De-Stress Your Life Through Stress Using the Nathan Rabin Method!
This will surprise none of you, but I am something of a worrier. Actually, that’s something of an understatement. Over the course of my life I have been regularly found myself paralyzed with anxiety, almost unable to move or act because I was so overcome with fear and trepidation.
When I first started making decent money at The A.V. Club, for example, I unwisely shucked the wise dictates of conventional wisdom and decided to invest all of my money in the stock market. I was convinced that I was poor because I thought like a poor person and was afraid like a poor person. I labored under the extremely costly and crazy-making delusion that if only took control over my finances, I’d invest my way to wealth and financial security.
During that awful time, at any given point a huge part of my mental energy was devoted to obsessing endlessly about how my stocks were doing at any given time and how they would do in the future. It was exactly like a gambling addiction, and like a gambling addiction, it simplified my life in a horrible way by making me obsess about one thing in a deeply unhealthy and pathological way. Investments weren't one part of my life: when I was deeply invested, in every conceivable way, they were my whole life and everything else came second.
I am obsessive by nature. During the first week of 7 Days in Ohio’s release, I continually obsessed about the book’s Amazon sales. Facebook friends cautioned not to check out my Amazon ranking every day. Hell, I had a hard time not checking my Amazon rating literally ten times an hour. It didn’t really matter, of course. The book did what it did, and pimping it relentlessly and checking its popularity compulsively did nothing to change that.
Over the decades, however, I have found a way to keep myself from obsessing unhealthily, destructively and counter-productively on any given stressor, and it’s a little on the counter-intuitive side. I have discovered that the best way to reduce your stress level is to fill your life with so many stressors that you can’t possibly focus on one individual thing.
Not too long ago I sent a PDF of Kanye & Trump, the novella I’d written about the historic meeting of the title figures, out to everyone who pledged to my Patreon page at a five dollar or more level. I have not received any feedback, positive or negative, from readers, and the old me, who obsessed unhealthily on things he could not control to the detriment of things he could, would have freaked the fuck out about that. He would have been convinced that that meant that nobody read or liked Kanye & Trump, and that if my biggest fans haven’t read it, then no one else will and it will be a minor source of shame and humiliation rather than the fun little sleeper that I’d like it to be.
Thankfully, I have so many other things to be filled with stress and fear and anxiety about that I cannot really muster any spare mental energy to freak the fuck out about the possibility that Kanye & Trump might bomb, or might be ignored, or might be recognized only for the sake of derision. I’m perpetually concerned with the analytics on this site. I could pretend that I’m not, but that’s a goddamn lie and one of the core tenets of this site is that I’m going to be as honest as humanly possible. I’m also thinking about the Postal book I’m co-writing with Brock Wilbur and my need to finish, about the twenty to twenty five columns I’m writing for this site (and counting) and the five I’m writing outside of it, and paying off my credit card debts and my son’s education and insurance and my dad’s unhappiness with the nursing home where he lives and a whole bunch of stuff I’m forgetting. You know, all the bullshit that comes with being 41 and all the bullshit that comes with working in an impossible field like pop culture media.
And, of course, I am acutely concerned with my Patreon page, but I’m pleased to say that over the course of three months I’ve managed my anxiety and obsession well enough that if go a day or twogoes by without a pledge, or the pledges seem to have leveled off, my brain does not respond by instantly assuming that the site is a failure, and that nobody likes it anymore, and that it’s doomed to failure.
I have so many stressors in my life that they begin to cancel each other out. They’re so overwhelming that they somehow become manageable. I figure that since I can’t obsess about everything the way my fevered, malfunctioning brain would like to, then I might as well not obsess unhealthily about anything.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t obsess unhealthily about Kanye & Trump’s Amazon ranking when it comes out on August 6th. Of course I will. I'm only human, and a Jewish writer. I most assuredly obsess, but thanks to the patented Nathan Rabin Method of De-Stressing Through Stress, I’m not going to obsess about it as intensely, or for as long, as I would if it were the only stressor in my life, and not one of thirty or forty things that individually would drive me nuts, but that together result in a weird sort of Zen calm. Oh sure, it’s a very nervous, very Jewish form of Zen calm that, full disclosure, isn’t all that Zen, nor is it all that calm, but I will take it over soul-consuming anxiety any day of the week.
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