We spend our lives working tirelessly trying to survive. Much too often the work we do doesn’t contribute to fulfillment of our being. For many of us, we are actually drained and find our jobs to be merely a means to an end. We work to earn the means that would enable us to provide the basic needs of survival: food, water and shelter. We work hard in this current industrial system trying to sustain life and the irony is that the harder we work, the more we actually drain life in the process. From the time we’re old enough to start school, we’re fed the “American Dream”. Go to school, work hard and get a degree. Get a job, work really, really hard and be successful. We continue on with our lives trying to follow this formula; however, things don’t seem to be adding up.
People are living longer, but we’re sicker. Not only are we sicker, we’re unhappier. Not only are we unhappier, we’re unfulfilled. Rates of chronic disease and psychosocial challenges like anxiety and depression disproportionately affect people of color and continue to rise at alarming rates. To add more gloom to the forecast, our current generation of kids is projected to be the first generation to have a life expectancy shorter than that of its parents.
Why in a society where technology continues to advance exponentially are we seeing survival of the unfit? My observation – our current society has created an environment such that the fittest have become unfit. While adapting to an environment where we spend the majority of our waking hours at work and have less time to explore, experience and enjoy life, we have become stressed out. While living in an environment where overly-processed food products are more readily available, accessible and affordable than fresh fruits and vegetables, we have become unhealthier. While living in an environment where sedentary lifestyles have become the status quo, we have become sicker. Historically, being unhealthy, stressed and sick lead to a less favorable outcome. However, with modern western medicine, drugs have contributed to making unfit the new fit from a social ecological standpoint. We can now live longer with diabetes and heart disease. We no longer have to exert physical activity to hunt and/or gather food or to build shelter. Rarely do we currently participate in cultural practices or ceremonies that include dancing or other physical activity. So while we are all going through this journey called life, I can’t help but ponder a few questions. Are we really living, or have we evolved to zombies of our true selves? What if we followed a new formula? What if we focused our time and energy towards a different kind of work? What if we invested our time doing things that made us happy and brought us fulfillment? What if we started looking to some of the old ways of our ancestors for guidance on lifestyles that favor good health? What if we changed our own personal environments, our thoughts, mentalities, perspectives etc. to change ourselves while still living in a system that doesn’t necessarily favor healthy living? I believe that once we start acting on finding answers to these questions we will transcend surviving and begin thriving. Furthermore, I believe that instead of adapting to our environment, we can empower ourselves to thrive and our environment will have no choice but to adapt to us and support thrival of the fittest. I know this is a bit lengthy, but these are just a few of my thoughts. What do you think?