Never in our history have we seen so much anxiety and depression, suicide and substance abuse. Why? What has changed?
I believe 5 Human Needs define how we feel and how well we can respond to life challenges. Our world is moving fast and some of these core needs are no longer inherently met as a natural result of our way of life. The way we achieve them now must be different than it was 50 years ago, but all that matters is that we find a way.
Think Tom Hanks with his volleyball in Castaway. Until recently, families throughout history shared daily conversational meals together. Structured connecting activities like family prayer, reunions, potlucks, rituals and traditions were common. Extended families lived near to one another. Kids in community neighborhoods were close knit. Today’s fast-paced technology dependent world is not a terrible thing, it is simply different. Whereas previously connection activities were ingrained into the fabric of society, they currently are not, or at least not as much. Effective new methods of human connection will eventually catch up with our modern life. The re-emergence of supper clubs is a notable example, as is the emphasis on culture in the workplace. We are getting there, but meanwhile, on an individual level there is some work to do.
First, spending self- awareness time connecting with yourself and your higher purpose, whatever version of that fits you. This is critical to developing your most authentic self. The You that knows your path, your value, and your purpose. This step involves fully feeling and working through all emotions, even your negative emotions. This can happen through meditation, journaling, walks in nature, yoga, purposeful deep breathing or any method that helps you stop, release your thoughts, fully feel and open yourself to deeper awareness. Historically, people did this somewhat effortlessly, by lifestyle and societal culture. As a child, I remember hours spent daydreaming and thinking, simply because at times there were not all that many other options.
Now that we have 24/7 information and entertainment at our fingertips it has become much easier to look out than in.
Second, spending effort and time in meaningful connection with others. This means not waiting for others to come to you. (They probably won’t, they are too busy on their phones!) It means understanding your value (developed from the first step) and then reaching out to build others up, without fear of rejection and without expectation of return. It means understanding that in so doing, you yourself grow and expand. It’s knowing that when you reach out from this pure place, rejection has no effect, no meaning. Over time, these deposits into your emotional bank pay off in a big way.
Because we are housed in a physical body, we feel optimum mental and emotional stability when our nutrition and sleep are on point. Athletes know peak performance requires solid fueling habits, including the right food, supplements, sleep, inspiration and relaxation time. The last 50 years have seen an enormous increase in readily available processed fast foods, foods that do our mental or emotional health no favors.
What we eat, read, watch and listen to impacts us. Fuel well to feel well.
If we stuff our energy, even positive energy, we may inflict negative energy on ourselves and others. Think of a horse racing around a pasture right before a storm. Can you imagine if the horse stuffed those feelings and laid around the barn? Picture the aggression that comes from a dog who has spent time on a chain in a backyard. Modern life is sedentary, causing us to stuff and ignore our energy. We are all too often the spectator, rather than the participant.
Exercise, outdoor sports, dancing, playing with kids, going out with friends, laughing, crying, screaming and singing at the top of your lungs are all great ways to release and let go!
Find ways that match who you are and do more of them.
As children, we are sponges. Endlessly curious, open to possibilities, eager to take it all in. The happiest, most productive people nurture and feed their inner spark to learn and grow. Because of this they are never bored, no matter their environment. Think Richard Branson. That guy will never stop trying new things and pushing the envelope. His eyes are wide open to what is all around him and the limitlessness of it all.
In centuries past, education and learning were highly valued and respected. Our current culture talks the talk, but in truth, we have become a society that values entertainment over learning. What happens to our emotional health when we spend more time consuming mental cotton candy than in searching for profound insight? I think we are seeing the answer. What would happen if families, as a unit, read together every night for 30 minutes and spent the next 10 minutes discussing what they read? Would it change the family dynamic? Open possibilities?
Traveling, reading, going to conferences, hiring a coach or counselor, trying new experiences and learning new skills are solid ways to kickstart insight and fire up your life.
We crave it. So much so, that when life is too easy we are miserable. Without realizing it, we subconsciously create chaos and drama, especially relationship and financial drama, as an outlet simply to feel alive. Our biological need for this is real. Channeling it into something constructive is the key. Incredible fulfillment comes from accepting challenge and experiencing struggle. The pain you feel from doing something hard makes you feel alive. Pushing past our limits for a solid purpose is a rush like no other.
Modern life is relatively easy.
We all have our stressors but most of us have enough to eat, a warm bed, toilet facilities and minimal imminent danger of being decapitated by warriors or wild animals.
In decades past, children, for the sake of family survival, had to work long hours on farms and in family businesses. Now they are “busy” with dance classes, concerts and gymnastics. These are good things that follow progress, but these activities fail to bring the same sense of purpose as knowing the family is relying on you for the survival of the unit. To some extent, along our journey of progress, we’ve lost some of our innate soul charging challenge. In a subconscious search for it, we run up our credit cards, pick fights with our spouses, become the mean girls in high school and generally cause ourselves drama.
Diving into Connections work helps us find out who we are and how our talents fit into this new space. Then we can purposefully choose our struggle rather than subconsciously manufacturing nonsense battles.
Modern technology has given us an incredible opportunity to crowd-solve problems and advance our society. Peter Diamandis is a pioneer in this concept. If you, like many, are officially bored binge- watching Netflix and want to be a part of a fascinating movement to collectively solve Earth’s most pressing problems, check out his website at https://www.xprize.org/.
The point is, we are not broken. We are simply navigating unfamiliar waters.
Societal anxiety, depression and substance abuse have risen at the same pace that the elements we used to rely on to keep us “human” have fallen out of our lifestyle. The changes that come with technology are very good. We just need new methods to satisfy our core emotional needs in an ever faster paced culture. Building these elements back in is hard work but as I watch the rate of opioid overdoses, suicides, anxiety and depression, I have to think the reward is great and the stakes have never been higher.
Susanne Moore and her daughter Alex Holden are founders of NeuraBoot. NeuraBoot is an app designed to build strong minds and full hearts by increasing self awareness, connecting with a support system and rebooting the brain with science based micro action steps.