We live in a world where everyone expects things to come quickly and easily. God forbid we should have to wait a few extra minutes for a cup of coffee or have to put up with traffic. Fast-food restaurants have become a metaphor for life: Get it fast and easy!
It may well be that as we’ve gone down this road, we’ve lost something along the way. Consider the following startling facts:
Rates of depression have risen in recent decades, at the same time that people are enjoying time-saving conveniences such as microwave ovens, e-mail, prepared meals and machines for washing clothes and mowing lawns.
People of earlier generations, whose lives were characterized by greater efforts just to survive, were mentally healthier. Our ancestors also evolved in conditions where physical work was necessary to thrive.
By denying our brains the rewards that come from anticipating and executing complex tasks with our hands, we undercut our mental well-being, according to Scientific American Mind.
Evidently, we feel a deep sense of satisfaction when physical and mental effort produces something tangible. Younger generations have tried very hard to create atmospheres and situations that are comfortable and rewarding. Much of that mind-set has produced individuals who “want what they want, when they want it.” Losing weight should be instant, therefore we want our food in boxes or cans that are so-called easy weight loss plans.
Finding a mate has boiled down to five-minute lunch dates. You sit with someone for a few minutes and are supposed to gauge whether they might fit your criteria.
Children are supposed to be rewarded for just showing up at a sports activity, even if they don’t have any skills. Sadly it is creating a society without a lot of resiliency, which comes from hard work and having to put up with situations you’re not in the mood for.
Studies in longevity consistently point out that those who reach 100 have been through hard times, and were able to adapt to those situations. Maybe the real success in staying well mentally and physically is in discovering that the mind and body like effort. Perhaps that’s what makes us thrive and survive!
Loretta LaRoche writes the Get a Life column for The Patriot Ledger.