If there's one thing you take away from Lukianoff and Haidt's The Coddling of the American Mind, it might be that you really ought to try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy even if you're healthy and not experiencing any particular issues. That's certainly my takeaway, particularly because it can be done through workbooks and wouldn't require any appointments or serious expense. I've even added a CBT prompt based on their summary in my journaling tool No. 3 Green Pencil.

But if there's a second thing for you to take away, it's that there's something meaningful to the idea that society has gotten nuts lately. More of culture seems to be under the thrall of less-than-ideally healthy attitudes. Instead of saying vague things like, "people should be nicer to each other", or "I think people should be less concerned about political correctness", we ought to be hammering home extremely specific messages, like "I'm not going to emotionally engage with events that don't involve people I know". If their name wouldn't show up in a news story, then it's not something that should 'hit close to home'. Most people shouldn't read the news, which has gotten very efficient about producing these emotional reactions to things outside of your control. And we should all feel more comfortable disagreeing with each other – that's a natural and mature thing to do.

I'm not sure where I first heard this, but we should (perhaps) normalize telling people they're over-feeling something. God knows I've been told I've over-thought things, and that's gotta be at least as reflexive and out of my control. When I was younger someone told me I overthought something I'd only thought about for a couple seconds! Surely there are plenty of things we've over-felt as well. Truthfully, the 'overthinking' comments have always been about unhealthy focus and fixation, although it's incredibly rude to suggest that without being in someone's head, and it's probably important that there exists some polite way to signal a guess about that to a friend.

We could also dramatically shorten the amount of time we spend in school. Get kids moving out and fending for themselves when they're 16. Real life demands maturity, but helpfully that same environment supplies the challenges necessary to build it. Given the coursework nature of modern schooling, it is literally impossible for it all to be necessary, and we shouldn't pretend it is. Constructed environments won't ever let someone mature.

Honestly, the book was better than I was expecting, and worth a read. I'm not going to summarize it – I hope my own suggestions are worthwhile outside of the context the book provides. Go read the book – it's getting more and more relevant all the time, because the underlying factors they identify as causing this haven't abated, and many of them were exacerbated by the pandemic.