Not a care in the world…well maybe one!




By Kenneth Justice

~ How do you chill out?

Our society is so fast paced it seems like one of the most difficult processes to learn is how to relax.

–> Deadlines

–> Work

–> Meetings

–> Appointments

–> Grocery shopping

–> Laundry


For many of us, our days seem to be filled with a never ending calendar of tasks which we never seem to completely accomplish.

Let’s cut to the chase; many people do not know how to chill out….

Our lives are so overbooked that chilling out seems to be a herculean task all in itself.

The stats which tell us how many people are taking prescription medications to deal with anxiety, depression, and an overall discontentment with life are through-the-roof.

Of course, much of psychology tells us that depression, anxiety, and other psycho-social ills are entirely biological….

But that is a prescription I can’t sign my signature upon.

Sure; there is an element of genetics at work in the way we are….that is undeniable.

But to ignore the cultural makeup of our society as being connected to the simple fact that so many of us don’t know how to chill out….is an error of epic proportions.

Travel outside of the United States to more agrarian or communal societies…and suddenly the concepts of depression and anxiety seem to be non-existent.

Sure, people in third-world countries have struggles; nutrition, 21st century medicine, clean drinking water, social injustice, and more are things that other people groups deal with on a daily basis.

But strangely enough, when social-psychologists perform peer-reviewed studies on these (supposedly) backwards nations….the psycho-social things we struggle with in the West are much more difficult to find among these other people groups.

“If psychologists know that it is our way of life in the West that is the root of many of our struggles…why don’t they do something about it?”

That is a question I tried to deal with in both my undergraduate and graduate theses.

What’s a psychologist to do?

It’s not like there is a Harry Potter magic wand that we can wave at our culture and cause everyone to slow down, to be less materialistic and consumeristic; there is no switch to flip that helps chill people out.

Many people believe that doctors are filling out prescriptions for people because it’s easier to hand out drugs than it is to ask people to change their way of life.

So where do we go? If depression and anxiety are steadily on the rise; where will Western Society be 50 years from?

What do we do?

A friend of mine recently complained, “I feel like its pulling teeth to get all my friends together for dinner regularly!” she said.

“When I was a teenager my circle of friends spent so much time together but once we got into our twenties we all seem to be overly obsessed with trivial things…we’re too busy to hang out with each other” she lamented.

Unfortunately, as with many topics in life I have more observations than I have answers….

Perhaps learning how to chill out takes a lifetime…..but if that is true; why are other cultures so good at it??

I think I’ve asked enough questions…it’s on to my next cup of coffee.


Categories: Culture & Society

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. I think part of it is because the media stirs up a feeding frenzy and people fall for it, or don’t want to miss out or be left out of whatever it is they are selling at the moment (real or imagined, physical or mental). If we are kept busy enough we don’t have time to think about what our government, big business, et al., are doing or what is happening around us. It’s a form of distraction to stop us from seeing what’s in front of us. Run in the wheel and don’t stop, so you don’t see the snake coming your way. People are too exhausted to pay attention. This tactic actually works and it’s easier than putting people who disagree or fight back, into jail. While everyone is rushing around, another camera is going up at another corner and more of our freedom is being taken away every day, But who has time to worry about minor things like freedom when you have to get a coffee, go to work then take care of ten other things and drive someone to someplace and then do chores, and more work before you fall into bed only to begin again the next morning.

    The sad thing is that children are being raised to be busy every second of their day as well. Organized activities are a given. Kids who are not registered in something have no one to play with because the streets are empty. Kids go to school and then after school sports, activities, then homework/practice, bed only to start again the next day. Every moment of their day, beginning at a VERY early age, is planned and charted. Free play is unheard of. Using your imagination, UNSUPERVISED, is a thing of the past. It’s very sad to see children stand in front of you not knowing what to do because they have no one to TELL them what to do next. Scary because a lot of kids are being trained to follow orders without thinking for themselves.

    • “The sad thing is that children are being raised to be busy every second of their day as well”

      there is a growing body of academic literature that is questioning whether or not it is healthy for children to be busy every moment of the day in the way you are referring.

