Guest Post: Don't Worry; Be Resilient

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith via Peak Prosperity,

At some point, absorbing more information about the unsustainability of modern society yields diminishing returns. It becomes emotionally draining and thus counterproductive.

Part of this exhaustion results from recognizing our powerlessness within the Status Quo, where independent thinking and structural innovation are intentionally winnowed out as threats to existing institutions and industries.

Another part arises from the burden of knowing that the supposedly permanent Status Quo is far more vulnerable than generally believed. I have described the psychology of knowing what lies ahead in The Burden of Knowing.

A related factor that is never publicly discussed is the negative impact on our mental health of all the propaganda that we are force-fed by the Mainstream Media (MSM).  When truth is incrementally undermined by massaged data and behind-the-façade manipulation, we lose faith in key State and media institutions and suffer from a propaganda-induced disconnect between what we see and what is reported as fact. 

These 'burdens of knowing' can diminish the small but real joys of the present: work we like, a home-cooked meal, and time spent with our friends and family. As a result, many smart, well-informed people consciously refuse to dwell on our systemic problems because doing so “is a downer.” These folks hold the perspective that anxiety about the future should not get in the way of the simple pleasures of living.

This attitude can be described as “don’t worry; be happy.” And it certainly makes sense when life is still comfortable and enjoyable.

But the philosophy of “thinking about the future is a downer, so I live in the present” ultimately rests on a false confidence that the future will take care of itself, regardless of what happens to the large-scale systems of State, finance, and resources.

It overlooks the reality that not all responses to instability or devolution are equally successful. Those who are totally dependent on the Central State and speculation-based markets will have a much more difficult time maintaining their "happy” view if the systems they depend on erode or fail.

Perhaps the wiser response is “don’t worry; be resilient.”  The resilient household can be happy not only in the present surplus of energy, entitlements, goods, and services, but can also thrive in a future where the current surplus of cash, credit, and speculative gains has dried up.

What is Resilience?

What is resilience?  A dictionary definition is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” In other words, it is on the other end of the response spectrum from fragility, brittleness, and vulnerability.

In terms of individual psychology, resilience can be characterized as being able to roll with the punches, maintaining a positive attitude through difficult times, and focusing on developing successful responses to misfortunes and challenges.

American culture extols individual resilience, and we are taught to think that the individual can overcome anything and everything with the right attitude. But if the Status Quo is vulnerable to disruption on a systemic level, then it is prudent to think of resilience in a systemic way as well.

One way to describe the difference between systemic vulnerability and resilience is to conduct a thought experiment:

What if it didn’t matter to you and your household if the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was 14,000 or 4,000? Or if gasoline cost $3.50 or $7.50 per gallon?

What if it didn’t matter to you and your household if Central State entitlements were slashed by half, or vanished altogether?

What if it didn’t matter to you and your household if your land and house were worth $1 million or $100,000?

In other words, what if the machinations of Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, the Central State and, indeed, all of Central Planning’s promises and speculation-boosting had little effect on your life or well-being? Would this make your household more resilient or more vulnerable?

Clearly, the less we are dependent on systemically brittle Central Planning systems, the fewer adjustments we will have to make should these large-scale systems devolve or fail.

The important point being made here about resilience is that it does not require a sacrifice of present happiness. Nor does it profit from the devolution or failure of Central Planning. The resilient household is perfectly able to enjoy the present surplus of energy, credit, State entitlements, and consumerist abundance, but it doesn’t rely on it.

If the Status Quo is indeed as permanent as it is presented, the resilient household has the same measure of happiness as the household that is totally dependent on Central Planning promises and boundless credit. The difference between fragility and resilience is how much security and happiness will be available to the two households should the Status Quo credit-based consumption and speculative wealth turn out to be decidedly impermanent.

Debt, Fragility and Vulnerability

The easiest way to increase resilience is to reduce fragility and vulnerability.

We can understand the dynamics of what we might call anti-resilience—debt, fragility, and vulnerability—with another thought experiment:  

Household A’s gross income is $5,000 a month and their net income (less Federal, state and local payroll and income taxes) is $4,200 a month.  The mortgage is $2,000 per month, both wage earners have substantial monthly payments on student loans, and the household also has an auto loan. The household’s healthcare insurance is partly paid by payroll deductions, and the household remains responsible for a percentage of any major medical costs.  Basic living expenses eat up the rest of the net income; the household saves nothing and has minimal savings.

Household A hopes housing valuations keep rising, as they plan to borrow money off this resurgent home equity to fund a vacation, something they haven’t had for four years.

