How to Conquer Life's Challenges by Looking Inside Yourself
Concepts like hope, faith, and love have no material reality—save perhaps for neurons firing in the brain—yet they are the cornerstones of human well being.
Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. He has written over 20 books and has edited 13. Though he is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, his most recent releases, Black Prophetic Fire and Radical King, were received with critical acclaim.
CORNEL WEST: And for me anytime I get a chance to reflect on hope it always begins with what the great Antonio Gramsci would call a "critical self-inventory" because hope is in fact the kind of notion you could never really wrap your heart and mind and soul around, you have to give an account for the hope inside of you so it's existential, it's very personal. It may be groundless but it can be soulful, which is to say, "what keeps you going?"
How do you account for the brief trek between mama's womb and tomb? What has gone into the shaping and molding, the situating and locating of yourself and soul in relation to others knowing that the self is always connected, intimately shaped by others. So I begin any talk about hope, let alone justice, with acknowledging that I am who I am because somebody loved me, somebody cared for me.
Why do I begin—this is not a sentimental, this is what I call revolutionary piety. Piety is acknowledging one's indebtedness to the sources of good in one's life. It's trying to account for the forces that have pushed one, the wind at one's back in whatever progress one has made in life. And sometimes the progress is simply negative, not to commit suicide this morning. That's a breakthrough. And how do you do that? By acknowledging the ways in which the indebtedness that you have allow the afterlife of those who came before to be manifest in your life if the best of what they are is enacted and embodied in the best that you're attempting to be.
Now, in the academic context a lot of people call that Emersonian perfectionism, it's a kind of reliance on a self that's forever rescinding. It's always non-conformist. It always cuts against the grain. It's always contrary. It's always acknowledging degrees. It is subverting the worst and preserving the best. Now conservative and preservative are two very different things. I am committed profoundly to tradition, to preserve not to conserve, to preserve the best and it ends up being over, against a status quo. I come from a tradition of peoples, of family who have been hated chronically and systematically for 400 years and yet still taught the world is so much about how to love. I could just turn on John Coltrane's "Love Supreme" right now and sit down. That's it. "A love supreme. A love supreme."
It goes back to the spirituals and the ring shout, it goes back to the blues, it goes back to Robert Johnson, it goes back to Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, it goes back to Charlie Parker. You could feel that tradition through him and we're living in a Trump moment, which is a moment of spiritual black out, which is the relative eclipse of integrity, honesty, decency. Across the board, it's not just him. You don't isolate him. You don't fetishize him as some individual, he represents the worst of the American empire, the worst of American culture, the atavism, the narcissism, the xenophobia, the white male mendacity and mediocrity that has a long history in the country and now the chickens have come home to roost.
What does that mean? It means that when we look at him we also ought to look inside of ourselves and our neighborhoods and our hoods and our communities and our mosques and synagogues and churches and in our civic institutions. There's a long history of white supremacy, long history of the rule of capital over labor, long history of vicious forms of patriarchy and homophobia at work in the history, he doesn't just fall from the sky. Now why is that important? Well, it's because indeed if you're going to count for the hope inside of you then you have to acknowledge that you've been on intimate terms with catastrophe. That's echoes of Sophocles and Antigone. All the forces, social, psychic, cosmic are against you.
No serious talk about hope unless it’s tied to integrity. Why? Because the virtues themselves in and of themselves are too narrow. Courage is never enough because Nazi soldiers can be courageous and still be thugs and gangsters. You need spiritual and moral dimension to your courage. The old school Romans called it fortitude, a fusion of courage and magnanimity, the fusion of courage and greatness of character. Spiritual fortitude tied to revolutionary piety to be what? In John Coltrane's language a real force for good. So what are we talking about? We're not talking about a discourse of hope, we're talking about being a hope. Hope becomes more like a verb. Action. Like the conclusion of a practical Aristotelian syllogism, which is an action and not a proposition. Which is a live life, a mode of being in the world.
Thriving in life requires fortitude. It's a strength that Professor Cornel West refers to as spiritual fortitude. What gives us power in life, he says, is not anything in the world, but our own internal resources. Concepts like hope, faith, and love have no material reality—save perhaps for neurons firing in the brain—yet they are the cornerstones of human well being. Introspection will deliver you infinitely more hope than an archeological expedition. Although to be sure, navel gazing alone won't get you through life. Discovering "groundless but soulful" resources on the inside is a first step toward acting them out. Being hope, being faith, and being love are what living is really all about, says West. This video is part of a collaborative series with the Hope & Optimism initiative, which has supported interdisciplinary academic research into under-explored aspects of hope and optimism. Discover more at hopeoptimism.com.
These thought leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs are propelling the kind of future we want to be a part of.
- The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
- The women on this list are founders of companies dedicated to teaching girls to code, innovators in the fields of AI, VR, and machine learning, leading tech writers and podcasters, and CEOs of companies like YouTube and Project Include.