      Excellent thoughts 🙂

  2. We can reinvent a weekly sabbath, maybe not even on Saturday or Sunday. I love the insight from some rabbis that its focus isn’t darkly no-no-no but rather to open time for celebrating with family and friends, and that includes connubial bliss with one’s beloved or maybe just kicking back in the hammock.
    On my end, the heart of the chilling out is weekly Quaker meeting for worship, with its extended warm silence and contemplation/reflection/intuitive reconnection.
    Howard Thurman’s advice to simmer for a few moments abed before getting up in the morning or falling asleep at night has been welcome, though I haven’t done much of that since retiring. Maybe this coming winter?

  3. I believe psychology in general has given people outs, or excuses for their behaviour, almost everyone I meet lately has ADD, ADHD, OCD, Depression, Bi Polar-ism is particularly popular now a days, medications are suggested for certain “symptoms” in glitzy ads meaning drugs are not necessarily being prescribed by the doctor but asked for by the patient. I am not trying to belittle those who truly suffer from legitimate disorders, those people often don’t seek help and only get it when circumstances force them into it. So this is the point why are so many people running around willing to be labeled? Where all there parents suffering the same conditions unbeknownst? I think not. So you can take nature out of the equation. This is a matter of nurture. Our society is the cause, our social systems are not compatible with our nature. We are naturally communal animals, our capitalistic side comes from our hunter gathering days and are meant to seize upon opportunities that would ultimately benefit the tribe or clan. Those capitalistic instincts were not employed against one another as much in more primitive social systems. Our society is built upon keeping up with the Jones and being a dog eat dog world and yes we are cannibalizing each other metaphorically. Cannibalism is not natural it is brought about by extreme condition. We have created extreme condition in our social structure.

    • TJ,

      YES, Yes, and Yes

      Psychology has moved in a direction in which they are teaching people to NOT be responsible. It is very sad….and it is largely for the reasons you listed that I have put of pursuing my PhD at the moment….I don’t feel like following the party line and in order to get my PhD i would likely have to write a lot of papers I don’t necessarily agree with

  4. well some of it is tied to diet – there is so much “fake” stuff that kids are much more hyper than they used to be, causing the erroneously diagnose them as adhd, etc. we do put a lot of crap food in our bodies now and some of that even applies to so called fresh foods cuz of all the chemicals, etc. that’s one part. plus we are very materialistic – that isn’t JUST the media’s fault. i get fairly tired of the media being blamed for everything. advertisers tried something one or twice and people really responded. IF people didn’t respond to it, advertisers would quit doing it because it wouldn’t be working; they wouldn’t make money. people have minds for themselves, they can make their own decisions. this all goes back to the “american dream” bit – just think “the great gatsby.” since we’re all working so hard to get that dream, we drive ourselves “nuts” in the mean time. some of that stuff is biological but again can be tied up with all the chemicals we put in our bodies anymore. it’s a mix bag of crap basically. we are a really wound up tight society – probably why we’re amongst the most violent.

    • Jen,

      right on and I agree…..

      you know how it goes in writing, sometimes you gotta pick one angle at the risk of leaving out all the other things that are connected to the subject 🙂

    • there you go – hence where journalism does get a portion of it’s so called bias – but it has to be done for the sake of space and knowing that no one will really read a 2,000+ article in a newspaper now – won’t happen.

  5. I was sitting in my backyard last night looking up at the stars. I was thinking about a poem I read about “a moment of silence”. It took me about 5 minutes just to clear out all the thoughts about the chaotic and rushed day. I had a nice day ending with a live Neil Simon play. Yet it was way too rushed. I am an introvert and I must take quiet time to recharge. I notice that many people thrive on adrenaline rushes. I have chosen to look for my “chilling out” pleasures in music, poetry, laughter with friends and “moments of silence”. I think that if people would experiment with inserting times where they don’t rush about, they would find that it creates clearer thinking and more efficiency overall in getting things done. (ex less time searching for things they lost or forgot because they were rushing about)

  6. I find it hard to find “me” time or just chill. I have been caring for another human being, on my own for almost 10 years now. I am constatnly rushed or telling him to get his shoes on for the 5th time in a row.

    However, when I do get alone time, I chill by killing fantasy characters on my computer screen, or better known as GAMING. If I didn’t have my games, that aggression would surely go elsewhere and that would not be good. 🙂

    I watch TV to but not reality crap. I like Animal Planet and History Channel. Call of the Wildman on Animal Planet always has my attention. I love The Turtleman!

  7. Maybe this is the way capitalism works. Draining people of their energy and time and selling them the drug to overcome it!

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