“Our anxiety is no longer a background noise.” says, Dr. Madeline Levine, New York Times bestselling author of The Price of Privilege and Teach Your Children Well. Her new book, Ready or Not: Preparing Our Kids to Thrive in an Uncertain and Rapidly Changing World, walks us through the behavior and mindset shifts needed to thrive in the new normal of modern life.
So, what’s so different about today? First of all, we are emerging from a global pandemic. On top of that, there have been dramatic sociological changes in the last 50 years – the very definition of success has morphed! Being part of the middle class: owning a home, having a steady job and raising a family, used to be the measure of success. Since that time, we’ve had a large scale bifurcation of wealth. And most importantly, as a nation, we’ve experienced a major loss of community. Post WWII, there emerged strong communities with tight bonds and shared experiences that provided security, place, and connection. This unity helped people get through even the worst of circumstances. From Victory gardens to a longstanding working class attitude that we are all in it together – everybody pulls their weight and we are going to get through and we are going to help each other get through it together. It’s been evident over the last decade that this assuring attitude has all but disappeared, and that’s stressful!
Today, we are under a constant pressure to succeed, to be successful. And the new definition of success- money, materialism, fame – solely external markers, causes a lot of stress and unremitting anxiety.
In response, we must learn to master our anxiety, to reduce stress and live more fulfilling and meaningful lives. This will require changing our misperception about the definition of success and the paths to reaching it. Change the narrative. Think critically about the things that are making you anxious. Do a deep dive and ask yourself what’s true. Evaluate your fears and take small steps toward conquering them. Spend an hour a day of down time to consolidate your experiences, relax in self-reflection, and get some sleep!