Penn Wealth Publishing

2016.02.21 Journal of Wealth & Success Vol 4 Issue 2

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6 wealth & success volume 4 issue 2 February 21, 2016 wealth & success Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved. investment intelligence command & control Science of the Mind Fighting Despair We may feel all alone when we battle despair, but this epic struggle is at the very core of our existence Of the 24 different states of mind as outlined in Psychologist Robert Plutchik's famous Wheel of Emotions (which we have slightly modified), per- haps the most sinister three lie in the region between remorse and dejection. It is within this barren waste- land that self-doubt, gloom, and depression rule. When we find ourselves wandering through this arid and desolate place, we feel all alone; critical thought and rational actions elude us. We may be surrounded by others, but we see them as somehow successful, while we remain alone in our misery. Despair is the deepest of these emotional states, but sadness and melancholy are simply less severe members of the family. In fact, for most people in a state of despair (absent a jarring catalyst), their journey began with feelings of melancholy or sadness which they were unable (or unwilling) to quickly shake off. It is critical to understand these different states and where you are, men- tally, on the emotional wheel at any given time. This recognition gives structure to the condition, thus empowering us to move in a proactive way out of one state and into another. An old and storied history. In the days of Hippocrates (460 BC - 371 BC), considered to be the "Father of Western Medicine," mel- ancholia (literally "black bile") was one of the four temperaments, or humours—diseases or ailments caused by an imbalance within the body. Hippocrates described the specific physical and mental conditions of melancholia: fears and despondencies which linger around seem- ingly without end. If a patient could not be cured of this disease, demonic possession was assumed to be the root cause. In the Middle Ages, volumes of work were ded- icated to the study of melancholy—an immense sadness, despair, and suffering occupying the human mind. In 1621, an extended treatment for the disease was given by Robert Burton in The Anatomy of Melancholy.... Treatment included divine music and dance which was moving enough to drive the devil away. Despair truly is an ancient and chronic disease. It has been wired into our physiology throughout human history, but has it always been as prevalent as it is at this point in history? The answer is, quite certainly, no. So, if our physiology hasn't changed over the millen- nium, what did change? Answer this question and the origin of a cure begins to manifest. Man was built to be a hunter-gatherer, by intelligent design. To eat and, thus, survive, there was a constant physical struggle to find food. This consumed nearly every waking moment of the day, with little time remaining to ruminate about one's condition. For 90% of mankind's existence, this has been the natural order. In the so-called modern world, however, this model has been turned on its head. Our physiology is still overwhelmingly the same, but our actions (or lack thereof ) have changed dramatically. Today, we have the "luxury" of ruminating almost constantly, if we so desire. Most of us remain con- stantly busy throughout the day, but the physi- cal activities have been replaced by more sed- entary ones. Our minds now have the freedom to wander from thought to thought, typically in an uncontrolled manner, with external stimuli at the control panel. When something happens that makes us brood or become angry, our brain immediately begins call- ing up similar events or situations from our past, and the ugly cycle begins (see Don't Dwell in Dark Places, Vol. 1 Issue 3). We weren't placed here to be vic- tims, so let's discuss how to use the weapons we have at our disposal to fight this "demonic" condition. Despair, by Edvard Munch, 1894. Stories of despair and "melancho- lia" go back to ancient times.

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