- Backyard Chickens
- Solar Power
- Building a small structure or planning out your future cabin
- Bushcraft skills
- Getting outside and practicing skills with your kids or grandkids
- Building a good reference library
There are so many more that I could list but you get the point. I am going to spend more time on bushcraft and a dugout shelter later on. I got started but other projects took my time.
Find time for a hobby or passion that you do because you like it and not just because you feel you have to in order to be prepared.
Your hobby or passion could be very useful in a long emergency but it is fine if it really isn’t the most useful thing either.
I have always been a book lover. Off and on over the years, I have had times when I didn’t read that much but here lately I have spent less time online and a lot more time reading books. I have been out of school a while but I never want to feel like I have stopped learning a lot. As I told Matt, I have got to educate myself.
I read several books a week in the colder months. It is cheap to buy used books online and when done I can pass them on to a friend or if I have a newer book, I often donate to the library so others can read current books without waiting so long.
While I do read a lot of serious non-fiction, I try to balance it out with some fiction thrown in here and there.
The bonus is that by reading a lot it helps me be a much better writer. If I had not read a lot as a kid, I would never have wanted to write.
Of course, I also have my Babydoll sheep herd to grow into a small part of our at home business. They are a joy to raise and while they are very beneficial in a prepper way, I would raise them anyway because we need grazers to keep our property maintained. Meat on the table is another benefit.
So think about what you really like to do or something that you would like to start doing. I want to get a mountain bike since we have so many neat trails and roads on our property now.
Oh, and I want to write some fiction sometime. Geez, I need to get started on that.
How about you? What hobbies and activities do you think would be a positive thing in your life? Maybe something is already part of your life but you haven’t dedicated as much time to it as you would like? What can you do to change that?
Consider the good news, not what you are constantly bombarded with in the media.
People sometimes say that good news doesn’t sell papers or various versions of that saying. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth to that. While it is really easy to look at any major news source or even a lot of alternative media and think that everything is awful, this is actually pretty far from the truth if you look at things on a larger scale.
This hit home to me when I was touring a historical exhibit and looked at the cabins people lived in a few generations ago here. What my family lived in after the Civil War was pretty depressing. We forget our history and this is encouraged a lot today. Being poor in the USA is nowhere near what being poor was 100 years ago. Living conditions have improved a lot. Sure if SHTF happens we may not have modern medicine and antibiotics but at the moment less people than ever before are in a situation where a minor illness or infection is a death sentence.
As a woman, I think we are doing a lot better than we use to as well.
What rights don’t I have as a woman? I was raised by my father and my uncle and I never felt like men held me back. Sure there are jerks out there that are rude but that didn’t stop me from going to college, getting a job, etc. I actually write and work in areas that are mostly men and they have been incredibly supportive and respectful.
We are allowed to vote, drive, work, have families on our own if we want, own property, have a business, dress the way we want, choose who we have relations with, etc. We are not totally shunned from society for not being married or having kids out of wedlock.
There are still plenty of places around the world where anyone of the things I mentioned would cause you trouble or even get you killed.
Yes, people will judge you for doing some of these things in the USA but who cares? There is always going to be someone out there that doesn’t like you or agree with you. Part of what makes the USA the USA is that you have rights and there are at least laws in place now that help prevent some discrimination.
I am not saying we don’t have a long way to go in terms of making life better, but it is worth acknowledging how far we have come.
Watch less regular television
Ok, there are some funny shows out there but have you noticed that there are fewer of them? A lot of the people I talk to are rewatching old sitcoms because of this. There are also a lot of shows that seem to have an agenda too. I think that a lot of shows are afraid to make any jokes or attempt at humor because they are afraid of offending someone. Sadly there is truth to this. It has got to the point where anything funny is taking a huge career risk.
My Dad watches a lot of Youtube documentaries and real-life stuff. There are a lot of people that are creating good shows that you can learn from. I watched a travel documentary on Lake Baikal last night. It was really interesting and there was no political agenda.
Watch some television that doesn’t just regurgitate what is in the news. Take a break from dystopian and post-apocalyptic storylines too. There is a reason why I have never watched a single episode of “The Walking Dead”. I have to think about gloom enough already.
Get outside more.
I spend more time than I should just bumming around on my comp even when I am not working. That being said I get outside a lot more than the average person but not as much as I should. Even just sitting outside in a chair and reading or listening to music is better than keeping yourself cooped up. Exercise also helps out a lot when it comes to your mood and overall wellbeing.
Remember that a big part of survival is mindset. You can have skills but if your mind is not working right or you are distracted and more stressed than you should be, it can affect your judgment, immune system, and more.
Taking care of yourself on all levels and not just constantly working and stressing about major things is going to make a difference. Even those that are in incredibly dark situations do a lot better if they have something to take their mind off of things. My Dad went through hell in Vietnam but he still has a few stories that are funny and we laugh about now. This is something a lot of people have a hard time understanding.
Indeed, it is hard to wrap your head around how people that have been through hell in one way or another can lead even halfway normal lives or find joy in anything at all but they do. I talk to people that have been through things that a lot of readers will hopefully never experience and it always amazes me how resilient the human mind can be.
Conclusion: It is impossible for me to not think about some doom and gloom topics on a daily basis, but I bet if I try I can do a little better. Some of us just can’t shake off the what-if thinking and mindset for very long. There are things that can happen to a person that just makes them that way so you just have to do the best you can and take it day by day.