- This list is by no means all-encompassing. There are many more influential women in tech that you should seek out and follow.
The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthood and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life.
- This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- There are several ways you can attempt to stay active and socially connected while battling depression, according to experts.
The study suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rated of depression later on in life.
Credit: asiandelight/Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/msu-tsn093020.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2020 Michigan State University study</a> examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life. The results of this study suggested teens who have a larger number of friends in adolescent years may be less likely to suffer from depression later in life. These findings were especially prominent in women.</p><p>This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. This data asks students to select up to 5 male and 5 female friends and indicate how often they felt depressive symptoms. </p><p>MSU Sociology Assistant Professor Molly Copeland and lead author Christina Kamis (Sociology doctoral candidate at Duke University) published the study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in September. </p><p><strong>Female teenagers may struggle more with depression during their teen years but show fewer depressive symptoms later in life.</strong> </p><p>For female adolescents, popularity can lead to increased depression during their teen years. However, this ultimately may lead to lasting benefits of fewer depressive symptoms later in life. "Adolescence (is) a sensitive period of early life when structural facets of social relationships can have lasting mental health consequences," Copeland wrote, adding that "compared to boys, girls face additional risks from how others view their social position in adolescence."</p><p>Throughout this study, men showed no association between popularity and depressive symptoms, however, they did show benefits from naming more friends. As for why this is, Copeland has a theory: perhaps the expectations on young girls (compared to young boys) as well as the roles that lead to popularity can create a kind of stress and strain felt more prominently by girls than boys. </p><p>While this does create more difficult teen years for young girls, the stress and strain may lead to giving these girls a psychological skillset that benefits them later in life, allowing them to deal with stressful situations more easily.</p><p>The study also suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rates of depression later on in life. </p><p><strong>Results from both men and women followed a U-shaped trajectory of depressive symptoms.</strong></p><p>The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s. This was particularly more noticeable in women, who showed a steeper decline in symptoms between the ages of 18-26, followed by a more rapid increase in symptoms in their early 30s. </p>
How to stay social while battling depression<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ1MjA3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDMyNDY1N30.e1ULIJ5QYXh4H1SGUPUTJqYBCnX2XWp6InjPRr-2Bdw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C22%2C0%2C22&height=700" id="832fd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b360bb24fb8d6025680bfffb52fd5982" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="depression support group illustration" />
Attending support groups, planning activities with family or even just a weekly phone call to a friend can help alleviate depression.
Credit: Mascha Tace/Shutterstock<p>Although maintaining relationships can help you cope, it can also be one of the most difficult things to do when you're experiencing depression.</p><p>As Dr. Jennifer L. Payne (an assistant professor/co-director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore) <a href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/staying-socially-active-with-depression/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tells Everyday Health</a>: "One of the common symptoms of depression is social isolation." </p><p>Payne goes on to explain that you can "soak up some energy" by simply being around other people, moving around, and staying active.</p><p><strong>Creating a daily schedule and planning activities ensures action. </strong></p><p>While it may be easy to turn down last-minute plans, it's more difficult to cancel plans you've already committed to with friends and family. While it's important not to overwhelm yourself with a packed schedule, creating a minimal daily schedule that involves seeing friends and family or doing activities that you've previously enjoyed can ensure you stay active and often makes you feel more accomplished at the end of each day. </p><p><strong>Support groups and social networking with people who understand. </strong></p><p>While depression can very easily make you feel isolated and alone, surrounding yourself with others who may be struggling with depression as well can help in multiple ways. You will have peer support from people who relate to how you're feeling plus the added benefit of being around people, which can raise your spirits. </p><p><strong>Keeping a journal (and setting goals) can help you feel accomplished. </strong></p><p>Keep a thought journal and detail certain daily or weekly goals (such as a plan to call a friend on Monday or to visit your local coffee shop for a change of scenery on Thursday). These small, achievable goals not only get you out of the house and/or interacting with others, but they also provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction once they are complete. </p><p><strong>Random acts of kindness, such as volunteering, will make you feel good. </strong></p><p><a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/kindness-benefits-james-doty?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1596517476" target="_self">Being kind is good for your health</a> in many different ways. Doing something nice for others can boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Similar to exercise, kindness, and altruism can also release endorphins, creating a <a href="https://www.quietrev.com/6-science-backed-ways-being-kind-is-good-for-your-health/#:~:text=Kindness%20releases%20feel%2Dgood%20hormones&text=Doing%20nice%20things%20for%20others,as%20a%20%E2%80%9Chelper's%20high.%E2%80%9D" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">temporary sense of euphoria</a> that can help combat depressive symptoms. </p>
Researchers have just discovered the remains of a hybrid human.
90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.
Physicists create quantum entanglement, making two distant objects behave as one.