I read a startling article this morning in the Wall Street Journal, The Medication Generation. It opened my eyes to something I had never considered. There are millions of young people who have been on antidepressants from their tweens to their early twenties, who do not know what it is like to “be themselves”. In my experience teaching I’ve seen that it’s hard enough for people to live their values, when they do know themselves. I can only image the challenge this segment of the world will face as they strive to find balance between jobs, families and themselves as they age. (Let alone the long term impacts of taking medication daily might have on the body.) Like the author of the article and related book on the topic, I can’t help but wonder if daily ongoing antidepressants at such a young age, impact the development or attraction to one’s core values.
When it comes to work life balance it may come as no surprise that the Europeans take the lead. Just this month the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has posted it’s rankings for the nations with best work-life balance. The study looks at the average length of the workday, employment rate of women with children and time spent on leisure and personal care. Where does your country rank?
It was very intentional that I call one of my workshops Stop & Think and my teaching philosophy is based on what I call the Awareness Framework. I believe that a great deal of stress and imbalance in our lives comes from the lack of being present on multiple levels. Turns out I’m not the only one who thinks the western world’s inability to focus is becoming an issue with big far reaching impact. Recently the Wall Street Journal, published an article, How to End the Age of Inattention, about a new program at medical schools (Yale, Harvard, Connell to be specific) that teaches medical students how to slow down and observe the details of life. In the program students enhance observation skills by looking and then describing paintings with whole people in them. Turns out in a 2008 study it was found that the average attentions span over the last decade has gone from 12 minutes to 5 minutes. (One can only wonder what it is now.) The program called Enhancing Observations Skills is now being picked up by some MBA schools as well. Perhaps this program should begin in elementary school, imagine the impact of building a child’s ability to pay attention from the get go.