A Coffee Cup of Knowledge …… Anxiety, Hope and Humor

During the course of my reading, I come across ideas and thoughts on a wide range of topics that may occasionally be of interest to others.  In passing some of these along, perhaps one or two will make a contribution to your thought process.   –  Bill Dinnebeil

Quick Hits:

    • “There is no right way to do the wrong thing.”  A constant reminder in a world of “justifying to fit.”  Seen on a church sign over 20 years ago on north University Blvd.
    • “If you are going to say something, make sure it is an improvement on silence.”  Don’t remember where I got this  but it has always stuck with me as a reminder of all the overwrought dialog that makes no contribution: pettiness, gossip, meanness, careless timing, and negativity among a few.
    • “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”  Ralf Waldo Emerson

Though a little late to the party in light of the prominent historical figure that he was,  I recently finished my first book on Lincoln, “Team of Rivals:  The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.”  Among the many salient features of his person and presidency was his ability to constructively function within the environment of oppressive and unrelenting pressure to preserve the Union, abolish slavery, manage a highly diverse, combative cabinet and most of all fight a civil war in which his decisions were committing to death thousands of soldiers. 

These are some of the tools he used to maintain a sense of balance and optimism under such trying circumstances.

Topic:  Dispelling Anxiety

LINCOLN’S ABILITY TO RETAIN his emotional balance in such difficult situations was rooted in an acute self-awareness and an enormous capacity to dispel anxiety in constructive ways. In the most difficult moments of his presidency, nothing provided Lincoln greater respite and renewal than to immerse himself in a play at either Grover’s or Ford’s.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2006-12-08). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (p. 609). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Topic: Hope

“Having hope,” writes Daniel Goleman in his study of emotional intelligence, “means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks.” Hope is “more than the sunny view that everything will turn out all right”; it is “believing you have the will and the way to accomplish your goals.” More clearly than his colleagues, Lincoln understood that numerous setbacks were inevitable before the war could be brought to a close. 

Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2006-12-08). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (p. 631). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Topic:  Humor

Modern psychiatry regards humor as probably the most mature and healthy means of adapting to melancholy. “Humor, like hope, permits one to focus upon and to bear what is too terrible to be borne,” writes George Valliant. “Humor can be marvelously therapeutic,” adds another observer. “It can deflate without destroying; it can instruct while it entertains; it saves us from our pretensions; and it provides an outlet for feeling that expressed another way would be corrosive.” 

Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2006-12-08). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (p. 103). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

 

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