This Isn’t Working!
Top 10 Reasons Why We’re More Depressed Than Ever
Our current state
In her viral TEDx Houston talk, clinical researcher Dr. Brené Brown said, “We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted, and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.”
Her declaration has been stuck in my head for years.
Clearly, this isn’t working for many – if not most – of us.
I don’t think it’s going to get any better until we dig into what’s making us so miserable.
Having spent a few months thinking about it and interviewing people for The Depression Discussions™: The Conversations Entrepreneurs Need to Have, I have come up with the following Top 10 reasons why we’re more depressed than ever.
1. Change is unsettling, and the rate of change keeps increasing.
With the world changing so fast, it’s hard to figure out what the new normal will look like.
Or if anything will stay the same long enough to determine a new normal…
I don’t know about you, but some days this makes me want to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head.
Technology innovations keep coming at us at a faster and faster pace.
There’s an app for everything. (Does anyone even remember what we did before apps?)
Self-driving cars, AI, AR, VR, robots, etc. will be a big part of our daily lives before we know it.
Even the universe is expanding faster than expected.
Change is unsettling.
And it doesn’t seem like things will be settling down anytime soon.
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living,
we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
~ Richard Rohr
2. Personal white space is critical yet scarce.
We are assaulted by screens and sounds everywhere we go.
Any place where we used to be able to just catch our breath is filled with signage, or TVs, or announcements.
I find myself deliberately going to bars and nail salons that don’t have TVs.
What happened to staring into space and mentally hitting pause?
Why do we apologize when we unplug and label it a “guilty pleasure”?
Why is stepping away or doing nothing a thing we need to apologize for?
Because the truth is…
Most of us get our best ideas when we’re doing something unrelated.
A great blog post idea while on a walk.
A solution to a problem while we’re in the shower.
We need to have white space to generate ideas.
Manoush Zomorodi explains why in this TED talk How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas.
And we need to have white space to feed our creativity.
We are natural creators. We need to muse and dream and create.
However, in order to create, we have to block out time and clear out brain space.
Often, this requires deliberately blocking out time to do nothing.
How funny is that?
“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes into
resentment, grief, and heartbreak.”
~ Brené Brown
I love social media. I have friends around the globe and I love being connected and sharing.
However, comparison despair is a real thing, and social media can be brutal when you’re struggling.
“Comparison is the thief of joy, the pillager of profits
and the pickpocket of prosperity.”
~ Marie Forleo
And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention politics and social media and how triggering that can be.
For our self-esteem and even our sanity, we need establish boundaries with ourselves and others on social media.
And some days we need to just walk away.
4. Instant gratification kills fulfillment and is numbing.
Studies have found that planning a vacation can be as emotionally rewarding as taking one.
Immediate gratification takes away anticipation and can cut off feelings of fulfillment.
“Life’s greatest moments live in
the space between desire and attainment.”
~ Jonathan Fields
Streaming video is great. Watching an entire TV series in an evening or two leaves you numb, disoriented, and vaguely hungover.
These YouTube statistics will blow your mind:
- 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute!
- Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day.
- YouTube gets over 30 million visitors per day.
We are systematically numbing ourselves with media and shopping.
Shopping is a quick hit and sometimes a quick fix – until we get the credit card bill.
I know someone who found several unopened Zappos boxes in her office when she moved offices. She was constantly online ordering stuff to mitigate work frustrations.
Clearly, she didn’t even need the things she bought.
If you are looking for a boost that tends to work better, focus on spending money on activities and adventures.
Experiences have a much longer emotional payoff than things you buy.
5. Employment paradigms have shifted permanently.
Gone are the days of lifelong employment, although some professionals may get lucky.
More and more work is being carved out as projects and being done by contractors vs. full-time employees.
More and more work is being shopped around a global freelance workforce.
The “gig economy” can bring extra money in, or cause people to work themselves past exhaustion.
Over time, robots and AI will take over jobs that don’t require original thinking and creativity.
How we work is evolving, and we need to be OK with that.
6. Retirement won’t be an option for many.
Retirement won’t be an option for many. A recent article in Forbes backs this up “Retirement Is In Peril For Most Working Class Americans, Warns New Report.”
I was laid off three times in four years in my late 30s. My time in transition cleaned out my savings. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever be able to experience a traditional retirement.
I’m actually fine with this.
Other people have healthcare debt, long-term eldercare bills, a special needs kid – or a host of other situations that wipe out their money.
Mass layoffs happen all the time. Nobody even blinks anymore.
Professionals come into my career transition consulting practice feeling deflated, ashamed, and like total failures because they may have to work past retirement age. Or until they can’t work.
Actually, for many people this isn’t bad news – once they get past the shame.
Retirement is a fairly new idea for humans. Since the dawn of time, people worked until they couldn’t or until they died. End of story.
My grandmother sold real estate until she was in her late 80s. She said it kept her young – and out of doctors’ offices.
If you are an intelligent professional whose identity is tied to your job / business / profession, retirement can be a killer.
Check out this quote from an interview in The Wall Street Journal titled “Why do so many men die at age 62? It might have something to do with retirement” – “DR. FITZPATRICK: The takeaway is retirement may be bad for the health of men, particularly for men who retire at the relatively early age of 62. That is the leading explanation.”
Did you ever stop to think about why so many successful people are still working really hard when they could never spend the money they have in their lifetime?
