We have become a population that is in desperate need of inspiration.
This isn't just my opinion; it's backed up by the millions of people who follow pages like 'The Mind Unleashed', 'The Spirit Science' and 'Motivational Quotes' on Facebook. Similar groups exist on Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.
These social media pages post daily images with thought provoking quotes and 'self help' instructions. They generally focus on health, spirituality and motivational advice.
For the record I think they're great. Anything that helps us make positive choices or encourages us to confront our demons can only be positive. Some of my personal favourites include: The Wellness Wanderer, The Writers Circle and Accidental Talmudist. I find myself inspired by many of the messages that are promoted by the creators of these pages and I know I'm not alone.
The interesting question is why? Why are we so thirsty for inspiration? Are we that uninspired in our daily lives that we need these regular reminders?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, as these 'posts of inspiration' have become a regular daily fixture in my feed.
I think their popularity highlights the fact that many of us in the Western World live a stressful existence. We are time poor and worn out from the daily grind of battling for every inch. A competitive world with no rest for the wicked ensures that our blinkers inevitably come on from time to time and we often overlook the simple things that bring us back to our core.
A typical morning for many people living in big cities may play out as follows:
Wake up to the blaring noise of an alarm clock; jump out of bed and rush to the shower; eat something quick and convenient in the car; speed through the traffic and drive aggressively in order to arrive at work on time.
If we pause the sequence at that spot, there is a very good chance that in all of the pandemonium - the person hasn't taken the opportunity to be thankful for another day. They're probably eating a pop tart packed with sugar or a highly processed muesli bar as they were rushing and didn't have time to make a healthy breakfast. In al likelihood they failed to take in the beautiful sunrise and their blood pressure was raised because they were so worried about getting in on time.
Evidently there is little room for inspiration in the scenario above. One can't help but wonder if the stresses of daily life are causing many of us to stray down a path that we aren't proud of - especially when we are reminded of the things that we know are important but have somehow slipped through our grasp.
Later that morning when the person takes a coffee break and scrolls through their social networks, there is a good chance they may see a post that encourages them to try and be a little more healthy or simply be thankful for life. For a fleeting moment they may feel inspired, click the 'Like' button and take on positive thoughts.
It's unfortunately short lived when they have to get back to their 62 unread emails.
I am here to confess that the example above has played out for me several times.
While Western cultures may offer us access to modern technology, greater infrastructure and more lucrative employment opportunities, they also bring with them the proverbial rat race which you almost have to buy into if you are going to survive.
I struggle with it daily.
As much as some hate to admit it, money and status are what most people strive for in highly urbanised locations. This creates an environment where the simple things in life are often taken for granted or ignored.
Deep down though, most people just crave the simplicity. We go on vacations to remote locations to recharge and remind ourselves of what's really important. For those brief moments we are able to open our eyes and hearts to a peaceful existence. It's also no coincidence that so many of us come back from holidays feeling and looking healthier.
When we return however, we are reminded that the Western World is ruthless - she takes no prisoners. She has her own set of rules that don't naturally cater for peace, health, natural beauty and harmony.
We have to be both creative and disciplined to bring these things into our daily lives.
Failing that, we have our cell phones to be reminded that they do in fact exist.