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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Shell Game's picture

There's a medicated shampoo for that.


edit:  which I'll now be using....

Irelevant's picture

Growing your own food is a fucking illusion and so is our resilience! Community is what will save us or doom us, its that simple.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



I am all for community.  However, last night's fucking illusion sure tasted better than the pink-slime and flash-frozen reality we could have purchased at the store or restaurant.

Irelevant's picture

Did you use electricity? Fertilizer? Plastics? Gas for the car? Petrol? Water? If yes, than your home grown food is an illussion. Community is what has humans enduring for ages. You will not able to do everything, not even 50% of what you need. That goes for the folks that stock guns, if you dont have amstrong community you will be overrun. Very simple, 100% guaranteed.

Mr. Magniloquent's picture

Your message is understood, but you must recognize that a strong community consists of capable individuals. Relatively more self-sufficent individuals will have greater resources to pool. Try not to be too cynical. This very article is about taking your victories where possible. Mr. Horseman's victory is in his reduced dependance of food supply chains.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Did you use electricity?  Yes, the vacuum pump for the milker and the refrigerator, both of which are a real convenience, but certainly not necesary.

Fertilizer?  Horse manure.

Plastics?  Yes, the solar charger for the hot wire on the deer fence has plastic, but is so much more aesthetically pleasing than chain link, etc.

Gas for the car?  No.

Petrol?  Is that like diesel? No.

Water?  Yes, rain and well water.  Plants need water to grow; Brawndo too moarish electrolytes.

If yes, than your home grown food is an illussion.  No.  Our home grown food is not an illusion, it is real...real taste, real nutrition, real cheap, real reward. 

Community is what has humans enduring for ages. You will not able to do everything, not even 50% of what you need. That goes for the folks that stock guns, if you dont have amstrong community you will be overrun. Very simple, 100% guaranteed.  With your 100% crystal ball you must be worth a fortune.  Where can I find a list of your past predictions that have come true?


Now my turn to ask a few more questions relevant to your current reality, not some illusory future... 

What did you eat last night? 

What are you eating tonight? 

What will you eat tomorrow night?


Irelevant's picture

Its not a prediction, its statistics. That pump you use, did you manufacture it? Did you manufacture the fence? The PVs? Are they made in the PRC? I can see the pretty picture of your home grown food, that does not change the fact that is dependent of a lot ot things you can't control, and, to that respect as an illussion, not per se, as you look to believe. We live in a complex society and so do you, that is why you are presenting us with your home grown food. I guess we wouldt be chating if that were "home grown food". If you want to get back to basics I can recommend you visit a village, called Viscri, in Brasov county, Romania, to see what 100% home grown food means, in the true sens, to see what it means for a community not to be dependent upon others. That would however depress you, as we would not be presented pictures of your "home grown food" and asked with sarcasm what we ate last night. Last night I ate extras big ass fries, with bronto, as it has electrolites!
Im not saying what you are doing is wrong. Good for you. That looks tasty, however, that does not change anything in the big picture. We need community, we need local sustaining communities, and local communities able to sustain large population centers, that is the challenge. See the big picture.

Shell Game's picture

Are you being obtuse on purpose?  WTF comes first, a resilient individual or a resilient community?  Want a Dancing with the Stars, Cheesy-Puff T.V. addict in your community, or a Horseman type?  Get with the program Wilbur, before you get voted out of your community for being such a fucking downer..

Irelevant's picture

Good question, I think you cant have the individual without the community. Ofcourse Horseman would be a great member to any communiy, but that does not chang anything. The main post is stupid, to be resilient means to stand out and get killed. To have a resilient community is another thing all together.
And this changes nothing, as we live in a complex society, we really do not know what would happen in case of a collapse, we would probably be astounded at how stupid and short sighted we are were the collapse to happen tomorrow. There are so many variables that we trully dont know what will work and what will not.
Best fallback scenario I think is community, Mr. Hedgles Horseman makes the vegies, some one else owns the slaughterhouse, another member takes care of the guns. In history, except for mitic figures and legends there were no single resilient people to survive in collapse. There were however communities.

