Life Enhancing Anxiety: Key to a Sane World (Paperback)
Life-Enhancing Anxiety makes a bold proposal: It is not less anxiety that we need today, but more, at least of a certain kind of anxiety. The book comprises a collection of original and previously published essays that converge on what Schneider calls life-enhancing anxiety. Life-enhancing anxiety is the invigorating degree of anxiety needed to become passionately engaged, ethically attuned, and creatively enriched. Set against our anxiety-avoidant times, life-enhancing anxiety enables us to "live with and make the best of the depth and mystery of existence." The potential for life-enhancing anxiety begins at the moment of birth-the point at which we shift from relative nonexistence and unity to sudden, abrupt existence and disunity. This juncture is both daunting and wondrous. Yet it is the management of the juncture by both caretakers and the culture at large that is all important; for it is that management that forms the bedrock for our capacity to deeply live, or to skim only the surfaces; to attain courage, or to seek refuge in gimmicks. The book goes on to elaborate this developmental arc and apply it to a range of personal and social challenges. Among these challenges are Schneider's personal struggle with life-enhancing anxiety; the role of life-enhancing anxiety in the cultivation of a sense of awe (humility and wonder) toward all existence; the role of life-enhancing anxiety in the arts, particularly film and literature; applications within the discipline of psychology; applications to social and political crises (war and violence in particular); and applications to spirituality and religion. Schneider concludes the book with a brief section on the relevant research on life-enhancing anxiety, followed by an Epilogue. The Epilogue summarizes the implications of life-enhancing anxiety for a more sane, sustainable, and awe-informed world.