People aren’t happy. In Western society, we’re living in a time of vast advancements in technology and tremendous accumulation of material wealth and yet people feel isolated, disconnected and unfulfilled. Anxiety and mental health issues are at epidemic proportions and feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth are common place. Now mental health issues are hardly a new phenomenon. However, we’re seeing a baffling paradox. Despite the massive awareness and emphasis being placed on the importance of looking after your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, things are getting worse and the incidence of mental health disorder is increasing exponentially.
An undeniable source of dissatisfaction has come from the immergence of social media influence postulating what successful living ‘should’ look like. This has resulted in a massive escalation of negative comparison, a lack of acceptance for the self and for the beautifully mundane moments that make up our lives, as well as a breakdown in engagement at a local, personal level. In a bizarre ironic twist, despite the negative impact technology is having and the role it plays in our unhappiness, people continue looking to technology for the solution. The lucrative potential that making people’s lives better has, has resulted in a cascade of online solutions and a mutilation of the fundaments required to live a peaceful and fulfilling life.
Authenticity, vulnerability, boundaries and connection are buzzwords that have been adopted into popular culture as virtues required for positive mental health. However, the message has been misconstrued by the #trend that is wellbeing. Complete disclosure for the sake of follows and likes in the guise of being vulnerable in conceived as the route to success and validation. People are so busy trying to prove how authentic their online portrayal is that they lose their true sense of self. Connection has become about the quantity as opposed to the quality. People feel it necessary to throw about boundaries in a self-righteous manner with little thought given to basic mutual respect, empathy, unity, thoughtfulness and comradery.
True authenticity is so difficult. The human need for acceptance will always make it the tougher option. It’s a painful process of looking within, developing self-awareness and acceptance and healing. It’s a personal and private journey that takes a lifetime of compassion and practice. Connection starts with the self and then extrapolates to those closest to you. It’s about building meaningful interactions, learning to lean into the discomfort of true intimacy and engaging in a present manner with those close to you, expanding the circle over time. Boundaries are not a protective force, rejections nor ultimatums. They are loving words of compromise between humans, finding safe and healthy middle grounds, creating a shared space. They are built on empathy, active listening and effort. Vulnerability is learning to trust; it’s about opening one’s heart to the joy and connection available and disarming the defences we accumulate throughout times of suffering. It’s eye-contact, heart contact, touch, sharing, love.
We have the rights concepts to lead purposeful, spiritually led, loving lives; it’s their portrayal at mass levels for capitalist purposes that’s letting us down. The answer is not in our phones, it’s in our hearts, minds, prayers, breaths, thoughts and connections. It’s in the minutiae of our days. Holding my husband’s hand before I rise from bed, feeling the wash of dawn as I close my eyes to meditate, witnessing the sunrise as I go about my day, a massive hug from my son. These are the moments that get me through. It’s appreciating the good things that helps us ride out the bad; that help us face into our difficulties as opposed to constantly seeking distractions, avoidance and instant gratification. Our mental wellbeing is found in the little things. In every awareness, in every decision, in every thought, in every intention and in every heartbeat