“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti
This is a long article. Here’s links to the CONTENTS:
- Intro — Our Unhealthy Default Reality
- This is Depressing … Why Talk About It?
- Why Are So Many People Unhappy? Why Are We All Depressed?
- What is demoralization?
- What Creates so Much Demoralization?
- Three things to keep in mind:
- Kabir Helminsky Clarifies The Problem — A SPIRITUAL Crisis
- Once you really “see” this, you can’t unsee it
- So where does this leave us? (Next Steps)
Intro — Our Unhealthy Default Reality
Recently I’ve been reading a helpful and challenging book by Pilar Gerasimo that focuses on physical and mental health, but it has profound implications for our spiritual life … and for addiction and recovery.
Gerasimo was the founder, and for many years editor, of Experience Life, a health and fitness magazine. Her book is called “The Healthy Deviant.” As her background might suggest, her focus is more on physical health, but it also drifts into mental health (as those two are integrally connected). Her point in the book is this: “Currently, we live in a culture that produces exponentially more unhealthy, unhappy people than healthy, happy ones” … and therefore, the only way to be healthy and happy is continually and deliberately go against the grain of conventional wisdom and practice.
Here’s more of what she says in the book:
In fact, right now, the unhealthy-to-healthy ratio is arguably running about a hundred to one. … If you are currently a healthy and happy person in today’s United States of America (or in any one of a growing number of countries now following our lead), you represent a tiny and shrinking minority. You are, statistically speaking, an endangered species. …
In my mind these facts raise a rather captivating question: What kind of society makes being healthy and happy so difficult that only a single-digit percentage of its population can hope to pull it off?
The answer is self-evident: A sick society. And within a sick society—one where chronic illness, obesity, drug dependence, anxiety, and depression are rapidly becoming the prevailing norms—what does it mean to be one of the few who buck those unhealthy odds?
You might wonder about her assertion that so many of us are unhealthy. Are things really that bad? I dare you to get the book and read it. She backs it up with a lot of research.
But there are two things that are striking about this … and are very sobering to reflect on:
- Though it was published in 2020, she wrote this book in 2018 and 2019 … before the COVID health crisis, and lockdowns associated with it, made everyone’s physical and mental health worse.
- Although she mentions them in the quote above, she doesn’t really focus much on mental health issues. She’s able to make her case for how unhealthy and unhappy we are by pointing to physical health markers alone. She doesn’t even get into the numbers of people dealing with addictions, and mental health struggles like anxiety and depression.
This is not a criticism of the book — as I stated above, her background qualifies her to focus on the physical health side of things. But it’s important to keep this in mind, because it makes her point in the book all the more important and pointed. If you were to add depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicides into the mix, the numbers look even worse.
I have struggled with writing this, because I don’t want to be negative. But this is important … and there’s a reason why we need to talk about what Gerassimo calls “our unhealthy default reality.”
Let me be clear from the outset about a core belief of mine, which makes it so essential to honestly face what Gerassimo and others are telling us:
The antidote to what ails us — in terms of physical, spiritual, or mental health — is not complicated, but it IS difficult, and we are easily discouraged or distracted away from it. Therefore, we need crystal clarity about the severity of problem we’re facing, and we need regular reminders about the seriousness of our situation … otherwise we won’t do what needs to be done.
This reality informs my writing and teaching, and how I work with people as a coach and recovery counselor. We will not do the work required for recovery unless we understand — and never lose sight of — the danger we are in. Continue reading Being Healthy and Happy in a Sick and Depressed World