America has become a nervous, anxious shell of its former self. Throughout our history, the United States has always been a bright beacon of hope. A place in which anything was possible and a positive, can-do attitude coursed through the land. However, that was then and this is now.
Ask any historian or sociologist why and how America rose from a rebel rousing colony to the world’s undisputed superpower and they’ll tell you that it was due to sheer grit, fortitude and unbridled hope. The land was alive and the people had a sense of awe — a belief that anything was possible and that good would prevail. A feeling that together, we could invent, make, build, create and improve. And, we did! The sky was the limit and our hopes and aspirations were boundless.
Of course, we still do lead the world in terms of innovation, but something has soured and where we once felt positivity and hope, we now increasingly feel anxiety.
That’s the question, isn’t it? Has greed corrupted us? Has an all-consuming obsession with politics divided us? Has our pop-culture, immediate gratification mentality finally worn us down? Has rampant corporate greed damaged us? The answer to all those questions is a resounding “yes.” But those aren’t the only reasons that we now find ourselves hobbled by negativity and anxiety.
Damon Linker has authored an insightful article in The Week on this very topic. Here are some salient snippets from his article:
“The United States is a country consumed by anxiety. This has been true for a very long time. But it’s getting worse.
Be honest: You sense it in yourself. The vague mist of worry that always lurks in the background, ebbing and flowing through the day, the sense of creeping inadequacy that prompts you to work ever-harder. You can detect it in the agitated drive to do ever-more to protect those you love from an endless stream of dangers and threats — and in the urge to keep up with friends, acquaintances, and news online during almost every waking moment, perhaps even crowding out sleep, making it impossible to settle down or drive away the subtle sensation of insufficiency.”
“…Way back in the 1820s, Alexis de Tocqueville noted that Americans were restless in the midst of their prosperity and freedom — existentially anxious that they would run out of time in their finite lives before getting a chance to enjoy all the good things available to them in a world of liberty and abundance. Still, today’s anxiousness feels different — more acute, more pervasive, more deeply woven into the very fabric of our lives and world…”
“…Anxiety is a form of fear — and politics driven by fear tends to be illiberal. That’s because liberalism is a political form that strives for openness, and people who are deathly afraid will be inclined to consider openness a luxury we simply cannot afford. Hence the rise of right-wing demagogues peddling conspiracy theories and draconian policies to make sense of and give order to the disorienting cybernetic swirl in which we swim….”
Read the entire article here — you’ll be glad you did.
“The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.” – Wayne Dyer
The creeping feeling of anxiety that has settled in the land is in our own minds, but it has been put there by others — the greedy corporations that take and take and give nothing in return, the corrupt politicians that divide us and care little about the damage they cause, the pop-culture money machine that tries to distract us with mindless “entertainment.” These are some of the primary sources of the stress we feel and the resulting anxiety is making us doubt ourselves.
What can be done?
Personally, I believe that the best solution is to reject the negativity being foisted upon us and the first step in doing that is to simply be mindfully aware of its influence on our mental health. Fortunately, more people are rejecting the hype, mania and negativity and embracing a more peaceful existence…and they’re all the better for tuning out the negativism.
“We live in a society bloated with data yet starved for wisdom. We’re connected 24/7, yet anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness is at an all-time high. We must course-correct.” – Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey
As a nation, we have a lot going for us and I believe that the tide is turning. As more people become aware of what is really important in life, they reject the very things and people that have caused the growing anxiety. Reject fear mongers, ignore troublemakers and turn your back on dangerously negative people — as FDR said “the only thing we have to fear, is feat itself.”
“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.” – Judy Blume