We are the lonely generation. Some years ago, if you’d ask an average American how many people they could go to in case of a crisis, they would tell you 5. Today, that number has gone down to 0.
Having had several low moments in the past, I have always been very curious about the science of depression and anxiety. I strongly believe aiming to understand the human brain and behavior is one of the most fascinating things one can do. Especially because we will never be able to fully understand it.
Lost Connections, by Johann Hari, is one of the books I am most enthusiastic to grab. Unfortunately, it’s still in the queue and it might take some months before that happens. I have been living in Berlin for 2 months now, where the plot of the story takes place. So I decided in the meantime to listen to podcasts about it. I have finished an amazing episode of Johann Hari and Steven Bartlett on The Diary of a CEO. It seems like everything we think we know about meaning and happiness is wrong.
It seems fascinating to me that the cycle of wanting to be happy in western societies is what actually causes unhappiness. By wanting to be happy, the individual will seek external approval and will aim to “buy” that happiness. By focusing on your external value, he will be even unhappier. In easter societies, the opposite happens. When the individual chooses to be happy, he will focus on other people, and he will actually be happier. So the secret is really in relationships.
I have been thinking about tribes and communities. We are the first generation not to have a tribe to support us. And a home. Home in this case can be defined as a place where your absence is felt. Following the same line of thought, it seems like most people don’t have a home. Looking at certain addictions, it seems like kids are easily addicted to video games such as World of Warcraft because it gives them the feeling of having a tribe.
One thing that always strikes me is the outdated science claiming depression and anxiety to be chemical imbalances, leaving some people more prone to its development. If you relate certain personality types with the propensity to develop mental health issues, you can easily connect the dots. I still don’t think the secret of it is taking pills (not as a long-term solution).
How can we focus on our personal development, international expansion, and community building?