Make Your Own Bubble in 10 Easy Steps
By Bryan Caplan
Someone on Twitter asked for advice on how to create a Beautiful Bubble. Perhaps he was teasing me, but it’s a good question. Here’s my 10 Step Program:
1. Amicably divorce your society. Don’t get angry at the strangers who surround you, just accept the fact that you’re not right for each other.
2. Stop paying attention to things that aggravate you unless (a) they concretely affect your life AND (b) you can realistically do something about them. Start by ceasing to follow national and world news.
3. Pay less frequent attention to things that aggravate you even if they do concretely affect your life and you can realistically do something about them. For example, if you check your email twenty times a day and find the experience frustrating, try cutting back to two or three times a day. If you need to know about world politics, read history books, not newspaper articles.
4. Emotionally distance yourself from people you personally know who aggravate you. Don’t purge anyone – that causes more trouble than it saves. Just accept the fact that you aren’t going to change them.
5. Abandon your First World Problems mentality. Consciously compare your income to Haitian poverty, your health status to Locked-In Syndrome, your sorrow to that of parent who has lost a child. As Tsunami Bomb tells us, “Be grateful that you have a brain for thinking/
And legs to take you places.” For guidance, repeatedly read Epicurus’ Letter to Menoeceus and Julian Simon’s Good Mood.
6. Now that you have emptied your life of frustration, you are ready to fill it with joy. Start doing things that make you happy even – nay, especially – if most people in your ex-society disrespect them. Spend $1 a day to filter out annoying advertising and intrusion.
7. Actively try to make more friends with people who share your likes. In the Internet age, this is shockingly easy. Don’t try to make more friends who share your dislikes. You should build friendship on common passions, not joint contempt.
8. Find a career you really enjoy. Ask yourself, “Will I take daily pride in this work?” and “Are the kind of people I want to befriend statistically over-represented in this line of work?” If you have to signal for years to get this job, sigh, signal, and see Step 5.
9. If you’re single, stop dating outside of your sub-sub-culture. Happy relationships are based on shared values and mutual admiration so intense that outsiders laugh. Let them laugh.
10. Now that your own life is in order, you are emotionally ready to quixotically visit your ex-society. Maybe you want to publicly argue for open borders, abolition of the minimum wage, or pacifism. Go for it. Bend over backwards to be friendly. Take pride in your quixotic quest. Then go home to your Beautiful Bubble and relax.
Coda: Many perpetually aggravated people tell me they “just can’t” adopt my advice. Perhaps they’re right to think that they can’t follow my advice 100%. But so what? Anyone can adopt my advice at the margin. Why not spend one extra hour a day in your Bubble and see what happens?