Complexity In addition to these pressures, we live in a world that is more complex than ever before, in a number of ways. For example, the ingredients of a typical supermarket BLT sandwich may have travelled 31, miles before it makes it onto the shelf. There are a huge number of people and processes involved in the production of even a simple thing like this.
Overall, the complexity of the world can cause us a number of problems.
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We may also feel overwhelmed by the range of information available to us, and unsure of which sources to trust. We may also long for a simpler life, where we know how our goods are produced, and who by. Global issues In addition to all these issues, we live in a world with serious environmental and social problems, on which we all have a positive or negative effect through our daily lifestyle choices and actions.
This sense of responsibility for the wider world can in itself create a sense of pressure and anxiety in people. Conclusions In conclusion, we live in a world that is vastly different from the one that existed 50 years ago, and this world places a whole new set of pressures and challenges in front of us as individuals.
You may find it useful to consider whether any of the factors outlined above have affected your life, and if so, in what ways.
One of the main aims of Life Squared is to start to fill this important gap, and provide people with some of the guidance and ideas they need. The remainder of this booklet provides an introductory toolkit to help you deal with these issues in order to live a happier, wiser and more meaningful life. The first item in our survival kit for modern life is one of the most important, and influences how we approach all the other elements. It is our ability to know who we are, be happy in ourselves, interpret the world and carve out our own niche in life — overall, we can call this our capacity for self determination.
Below are a number of important features of self determination, and some practical ideas on how you can develop them further in your life. Get some perspective Within the rush of everyday life, it can be useful to gain some perspective on our lives and the world around us. It can be easy to lose sight of the big picture — including the fact that we are materially better off than the vast majority of other people, living or dead, the fact that we are simply another member of the animal kingdom and the fact that we are individually just one of nearly 7 billion human beings living on a tiny planet in a vast universe.
So, take some time to stand back from your life and learn about your place in the universe around you.
Day in life of a modern man. A vector illustration of day in life of modern man.
Gaining this type of perspective can help us keep a grip on reality, put a more realistic spin on our problems and worries, make us feel part of a bigger picture whether it is human beings, the natural world or the universe generally and give us a more modest sense of our own self-importance. Perspective is also useful when one is in potentially stressful situation too — just step back from the situation for a few moments and put it into perspective in the great scheme of things, and it may well seem more manageable and less stressful.
Build and protect your identity Our personal identity is our sense of who we are, what makes us happy and what we want from life. Our ability to build, nurture and protect it has a significant bearing on what we get from life and our experience of it. This is particularly important when we live in a complex world, full of choices and with many influences acting on us, where it can sometimes be a challenge to maintain a clear sense of our genuine needs and wants, rather than those that other people are trying to instil in us.
A strong sense of identity gives you a secure place and point of view from which to evaluate and deal with the world around you — a set of judgements and instincts you can trust.
A Day in the Life of Modern Man
It is also a place you can always return to in order to remind yourself of who you are, of your qualities and of what makes you happy. Resilience is our ability to deal with setbacks, and how we let them affect us. Developing greater resilience can help all of us to get on in life, as well as gain greater pleasure from the experience of living. Even if you feel your condition is unimportant or difficult to talk about, go and see your GP or other healthcare provider. We owe it to ourselves to enjoy experience of living as much as our circumstances allow, and our mental health is one of the most important foundations in enabling us to do this.
Think critically Critical thinking is the art of questioning the messages that we receive from external sources, including friends, newspapers, television and the internet. With the vast range of communications flying around the modern world, it is important that we each get into the habit of questionning all the external messages we receive, so that we can evaluate whether the sources are reliable, what the purpose of the message is, how we should interpret it and whether it is something to be digested or ignored.
For example, it is useful to be aware of how consumerism touches your life and when people or organisations are trying to manipulate you with commercial messages. You may also be reading newspapers or watching television stations that have a particular political bias, and it is good to be aware of this when interpreting their messages.
