Movie Notes: Generation Wealth by Lauren Greenfield

I tried watching the documentary Generation Wealth on Prime because the subject is fascinating. But the filmmaker Lauren Greenfield is so aggressively untalented that the movie is impossible to watch. She skips around like a crazed monkey, constantly getting distracted from the topic of extreme wealth by the desire to discuss her excruciatingly boring life.

“So, extreme wealth, yeah, it’s extreme. And by the way, I went to Harvard. Some very nasty rich people went to Harvard, too. By the way, here’s a picture of the breast milk I pumped for my infant son when I traveled to China. And yes, there’s some extreme wealth in China but here’s my mom talking about my size and weight at birth. Oh, and talking about weight, I also made a movie about eating disorders once. And have I mentioned I went to Harvard? Here’s my ancient student ID. And here’s a totally inane conversation I had with my husband where all he said was, “Umm, what are you talking about?” And here are some of my cute family pictures. Oh, so extreme wealth, right? So extreme. By the way…”

I switched it off because the insane hopping around, coupled with the director’s deeply annoying voice that drips with self-pity and false wisdom, made the film impossible to watch. And then people ask why I think Michael Moore is a genius. He knows how to make documentaries that work. Everybody else I’ve seen recently is a bloody amateur.

Keto

So I’ve been trying keto (on advice of my physician), and it’s not horrible. I thought it would be because I already did low-carb when I was pregnant with Klara. And I really suffered. What I didn’t take into consideration, though, that during pregnancy I had an extremely aggressive form of gestational diabetes, which made me crazy for sweets. And now I don’t have diabetes so I barely notice the absence of carbs.

This goes to show that our brains are less adapted to change than our bodies. The body moved on a long time ago while the brain still lives in the reality of 4 years ago.

The only problem with keto is how expensive it is. Of course, there are people who do it on canned sardines and bacon but that’s masochistic. If you do it right, it’s ruinous because seafood, olives, nuts, good cheese, and good oils are expensive. Carbs are junk so they are extremely cheap.

One thing I really miss is artificial sweetener. Coffee lost all meaning without it.

In any case, the point of the post is how impossible our brains find it to process change.

Psychological Health Challenge, Day 8

Tomorrow we will try something different. Many people will find this irrelevant and even incomprehensible, and that’s ok. But those who do get what I’m talking about will be well-served to try this part of the challenge.

This exercise is for those who keep saving for a special occasion. These are folks who have a special set of bedding, a special pair of underwear, a special cup, a special piece of jewelry, a special notebook, etc, etc that they are saving for a special occasion. . . which never comes. Nothing feels special enough. Or rather, they don’t feel special enough to use this very special thing.

Tomorrow we will try to get over ourselves and use our most special thing that we are saving for the most special time. In my case, it’s a facial mask made out of rose petals. I’ve hoarded it so long I’m afraid it’s going to expire. The most ridiculous part is that I never even paid for the mask. It was a promotional item. So it’s not like it cost me a ton and I can’t get over the price.

Do you have a very special thing you are hoarding? Let’s try to overcome our Syndrome of Life Delayed and finally accept that life is happening right now.

Poke in Illinois

We now have poke bowls in the student cafeteria. Poke bowls! Oh, the sweet (and spicy) wonders of progress!

Of course, they are nothing like poke bowls in Seattle but still quite good.

When I came here in 2009, the food options were burgers and Pizza hut. And now we have a salad bar, sushi, and even shawarma. Shawarma and poke bowls are my favorite non-Soviet foods.

Psychological Health Challenge, Day 7

To conclude the challenge, we will do a water exercise. Depending on what the weather is where you are, take a glass of either cold or warmed up water – whatever feels more appetizing at the moment – and take a sip. Feel the water travel through your body. It’s just you and the water. Let yourself feel it.

It’s another great grounding activity to add to our repertoire. What we’ve done in this challenge is very basic meditation. It won’t repair any serious damage, of course, but it definitely improves the quality of life to make time to look at the sky or take some deep breaths. Many people think that meditation is about staring at the wall in silence for 15 minutes, which sounds excruciating. I have a very restless brain, so this kind of activity feels like punishment.

Psychological Health Challenge, Day 5

On Monday, a new workweek begins, and I’m suggesting we adopt a new routine to start our days. I’ve always wanted to do this but I can’t get myself together enough for it. This time, though, I’m definitely going to make the change.

Monday’s challenge is to start the day with a 5-minute writing exercise. Let’s take 5 minutes out of the morning Facebook or newsfeed scrolling and dedicate them to writing by hand. The goal is to dump all of our mental clutter on a page and not let it rattle around in our heads all day.

This isn’t writing for an audience so it doesn’t have to be pretty. Scrawl down everything you want to get out and leave it behind. If you have no idea what to write, choose from the following suggestions whichever sounds more attractive:

  1. I’m annoyed because
  2. I’m exhausted because
  3. I wonder why
  4. I really wish

Psychological Health Challenge, Day 3

On Saturday we are going to be adding deep breathing exercises to the previous two activities (which we continue to do).

For three minutes twice a day (in the morning and in the evening), we will stand alone outside, look at the sky or trees and breathe in very deeply and slowly.

Try to not think or argue with anybody in your head but simply feel.

At the end of the day, if you realize that you didn’t manage to do the activity, ask yourself why and try to write down your response. Usually, the answers are, “I forgot / I didn’t have time / it felt silly.” Or, self-effacing personality, self-sacrificing personality, and a child of very critical parents. Something little like this can give a lot of insight.

Psychological Health Challenge, Day 2

Activity for tomorrow (it’s not a replacement but an addition to yesterday’s activity)

Any time today when you experience a pleasant sensation, really concentrate on it. Let’s say you are taking your first sip of morning coffee. Really feel it. Savor it. Concentrate on it completely.

That’s it. This is all you’ve got to do.

Of course, it’s a great idea to seek out pleasurable sensations today. Get a really high-quality piece of chocolate. Take a bath. Run your fingers along a piece of fabric you like to touch.

Psychological Health Challenge, Day 1

The challenge is here! This is very exciting!

The challenge will be based on introducing small, very easy to do practices into your daily life. The idea is to turn them into a habit, so each new one should be added to the rest of them.

For the challenge, I recommend doing a Mediterranean diet or some other low-carb, no-processed-foods eating plan. I can quote studies showing the connection between that and mental health, if needed.

Make sure you start every day with making your bed. Really, it’s important.

Day 1 Activity (for 10/17).

Whenever you experience some sort of a sensory sensation, note when it ends. Let’s say you hear an ambulance sound. Take note of when it stops and say “over” to yourself. Or say you touch a cold doorknob. Take note of when the cold sensation subsides and say “over” in your head. Or aloud if you are alone. There’s no need to freak anybody out.

The goal of the exercise is to train the capacity to deal with painful situations. It’s something that people use, for instance, to do unmedicated pain management, both for physical and intense emotional pain. But that’s a skill you need to train. It doesn’t just surface when you need it.

I’ve done unmedicated pain management my whole life. There’s absolutely nothing that works better than the knowledge pain will end.

Welcome to the challenge and remember that the goal is to feel better.