Body and Soul, Sunday Telegraph

By May 19, 2012 Articles No Comments

 PDF_LogoA New Quality of Life

Welcome to the big slow down, where being truly successful means finding out what your priorities are and doing what you love, says Lollie Barr. If greed was good in the 1980’s consumption the buzzwords of the 90s, unbridled ambition and busyness the ethos for the first decade of the millennium, then 2010 is all about priorities: slowing down, doing the things you love and doing them well, being with the people who you love, and keeping happy and healthy. There has been a paradigm shift away from the do everything, success no matter what the cost attitude of the last decade, to choosing priorities that benefit your life. In short ’being’ rather than ’doing’ because you feel you should.

Change of Focus
Dr Timothy Sharp, a clinical psychologist with The Happiness Institute, says, “In previous decades, there was a focus on making money. With busyness comes a badge of honour. This one track approach to life manifested a lack of fulfillment and meaning. Now priorities are shifting towards wellness”. Ironically, we have got the global financial crisis to thank. After the economic meltdown came the opportunity to re evaluate life. Meiron Lees, author of D-Stress: Building Resilience in Challenging Times (InnerCents), says: “What is important is now being questioned. For the past 20 years, the west has been trapped in the material world: money, car, house and status symbols. The addiction of acquiring has a cost, so we’re reassessing if all the energy is really worth it. Even though technology is more advanced, we have been seeing more illness, depression and anxiety. Now there is a shift away from the stresses and strains, to re evaluating how you want to live. How much can you give to your family, career, health and happiness if you’re running on empty? It’s counterproductive and leads to stress and bad decision making”.

Soul Searching
The new values can be witnessed all around us: alternative medicine is no longer ’alternative’. According to IBIS World’s alternative health therapies report, the industry is worth $3.1 billion, increasing more than 5.8 percent in the past five years, and revenue growth is expected to accelerate over the next five years. Yoga and Pilates are mainstream; meditation is on the rise; massage centres are cropping up everywhere; and ’spirit-lit’ books are bestsellers. And science is catching on to the fact that chilling out changes the body on a molecular level. Researchers at Harvard Medical School in the US found long term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation had more active ’disease-fighting genes’ compared with those who did not practise any form of relaxation. Another victim of the new ambition to ’be’ is multi tasking. A study by Stanford University found multi taskers achieve less than those who do not bother. Another study showed that a group of Microsoft workers took, on average, 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks such as writing reports after responding to incoming emails or instant messages, as they strayed off to reply to other messages or surf the internet. ’research has found doing one thing at a time is most effective’, Dr Sharp says. “The most meaningful way to work is to do 30 minutes of solid focus.”

Time to Nurture
With this brave new world comes a need to reduce the things that do not genuinely fulfill us, increase the things that inspire us and take a deeper look at ourselves. It is hardly a new way of thinking when you consider that classical Greek philosopher Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living”. But now, challenging the way you think and act are accepted as healthy choices. Going to therapy, adding a spiritual dimension to your life and getting a deeper understanding of yourself are seen as lifesavers. The Australian Psychological Society says that more than 1.5 million people have been seen by psychologists since Better Access Medicare rebate started in late 2006, and this estimate does not include private, non government funded sessions. Melbourne spiritual teacher John Morris says, “We are so used to looking for fulfillment in the external world, but when it falls apart, or fails to offer what you are looking for, people look for it in different ways.

When they have looked everywhere else and have not found it, they look internally. Priorities are changing. These new priorities reflect that true peace comes from within, and participating in group and community activities produces happiness, rather than it coming from the material world”. “All this adds up to being what you value in life” says Dr Sharp. “But you need to bridge the gap between knowing and doing. A lot of executives say {they value} spending time with family and friends, but barely know their kid’s names, which mean they are living a life than is not consistent with their values.” Lees says that when we love what we do, it is self nurturing, which makes you feel uplifted. “Whether that is walking by the beach, having a massage … anything that allows you to slow down and just be”, he says.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Book Meiron for your next Program, Workshop or Conference Contact Us