You are hereDo you know how to spot if life is driving you mad

Do you know how to spot if life is driving you mad

Gabrielle Fagan
If you sometimes suspect you’re going a little mad in our hectic world, you probably are, according to a leading psychologist.
While modern life is filled with benefits, from access to life-saving drugs, education, travel opportunities and general comforts, many of us are paying a high price with our pressured, driven lifestyles.
“There’s a massive negative side to modern life,” says lecturer Steve Taylor.
“The way we live is driving us slightly mad. Many of us are suffering from a psychological disorder I call ‘humania’. It’s caused by our drive to accumulate more and more wealth, status and success, even though those things don’t necessarily bring contentment.”
In his new book, Taylor suggests that the disorder creates a restlessness in our minds, making us feel uneasy and anxious when our attention isn’t occupied by external things.
“It creates a sense of dissatisfaction which constantly impels us to look for happiness outside ourselves, from possessions, to success and power,” he says.
Instead, we should aim for what psychologists refer to as the ‘state of flow’, in which our minds are focused on the task at hand, and we live ‘in the moment’.
“Our lifestyles don’t leave room for the benefits of quietness too, which can help heal the discord in our minds and recharge us,” Taylor says.
“When we fill our lives with hustle and bustle, the discord in our minds intensifies.”
Encouragingly he points out that there are small, simple steps to get us back on the path to harmony and peace.
Danger signs
TELLY ADDICT: As soon as you get home the first thing you do is switch on the television because you feel uncomfortable with the quiet of home.
Technology ensures we’re never free from entertainment and information and viewing it can become compulsive. Other distractions include reaching for a book, phoning friends, or cramming in exercise sessions.
CONSTANT WORRY: Many of us are beset by thoughts buzzing in our minds from the moment we wake up. Sometimes this forms a negative script repeating messages such as ‘I can’t do this’, ‘she’s so much better than me’ or ‘I won’t ever be happy’.
Test this out by closing your eyes for two minutes and track your first thought, then retrace your steps to the final thought. You’ll probably be surprised at the convoluted path it takes and will be able to tell if you’re beset with negativity.
INCESSANT DESIRE: Many of us spend our lives seeking status, money and possessions. But if we feel dissatisfaction inside, our instinct is to look to external things to mask uncomfortable feelings.
“No matter how much we acquire, it’s never going to be enough to quell deep-rooted insecurities or unhappiness,” says Taylor.
“Is there any point to life if our lives are nothing more than a scramble for achievement and status? Materialism or success gives only a fleeting buzz.”
WISHING YOUR LIFE AWAY: To escape the present, we can spend our lives ‘looking forward’ to events, endlessly setting goals, or hankering for an, often imaginary, golden era.
“Lack of focus on ‘the moment’ and constantly chasing ambitions and dreams doesn’t give us any inclination to deal with anxieties or problems,” says Taylor.
“This can result in a ‘state of absence’, resulting in poor-quality links with family, friends and colleagues, yet those relationships are recognised as an essential source of contentment,” says Taylor.
“One problem with the future is that it eventually becomes the present and it can rarely live up to the expectations attached to it.”
Sanity tips
Make contact with nature: Go for a walk in the park or countryside and allow yourself to notice small details and seasonal changes. They’ll help enhance the feeling that life continues at its own rhythm and pace regardless of the problems which beset you.
Quiet time: Turn off the TV, radio and computer and practise feeling comfortable in your own mental space. When you’re out and about, cut down the time you spend texting or checking your phone so your focus is on those around you.
Meditate: Meditation slows down our thoughts and helps prevent us being overwhelmed with negative feelings. You should aim to meditate for 20 to 30 minutes a day. Swimming, running, dancing, yoga or having sex can also bring about a feeling of harmony and have a mind-calming effect.
Help others: Volunteering can give us a different perspective on life, and research has shown that as well as making us happier, altruism makes us feel connected to something bigger.
Back To Sanity: Healing The Madness Of Our Minds by Steve Taylor is published by Hay House, priced £10.99. - Fly at a Smile-Price