The rate of death by suicide continues to increase and
especially in the United States. Family and friends are too often lost as to
how or why this act could possibly happen. I believe the reason a person chooses
suicide is really not as complicated as we might choose to believe or
In most instances, I do not believe suicide has anything to
do with mental illness or someone just being “crazy”. I don’t make
this statement lightly; I’ve been thinking hard about this topic for nearly 20
years. It may hurt to hear this but it’ll hurt much worse to actually lose
someone who matters to you.
Alex Hagen was a 19-year old college student who made a
conscious and thoughtful decision to end his life. We are fortunate that Alex
left behind his suicide note and if we listen, REALLY listen, maybe we can
learn how to ease the pain of someone WE love.
Attached is my analysis and interpretation of Alex’s words
and where his pain is rooted for which he saw no other option than ending his
life. Imagine what kind of pain he must have been experiencing. Was it
physical, mental or emotional pain that drove his action?
Click the link below to open the pdf in a new window or download the pdf file to your device. (No email or other information is required to view.)
The idea of World Peace sounds beautiful and isn’t it the dream of most people on our planet? I remember watching beauty pageants in the 1970s and the contestants almost always ended their interviews with a goal of “World Peace”. Unfortunately, did anyone take them seriously? Did they even think it was possible? Or, was it simply “lip service” because it’s a nice idea but nobody really believes it is possible?
“I believe World Peace IS possible and I believe it can happen within two generations.”
The reality is, humans have simply not been capable of World Peace because it was not until quite recently, in mankind’s 200,000 year history, that our basic needs for existence have been met consistently. Even as few as 150 years ago humans could not reliably source or preserve food.
Simply surviving a winter, a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or an attack by a wild animal was not guaranteed in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Our basic survival was being tested daily so the opportunity to live peacefully and actually THRIVE was virtually impossible.
However, for the past 50 years or so, humans have been able to exist, sort of. But, even in 2018, 80% of the world’s population does not have enough food or water in a given day. Therefore, humanity’s basic needs to exist are actually still not being met. If so many people are still unable to meet their needs to exist then how can they possibly meet their human need for love, belonging and connection? In other words, our emotional needs and emotional health.
Still, I believe of the 20% of people who are able to meet their basic needs to exist a large subset can begin to truly nurture the next critical need, their emotional health. And that subset can make a significant difference toward World Peace.
Why is Emotional Health So important?
Humans are struggling significantly today. We struggle daily with conflict and destructive behaviors. We fight wars over land and personal beliefs and we are killing each other. We fight wars to “show our power” over another. Why and to what end? Do we need to show power in order to exist? Or, do we need to show power in order to compensate for something else such as not feeling important, valued or like we matter?
Humans are self-destructing at an astonishing rate. It seems we are actually going backwards in life expectancy while the human race does continue to grow. Sadly, most of us are struggling with some kind of self-destructive behavior even if we don’t realize it.
It has become the norm to drink alcohol several times a week after work or binge on the weekends and many people struggle with alcohol abuse. Similarly, drug addiction continues to be on the rise and the opioid epidemic is out of control. Sexual assault is occurring in nearly every industry and gun violence, especially in the US, is practically a weekly occurrence. Depression/suicide and anxiety are seeing record numbers and the medications seem to only mask the problem and not address its root cause. While many of you will disagree, the root cause of most behaviors are NOT genetic or mental. (Afterall, people used to believe doctors were transferring “morbid poison” from dissected corpses to birthing mothers until handwashing became common practice in 1850. [Source] Many ideas we used to believe as “fact” have later been proven to not be true at all.)
The truth is, humans will do anything to avoid pain. The pain being experienced is not physical, it’s not mental either but actually emotional. When a person doesn’t FEEL truly loved, connected and have a sense of belonging they will do anything to compensate for that pain.
“Humans will choose, consciously or subconsciously, behaviors in order to meet, suppress, deflect, mask or otherwise NOT FEEL their emotional pain.”
Ask any drug addict, self-harm practicer or obsessive eater why they do so and they can probably tell you.
What nurtures emotional health more than anything else (or hurts it) is our relationships and connections. Until only the past several decades have humans even needed to be concerned about emotional health because their primary concern was simply to exist. Now, many of us are existing yet we and most other humans are self-destructing and certainly not thriving.
If enough people can love and support each other, and this happens in small, personal groups, then we will no longer need to compensate for our emotional pain or trauma. We will no longer self-destruct through our behaviors and we will actually participate in more constructive behaviors.
When enough people, and I don’t know how many that is, are constructively behaving then our self-destruction will be limited and the opportunity to thrive will increase. When enough of the world’s population is having their emotional needs met then they will behave more constructively and we will have less conflict and war.
