“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
Much of the western world has a very limited idea of what a successful life looks like. Go to school, create a lucrative career, marry, reproduce and repeat throughout the generations. The lives that deviate from this model at any point in the timeline are often shamed, punished, isolated and/or medicated.
We often try to put labels on people who behave in ways that don’t fit into our current model of perfection: ADD, bipolar, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, etc. It makes us more comfortable to explain a way of being according to an archetype because we often believe that if we understand the person’s behavior, then we can better predict how they may act in a given situation—it makes us feel safe. We do this with all mental “disorders” and often times the people that need the most support and true understanding get discounted and isolated because of this label. Our current society is not an inclusive or understanding one. We have lived in favor of ourselves over the collective for many generations and our people and planet are feeling the disconnection. I believe that the climate we have created around “mental illness” can be changed very easily—I believe that positive change lies not in “fixing” anyone, but in our perception of these people.
ADD or “attention deficit disorder” is considered to be a handicap and afflicted people are often subsequently medicated in order to function in society. In my opinion, however, I believe society is the one with the disorder—not the individual. Let us consider the possibility that a lack of focus on one subject (or ADD) is actually a leap in human evolution.
The way in which we humans behave and interact with the world around us has changed dramatically since the digital age began. The collective consciousness of humanity is now available at the swipe of a finger thanks to smartphones and the internet. How amazing to think about! With this immediacy of information, we are often inundated with it. In any given day, the average smartphone user responds to personal and work/school emails, making and receiving a number of phone calls, interacting with 1-4 social media platforms which are filled with thousands of news stories, event details, how to’s and communications from friends, family and foes.
How many steps have I taken today? *click* Let’s take a cool photo for Insta-pin-tweet-book! *clickclickclick* Oooo, look at this cool waterfall pic! *click* I should research a trip to Venezuela. *click* I wonder how the social climate is doing there these days. *click* What about Zika? *click*…*click* *click*
Then life snaps into focus. What should I make for dinner? Will I have time to go shopping between getting off of work and picking up the kids from school? Don’t forget to clean the litter boxes tonight. “Alexa, set a reminder.”
Is it any wonder that we are unable to focus on a single task at hand? Our rapid advances in technology as well as our expectations for each individual to be all things to all people have been demanding that we become multitasking humans. We have been adapting to this way of life for the past couple of decades and for some reason, we are all surprised and upset that we actually became the multitasking human that we were working toward. The old “careers” of sitting down and performing the same, repetitive tasks are no longer acceptable to those who have adapted—is it any wonder why so many people are bored and unfulfilled at their jobs? How can we possibly expect children to sit down and put all of their attention on one school subject when they are used to playing with smartphones and having schedules that would stress out a seasoned business professional?
Sticking to these antiquated ideals is an unreasonable demand and, in my perspective, a disservice to humanity. Being able to juggle many things at once is the only way to survive in this fast paced world these days. If we embrace this “scattered” way of thinking instead of medicating it out of existence, we open ourselves up to a much more integrated society. Much of today’s ills are a result of compartmentalization. We have always exalted the “expert” who studies one subject for their entire lives and while it has been useful in understanding the minute details of life—getting to know the microcosm—it has let us down in the understanding of the macrocosm. The era of the “expert” in one field must come to an end for us to fulfil our next stage of evolution. The success of our future relies on our ability to intimately understand all things—and most importantly, how all things are interconnected.
Styrofoam was created by a brilliant chemist, an expert in his field, who had no understanding of ecology and how living organisms, in conjunction with the elements, break down organic matter to recycle organic elements. The legislator who studied economics and signs a bill allowing for the development of a forested area doesn’t understand the physical, emotional and spiritual interconnectedness that the adjacent communities have with that land. The landscaper who chooses Kentucky Bluegrass for a lawn in Michigan doesn’t understand native plants and therefore doesn’t see the resulting negative impact this choice has on water and petroleum usage, carbon emissions, soil quality and biodiversity.
In order for our species to survive, we must embrace a more holistic way of educating ourselves. We need to understand many areas of life instead of placing all of our attention entirely on one subject. The world is large and we have much to learn and integrate into our societies, but it is something we must strive for.
In my case, I would–by every diagnostic measure–be considered ADD. However, I was allowed to find constructive outlets for this energy instead of stifling it—for me, that outlet was enterprise. The scope of running a business is quite vast, so it was natural for someone with ADD to thrive in a role where the mind has to be in 50 different places at once. Running a business provides a playground for scattered energy to thrive and focus into a single goal. It is imperative that many areas of knowledge are given energy on any given day—from marketing, to accounting, to supply chain management and inventory, regulatory concerns, customer service, project management, etc. I can truly say that I never would have been able to get to where I am if I hadn’t embraced my “ADD” and come to a place of gratitude for it.
It is my firm belief that the inability to focus on one thing at a time is an evolutionary response to technology, access to information and rapid communication. This is simply the path of the new human being. This will not go away with drugs or shaming or anything other than understanding. I believe we should learn to look at what seems to be “abnormal” with a new perspective and to consider these as “gifts” that just may be taking us in a beneficial direction. When society provides space for a person’s uniqueness, we will be healed of these “disorders.”