When you receive any message, whether it is in a social conversation, at work, in a newspaper, or on television, think about whether you want to accept it or not. Consider the source it came from and whether it might have a particular agenda. If you feel a particular message or source is too biased, you may want to get a more balanced view of the topic by exploring messages from a few different sources with different perspectives for example, looking at the same story in other newspapers or by finding a source you can trust before you make a judgement.
Do your life admin Unless we have a large team of staff at work, most of us have to do some admin. This involves activities like doing our expenses or filing our documents that some people can find boring, but that are important in helping us to work effectively. Unless we have the money to employ people to do it for us, we all have to do some admin. This might include managing our money and managing our time. Like work admin, life admin activities help us to run life more effectively, so that life becomes easier and we can do more of the things we want.
So, it is well worth getting our admin in order before we move on to the exciting stuff in life. Here are a few areas to consider:.
Each of us affects the world and people around us in various ways. We can be agents for good, agents for bad and often a bit of both. We live as effective moral agents when we live in a way that is broadly consistent with the values we each hold, and this chapter will explore how we can do this. But why is living in a morally consistent way important to our flourishing?
First, social acceptance matters in our lives — most of us want to be liked and accepted by other people, and being a decent person helps to achieve this. Second, the idea of reciprocity has oiled the wheels of human society for millennia — we get on in life by helping each other and by having a reputation for being good to deal with. So, living in an ethically consistent way can make us feel more balanced and happy generally.
It can however be a challenge to do this in the modern world, because many of our impacts are hidden behind a complex chain of people and events, so we may not be aware of the effects we have — whether good or bad. To be able to live in an ethically consistent way in the modern world, we therefore have to start educating ourselves about the world around us and in particular the processes and systems that surround our daily actions.
We also need to become more aware of what our values are, and how they can influence different areas of our lives. Below are some initial steps we can take to start living more in line with our values in the modern world. Think about your values Many people never go through the process of actually thinking about what their values are. Perhaps it seems unnecessary, as we often feel we instinctively know what is right and wrong. But taking an hour or two to step back and think about your values can be a very useful exercise to make you reflect about how you are living. All you need to do is to think about your values for an hour or two.
You could do this on your own somewhere quiet or you could meet up to discuss it with a group of friends.
Here are some things to consider. Are there some principles for life that you think you should try to live by? Are there particular ways in which you think you should behave or live your life?
follow url Make a list of these values. To get you started, you might want to ask yourself some basic questions. For example, how do you think you should treat other people? How do you feel you should treat other creatures? How do you feel you should treat the environment? It might also help to think about some general categories or principles. For example, how you think you should behave towards other people, animals, the environment or even yourself.
Then you can start listing more specific things about how you think you should behave. Try to come out of this thinking process with a basic list of overall values you have perhaps of them.
When you do this, it will quickly become clear that our values are involved in almost everything we think, say and do — for example, how friendly we are to strangers, how often we decide to travel by plane, how much we give to charity and whether we keep our promises. To help you think about this, you might find it useful to note a few headings to describe different areas of your life.
Now, for each of your values, go through each of these areas of your life and list some of the steps you could take to live more in line with your values in each of them.
As we have already noted however, for many other actions including some of the simplest, such as shopping it can be more difficult to know what the effects of our actions are because such complex chains and processes lie behind them. You might therefore need to do a bit of detective work to understand your impacts in these areas of your life. A good starting point for this is to try to think through the possible chains of impact yourself — for example, before you book that holiday in Sri Lanka, what impact might the flight have on the environment?
What is the political situation in the country? Where are you planning to stay, and what impact could this have on people and the environment? Fortunately, there are now some resources appearing which can make this research process easier for us. There are websites such as www. There are also resources that help you understand the chain of processes and impacts behind everyday actions — such as www. This is a relatively new area though and you will probably still need to do some of your own research if you want to really understand your impact.
This is simply a list of actions you plan to take to live more in line with your values, and it enables you to prioritise the most important actions and plan when you will do them, to make sure you do them. For example, you might note that in the next week you will start buying only local and seasonal fruit and vegetables to help reduce your environmental impact, and in the week after you will start volunteering for a few hours a week in order to help other people in need.
If you need some ideas on actions you could take, visit the Knowledge Base section of www. But remember to keep up each new habit!