27 Apr How to be happy in today’s somewhat CRAZY world!
via Eric Barker
Sometimes it feels like the world is actively conspiring against your happiness. Now before you start folding your tin foil hat, let me say that you might not be paranoid…
Right now there are a record number of people on antidepressants. So many that even if you’re not taking antidepressants, well… you still kinda are.
Enough people in Western nations consume — and then excrete — the medications that they’re at detectable levels in the water supply.
Some one in five U.S. adults is taking at least one drug for a psychiatric problem; nearly one in four middle-aged women in the United States is taking antidepressants at any given time… You can’t escape it: when scientists test the water supply of Western countries, they always find it is laced with antidepressants, because so many of us are taking them and excreting them that they simply can’t be filtered out of the water we drink every day.
For the past few decades we’ve lived under the idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in your noggin. And while that is true for some people, more and more research is showing that our dissatisfaction may be due less to a broken brain and more to a broken life.
You don’t see so rapid a surge in cases of depression because our genetics or grey matter changed overnight. The world has shifted in ways that are detrimental to the psychological needs of the human animal. That persistent feeling of vague dissatisfaction may be a normal response to abnormal circumstances. The canary in the coal mine.
So journalist Johann Hari spent three years on a journey of over forty thousand miles conducting more than 200 interviews with social scientists and psychologists to discover what was wrong with the way we live today that was causing such an explosion of unhappiness.
What he found was that while our world has become very technologically connected, all the sources of unhappiness stem from a growing disconnection in other areas of our lives.
Let’s find out how to reconnect. And how to live happier lives…
Disconnection From Other People
Loneliness is the equivalent of being punched in the face. I mean, literally.
Your stress response to both — the increase in your body’s cortisol level — is the same.
Feeling lonely, it turned out, caused your cortisol levels to absolutely soar—as much as some of the most disturbing things that can ever happen to you. Becoming acutely lonely, the experiment found, was as stressful as experiencing a physical attack. It’s worth repeating. Being deeply lonely seemed to cause as much stress as being punched by a stranger.
And have no illusions, loneliness is an epidemic in the modern world. A few decades ago, the average US citizen reported having three close friends. Since 2004 the most common answer is…
…social scientists have been asking a cross-section of U.S. citizens a simple question for years: “How many confidants do you have?” They wanted to know how many people you could turn to in a crisis, or when something really good happens to you. When they started doing the study several decades ago, the average number of close friends an American had was three. By 2004, the most common answer was none.
I can already hear some people crowing: “I might be dissatisfied but how could it be due to loneliness? I’m always around people.”
Turns out there’s a difference between being lonely and feeling lonely. This is why someone who works a job surrounded by people and then goes home to a spouse and children, can spend very little time alone — and yet still feel profoundly lonely.
In his studies, it turned out that feeling lonely was different from simply being alone. Surprisingly, the sensation of loneliness didn’t have much to do with how many people you spoke to every day, or every week. Some of the people in his study who felt most lonely actually talked to lots of people every day. “There’s a relatively low correlation between the objective connections and perceived connections,” he says.
So what do we need to do? To prevent feeling lonely, we must share something with those around us — something meaningful to both you and them. A belief. A cause. An activity. A goal. We need to be “in it together” — not merely together in the middle of a faceless crowd.
As he researched this, John discovered that there was a missing ingredient to loneliness, and to recovering from it. To end loneliness, you need other people—plus something else. You also need, he explained to me, to feel you are sharing something with the other person, or the group, that is meaningful to both of you. You have to be in it together—and “it” can be anything that you both think has meaning and value.
So join a group. Harvard researcher Robert Putnam has studied group activities for decades — everything from bowling leagues to volunteer groups.
Between 1985 and 1994 involvement in community organizations declined by 45%.
Today, people still bowl, but they do it alone. They’re in their own lane, doing their own thing. The collective structure has collapsed. Think about everything else we do to come together—like supporting your kid’s school, say. “In the ten short years between 1985 and 1994” alone, he wrote, “active involvement in community organizations … fell by 45 percent.”
Famed biologist E.O. Wilson once said, “People must belong to a tribe.” Increasingly, we don’t. But you can fix that.
(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)
We all know relationships are critical. But there’s something else the modern world is lacking that’s a lot less obvious but no less important…
…keep reading the full & original article HERE