This household’s financial situation is precarious because its expenses equal its income, and most of these expenses are debt-related and cannot be trimmed. This greatly increases their fragility to financial misfortune; any reduction in take-home pay or any increase in expenses will push this household into default.  To increase consumption, they plan to borrow more money once their only collateral—their home equity—increases enough to support more debt.

Household A has a high and inflexible cost-basis. Any significant reduction in income cannot be offset with equivalent cuts in spending.

Household B owns their land and home free and clear; the only housing-related payments are property taxes and property insurance.  (Recall that 30% of all homes are owned free and clear in the U.S., so this is not as unusual as you might imagine.)

One wage-earner paid off her modest student loans within a few years; the other never took on student loans in the first place. They own two older vehicles free and clear. They are debt-free. Their gross income is $4,000 and their net income is $3,200. Since they have no mortgage interest deduction, their income taxes are higher as a percentage of income than Household A. Their living expenses total $1,500 per month, so they save 50% of their net income.  If one of the wage earners loses their job, the household can maintain its current budget without sacrifice. Their substantial savings protect them from unforeseen medical expenses not covered by healthcare insurance, and they can pay for vacations with cash, not credit.

Let’s say that one wage earner in each household loses their job and must take a job that pays 20% less. Household A cannot cover its expenses and must default on one of their debts. Household B’s monthly savings decline, but they are still saving a substantial portion of their income.

Which household is vulnerable to even modest financial misfortune?  Clearly Household A. Will a positive attitude be enough to save the family from insolvency?  It will help it transition into and hopefully through bankruptcy, but a positive attitude alone is no substitute for financial resilience.

Though Keynesian economists argue that nations are not like households, in truth debt/financial fragility is scale-invariant, meaning that rising debt, a high cost basis, and zero savings/investment lead to fragility in households, enterprises, communities, and nations alike.


The United States of America shares a lot in common with Household A: It has a high and inflexible cost-basis, and it is dependent on borrowing to fund future consumption and on speculation to create collateral. It is also tied into spending a significant share of its income-servicing debt. History offers few examples of major nations that prospered by borrowing vast sums for consumption.

In Part II: How to Increase Your Financial Resilience, we examine the key strategies for increasing your financial resilience, whether you are an individual, a family or a business. We explore the 5 Rules for Financial Resilience, as well as strategies for the critical goals of lowering your cost basis and creating value that others will pay for.

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hedgeless_horseman's picture



Mrs. Horseman pulled some carrots and turnips out of the garden this week.  She is pretty resilient.

Manipuflation's picture

Awesome, but it begs the question as to what you are planning to do with the turnips?

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Mashed the turnips with cream and sauted the greens.  Served with Carbonnade de boeuf à la bière du Nord.

ebworthen's picture

Your meals look like the pictures on Jesse's Cafe Americain - Gourmet (o.k., I'm officially jealous).

Hulk's picture

I'm officially hungry. Damn that looks good !!!

DaveyJones's picture

and just think very few oilmen, monsanto execs and central bankers to get that from your backdoor to your plate. And very very little nutrition lost

there's a reason resilient rhymes with brilliant

Apostate2's picture

Those look like neeps not turnips. Good choice. Great with lamb, rosemary and so on. In my wee home that plate would feed two.

Now that is resilence.

IcantstopthinkingaboutNINJAs's picture

+1 for the carmelized onions, works like magic on the cheapest cuts of meat or chicken.

ebworthen's picture

There's resilience for ya', growing your own food!

BTW - that carrot on the right looks like a "Rabbit".

p.s. - Turnips are good with a Chuck roast as long as you have enough carrot, potato, and onion to balance it out.

Albertarocks's picture

That carrot probably looks like a rabbit because Mrs. Horseman's packet of carrot seeds might have accidentally contained one of those genetically modified seeds that Monsanto produces.  You know... the ones where they crossed rabbit genes with some of the genetics from a carrot to see if they could produce a rabbit that could eat carrots and then shit them out as... well as more carrots.  And then they could just eat them again.  You know Monsanto... always greedy for a better way to make more profits at the risk of f'king with nature and at the expense of all the rest of us.  But alas... clearly it just ended up being yet another experiment that produced nothing but another mutated distortion... a carrot that ended up looking like a rabbit.  What clear thinking rabbit is going to eat that one?


Don't laugh.  The world of genetic modification is absolutely insane.  Here are 12 examples of what's going on in that madhouse:

ebworthen's picture

No doubt.

