Extraordinary epidemic of mental unwellness

“We are suffering from an epidemic of mental unwellness. Bread by the expectation that our lives will be stellar, when in fact they are far more likely only to be ordinary”

Alain de Botton

Back in 2006 when I’d just finished my GCSE’s, the only way to learn about successful business people was in books or, irregularly, on TV.

This lack of exposure created a barrier between us, “mere-mortals, and them.

Today, social media is littered with (actually) successful people alongside unsuccessful people posing as successful people.

The barrier is down and we’re having a digital dinner party with them 24/7/365.

Sadly, young people and financially desperate people can’t seem to tell the difference between the genuine and the fakes. This desperation to have an extraordinary life is leading to scams, snake-oil salesman, bankruptcy and, as de Botton said, an epidemic of mental unwellness.

The self-help industry has done an amazing job at making us all believe that we can be anything we want to be. But only if we believe in ourselves. And if we don’t succeed then that is only because we did not believe hard enough.

Alain de Botton said that “99% of us are going to have an ordinary life. So what have we done building a culture where an ordinary life isn’t enough?”

If you want to get rich. Prepare to sacrifice almost everything. Prepare to fail, every day. Felix Dennis once said that “if you are unwilling to fail, sometimes publicly and even catastrophically, you will never be rich”.

Are you really willing to go through public humiliation on your way to an extraordinary life?

Most of us are not.

And what exactly is wrong with the good (enough) life?

The life where you earn a decent living and you invest a percentage of your income for the chance of a little financial freedom? Where you’re home at 5pm and make your kids breakfast every morning? One where you’re a good and loving husband or wife and you don’t yearn for more.

In my experience, the majority of our problems come when we more what tomorrow could behold. When really, the joys of life are found in the present moment.

I’m not against hard work. I’m not against earning a lot of money. I’m not even against being famous, if you became famous of doing something that’s useful in society and not on some reality TV show which, let’s be honest, is the modern day equivalent of the Gladiators getting ripped to shreds by Lions at the Colosseum.

I think we’re at a point in time where the most noble life is and ordinary one. Those with the mental resilience to shut it out the social media scams and quacks and focus only on what they can truly affect. Those are who we really should be applauding.

Everyday I get a little bit closer to be okay with being just ordinary. And you know what, it feels really fucking good.