I find it interesting that June Cleaver seems to have returned from the dead. So many young women are repeating a history that I’ve long left behind. They work; take care of their homes; and enroll their children in sports, accelerated learning classes, music lessons and God knows what else so that the little ones can graduate from kindergarten with high honors.
These moms drive their children to and from these numerous events in their big SUVs while complaining how tired they are (or they spend hours on the phone deciding whose turn it is to carpool). If that’s not enough, add in going to the gym, trying to manage the home front and being sexy if they can manage to stay awake.
As a result, many of today’s young women are suffering from anxiety and depression. Gee, I can’t imagine why! I spent years believing that no one could do anything without my direction, and whatever needed to be taken care of would be done best by me. Age has not only tempered this mind set, but also for many of my female friends who’ve realized that no one’s going to reminisce about how perfect they were. Much of life is like a movie or a play, and we become the characters with a story line we’ve memorized. It’s often difficult to change the dialogue because the rest of the players are used to you giving them their cues.
It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t want to be known for how perfect I was, because it was really an illusion. My goal now is to be remembered as a wild, zany, eccentric mother and grandmother.
No one is perfect, nor should they want to be. It’s a goal that only leads to anxiety and makes the people around you wish you’d be abducted by aliens. Life is so much more fun when you loosen up and lighten up. The ultimate irony is that when you’re flexible, you’re actually more productive, and your friends and family will feel more relaxed and comfortable.
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 just 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 moving lawns.
* People of earlier generations, whose lives were characterized by greater efforts just to survive, paradoxically, were mentally healthier. (Our) human ancestors also evolved in conditions where hard 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. (Scientific American Mind ).
Evidently, we’d feel a deep sense of satisfaction when true physical and mental effort produces something tangible. The newer generations have tried very hard to create atmospheres and situations that are comfortable and rewarding. Much of that mindset 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 haven’t any skills. Sadly it is creating a society that will not have a lot of resiliency which comes essentially 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 one hundred 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!