Shell Game's picture

Actually, it was a rhetorical question.  The cheesy puff won't make it in community, he will freak out and turn you in or murder you for not sharing more of your private property with him.  By definition a resilient communty is an intentional community.  It is made of up a group of resilient individuals who understand how to make the synergy of community actually come to fruitiion. 

new game's picture

all pipe dreams because people suck and are lazy by nature.

Minimalizm; less work for da man, and more time to garden, relax, smoke a spirt and watch you idiots go off to work because you owe da mon.

u drive a suv and tow snowmobiles or other heavy shit, are stressed out getting gas and all dat shit to go have fun burning more gas.

luv it cause u pay for me as i am a minimalist; own one car(corolla), bike, garden pay very little taxes work 20 hours and come to this site in my free time laugh at you.

ha fucking ha.

and i do this for me and only me - fuck collectivism and your fucked too many people zones

won't see me at city hall hob nobing with you losers cause i'm tending da homestead, grilling, relaxing and best of all plotting more ways to live with less and have more time for me.

less is more and more is time i have that you spend carrying more than your share of the system so i get a pass go and get on with life for a lot less.

if i haven't pissed you off you might start by dumping that stupid phone wasting your time and money doing needless shit.

good luck to that idea cause you gotta have it, no peer preasure here with my candy bar phone. 40/month to buy some seeds and plant food for me, and mrs help and it is all cool here on happy acres-enter at your own risk-gun zone and shooting allowed and encouraged...

CH1's picture

I think you cant have the individual without the community.

Wow, we don't normally see that kind of abject collectivism here at ZH.

Good neighbors rock - the 'community' can go fuck itself.

DaveyJones's picture

beat me to it. I have ten neighbors now home gardening and avoiding GMOs. It has to start somewhere. Tyler's blog was small once

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Community is nothing more than a grouping of individuals. An individual can exist without a community a community can't exist without individuals. This isn't one of those chicken or the egg first type of things.

kito's picture

holy crap, Irelevant is a collectivist prepper!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IcantstopthinkingaboutNINJAs's picture

Community serves only one purpose, defense from other communities, to cross train skills so that no one person is the only expert at any one skill and to hedge against disaster with mutually agreed support.

tarsubil's picture

I think you have a serious problem. The ability for you to be independent as you are is dependent on things not falling apart. Yes, you do it yourself for many things that others do not but you are still dependent on the system and other people. Denying this and not acknowledging let alone accepting this is going to hurt you real bad if things ever hit the fan. Resilience is being open minded and flexible and you seem to be neither. The dependent person who knows he is dependent is intune with reality and better off than the person who works real hard into fooling himself he is independent when he is not. Good luck though.

spinone's picture

Don't worry pal, it will be more of a long term crumble than a sudden crash

Teamtc321's picture

Irelevant you are missing some of the point's that could be possible. I'm not arguing so don't take my comment as such fyi. But, let me share a real world example with you I just went through. In one of my smaller pasture's where I winter cattle and horses. I just recently needed to drag the area's where I spot feed coastal bermuda hay, I spot feed the hay so it knocks the seed from the hay to reduce seed cost or elimates new seeding cost. Feeding this way also get's plenty of horse shit all over the pasture. This method also does not tear up the ground for the horses are always moving around, not just eating in one spot fucking up the grass. 

Now to one of your point's, "Did you use petro?" Take this for example, about a week ago, we had a mega rain storm coming, I needed or wanted to drag the horse shit to knock it down, I could have used a 4 wheeler with a small tire drag, tractor with the big tire drag but I didn't. I saddled up a good roping horse, then put a lead on another with a saddle, tied the small drag off to the lead horse I needed to knock some winter rust off the horse, meaning give him a work out. Then walked the mfer's around knocking down horse shit. They love the attention, I burnt no fuel, got the shit drug in before the rain.

