There are countless studies showing that rates of depression have been steadily increasing over the years. Why is that? When science has brought us such advancements in medicine that we are living longer than ever before and we can access anything we need with the click of a mouse, why are we so unhappy?
we have lost ourselves.
The simplest answer is that with the rapid advancements in technology we have lost ourselves. Lost our ability to stand in a line for 5 minutes without needing to check our phones. Lost our free time now that schedules are packed to the brim with work and children’s activities. Lost the knowledge and skills to create things for ourselves. Lost our sense of purpose.
We have replaced family gatherings with the like of a social media picture. We know everything about everyone but spend little to no time with them. Starting at a young age we pack our children’s time with sports training and music lessons because they must have all the opportunities we didn’t. We check our work e-mail after hours to try and make the following day less stressful. Why are we doing these things? We tell ourselves we’re more connected than ever before and we’re increasing our opportunity for success. But are we really?
If our modern lives have led us to our own unhappiness, what are we to do about it? There are seemingly endless minute details that we can change which have the potential to increase our happiness a little at a time.
what are we to do about it?
Stop reading the news so often.
Let’s face it, most of the news is bad. We don’t sit down to read the news and walk away feeling good about ourselves or our species as a whole. If there is no value added to your life by reading the news regularly then don’t do it. If you must read the news regularly, balance it out something positive like Good News Network
Studies have shown that people who spend their time doing creative things like knitting, art or journalling reduce their levels of anxiety and increase their moods. If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at your Pinterest boards. Stop pinning and start doing!
Reduce your social media presence.
Social media is a great way to keep in touch with rarely seen friends but it can be exhausting to keep up with. We naturally want to stay up to date with the world and the people we know but the end you will be no worse off for missing that picture of Aunt Josephine’s brunch plate. You don’t need to quit, just check-in a little less frequently.
Cook and eat mindfully.
In a fast paced world of work and appointments we often consume food that is either pre-prepared or quick to make. We take little enjoyment in the preparation or consumption of food. Set aside time at least one night per week to enjoy the process of preparing a meal from scratch and maybe even invite someone over to share it with.
Who doesn’t love a vacation? It gives us something to look forward to, reduces stress and re-energizes our creativity. If your bank account says that a vacation isn’t in the cards, escape with a good book instead.
Since the 1980’s, forest bathing has been the cornerstone of Japanese healing and preventative medicine. What exactly is forest bathing? It’s the act of immersing oneself in nature. Head into a forest, take a deep breath and enjoy the sense of calm, lowered blood pressure and increased feelings of wellness that nature can provide. As peaceful as it sounds, finding a forest can be a little tricky for urbanite so adapt by walking to a park or even some balcony gardening.
Talk to strangers.
Do the exact thing that parents teach their children not to do. We tend to go about our business in such a task oriented way that we forget to take a moment to look at the world around us. We don’t hesitate to argue on-line with a stranger about politics but we won’t smile at a someone we pass on the street let alone say hello. The simple act of a polite conversation might be the most meaningful experience that you can give someone that day.
We feel compelled to be doing something at all times. If there’s a silence in the conversation we need to fill it, if we’re alone at a table we check our phones. Learning to give ourselves permission to do nothing be can be challenging. Put on some music and watch the flames in a fireplace or light a candle and enjoy a hot bath. Be alone with your thoughts and appreciate yourself. Just be.
Despite the effects of our hectic pace of life and instant access to everything, there are choices we can make everyday that can increase our own happiness. Find peace in disconnecting. Find time to do the things that you enjoy. Find the opportunity to create and learn new skills. Find yourself.
Photo credit: Bizarro Comics