Life seems tough at the moment. Are we less resilient in the face of the pressures of life, or is life just tougher?
Maybe the answer is yes to both. Our work and personal lives are so much more complicated than they were a decade ago. Technology allows us to do so much more than we used to. In healthcare we are now caring for people that would have never made it to hospital 20 years ago. We are living longer than we were. This means during the winter more and more people are at risk of illness. Our success in healthcare however is outstripping our ability to fund it. This probably has always been the case but our rate of development in healthcare is breathtaking. Then you add in the financial crisis, that we are just coming out of, and then add in the current uncertainty of Brexit, then there is a lot of pressure on healthcare workers alone.
Looking wider technology has had a massive impact on all of our lives. Most of us have a really powerful computer in our pockets that instantly connect us to the worldwide web (even my 77 year old mum has one). For many of us not having our mobile phone and connectivity is unthinkable. We now expect a constant stream of information at our finger tips. When we go to events the first thing most of us do is grab our phones to record it or stream live. I was at a concert this year where someone next to me watched the whole concert through the screen of her phone.
Technology is amazing and makes our lives so much easier, but if we don’t keep an eye on it, it can be so destructive. There is the obvious problems I have spoken about before with social media, such as scarcity, and bullying. Then there is the disconnection it can cause, technology makes it so easy for us not to talk to our fellow human beings. We can do all of our shopping online, if we want to know how someone is we can text them or message them, or we can just post an update on Facebook. There seems to be an app for everything now, so it is quite possible to conduct large parts of your life without talking to people. We are however social animals and need that social connection to survive.
Now remember Professor Steve Peters book, The Chimp Paradox. In his book Steve explains simply how different functions of the brain drive our behaviour. The chimp as described by him has threat recognition as part of it’s function. The only problem with the chimp is, that alone it is unable to provide context. The chimp relies on our memory bank to provide that context. So here is the problem, as we are connected constantly to this big dangerous world, we are confronted with potential threats on a daily basis. The chimp has terrible trouble trying to distinguish between someone being mean on Facebook and someone threatening you. If we are not careful we can be put into a threat state on a daily basis, without the usual biological response of fight or flight. This mentally can be exhausting.
So we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time either in our past or our future and very little time paying attention to what is happening in the present.
Yes we are less resilient and yes are lives are harder (well maybe not harder, just more complicated).
Spending some time in the present everyday, dedicating an hour of happiness a day, and sharing how you feel with someone daily will go a long way to making us more resilient.