The last 18 months has been a challenge for each and every one of us. The ability to work, see friends / family and living the normal routine have all changed. Our habits for the short and medium term (perhaps the long term) have been altered. The result has been a significant hit on our mental health and wellbeing. And by proxy its close relative - physical health.
How we used to live
The history of humans and society was a hard one. We lived in harsh environments without the creature comforts we have today. Our focus and skill was narrow compared to how generalised we are today. We were exposed directly with weather elements. Our efforts were more physical and less mental. It is easily argued that the majority of people in the developed world live a better life than a reigning monarch did only 150 years ago.
How we live now
Technology has evolved and matured allowing society to seek comfort over effort. Our living compass has fundamentally switched its physical and mental poles around. The COVID19 lockdowns have further driven this change and as a result our society is lazier. I only have to think back three decades ago to see this massive change begin to take effect. We would speak to others using a corded phone, get up to change the television channel, get in our cars to rent our a VHS or DVD for a movie night. Now we sit on our coach and do it all while in a relaxed and comfortable state of mind and body. Many of the traditions where we used to interact, debate and converse have diminished.
From a micro economic level this isn’t a good thing. Thinking in terms of productivity and innovation. However at a macro economic level the news isn’t so good either. The days where company failures opened up opportunities for the younger generations has also diminished. Our governments are spending incredible amounts of money to bail out their darling companies and respective economies. For example in the US many airlines spent the past few years performing share buy backs to inflate their stock prices only to require bail outs when COVID19 impacted on their business. Looking back it is easy to see that we are constantly looking to take the easy route rather than putting the hard work in. We are bailing out the rich and comfortable at the expense of tomorrow’s generation. This young generation will inherit historic levels of debt, an unsustainable planet and a generally angry and polarised society. We need to work harder on these issues and not take the easy route.
Close to home
Over the past year I’ve spent a significant amount of time in Australia. It is a beautiful place to be during a pandemic. Unfortunately I was there due to my father having been put in a nursing home and my nephew being diagnosed with cancer. My Dad now has the worst combination of vascular dementia (lost his short term memory) and Alzheimer’s disease. While with my family I spent a lot of time thinking and talking about how my Dad used to life. He was generally a couch potato. He rarely exerted his mental muscles nor did he have a physical focus. The result is a man who is now reliant on multiple drugs and a sad quality of life. He was the person many of us are today. He was the person who consumes versus produces, complains versus acts and rests versus exercises. We need balance yet it shouldn’t be skewed in one major direction.
What do we do?
We don’t have to change ourselves in one big hit. There are many problems we need to solve. We all need to get moving just one step at a time and build a foundation. I’m a big believer of systems and habits. Why not get on a treadmill and consume your Netflix series in combination? Go out for a walk and put on your audiobook? Pull out a book while on the bus or train. Hit the gym while listening to the latest podcast. Throw on an apron and make a home cooked meal versus ordering from your smart phone. There is no friction in taking the easy route in the short term, however, it comes with a lot of friction in the medium and long term cost. Be careful with the danger of comfort and taking that easy route.