Author Archive: Erich Vieth
Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.
The happily ever after trope goes something like this: Love, marriage, children, happiness. However, that is not what the statistics show. “Parents often become more distant and businesslike with each other as they attend to the details of parenting.” The source of this sad passage is “Decades of Studies Show What Happens to Marriages After Having Kids,” in Fortune Magazine. The statistics show that having children drives a married couple apart more than it brings them more closely together:
The irony is that even as the marital satisfaction of new parents declines, the likelihood of them divorcing also declines. So, having children may make you miserable, but you’ll be miserable together.
Worse still, this decrease in marital satisfaction likely leads to a change in general happiness, because the biggest predictor of overall life satisfaction is one’s satisfaction with their spouse.
Mark Johnson (of “Metaphors we live By,” written with George Lakoff) gave this excellent talk destroying the notion that meaning is something ethereal and disembodied. Instead, the body is the yardstick for meaning. This talk turns much of traditional epistemology upside down.
Johnson opens the talk with a Billy Collins talk titled “Purity.”
People who are poor get ripped off in many ways that people with money would never tolerate. That is the point of this article at Alternate, 8 Ways Being Poor is Wildly Expensive in America. The sharply higher costs of having a place to live, food to eat and a means of getting around are merely the first 3 of the 8.
I offer these quotes as a hypocrite who strives to live less in the world of things. I found many of these on a site called Tentmaker.
It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly. –Thoreau
Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. –Mark Twain
An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit. –Pliny the Younger
Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.— Thoreau
Possessions are usually diminished by possession. –Nietzsche
The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury. –Charlie Chaplin
Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. –Thoreau
The man who pets a lion may tame it, but the man who coddles the body makes it ravenous.– John Climacus
The most terrible thing about materialism, even more terrible than its proneness to violence, is its boredom, from which sex, alcohol, drugs, all devices for putting out the accusing light of reason and suppressing the unrealizable aspirations of love, offer a prospect of deliverance. –Malcolm Muggeridge
All earthly joy begins pleasantly, but at the end it gnaws and kills. –Thomas a’Kempis
You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. –Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.–Mahatma Gandhi
Thousands upon thousands are yearly brought into a state of real poverty by their great anxiety not to be thought of as poor.—Robert Mallett
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. –Jim Elliot
The be-all and end-all of life should not be to get rich, but to enrich the world. — B. C. Forbes
A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.–D. Elton Trueblood
Learn to live a life of honest poverty, if you must, and turn to more important matters than transporting gold to your grave. – Credenda
That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. — Thoreau
Eric Barker has summarized research on many self-improvement topics, and peppered his summaries with links to the actual research. I’ve taken much of his work to heart and felt like I have become a better person because of it.
His latest post is on self-esteem/confidence, an counter-intuitive topic. In the following excerpt, he points out the danger of artificially boosting self-esteem:
But you’ve read plenty of stuff on these here interwebz about raising self-esteem, right? And that must work. And that must be good. Right? Wrong.
California set up a task force and gave it $250,000 a year to raise children’s self-esteem. They expected this to boost grades and reduce bullying, crime, teen pregnancy and drug abuse. Guess what?
It was a total failure in almost every category.
Reports on the efficacy of California’s self-esteem initiative, for instance, suggest that it was a total failure. Hardly any of the program’s hoped-for outcomes were achieved. Research shows self-esteem doesn’t cause all those good things. It’s just a side effect of success. So artificially boosting it doesn’t work.
In one influential review of the self-esteem literature, it was concluded that high self-esteem actually did not improve academic achievement or job performance or leadership skills or prevent children from smoking, drinking, taking drugs, and engaging in early sex. If anything, high self-esteem appears to be the consequence rather than the cause of healthy behaviors.
Actually, let me amend that. It is good at raising something: narcissism. So trying to increase self-esteem doesn’t help people succeed but it can turn them into jerks.
Barker also offers suggestions of what we need instead of artificially boosted self-esteem:
Instead, focus on forgiving yourself when you’re not. [cites to the work of Kristin Neff is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin]:
Self-compassion is not about a judgment or evaluation of self-worth; it’s not about deciding whether or not we’re a good or bad person; it’s just about treating oneself kindly. Treating oneself like one would treat a good friend, with warmth and care and understanding. When self-esteem deserts us, which is when we fail and we make a mistake, self-compassion steps in. Self-compassion recognizes that it’s natural and normal to fail and to make mistakes, and that we’re worthy of kindness even though we’ve done something we regret or didn’t perform as well as we wanted to.