What books should someone going through a quarter-life crisis read? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
I can't nail down the exact date, but around the age of 18 or 19 I started to cry myself to sleep.
Around this time I stared to experience this odd feeling.
It is still hard for me to explain exactly what this feeling felt like, but it made me feel anxious, depressed, guilty, alone and dead all at the same time.
It was/is an awful feeling.
It is a feeling that made me wish I was dead, but I couldn't figure out what was causing it or what I could do it make it disappear.
It took me 10 years to finally get rid of this feeling and for me to truly understand what was causing it.
There were a few key books that I read that helped me rid myself of this feeling. Here they are:
1. Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft
Why would I be recommending a logic textbook?
Because learning logic will result in an increase in self esteem, and self esteem will be the first step in surviving your quarter-life crisis.
Wait...why does learning logic lead to more self esteem?
First, let's get a working definition of self esteem:
"Self-esteem is having confidence in our ability to think, and confidence in our ability to cope with basic challenges of life." -Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D
Unfortunately, unless you were lucky enough to receive a true classical liberal education, you have not been taught how to think.
Don't feel bad. Most of the country (if you live in America) has never even heard of a classical liberal education.
So this isn't just a logic textbook; it is literally a manual on how to use your brain.
"This book will show you the basic forms (structures) and the basic law (rules) of thought, just as a course in physics or chemistry shows you the basic forms and laws of matter."
So one of the reasons for your quarter-life crisis is that you lack the confidence to think effectively, which directly results in low self esteem. And self esteem is a fundamental human need.
2. The Loss of Sadness: How psychiatry transformed normal sorrow into depressive disorder by Allan V. Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakefield
The second reason why you are having a quarter-life crisis is because you use the Internet.
"Exposure to the mass media allows status comparisons not just within well-defined local groups but also with innumerable others, many of who will always seem to be of higher status than oneself. This exposure also can motivate the pursuit of goals that are unreachable because few people have the means to achieve the ideals of beauty, wealth, fame and success that are promoted to much of the public on a daily basis."
Basically, the Internet has allowed humans for the first time ever to constantly compare ourselves to other people who are not in their immediate circle of friends.
While maybe you think to yourself that it doesn't bother you that Justin Bieber has 100 million dollars, or that some other young twenty year old drives a Ferrari, your brain sees it differently.
The more you compare yourself to people who have more things than you, the more your brain automatically responds with frustration and sadness. If you do this 20-30 times a day on Facebook, Instagram, and anywhere else on the web, it will ingrain in you that you are not successful.
After you have developed the ability to think, do yourself a favor and stop exposing yourself to celebrities, the rich, or even your friends who post every second of their life on Facebook.
3. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine
The third reason why you are having a quarter-life crisis is because you are not practicing negative visualization.
If you walk into a Catholic church and ask the priest for guidance, he will tell you to go home and say ten Hail Marys. You will say the ten Hail Marys, feel better for a minute, and then go back to feeling like crap.
If you walk to your closest Stoic place of worship and ask the stoic sage for guidance, he will tell you to go home and think of 10 ways your life could be worse.
This is called negative visualization, and if you only take one thing away from this post, then this is what it should be.
Why does negative visualization work?
Well, our stupid brains play this trick on us called Hedonic adaptation, which makes it very easy for us to become increasingly less happy with what we have.
That new car you bought last year isn't making your heart race like it used to. That big-screen TV you just had to have is now nothing more than a place for you to point your face for a couple of hours each night.
I promise you, the more you practice negative visualization, the happier you will be.
Like I said, I know exactly how you feel, and it took me about 10 years to figure out how to feel normal (if that exists) again.
Please heed my advice. It saved my life.
You can follow Vincent Buscemi on Facebook.
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