Point is, resilitent people will use what they have or method's we/they are good at. I raise colt's I buy because I like it, I could also give a shit if we have a crash, I will ride one of my buddies if needed. I raise cattle, hay, green houses, have monster ponds, I'm a oil feld completion engineer by trade, I buy and sell crude oil, jet fuel, D-2. I'm a very experienced equipment operator from my younger days, I have stock piles of fencing materials, I know most of my neighbors, we borrow, barter, help each other all the time. I buy my "petrol" at the little country store from a old mfer we all like, buy our Pepsi's there, he sits in the rocker all day.

People will do what they need to do, have the skill's to do, learn what they need to do, we don't need any central planner's to tell us what the fuck to do.

I commend folks sharing pictures of food they have grown, thank you, real world shit that more people should atleast learn to do. I grew up in the mountains in the pacific northwest, hunting, fishing, etc. I am pretty sure I won't starve but that is why we all have some things locally to sustain ourselves if needed. It's like stacking silver, it just makes us feel better and also makes sense imo.

Sure, there is going to be people in our communities who do not know shit, but they will learn or can learn. Might take a EBT card slamming shut but some people are or can be Resilient.

Again, not being confrontational. Thanks for reading my unspell checked rant. 

tip e. canoe's picture

makes perfect sense to have the horses help spread their own shit.

imagine if humans would figure that one out?

viahj's picture

ignore him, he's irelevant and most certainly will be when it collapses, i mean how are you going to hold a community together without feeding them?

Oldwood's picture

Community is what will eat us....unless of course you have a gun! Admittedly to hold off the whole community I will likely need more than ten rounds. Carrots and turnips until then!

TNTARG's picture

My man, stop and think. "Guns". Under your hypotesis, let's say everybody fights against the others. Then the fucking élite is gonna sit and watch you killing yourselves, clean the shit up for them, the ugly shit they've created for us to eat. So when most of you are properly buried, they'll come to form a "coalition" to "save the country" and run the House again.

What helped us, back in 2001, was the community. Teachers kept teaching childrens at school and feeding and holding them while everything was falling apart. People sharing food. Roofs. Little markets giving products to the people, farmers sharing milk and meat, SMEs waiting for the payments, local and regional banks refinancing loans (public regional banks, pal)... And yes, yes: Alternative currencies. That kept us going. It is the truth. I saved my business because they waited and refinanced. My relatives in Europe are loosing theirs because banks are taking it all. They were the "rich relatives", owners of companies, beautiful properties... Today they can't pay for the heating. There aren't loans. Nobody is buying houses. Banks don't wait. A nightmare.

Alternative currencies are being used in many countries. Such as in Spain:

I'm courious about one thing: How come that nobody in the US is yet filing a lawsuit against Bush, Chenney, Rumsfeld and others involved in 9/11 deception (gvt terrorist attack)?



klockwerks's picture

Good luck with that community crap. Very few are prepared for what can happen so you will end up with a community of takers, kind of what it's like right now. No thanks

L_Conquistador's picture

What would be more resilient than a community full of self-reliant people?

chistletoe's picture

old, but still resiliant ....


Sweet Pea's picture

It becomes emotionally draining and thus counterproductive.


Ya think - ?  But keep it up. I'm sloughing it all off just fine thanks.

moonstears's picture

Happy 1yr ZH b-day Sweet Pea!(you didn't know, didja?)

GubbermintWorker's picture

A couple of tokes and then, what, me worry?

lieto's picture

Simple isn't it?

Spend less than you take in.

Stop wasting money on endless wars and health care for very old very demented folks who have no shot at getting better.

Yes I said it out loud.

If a family wants to keep there elderly alive past the point that they know who they are they should bankrupt themselves only.

Then how has the US of A gotten so far from these sound principles?

Sort of makes me fel like a steerage passenger on the Titanic.

But I will take a beer or 2 for medicinal purposes, Thank you very much.

PS. Junk away.

JimBowie1958's picture

Stop wasting money on endless wars and health care for very old very demented folks who have no shot at getting better.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that it is ambiguous, first of all. Who is to decide what the legal definition of demented witll be? Is it that you cant wipe your own ass anymore? That you cant remember what you ate for breakfast? That you cant understand a written sentence? That you have a functionally les than average IQ?

