Controversy makes me uncomfortable (a blog post in itself!). It's rooted in my fear that I need to please everyone. I was nervous to write this, but feel inspired to share.
Whenever I hear about an untimely death, and listen to the media's outrage about mental health care, depression, drugs, you name it, I feel frustrated. Why? Because I think that there is a bigger problem going on that is so easily overlooked. A problem that is so big that it isn't even recognized as a problem. It's not even questioned by most.... And shocked people will go on about how sad and tragic the event that has happened is (yes- it is absolutely terrible! I am not denying that), but what changes? Nothing.
The structure of our society is seriously flawed. Our herd mentality and logic brains are impairing our ability to follow our hearts and live closer to how a human is really meant to live. We're not thinking. We're not questioning. Many of us are living a lie. Before you dismiss this as hippie mumbo jumbo, stick with me a little bit longer.
In my North American culture, we are told to go to school, get a degree, get a high paying job, get married, buy a house, have children, make more money, maybe buy a bigger house, buy more stuff, retire, and then maybe then we can enjoy the rest of our days until we die. We idolize celebrities who seem to have it all (but we know that they don't). I hear people in their early thirties frequently say that they can't wait to retire. That's scary to me! This is life right now. It's crazy to wait until retirement to enjoy your life... and with the unhealthy lifestyles that many of us live, we sadly won't have many years of retirement to enjoy if we make it. People are afraid to break free, take chances, and pursue their interests because it's somehow alternative.
Many of us are running on no sleep, have long commutes to a job that they hate, sit all day working under tremendous stress without having the chance to even look out a window, rush home in traffic, have no time to eat anything healthy, are too tired to work out, attempt to have some quality time with their loved ones, get in a fight with their family because they are utterly exhausted and miserable, stress over money, put themselves in front of the TV to disconnect with the world, stay up way too late because they resent that they have no time for themselves, and then get up the next day to do it all over again. It's exhausting just thinking about it. There's no time for pursuing passions, creativity, movement, laughter, and definitely no sex with a schedule like that! Ultimately it leads to cancer, obesity, depression, panic attacks, divorce, heart attacks, children with behavioral problems, to name a few. We can't tell other people how miserable we are. That's not accepted! Everyone else seems just fine. So we bottle it up. We cry ourselves to sleep. We hate our lives. We question every decision that we ever made that has led us to this very moment. We become addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, etc. to escape. And the answer that we seem to have? Put people on antidepressants-- adults and children, so that they are numb to the problem. How does this fix anything? It doesn't.
As a therapist, I have often felt overwhelmed because it's difficult to help someone overcome their problems when they're living this vicious lifestyle which is the societal norm. That is why I initially started posting photos on Instagram under @happywholelife. I wanted to reach more people than I could at the office, and inspire and motivate them to live a happier, healthier, and more authentic life because that's a huge piece of the problem. I started to see the flaw in my own life, and recognized that I needed to make some major changes so that I could break free and still earn a living (but maybe live with less--which is fine!). What started as a side gig has turned into my baby, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I don't have all the answers, but I'd like to contribute to the change-- to more happy and healthy people living their lives!
What I know is this... Imagine if people spent time doing what they love. Imagine if people could earn a living doing what they love. Imagine if people followed their passions. Imagine if people engaged in stress reducing activities every single day. Imagine if people had time to eat good food. Maybe they would be less depressed and anxious. Maybe their bodies would be healthier. Maybe their marriages would be stronger. Maybe their children would have less behavioral problems. What would this lead to for the individual and the society as a whole? The world? What if people were in jobs that they enjoyed? What if corporations set up the office culture to be one that allowed people to thrive. The people would be happier, and productivity would skyrocket! What if schools focused on allowing children to pursue their passions. If alongside the curriculum of reading, writing, and math, they fostered children's dreams. If mental health and happiness were emphasized just as much as academic achievement. It's just as important, right? What if people realized that money doesn't buy happiness? People who win the lottery are no happier than anyone else after the notoriety wears off.
There is a balance to be found, and I believe it is attainable. Don't wish your life away so that you can maybe enjoy it one day later on.
I refuse to believe that the system can't be changed. I refuse to accept that our societal structure must remain this way, and that people need to numb themselves with drugs, alcohol, TV, and spending to cope. I believe that we can be a happier and healthier society. I think that people are waking up, myself included, and it's really exciting to see where we will go from here!
Do you believe that the system is failing? Do you have ideas for how things could be improved? Are you waking up? Are people living a lie? I would love to hear your thoughts!