There exist many theories as to why people worry, fret, or experience distress of the mind. Theories include increase in inequality within society, not staying in the moment, and on and on they go.
In this post, I advocate several behavioral rationales for increase in fretting, worrying, or distress of the mind within society.
One of the most important sources of fretting in today’s society is ‘bad’ office politics. Whenever people who have been stabbed in the back by colleagues resort to similar tactics, there is fretting over whether they or their colleagues will win whatever appears to be at stake. Who the boss would end up liking more, or hating less becomes important. Given outcome of the backstabbing contest lies entirely in hands of a boss, and is not dependent on expertise of people in question, there is anxiety as to potential outcome of ‘bad’ office politics. Even more importantly, losing out in a backstabbing competition makes the loser question their standing on the corporate or social likability index, induces descent into self questioning, fretting, worry, distress of the mind.
THE SOLUTION: Avoid ‘bad’ office politics like a plague. Over time, fretting over whether you will be liked more or hated less, with fretting not based on your expertise — something over which you have some control — but on reciprocal backstabbing takes a toll on the mind, weakens the mind.
Competition for the sake of competition is yet another important source of fretting in today’s society. When competition becomes more about bragging rights than delivery of value in context of innovations, competition becomes mostly a power play, a drain on mindfulness, a stressor.
THE SOLUTION: If we would return to value based competition — competition which revolves around innovation, as opposed to power plays society would be so much better for it.
Am I saying incumbents in business should not defend their market shares?
Absolutely not. But it is one thing to defend market shares via introduction of a price war a new entrant cannot survive. It is yet another to threaten people not to patronize a new entrant.
It is one thing to attempt to buy out a new entrant so as to neutralize the threat of a new innovation. It is yet another to attempt to kill off a new entrant with mischaracterizations of character of owners and product quality.
The third and final source of fretting within society that I discuss in this post is within-family competition. If status of husbands and wives becomes a function of their incomes, clearly jostling for status becomes a source of stress within families. If a man will have to spend more time at home taking care of a newborn if he happens to earn less than his wife, this automatically becomes a source of stress. If a woman has to do all of the house chores all by herself because she makes less than her husband this becomes a source of stress. When children have to compete for status with their parents as to who is liked more in school, who is more brilliant, who is better at sports, frets induced in children spill over into the entire family structure.
THE SOLUTION: The family is supposed to be a shield from competitive stresses that inherently are part of essence of society. The family is supposed to be a sanctum for husbands, wives, and children, a place where people try to understand, love, and nurture each other, as opposed to a structure within which people judge one another. Increasingly the family is becoming less and less of a sanctum and more and more of ‘judgment ground’. Whenever society does not preserve any sanctum for its members there of necessity will be increase in fretting, stress, worrying, and distress of the mind.
By now you probably realize that absent some changes in structure of society, circumstances that make for fretting are ubiquitous, ever present.
So then the ultimate solution?
Development of capacity for deriving of satisfaction from whatever it is we have control over. If we will choose to be happy on basis of what we have control over, coupled with a desisting from ‘bad’ office politics, desisting from competition for sake of competition, and desisting from turning of the home into a battle ground, there exists possibility of lives that are not fretful, lives not filled with worry or distress, lives serenaded with peace and joy.
I hope you find peace and joy in a world filled with structure amenable to fretting, worry, and distress. But then if we all learn to desist, structure of society will support peacefulness, as opposed to fretting, worry, and distress. The change we desire commences with you and I.