There’s no such thing as Normal.
We think it’s normal, don’t we, to wake up in the morning and more or less expect our day to go OK.
We certainly don’t expect to experience profound hunger all day or to not have fresh water to drink. We don’t anticipate relentless, unmanageable pain. We certainly don’t worry that our loved ones will be forcibly taken away from us and tortured or killed.
Those things would be abnormal, right?
There are plenty of statistics about how stressed we are in the UK. My guess is though that the above scenarios don’t apply to the vast majority of people reading this blog. Or to those who contribute to said statistics!
Our expectation is to have a comfortable, if not down-right cushy life. That’s what we’ve been brought up to expect. It’s what we see every day around us. We are conditioned to believe that ‘Working Hard and Putting the Hours In’ entitles us to such a life.
But it’s an illusion.
A temporary reality, brought about by the recent few decades of peace and prosperity we have experienced in this country. But it means that we start to take those things for granted – peace and prosperity, especially prosperity. It’s our ‘normal’ but on a global level, it’s pretty abnormal.
I know that it’s trite to make comparisons with others around the world who’re less fortunate than us. Stressed-out parents who work full-time to make ends meet, who come home to the demands of young children or tricky teenagers and collapse into bed every night exhausted don’t need to hear ‘Well you could be slaving for 18 hours a day in a North Korean hard-labour camp, then you’d know what exhausted is!’
Everyone’s reality is relative to their starting point. But let’s assume for a moment that our expectations were different. If we thought our lives would be much, much more difficult than they actually are, and then those difficult things didn’t happen, wouldn’t that change our outlook?
In the grand scheme of things wouldn’t dealing with the long commute, awkward colleagues, demanding bosses, wi-fi dropouts, moaning kids, ‘just putting you on hold’ telephone calls, etc seem just a little more bearable and perhaps a little less stressful?
Our starting point is the same but if our expectations were different, our experience of life would be different too.