Polite strangers often tell soothing lies about our physical appearance that prevent many of us from facing, discussing and solving our real problems.
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All mental hygiene is based on the core practice of doing nothing. Most of us are good at wasting time, staring at the wall while telling ourselves we should be working. We call this doing nothing, but our brains are furiously active. We think constantly, and our thinking is often rife with distress.
All religious leaders and spiritual teachers emphasize finding a place within us that is true. People who obsessively follow these leaders instead of their own purpose attach to the spiritual leader and become fanatical and controlling. That's why Jesus tried to tell his followers not to get attached to outward form.
As I obsess about my ancient problems, I feel more like I'm sinking in quicksand than lighting a torch. I'm creating neither heat nor light, just the icky, perversely pleasurable squish of self-pity between my toes. My only defense is that I'm not the only one down here in the muck - our whole culture is doting on tales of personal tragedy.