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Welcome to another Mindf*ck Monday, the only weekly newsletter that will always listen to your complaining, even though it doesn’t care. Each week, I send you three potentially life-changing ideas to help you be a slightly less awful human being. This week, we’re talking about: 1) harm inflation and why words matter, 2) how unhappiness is a mistake, and 3) who you are.
Let’s get into it.
1. Harm inflation and why words matter - One of my research obsessions the past couple years is something psychologists have begun to call “harm inflation.” The idea is simple. Over the past hundred years or so, our understanding of harm — trauma, pain, suffering, etc. — has expanded to include milder and milder experiences that cause discomfort.
Basic example: a hundred years ago, the definition of “trauma” was pretty much limited to soldiers who came back from trench warfare. All day, every day, for years they were shot at 24/7 and watched their buddies get blown up by shells. They lived among rats and lice and drank their own urine to survive. They survived but they came home and were known as “shell shocked” — they were often mentally and emotionally empty. That …
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