The one that really creeps me out is the Atlantic salmon with genes spliced in from a Chinook salmon and a control gene from an eel that doubles the growth rate. we want to be feeding people salmon with control genes from eel that double cellular growth?

Cancer anyone?

Let's say the new genetically modified salmon gets a virus that incorporates the growth control gene into itself.

If we haven't figured out exactly what causes cancer or how to stop the common cold and influenza virus, why are we dicking around with stuff like this?

Not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

goldfish1's picture

FDA closer to approving biotech salmon, critics furious

There were also concerns the FDA would not require the genetically modified salmon to be labeled as such, and some critics said they may file a lawsuit to prevent what they fear could be the imminent approval of the engineered fish.

msmith9962's picture

I've been learning a lot from this permaculture web site.

I've been tinkering with the rocket mass heater in the back yard, want to put one in the basement.

Albertarocks's picture

Thanks a million for that link.  I never would have heard of this type of heater without it.  Obviously it could be a big hit where I live.  And just for the heck of it, I'll try to return the favor with a couple of links to something darned near as cool.  Using water to pump water. 

This is an older video and this dude's pump works great in spite of the fact that it leaks more water than it delivers.  If he'd just tighten up those joints he'd have more water than he knows what to do with.  But it's good enough to show you the concept:

This one is amazing.  It can pump water 80 feet uphill with no maintenance... ever:

And finally, the "Rife Ram" pump that can work for 50 years with no maintenance and no power required.

tip e. canoe's picture

thanks for the rife ram link.   was actually trying to remember what that was called today as i may have a need for one this spring.   gotta love synchronicity.

have fun on the permies's a gold mine of practical knowledge.

Albertarocks's picture

You're welcome.  Glad you found it helpful.  For sure, I am definitely going to have fun on the permies forum.  I'd never heard of it before tonight but I love that kind of stuff.  I'm very practical myself and have an engineering background and construction site experience.  IOW, I can build stuff.  So that site is going to be a ton of fun for me.  Another thing I've personally worked with and have found to be stunningly successful is "raised bed" gardening.  The production per square foot out of a garden like that must be at least trippple what we can get out of a simple 20 x 20 foot plot of garden.  Not to mention it's more tidy, easy to maintain, better drainage, soil gets warmer, a piece of cake to control weeds... there are just so many advantages.

DaveyJones's picture

I knew about the rocket mass heater but not the rife ram pump. Thanks.

LosOsos's picture

Dude thanks so much for this. I hadn't heard of permaculture before and I've been looking for something like it to direct my studies towards.

booboo's picture

Two Amish women were digging potato's out of the ground and Sarah say's to Martha, "oooh, these look like Abrahams" as she holds up a couple extra large bakers. Martha blushed and said" oh my, they are that large"?" Sarah say's No!, they are that dirty"

Albertarocks's picture

There was a convention of many hundreds of people who were believers in ghosts and the paranormal. The host and speaker said "Ok, by a show of hands, how many of you actually believe in ghosts?". Every hand in the room flew into the air. The host then said, "OK folks, please leave your hands in the air. Anybody here who believes in ghosts but who has never actually seen any form of mysterious happening that might have been caused by a ghost, please lower your hands". Many hands fell.

Looking at the dozens of hands that still remained in the air, the host then said "If you've ever actually seen a ghost, please leave your hands in the air. The rest of you may lower your hands". There were still at least a dozen hands in the air at which time the host said "if any of you have actually had a conversation with a ghost, please leave your hand in the air." All hands but three fell. "Wonderful, have any of you three people by chance ever had an intimate relationship with ghosts? I mean, have any of you actually ever made love with ghosts?". Two hands fell, leaving a solitary middle eastern fellow in the middle of the room with his raised arm waving frantically and proudly. "Amazing!", said the host. "Please, come up to the microphone and share your story with us".

The man happily sauntered up to the stage at which point the host said "Please, share with us what it's like to make love with ghosts!". In a thick middle eastern accent the man replied "Ghosts? I thought you said goats!"

Taint Boil's picture



Uummmm, that carrot on the right doesn’t look like the genetically modified perfectly symmetrical with a touch of added color that I am use to getting at the super mega chain I shop at – are you sure its ok to eat …. I mean it has dirt on it and stuff.

TNTARG's picture

It seems a radioactive carrot.

Hongcha's picture

This is what .gov wants to take away from us.  They want a string from the water to their finger; from the food to another finger, from the Internet, from your bank account ... self-reliant people are able to throw them off, while drones must get in line at the food source ... line up at the cheesewagon.

