We are told that we live in the greatest of times. We have technological tools available today that we could only dream of 50 years ago. We have safer cars with advanced computer technology, we have more efficient homes, and we can access information and products from anywhere in the world with just the click of a mouse. So with all these conveniences, you would think that we would be a happy lot. The reality projects something else and some question our sanity.
Happiness happens when reality exceeds our expectations. So the question is, have we set too high expectations? When reality doesn’t pan out the way we expected it to, we can quickly fall into depressive states. Statistics appear to show that to be the case.
While you may not live in America, the trends are similar everywhere.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health reports that almost 14.8 million American adults have a major depressive disorder, 21 million have a mood disorder, 5.7 million suffer from bipolar disorder, 2.4 million have schizophrenia, and 40 million have an anxiety disorder. Another 6 million have a panic disorder, 7.7 million are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and 34 million have significant phobias. Is there anyone without a condition left?
Then we have mental conditions that afflict children such as attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. Many of these kids are on mind altering medication. In fact, 80 million Americans are on psychiatric drugs––one-quarter of the population.
In case you think, that is America, not us, think again. In Australia, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2014-15, there were 35 million prescriptions of psychiatric-type prescriptions. This puts Australia second in the world just behind Iceland in per capita usage of these drugs. It deflates the image of the happy-go-lucky Aussie.
We shouldn’t be under the illusion that there weren’t problems 50 years ago. We had the threat of nuclear war, significant levels of discrimination and economic difficulties. Funny, though, today there are still the same problems though the form has changed. We don’t fear the Soviet Union, but we have terrorist groups that we dread who may acquire a nuclear device. We have laws that protect people against certain forms of discrimination yet at the same time political correctness is imposing its own form of discrimination.
The answer appears to be in the simplicity of life in the 50’s as opposed to today. We didn’t have computers and the internet; no mobile phones and selfies, we also had lower rates of divorce. In Australia as an example, the current divorce rate is 65% higher than it was in 1960. So there has been a deterioration of the nuclear family with concomitant effects on children. So the question is, what can we do about it? The world we inhabit today is here to stay. There are a few simple strategies to retain our sanity.
Refrain From Narcissistic Behaviours
It’s amazing how many people expose their whole life on social media. From intricate details about their physical health, sex lives or mental state, we have become a very narcissistic-selfie society. A little bit of narcissism is okay, just be a bit circumspect.
Don’t live on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Spend time reading a good book instead. Shut the computer, iPhone or iPad after a particular time of the day. It is easy to become addicted to the technology and succumb to narcissistic behaviours. Remember the more that you put your life on display, the more likely you are to expose yourself to ridicule or even bullying.
Soothe The Mind Without Prescription Medications
There are alternatives to drugs in dealing with stress, depression or anxiety. One method is to meditate on a regular basis which clears out the mind and relaxes the body. Think of it as the recess from the world of craziness. Many people find that by doing mind relaxation techniques, they can reduce their input of drugs.
Part of soothing the mind is exercise. There is no doubt that exercise has a positive influence on how the brain functions. It improves the blood supply to the brain and allows an individual to focus on something other than some of the madness of modern life.
Some people decide to live alternative lifestyles that are more basic and harken back to an earlier time. These individuals consciously choose to live life on their terms, not how society wants them to. So they may buy an older car that is less efficient, although others may frown on them because they are burning more fuel.
There are even some who have decided to shun many of the trappings of today’s world such as computers and mobile phones.
We don’t have to reject all the trappings of modern life, because it has indeed created many benefits, however, it can become overwhelming if it runs us. Let’s get some balance and hence sanity back into our lives.