Why is everyone so angry? Is it because they can't get their own way, or is it because people simply believe their purpose in life is to take care of themselves, and that others should do the same?
No matter what news channel you turn on, you hear about the horrific behaviour of your fellow-citizens or the misuse of democracy for personal or professional gain. Sadly, in the last 30 days, there are more examples to cite than I have room for in this blog, and frankly I am fed up about talking about them so why not talk about the cause -- our own behaviour or lack thereof.
There I said it: we are responsible for this mess, and by we, I mean all adults. Society today seems more like the Clint Eastwood film when he plays the crazy old man. Think about it: we complain, we harass, we hate.
Why and when did this happen? Over the holidays, I asked many people this question, and received answers that included Karl Rove, Ronald Reagan, Pierre Trudeau, the media, our parents, the Internet, and, finally, millennials, which is interesting, since they were born in the 1980s, and in no way are responsible for today's culture -- yet.
It is fascinating that no one took responsibility for this crappy society we have created. No one said, "Well, I didn't vote so, X was elected." No one said, "Well, I didn't speak up, so X was bullied." No one said, "Well, I didn't teach my kids personal responsibility, so they are not doing really well at work." Everyone blamed someone or something else.
Naturally, none of us did anything wrong. Everyone else did. All this hit home just after Christmas in my neighborhood.
I told my 12-year-old and her friend to go out and shovel the driveway of our neighbor who is blind. I was angry because my daughter hadn't thought of this herself. As I was storming out of the house and grabbing a shovel to help them, a man walking his dog asked me what was the rush and I explained. His response was as cold as the weather: "Why bother -- they can hire someone if they need the snow shoveled." I had to stop myself from going "Dirty Harry" on him. Doesn't he understand the perils of living on a fixed income; the need for living independently or at least believing you live independently? Or maybe he doesn't know who these neighbors are, or maybe he's just an ass. I decided on the last, and took the shoveling team down the street, my anger now directed at him rather than my daughter. But it gave me cause for thought. When the next snow came, not one other neighbor shoveled that driveway, not even the lawyer next door with the snow blower.
Now you may be thinking that I live in a horrible neighborhood -- I don't. I live on a picture-perfect, old-fashioned street with people that worry about themselves and their families. Are you any different? Is your neighborhood any different? I don't think so.
Our neighborhoods and our workplaces are the microcosms of our society. My research indicates that today's leaders and their followers are more focused on completing their tasks than they are on developing the people they work with. This means they aren't focusing on the people in their division. They focus only on the task their engaged in. In other words your employees are the man with the dog telling others to take care of themselves.
Research also proves that your employees are just like my daughter: pretending to be happy when I direct her to shovel. Employees are lying to you on their engagement surveys and their 360s because they know it's what you want to hear. Ask yourself do you believe that your employees really care about the firm or the quality of their work, or are they just staying at work to pay the mortgage because "it's a job"? Do you just believe those reports because it is easier than finding out the truth about your culture?
Does this matter to you? Does any of this matter? I don't know, but I do know that we will be doing a lot of shoveling this year.
Here are seven ways that friends can keep people healthier:
Having a highly active social life can decrease Alzheimer's disease risk by a surprisingly high 70 percent, according to new findings published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. The scientists, based out of Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago had noticed a link between less-social seniors and dementia, but they weren't sure if early dementia symptoms were causing isolation or if friends actually do keep your brain healthier, TIME reports. Turns out it was the latter: "Each one-point increase on the social activity score was linked to a 47 percent drop in the rate of decline in cognitive function, the researchers found," the TIME article says.
You may have thought you grew out of peer pressure in grade school, but a recent Australian study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that our friends have a direct influence over our physical activity levels and eating habits. "These findings suggest that healthy behavior may be contagious," lead author Kylie Ball of Deakin University, Australia was quoted saying in Science Daily.
Friendly chit-chat can have the same cognitive boost as, say, solving a crossword puzzle, according to research conducted at the University of Michigan. In a recent study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the scientists found that that a simple ten-minute conversation increased performance level on a battery of mental tasks. "Taken together with earlier research, these findings highlight the connection between social intelligence and general intelligence," lead author Oscar Ybarra said in a university press release.
Gossiping with friends gets a bad rap, but that may not be totally deserved. A study from Staffordshire University recently found that when people gossip about someone in a positive way, they actually leave the conversation feeling better about themselves -- but keep it nice: mean-spirited gossip had the opposite effect. Another study from a few years ago also found that happiness begets happiness: having a friend who is happy boosts your chance of feeling the same way by more than 15 percent, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Having supportive relationships can actually postpone the aging process. A recent study from Brandeis University researchers found that a strong social network -- especially when combined with physical exercise and a feeling of control in one's life -- could delay health declines by up to ten years.
Strong relationships with friends and family can increase your odds of surviving by a whopping 50 percent, according to recent research from Brigham Young University. The scientsists in the study found that a poor social life is even more harmful to your health than not exercising and equivalent to being an alcoholic. "We take relationships for granted as humans -- we're like fish that don't notice the water," study author Timothy Smith said in a university press release. "That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health."
Talking to guy friends about sex isn't just for the locker room anymore. A recent study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences found that men aged 57 to 85 who discuss sexual problems -- such as lack of libido or impotence -- with their friends actually felt less depressed. But when these same men spoke to their doctors about the health problems they were facing, they were actually less likely to feel better.
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