Why is .gov anti-organic, anti-cash, anti-weapons?  .gov does not want a citizenry that can take care of themselves, cuz then they won't need .gov.  This is a hard lesson for Americans.

The Heart's picture

"Mrs. Horseman pulled some carrots and turnips out of the garden this week."

Holy smokes Mr Horseman, are these from this year, or from the last held over? And if they are this years crop, what part of the region has been warm enough to plant these?

Imagine if every family in America that just bought guns and ammo planted a Victory Garden too.

Thanks for the inspiration!

RockyRacoon's picture

Good looking veggies!  I see the missus takes off the jewelry while gardening.  Good practice!

I love turnips processed just like a potato, mashed with real cream and butter.  And the greens done Southern style with a bit o' bacon fat or jowl.  Pan of crispy corn bread, slab of Vidalia onion, sliced tomatoes....   Some of my faves.

ebworthen's picture

Well done, thank you.

Resilience is a good word to use here; kind of like "content".

I'd much rather be content than happy.

Resilient contentment after acceptance that the world is full of chaos we have no control over.

Looking forward to the next installment.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Learn how to make good hooch, there is always a spot in any community for you when the shtf (except for dry ones).

Downtoolong's picture

Now you're talkin. I thought it was interesting how booze sales boomed more than bread sales as the most recent winter storms approached the northeast.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Even marauders will leave you alone, since you can trade it or buy them off. It works better than bullets. Liquour is like gold, guns and ammo all wrapped into one when the shtf. If you can make your hooch over 90 proof then it can double as fuel and accelerant for moltov cocktails.

Decolat's picture

But now your IP address has been compromised with the revenooers. First and second rules of moonshining...

Just make sure your still(s) can be quickly torn down into the common kitchen utensils and buckets you built it from, at a moments notice. A big still that's obviously a still is incredibly risky. However, I wish you luck man. I see moonshine's many uses as well.

H E D G E H O G's picture

This world is akin to the old tale of The Grasshopper and the Ant. The problem is, I don't have enough ammo for all the grasshoppers when they come knocking.

boeing747's picture

No doubt "Dorner was took out by Drone".

Coming law will  bans private citizen builds own drone.

H E D G E H O G's picture

The New and State of the Art 0U812 DORNER DRONE

ebworthen's picture

Anyone else notice the complete lack of stories about Dorner and his demise today?

falak pema's picture

he shot one police and wounded another before they torched him; I guess they are not proud of the result and want to make sure it is he. 

Overkill has a high price.

lakecity55's picture

Oh, and they just happened to find his CA DL; just like they happened to find Mohammed Atta's passport......

uh huh.

monad's picture

You do know they found his wallet on the sidewalk by SD airport last week? It had his id in it.

magpie's picture

It was a bad end for Dorner (if it really was him) and the worst possible end for the Feds.

Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

No one wanted that guy talking about all the dirt in the LAPD. Dead men tell no tales....

magpie's picture

There, you have it. Waco Lite and a coverup running splitscreen to the SOTU.

CPL's picture

There was more coverage in every language but English.  French coverage is the best, they actually tell the story because they are French and the French love gossip.  Especially "Black Rambo'.  That's what the media in France is calling him btw.

  • Select anyone of dozens of translator in your addons (unless you are using IE, lol...losers)
  • Turn on Private Incognito Mode.
  • Go to
  • Select french (because your browser install is English..assuming it is)
  • Let the translator do it's thing or look for Actualities.

Keep in mind that french news ranges from Apeshit insane right wing views that would make Ayn Rand tell them to tone it down ...all the way over to the Fruitbat Section of the left wing spectrum that believe rainbows can be bottled and the world is nothing but their's alone to consume in a collective of parasites.  So keep that in mind, French news doesn't skip on background so if you haven't read the full story, please do.

localsavage's picture

This sounds like a conversation that I have with my Dad every now and then when he is freaking out.

sgorem's picture

Don't want to be nosey but, maybe your Dad needs to up his Xanax with that six pack of Schlitz he downs everyday(couldn't hurt). ps., Is he a survivor of the much maligned 60's generation?

kito's picture

im resilient, i worked really hard at getting my credit score back to the highest level possible. and then i applied for a bunch of new credit cards, a new car lease, home equity line of back baby!!!!! livin large...........................

fonzannoon's picture

Congrats Kito, I am guessing you have the same serial junker that I have recently attained.

kito's picture

either that or they are taking my words at face do you get that red pill antidote fonz?????