In the wake of another suicidal attempt, the world is coming to terms with the reality that most of their friends and relatives are depressed. Even the over happy people on Facebook posting motivational quotes are not spared. Research shows that most motivational quotes on social media are not necessarily aimed at the readers; they could be exactly what the author of the post has written. You may have to consider picking up the phone and calling the motivational speaker on Facebook. Most likely, they are going through something, but social media helps us wear a façade. It’s a rat race in this world. Everyone is in pursuit of happiness, and believes that the pay slip can bring it, or a thinner waist line, or beauty, or even love. But is happiness found in everything else we pursue, except ourselves? Can we depend on others to make us happy?
Emerging research suggests that positive thinking could be the key to staying healthy and happy at an older age. Well, happiness could all be in the mind after all. Extensive research has been done on the same but we will focus on Professor Andrew Steptoe who was the lead author on this study and he is from the department of behavioral science and health. We will basically focus on the more mature population on this study, that’s between 50-90 years, the golden age where most are officially retiring.
More than 7000 participants took part in this extensive research and the question was clear; is their life meaningful? This is a very tricky question to ask someone in their 70s as it’s not only depressing, it’s very difficult to let go of habits you have developed for more than seven decades. Initiating change is more likely to occur when we are more youthful. We hope this study will help those in their youthful years find meaning and fulfillment sooner than later.
Those who are married were more fulfilled, says the study, at 16%. In fact, those who lived with others in their households were happier.
This research comes at the wake of women empowerment and feminism, where marriage is no longer held at a pedestal. In fact, the more successful a woman is, the less likely she will find the need of getting married. This research may not make sense to people in their twenties and thirties but those who have aged significantly are actually happier when they age with someone beside them. Not to shun celibacy but to avoid boredom one may consider marriage.
Honestly, one’s lifespan increases significantly when there are loved ones around them in old age. As kids grow up and move to the cities, most parents are usually left alone to battle with loneliness and depression. Elderly people do need to be loved. With industrialization and everyone trying to earn a living, some have resorted to taking their elderly parents to institutions for the elderly. This is extremely painful for parents with living children. Abandonment is a major cause of depression among the elderly. This is a call for children to consider how necessary it is to take their parents to those institutions in the first place.
Netflix and chill is addictive, that we know, but did you know that those who spend too much time watching TV alone are more depressed and find life to be meaningless? Sitting in front of the TV for long hours, say 6, almost every day could eventually lead you to depression. Switch off the TV and talk to real people, who would listen to your problems. Researchers also warn that spending too much time by yourself or in front of a television may make your life feel less meaningful. The results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Research also indicates that those who have social forums, like a church group, social club or neighborhood watch are happier and more fulfilled. It’s not cliché to say that no man is an island, actually, be an island at your own risk. Facebook is fine, picking debates on social media day in day out without actually interacting with people may eventually make you feel isolated. Social media is just a façade. Very few people actually post the reality of their struggles, they only post the feel good posts. This can make others anxious who will assume that everyone else has it all and are not familiar with the struggles that they themselves are going through. Social media gives us a false sense of socialization in the comments section, but it also reduces the time we actually interact with people we meet in real life.
Thousands of followers on social media may not take away the loneliness that one is undergoing. Very few will actually come through if you actually post that you want to take away your life. People should learn building friendships in real life.
Professor Andrew Steptoe says “social engagement is a very important component of living a meaningful and fulfilling life for many people. Being a member of an organization may be meaningful in itself, but it can also provide social contact.” You may consider joining social groups, like golf or aerobics if you want to be fit. You will not only get an ideal body, you will make friends in the process. During the weekend you can attend a church service, after all church will also be a good place to vent about failing marriages and relationships as there will be people ready to listen. There are so many places to socialize, get your membership.
While society shuns those who are actively pursuing relationships, especially ladies who get devastated at delayed marriages, we cannot deny the fact that in old age the reality of loneliness sting deeper. While others may be playing with their grandchildren, an unmarried person may be very lonely as they may not even have their own children to call. Relationships bring happiness, however much we try to shun it.
The study also showed that those who are healthier fit and less obese found meaning in their lives. Did you know that chronic illness and obesity can cause depression? This right here is another reason to hit the gym diligently, contact a dietician on what to consume because after all, we are what we eat. Fries and soda may be good for our taste buds but in the long run their consumers not only get bloated, they feel depressed!
What do you live for?
Is your life meaningful? The study found that those who had something they are looking forward to had more fulfilling lives. What is the reason you wake up every morning? People who socialize are happier. People who have goals are happier. Do not just go about your day as a routine with no clear goals, have something to look forward to. Some have even embarked on doing voluntary work, helping the needy and even visiting the hospital. Welfare indeed gives meaning to life. Giving a smile to someone who had lost hope is more fulfilling than you can imagine. If you don’t have the finances to do welfare you can always volunteer your time.
In a nutshell, if you want meaning in your life, just go out there. Meaning can be found when we interact with others.