Culture | Focus on the Family Australia
Are you in the QPL or caught up in the "twin vanities"?
By Joanne Wilson
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Social connectedness has a bigger impact on health than giving up smoking, reducing excessive drinking, reducing obesity and any other preventative interventions? Whilst these strategies are going to enhance your lifestyle, modern medicine is realising the importance of integrating the most effective intervention for improving health and longevity - social relationships!

I would like to highlight the contribution of social researcher and bestselling author, Hugh Mackay whose accolades include an Officer of the Order of Australia and Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society to name a few. I was honoured to interview Hugh and took much delight in revealing his insight and wisdom that complements my contribution as a Relationships Therapist.

We are created relational social beings

When we feel loved, secure and attached to our people and surroundings, we flourish. Look beyond the symptoms of our anxiety epidemic and you’ll likely see social fragmentation behind it. An example of social fragmentation is one household in four has one person living in it, with this trend set to decrease to one in three. Fragmentation features 35%-40% of marriages that end in divorce (a massive ripple effect on society and generations including children who transition between parents’ houses or choose to live independently earlier.) Busyness is our badge of honour and the information technology boom that as Mackay says, “makes us feel more connected than ever before. On the other hand, it makes it easier than ever for us to stay apart from each other and to settle for a text or a tweet, rather than a phone call, let alone a cup of coffee. We are getting used to the idea that you can communicate without human presence.”

In my experience in the Counselling room, loneliness and disconnection is usually the root cause of addictions. “For too long now, we have been living in a society that revolves around individualism and consumerism.” says Mackay, citing them as the “twin vanities”.

Hugh emphasises this in what he calls being entangled in the QPL syndrome: the quest for the perfect latte. He says our sense of lack of control in the world causes us to seek fulfillment through bathroom renos, breast implants, enviable holidays we can Instagram and demand the perfect latte. We are ensnared in the false belief we will be happy when we get what we think we deserve. In reality, it is a never-ending chasm to fill and the root of entitlement and narcissism. Mackay says we have “lost sight of our true nature as people who belong to a society. We are, each of us, organically linked to the whole; its problems are our problems; the pain of any is the pain of all”.

Beyond Blue reveals two million Australians are suffering from a diagnosed anxiety disorder. Whilst youth suicide is falling, sadly our overall rate of suicide is still rising. Men are three times more likely to die of suicide, with approximately six male deaths per day.

What is going to counteract these frightening statistics? Find someone to work out or walk with, call a buddy for a catchup, join a choir, pottery class and be brave enough to knock on your neighbour’s door. Your brain lights up when you’re connected, needed and contributing to the lives of others. There’s a plethora of networking events in business, playgroups and hobbies. Use your screen for good today to search out some connections suited to you and courageously make contact. You’ll likely live a longer and healthier life.

I personally think it’s ok if you enjoy finding good coffee!

Social connectedness has a bigger impact on health than giving up smoking, reducing excessive drinking, reducing obesity and any other preventative interventions? Whilst these strategies are going to enhance your lifestyle, modern medicine is realising the importance of integrating the most effective intervention for improving health and longevity - social relationships!

This month, I’m highlighting the contribution of social researcher and bestselling author, Hugh Mackay whose accolades include an Officer of the Order of Australia and Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society to name a few. I was honoured to interview Hugh and taking much delight in revealing his insight and wisdom that complements my contribution as a Relationships Therapist.

We are created relational social beings. When we feel loved, secure and attached to our people and surroundings, we flourish. Look beyond the symptoms of our anxiety epidemic and you’ll likely see social fragmentation behind it. An example of social fragmentation is one household in four has one person living in it with this trend set to decrease to one in three. Fragmentation features 35%-40% of marriages that end in divorce (a massive ripple effect on society and generations including children who transition between parents’ houses or choose to live independently earlier.) Busyness is our badge of honour and the information technology boom that as Mackay says, “makes us feel more connected than ever before. On the other hand, it makes it easier than ever for us to stay apart from each other and to settle for a text or a tweet, rather than a phone call, let alone a cup of coffee. We are getting used to the idea that you can communicate without human presence.”

In my experience in the Counselling room, loneliness and disconnection is usually the root cause of addictions. “For too long now, we have been living in a society that revolves around individualism and consumerism.” says Mackay, citing them as the “twin vanities”.

Hugh emphasises this in what he calls being entangled in the QPL syndrome: the quest for the perfect latte. He says our sense of lack of control in the world causes us to seek fulfillment through bathroom renos, breast implants, enviable holidays we can Instagram and demand the perfect latte. We are ensnared in the false belief we will be happy when we get what we think we deserve. In reality, it is a never-ending chasm to fill and the root of entitlement and narcissism. Mackay says we have “lost sight of our true nature as people who belong to a society. We are, each of us, organically linked to the whole; its problems are our problems; the pain of any is the pain of all”.

Beyond Blue reveals two million Australians are suffering from a diagnosed anxiety disorder. Whilst youth suicide is falling, sadly our overall rate of suicide is still rising. Men are three times more likely to die of suicide, with approximately six male deaths per day.

What is going to counteract these frightening statistics? Find someone to work out or walk with, call a buddy for a beer, join the choir, pottery class and be brave enough to knock on your neighbour’s door. Your brain lights up when you’re connected, needed and contributing to the lives of others. Fellas can have a chilled out catch up at Sunshine Coast’s very own local initiative, www.grablifebytheballs.com.au which is expanding across Australia. There’s a plethora of women’s networking events in business, playgroups and hobbies. Use your screen for good today to search out some connections suited to you and courageously make contact. You’ll likely live a longer and healthier life.

I personally think it’s ok if you enjoy finding good coffee!

Reprinted with permission © 2019 Jo Wilson. Originally published at theconfidantecounselling.com.

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