30 Nov A fun life + a meaningful life = a happy life!
Happiness involves fun.
But real happiness also involves meaning and purpose.
The good news for those of us seeking to create more happiness is that we can have both…
via Eric Barker
Sometimes we all feel anxious. Sometimes lonely or disconnected. Sometimes unhappy, and maybe even a little crazy. You know what might fix all of this?
Would you believe me if I said… a war?
The positive effects of war on mental health were first noticed by the great sociologist Emile Durkheim, who found that when European countries went to war, suicide rates dropped. Psychiatric wards in Paris were strangely empty during both world wars, and that remained true even as the German army rolled into the city in 1940. Researchers documented a similar phenomenon during civil wars in Spain, Algeria, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland. An Irish psychologist named H. A. Lyons found that suicide rates in Belfast dropped 50 percent during the riots of 1969 and 1970, and homicide and other violent crimes also went down. Depression rates for both men and women declined abruptly during that period, with men experiencing the most extreme drop in the most violent districts. County Derry, on the other hand—which suffered almost no violence at all—saw male depression rates rise rather than fall.
Hold on a second before you send me that angry email. I’m not really suggesting war as a solution to any of our emotional ills. God forbid.
But, that said: what the heck is going on here? Wars are supposed to be bad, right?
Why are people feeling less depressed, less crazy, less violent and less suicidal when something we can all agree is horrible and life threatening is happening around them?
Because war and natural disasters force people to unite together. To help others. To act as a community.
“When people are actively engaged in a cause their lives have more purpose… with a resulting improvement in mental health,” Lyons wrote in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research in 1979. “It would be irresponsible to suggest violence as a means of improving mental health, but the Belfast findings suggest that people will feel better psychologically if they have more involvement with their community.”
We need a community to feel good. And community is something we sorely lack in the modern world. Sadly, we often only feel it these days when forced to.
Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.
Many of us live alone. We’re often surrounded by strangers rather than family or friends. We communicate by text rather than face to face. We hire a service instead of getting the help of a buddy.
These are new developments in the existence of Homo Sapiens. And while efficient and effective, they don’t contribute to the feeling of community we all need to feel whole. So it’s no surprise that empathy is dropping:
A recent study at the University of Michigan revealed a dramatic decline in empathy levels among young Americans between 1980 and today, with the steepest drop being in the last ten years. The shift, say researchers, is in part due to more people living alone and spending less time engaged in social and community activities that nurture empathic sensitivity.
And when you feel like you don’t belong to a group, health and self-control plummet. If that doesn’t register with you maybe that’s because when you feel disconnected, your IQ drops too:
When people’s sense of social connectedness is threatened, their ability to self-regulate suffers; for instance their IQ performance drops (Baumeister, Twenge, & Nuss, 2002). Feeling lonely predicts early death as much as major health risk behaviors like smoking (Cacioppo & Patrick, 2008).
I know what some people are thinking: But I have friends. Got a bunch of ’em, actually.
That ain’t the issue, Bubba. We’re talking about a community. A group. A band of brothers. A syndicate of sisters. Your fantasy football league. Your sewing circle. Your drug cartel.
But they’re all relationships, right? Maybe the difference isn’t clear. So what’s the difference?
Well, I’m so glad you asked…
…keep reading the full & original article HERE