You don’t suffer from anxiety and depression, your friends and families do

Here’s core emotion that so many of us are afraid to express.

Resentment at other people’s inability to take care of themselves.

Because often times, we become the casualty of their suffering as well. The collateral damage is just waiting to happen. Everything will seem to be going fine in our lives, but then out of the blue, somebody else’s whole world goes to shit, and we have to deal with the fallout.

As my therapist friend likes to say, you don’t suffer from anxiety and depression, your friends and families do.

And understandably, it’s not our job to rescue and change and control people. In fact, nothing about other people is our responsibility.

Deep down, though, sometimes you just want to shake them upside down by the ankles and yell, dude, if you could just stop being so difficult, my life would be better.

Does that make us selfish? Crappy friends? Uncompassionate people?

Not necessarily. Those may be selfish feelings that don’t empathize with the fact that life is hard and everybody struggles. But we’re not bad people for thinking that. It’s just frustrating sometimes, and we have every right to feel this way.

But liberty flows both ways. Inasmuch as we have the right to be annoyed, others have the right to behave in ways that annoy us.

Hobbes once philosophized about something called negative liberty. He said:

The free man is he that in those things which by his strength and will he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do.

In short, if people are only free to make good choices, they’re not really free. It’s a fascinating moral and ethical issue that’s way above my head.

But it doesn’t change the fact that sometimes, I selfishly wish everybody else would get their shit together. It would make my life so much easier.

Maybe instead of complaining, what we really need is to get more inventive with the way we motivate people to take charge of their lives.

For example, treating obesity is both a clinical challenge and a public health priority. But only through loss aversion and regret can we find a solution, so here’s my idea.

Let’s open a franchise of fitness clubs that are completely free, but will charge members money every time you fail to show up. Our trainers will set simple and personalized goals for members, based on number of days per month, minutes per visit and calories burned. This financial penalty will guarantee that people will come back, stay healthy, improve their lives and stop annoying the people who share it with them.

Lose weight, or you lose money. Period.

Tell me that wouldn’t send a giant healthy ripple through the fabric of our nation.

You’re welcome. 

Whose suffering causes the most collateral damage for you?


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