Think about Warren Buffett, Tony Robbins, and Bill Gates. They aren’t slowing down – they are fully engaged and working really hard!
“I’ll retire five years after I’m dead – maybe.”
~ Warren Buffett
And I absolutely love this sentiment:
“I, for one, cannot dream of retiring. Not now or ever.
Retire? The word is alien and the idea inconceivable to me.
I don’t believe in retirement for anyone in my type of work,
not while the spirit remains.
My work is my life. I cannot think of one without the other.
To ‘retire’ means to me to begin to die.
The man who works and is never bored is never old.
Work and interest in worthwhile things are the best remedy for age.
Each day I am reborn. Each day I must begin again.”
~ Pablo Casals
7. Smartphones own us and are addictive and isolating.
We take our smartphones everywhere we go.
They come with us into the bedroom and even the bathroom.
We ignore the people near us and check if someone online did something, or responded to something we posted.
This post in New York Magazine “My Distraction Sickness — and Yours” by Andrew Sullivan was fantastic. Here’s a quote from it:
I Used to Be a Human Being
An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images
has rendered us manic information addicts.
It broke me. It might break you, too.
~ Andrew Sullivan
By the way, putting your smartphone face down when you’re out to lunch with a friend doesn’t make any difference. It’s still disruptive to connection with your friend.
Smartphones are addictive, and need to be treated appropriately, like any addictive substance. Using them releases the same neurotransmitter – dopamine – that is triggered by gambling, drinking, etc.
That said, smartphones are great when used in moderation and I am not willing to give mine up!
However, we should own them, and not let them own us.
This short talk will blow your mind: Simon Sinek Q & A: How Do Cell Phones Impact Our Relationships
Isolation and disconnection are highly correlated with depression.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May appointed the world’s first Minister for Loneliness. This article from The Economist is a sobering read, “Open Future: Loneliness is not just a problem for the elderly.”
8. Loose connections don’t replace personal relationships.
Hundreds of social media friends can leave you feeling empty and alone.
Personal relationships take time to develop.
We can connect by doing sports, tasting wine, playing board games, walking our dogs, watching our kids play – pretty much anything!
But, you have to be willing to spend time together and nurture these relationships.
A study showed it takes 90 hours together to become more than just casual friends and over 200 hours to consider each other close friends. (“Here’s How Many Hours it Takes to Make a Friend, According to Science”)
Loneliness correlates to earlier death. Close friendships lead to longevity and better overall happiness.
You can’t pick your family, but you can choose your friends. Check out this article in TIME magazine, “Why friends may be more important than family.”
And this article titled “A study of 300,000 people found living a longer, happier life isn’t just about diet, exercise, or genetics” was fascinating. Here’s an excerpt:
“… a clinical review of nearly 150 studies found that people with strong social ties had a 50 percent better chance of survival, regardless of age, sex, health status, and cause of death, than those with weaker ties. (The conclusion was based on information about more than 300,000 individuals who were followed for an average of 7.5 years.)
In fact, according to the researchers, the health risk of having few friends was similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and more dangerous than being obese or not exercising in terms of decreasing your lifespan.”
Clearly, the time investment in making close friends has a great return!
“Everything gets better when you share it.”
9. Happiness is the wrong goal.
Joy is different from happiness.
Happiness comes and goes.
Joy can be a foundation, the emotion that is at your core, and all of the other emotions sit on top of it.
When you clear away the mucky stuff on top, joy is there waiting for you.
Danielle LaPorte did a great podcast on joy.
As you work with it, you may find joy is small and that it whispers.
Joy can be felt even in the middle of depression, overwhelm, frustration, and anxiety.
Joy can even be present in the middle of heartbreak and devastating sadness.
It’s what gives us that “bittersweet” feeling.
“Joy is the engine of the universe.”
~ Rob Bell
10. Busywork is bad – but good work is the gift.
Doing work that sucks your soul dry is miserable.
Working hard on something you feel is valuable is energizing and inspiring, and even fun.
“Happiness is the joy you feel
moving toward your potential.”
~ Sean Achor
When we’re doing good work, we can go into a flow state where time stops and hours fly by.
People who experience flow say it’s amazing.
Communion with source, spirit, or whatever you believe in.
Flow is fantastic. Spending more time doing things that put you in a flow state is a great goal.
A bored mind is a dangerous thing. Elizabeth Gilbert describes it as a border collie who if you don’t give it a job, will go find one, and you probably won’t like the job it picks – like chewing through the couch.
We are participants in an evolving universe, and we need to continue growing and learning in order to be happier.
Chipping away at a bigger goal or striving for mastery is incredibly satisfying and leads to a full and rewarding life.
“The work is the gift.
The outcome is the frosting.”
~ Rob Bell
Taking Action to Feel Better
So, now you have some new perspectives – or at least some ideas to chew on.
What resonated for you?
What are you going to do?
How are you going to engage?
What are you going to try?
What are you going to learn?
“Progress equals happiness.“
~ Tony Robbins
Catherine Morgan is a career transition expert, business consultant, and the founder of Point A to Point B Transitions Inc.
Catherine started The Depression Discussions™: The Conversations Entrepreneurs Need to Have because she knows so many professionals who struggle working with – and managing through – depression.
Please join the conversation on Facebook @DepressionDiscussions
If you are in career transition or career confusion, you can schedule a complimentary 45-minute Career Strategy Session with Catherine Morgan through this link.
© 2018 Catherine Altman Morgan. All Rights Reserved.