Man sitting on edge of a bed

Sharing – How Modern Culture Drowns Out Psychology’s Important Message

Psychologists, as well as research into mental health issues and happiness, all agree on one thing. Being connected to other people and part of a community is the best thing we can do for our mental well-being.

In the article below, Carl Nassar points out that our society sends us a very different message:

Our consumer culture insists we live, instead, by a rigidly individualistic construct. It tells the story where the real heroes are the individual producers or consumers. These everyday heroes don’t seek out “transient” safety in the arms of others but instead “bravely” venture out into the world and make their own security by growing their own private success stories and hoarding the belongings these successes create for them. These modern heroes don’t find safety in a “fragile” intimacy born of vulnerability and trust with fellow human beings but instead “boldly” construct their own safety through the acquisition and expansion of power, property, and prestige.

I suspect that he is on to something. It’s hard to create a community of people caring for one another when our workplaces demand constant availability, and our culture rewards people who are singularly focused on career or commercial success. This reminds me of something I wrote about early risers and their productivity a few years ago. I thought it was weird that in a profile of these “very successful” men, every one of them talked about getting up early to start working, planning out their days, sending emails to their team so they’d be waiting for them when they got to the office, etc.

What was missing from every single person interviewed in the story? There was no mention of a family. None of these men talked about having breakfast with a spouse, taking their kids to school, etc. None of them mentioned having friends. Their entire goal was to get a head start on work so they could get ahead. And here we were, writing glowing profiles and encouraging everyone to live like this.

Yet we know that this kind of commercially focused lifestyle devoid of connection with other human beings is a huge part of the loneliness epidemic, especially among men. We know that this loneliness is a major contributing factor to the mental health crisis, and research tells us that the happiest people are the ones with the best connections to other human beings.

Maybe we should stop writing glowing profiles of the richest men in the world and start writing them about people making a huge difference by creating communities that connect us.

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