All the above have serious problems in that they can  be applied to people whom they were  not intended to apply to such as those hindered by a disease that they might recover from, or to children, or to people recovering from stroke or similar temporary disability that they would normally heal from, etc.

A second problem is WHO DECIDES IT IS ONLY 'DEMENTED PEOPLE WHO DONT DESERVE TO LIVE? Some would add blacks, red necks, illiterates, criminals or various religious minorities to that list as well.

Why dont they get to decide these things? What if they decided to wind down any defiant persons life by witholding medical treatment or getting more proactive and just lining them all up and shooting them down?

NuYawkFrankie's picture

Thou Art Dust, And To Dust Thou Shalt Return

- Today's (Ash Wednesday's) Admonition.

In the meantime, don't sweat it.

Wanton1's picture

We can't build resilience taking vaccines and drinking fluoridated water.

NuYawkFrankie's picture

...or a 12-pack of Olde English "800" a day

847328_3527's picture
Man dies after setting himself on fire in front of French employment office

davidsmith's picture

Another little ZH sermonette.  Drop dead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Curiously_Crazy's picture

Wow. Someone got up on the wrong side of bed thismorning.

chindit13's picture

I think if I ever had to sit down for a drink with this Smith guy, I'd tell the bartender, "Make mine methanol".  I'd bet the furrows in this guy's brow have more locks than the Panama Canal.

DaveyJones's picture

the preacher calling the sermon long

Shell Game's picture

Get busy alt-skilling:  baking/brewing, metal smithing, shoemaking, bullet casting-ammo reloading, gunsmithing, 3D-printing, etc.  We all hear a lot of talk on the short term preps, but making a living in a resource-limited world will go a long way in providing for ones family and for your morale.

Hongcha's picture

As it gets worse, America will separate instinctively into racial camps.  This is a natural instinct that .gov will fight. 

The Fed will have integrated camps.

Radical Marijuana's picture

"Though Keynesian economists argue that nations are not like households ..."

Nations are like households that have been taken over by a home invasion. If we compare a family's finances to any of the nations in the world today, with America being the best known, well-documented example, what we see is the process whereby the best organized gangs of criminals have been able to systematically apply their methods of organized crime to take over the government. Thus, our reality is like a family who had a violent criminal move into their home, and start dictating what the rest of the family must do, or else be violently punished for disobedience.

While it is superficially easy, and sounds like theoretically good advice, to say we should attempt to be more effectively responsive to that predicament ... the more one actually learns about it, the less and less that mental attitude becomes possible to maintain.


What I do is attempt to more deeply understand those realities. However, there appears to be no practical point to do that, since the runaway insanity of force backed frauds is going to automatically get worse, faster, anyway. Indeed, the only thing we can do is to wait and watch as this runaway insanity automatically gets worse than we can currently imagine. The only reasons I do not worry more is that I can not imagine better those most probable futures.

What if it did not matter to you that there were more genocidal wars, along with democidal martial law, after the house of cards of a global social pyramid system based on legalized lies, backed by legalized violence, destabilized ???


The ONLY consolations to learning more about politics, that I am aware of, are philosophical or spiritual ones that amount to similar things as coming to terms with the fact that one will die ...

TNTARG's picture

I agree we the diagnostic but I will never surrender. May they choke themselves with the money the're stealing from everybody, sick fucking assholes.


shovelhead's picture

Dying doesn't bother me at all.

I find the idea that I may not be able to come back to freak people out as a ghost or poltergeist a bit disappointing because it's something I'm really looking forward to.


Tango in the Blight's picture

So do you think we all should be preppers? When we just can buy food at the supermarket?

I live in a tiny flat but have about a couple of weeks worth of food and water. My relatives have several acres of land but buy their food from the supermarket daily. They think it's weird to store food at home.

The Heart's picture

"They think it's weird to store food at home."

Show them this video and check the part about putting your money into food to stay ahead of inflation:




shovelhead's picture

I used to be plastic

Now I'm elastic

I'm flexible.