Much talk in the media about the need to be “resilient” in the face of economic meltdown, career uncertainties, stress at home and work, etc. The conventional advice – like trying to “balance” work and life, managing your stress with proper exercise, diet, meditation, and focusing on positive thoughts and feelings to help you cope with it all — good stuff, per se, but it’s not going to help very much in this current world, which is transforming beneath our feet in ways that can be hard to fathom or deal with.
Conventional solutions aren’t effective because they point you to coping and managing with conventional conflicts. Our changing world requires much more of a proactive position – perspectives, emotional attitudes and actions that address a new reality: that our lives and well-being are totally interconnected, globally. We succeed or fail at work and in relationships to the extent that we can, in effect, “forget ourselves,” and focus on serving the larger, common good. It sounds like a paradox, but we’re all global citizens now, and whatever attitudes and actions support positive engagement — other people, co-workers, or missions larger than our own narrow self-interest – they circle back to increase success and security in our own lives.
Republicans have been criticizing Obama’s “empathy” factor, when considering possible Supreme Court nominees. It’s an interesting example of what I wrote about in the Washington Post — about the rise of what I call (slightly tongue-in-cheek) “EDD,” or Empathy Deficit Disorder, that plagues our society. Read it on my main website (click on Center).
Check out this sustainable city of green rings, from South Korea. Hey — where are our own imaginative minds? http://tinyurl.com/c3ev52
We see an increasing focus by corporate executives on actions that promote sustainability. This is a positive development, but we need to focus on describing, promoting and teaching the leadership mentality, mindset, and perspectives that will support those actions throughout all levels of an organization. Otherwise it becomes dissipated or lost. A positive, supportive management culture is an essential ingredient, from the start. Too often, this is overlooked or neglected.
We see increasing media reports about people suffering from “recession anxiety,” depression, and even worse. Apparently, stemming from the global economic meltdown and what it’s done to our sense of stability; our expectations of continued “success” in life. I think these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. We’re living in a world that has been changing in front of our eyes, and is creating new psychological and behavioral challenges for everyone.
In this post-globalized, totally interconnected world, our old definitions of the psychologically healthy adult no longer fit. We need new thinking, new criteria about what constitutes healthy emotional attitudes, behavior, mental perspectives, and personal values in today’s world. I think that outward success and internal well-being are interwoven with responsibilities for the common good – the larger human community and the planet. We’re all global citizens, now. That shift calls for a new picture of psychological health and how to build it, individually and socially.
We need to understand the psychology of climate change denial. Much is driven by deep fears and helplessness in the face of new dangers. Or when confronted by new realities that subvert a mindset that all is secure and unchanging, and will remain so. We mental health professionals need to raise this to the public; help people recognize that awareness coupled with action can help mitigate helplessness and fear. That’s what gives you a sense of impact, of empowerment. My colleague Lise Van Susteren has written about the need for mental health professionals to deal with this in the Huffington Post: http://tinyurl.com/djnqzz