Psychological Recession …time to take a good hard look at the way we live…
Oliver James wrote a powerful book a few years ago called Affluenza (James 2007, Vermilion Press) - he likened the manic pursuit of wealth, possessions, status and better appearance to a virus hence the title of the book. In fact James was prophetic in many ways in that we have all had to reconsider some of our values in the wake of the worst recession in living memory for many people.
Where perhaps we once took for granted our family budget, our jobs and to an extent our subsequent esteem - this has all now been challenged. We are now forced to dig deeper to find what really makes us tick and what provides satisfaction and pleasure.
Our society encourages the quick fix from the latest mobile phone to the NHS counselling programme of cognitive therapy (CBT) and 6 sessions – yet many of us realise that it will take more than this to find contentment. Ironically the recession has made us take stock – a colleague of mine has ditched his car and now cycles everywhere – he wouldn’t turn back if you paid him. Less stress in traffic, greater fitness and crucially being “out in the world” at 730a.m gets him in tune with life. How many of us walk out the front door, clamber into a car, walk into an office, back in the car and then back home. Did we ever really experience any of the elements be that temperature, wind, rain, sun etc?
Likewise does a train journey give a chance to think and reflect or is it just a crammed space of phone calls, texts and music piped direct into the ears? Do we feel we connected with anything on the journey such as scenery and eye contact with other passengers?
Contented people report that they take pleasure in the world around them - but that means allowing time for connection. Ask any musician how they connect with their instrument - almost becoming at one with it and producing something out of the ordinary.
Be creative - again a friend has cut down on many monthly costs which in fact were not providing any meaningful extension to life - gym memberships unused, extravagant meals out - the local park has a free outdoor gym and experimenting with home cooking has added a new skill/hobby and the consequent good feelings associated with creation.
Sometimes less is more…
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About Graham Allen
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