To put it bluntly, we’re annoyed, angry and enraged — colloquially speaking, we’re “P.O.’d.” There’s a constant low-boil of irritation simmering under everything; we’re all on a hair-trigger; volcanoes ready to erupt.
Don’t take my word for it.
According to Gallup’s latest annual update on the world’s emotional state, (yes, it’s a real survey; no, I didn’t know it existed either), even with what many consider to be a booming economy, residents of the U.S. of A. were stressed, angry and worried last year more than we have been at almost any time in the last 10.
The survey queried respondents about how they felt, and the majority of Americans in 2018 (55%) said they had experienced stress during “a lot of the day,” 45 percent said they felt “worried a lot” and more than one in five (22%) said they “felt anger a lot.” Each of these numbers matches or exceeds previous United States records.
If that wasn’t problematic enough, Americans were more likely to be stressed and worried than much of the world. To put numbers to it, those 55% of stressed Americans was one of the highest rates out of the 143 countries surveyed, exceeding the 35 percent global average by 20 points, tying us with Greece (which for some reason has led the world on this sad stat every year since 2012). Chant with me now: “We’re number one! We’re number one!”
If there was a bright spot, we’re half as likely to be angry as the populations of the Palestinian Territories (43%), Iran (43%) and Iraq (44%). Of course, look at what’s going on in those countries; can you blame them?
The “most stressed, worried and angry” award falls to Americans between 15 and 49, with roughly two in three saying they experienced stress a lot. About half said they felt worried a lot, and at least one in four replied that they felt anger a lot. Income, not surprisingly, plays a role; nearly seven in 10 of the poorest 20 percent reported they experienced stress the previous day, compared with less than half (48%) of the richest 20%. Similarly, 56% of Americans in the poorest group said they worried a lot, compared with 41% in the richest group.
So, now that I’ve harshed your mellow and beaten you with numbers, the more pressing question is, “What do we do about it?”
Well, we do know that we can’t keep going as we’re going. Living in a constant state of rage and anxiety isn’t beneficial; the results leading to damaged relationships, strokes and heart attacks. Being angry non-stop is like that old joke about trying to teaching a pig to sing. It won’t work — and it all it does it tick off the pig.
We also can’t change the state of world overnight, wish as we might.
Logically then, the reality is there isn’t a lot we can do except learn to surrender. Don’t get me wrong, one of my harder lessons is surrendering; learning to “let go;” it just seemed tantamount to “giving in.” And with so much at stake, how can I simply roll over? That’s not my style; I’m more of a “never say die” kind of guy.
On the other hand, I’m being dragged kicking and screaming toward the realization that surrender and acceptance are, in reality, quite the reverse of “giving in.”
Acceptance is not passivity; it is true, real, boots-on-the-ground understanding. ONLY upon accepting something for what it is, can we remove the veil of denial of “what we want it to be” and look accurately at “what truly is.” Upon that mental realignment, we are better able to be in the NOW and take care of ourselves and those we love, instead of pursuing unrealistic, judgmental, fear-based — possibly even harmful — options.
In place of becoming a culture of Dox Quixotes flailing at windmills, surrender lets us use that power we actually do possess where we can truly make a difference; in our thoughts. When one thinks about it, “releasing and letting go” is actually much simpler and smarter than fighting that which will never be won via magical thinking and upping our blood pressure.
Scott “Q” Marcus is the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com. He is available for coaching, speaking and reminders of what really matters at 707-834-4090 or email@example.com.