I’ve had many conversations recently about how broken society is, and how much emphasis is put on the wrong things. The way we look, how popular we are and how much money we have are touted as the most important things to concentrate on. The world that our kids are growing up in can feel like a harsh one, but with the (albeit huge) exception of social media, most of today’s woes are the same as the ones our parents generation faced.
There’s an added layer of pressure these days though isn’t there?
Pressure to do and be so much more than there used to be, coupled with the notion that women can ‘have it all’. Motherhood is deemed by many to be a tiresome and unattractive chore, un-newsworthy debates such as breast vs bottle are still dividing the sides, and the sisterhood doesn’t even seem to exist.
In trying to be and do so much, are we selling ourselves short? Are today’s actions going to cause long term damage? Not that raising a generation of mentally healthy children who grow up to be mentally healthy adults appears to be on the government’s agenda, judging from the recent round of early intervention funding cuts.
I didn’t have it easy, but I turned out okay
I’ve heard this tired mantra all my life – ‘I didn’t have this or that when I was growing up… I had it harder in my day than the kids have it today’… blah blah blah.
For those unfamiliar with my story, I had a severely dysfunctional upbringing, and left home at 15. I then drank and partied my troubles away for a whole decade, and along my treacherous journey I suffered countless bouts of depression and anxiety, had two full mental breakdowns, declared bankruptcy and cut ties with my entire family. These are not experiences I would wish upon anyone else.
Through therapy and a whole load of self-reflection, I came to realise that everything I went through as a young adult was directly linked to the way I raised. Fortunately for me, I met my amazing husband and some rock solid friends along the way. They became my family, and without their unfaltering support I dare say I wouldn’t even be here writing this article.
If society is broken, how can we fix it?
In all areas of our lives, if we are to have a decent shot at long term happiness, we have to be making decisions that we are truly comfortable with. We can’t be afraid of putting our hands up when we’re wrong, changing tact and finding another way of doing the things that aren’t working out. We can’t allow the fear of doing or saying something that might offend someone else stop us from making good choices. We mustn’t let our wants blind us to our needs.
If we are making well thought out good decisions, then we won’t have to live with negative consequences for years afterwards. It’s a simple equation, but it’s not sexy or interesting. It doesn’t sell stuff, and how boring would it be to have a happy society? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know this. Until we start putting down our devices, taking a step back and properly thinking about the effect our decisions are going to have on our future selves, society will remain broken.
A simple plan of action
Get happy: This might sound like the most basic thing in the entire world, but if you aren’t happy you will find it exceptionally difficult to make good decisions. By doing everything you can to smile more than you frown, you are instantly inviting positive opportunities to present themselves.
Switch off: Tune out from mass media by only consuming information that will enhance your life. Ditch the tabloids, the whingey websites, the trashy magazines and reality TV. While you’re at it, have a social media detox. How much time do you waste on Facebook even though it bores and depresses the hell out of you?
Don’t compare: Stop comparing yourself to others because it’s a pointless exercise. Instead feel safe in the knowledge that no-one has the ‘perfect life’, we are all flawed in some way or another and everybody has problems. While you are lusting after another person’s life, there will more than likely be someone out there lusting after yours.
We get one shot at this life people, lets make it count!
If my own experiences have taught me anything, it’s that a good life doesn’t just happen. We need to make it happen and constantly strive for it. Often against the odds, and in the face of extreme adversity.
The second we lose the will to fight, it all goes to pieces…