“The more emotionally healthy each person is the less destructive they will be to themselves and others and when enough people are behaving this way then mankind will achieve World Peace.”
The Next Two Generations
As a middle-aged man, if my kids’ emotional needs and health are nurtured then their behaviors will be more constructive. They, in turn, will teach this to their kids (my grandkids) who will also be more emotionally healthy. At this point, my generation will be close to ending and what is left is my kids’ generation (Generation 1) and grandkids’ generation (Generation 2). If enough of my grandkids’ generation is emotionally healthy and not behaving destructively then THEY could be the generation where World Peace begins to take hold.
The next two generations, behaving more constructively, will help nurture others and their collective emotional health will spread. It can spread fast because emotional health is fairly quick to have a positive impact and even more people will thrive and thrive faster.
World Peace is finally possible and it can be accomplished within two generations if we start now. We need only begin to authentically connect by truly hearing, valuing and supporting each other. With love, connection and belonging, humans are exceptional animals and we must be there for each other, unconditionally and in return others will be there for us.
#peace #love #connect
Please consider “sharing” this post and at the least “Like” and “Comment” because the more people who know and understand what is needed for World Peace the better chance we’ll have of achieving it.
Kevin R. Strauss, M.E. is a biomedical engineer/problem solver (70+ patents) turned wellness specialist focusing on emotional health. In his off-hours, he is a 17-year Ironman Triathlete and Coach passionate about fitness and nutrition. Contact Kevin at http://kevinrstrauss.com, http://tritmi.webs.com or 240-398-7228.
We’re well passed the 6-week mark of the new year and by this time more than 80% of resolutions have failed. Bummer. Why?!?!
The simplest solution I have conceived is:
“A New Year’s Resolution is set in the conscious mind whereas most behaviors are rooted in the subconscious mind.”
In other words, we WANT to change but we’re being subconsciously BLOCKED.
This is probably why behavior change is so difficult for most people because until we truly and fully subscribe to a change it really isn’t becoming ingrained in our subconscious brain. As it turns out, most of our subconscious wiring occurs between the ages of 0-6 years. Which means, most of your learned behaviors happen long before you’re even conscious of them. What?!?
Have you noticed how a baby will subconsciously or instinctively figure out how to have its needs met by behaving in such a way that lead its parent(s) into taking the desired action. And, if the parent(s) does not pick up on these clues then a child is destined to not have its needs met and this could ultimately result in emotional pain or trauma which will likely playout in that person’s behavior for the rest of their life… unless it is appropriately addressed.
People change behavior, in a moment, when it truly is THAT important to them.
Actions speak louder than words, right?
A new father quits smoking, cold-turkey, when his first child is born. A long-time alcoholic quits drinking instantly when she kills someone while drunk-driving. A morbidly obese person one day, seemingly out of nowhere, decides they’ve had enough and instantly changes their lifestyle and begins exercising and making better food choices on a random Tuesday. A person will “drop everything” when their smartphone breaks and go get it fixed even if that means going to work late, taking a long lunch or skipping meeting up with friends after work. It’s THAT important.
Unfortunately, and perhaps thankfully, most of us have not had a catastrophic event that shocked our emotional state and instantly re-wired our subconscious brain. What this means is, for most of us, our pre-existing subconscious wiring is guiding our behavior.
What behaviors are you struggling with and why?
What emotional need was not met or violated as a child?
Some techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can do wonders for addressing specific behaviors. The goal here is to replace the undesirable behavior with the desired behavior until the desired behavior becomes ingrained in the subconscious and the “new” habit. In other words, hold on consciously until you’re able to re-wire the subconscious. Perhaps this is where the “21-day rule to form a habit” is based.
In some cases, it may not be necessary to understand the underlying cause of the behavior however, I believe the greatest chance for success is to understand the root cause. In doing so, that knowledge is empowering and disarming and by addressing it the behavior change will be much easier and more natural.
In summary, New Year’s Resolutions fail because the decision is made in the conscious mind while behavior is driven by the subconscious mind. Re-wire your subconscious and the behavior change will be far more likely to stick.
Let’s take a moment and think about your health or that of your organization. What does “health” really mean? More often than not, when people say “health” they’re primarily thinking Physical Health.
We all know health is more than just physical. I believe there are four main areas of health which, when nurtured, will support overall wellness and well-being. Many sources claim three primary areas: Physical, Mental and Spiritual but I believe this three-legged approach neglects the key area of Emotional Health by grouping it within Mental Health.
Now, if you’re ready, I’m going to offer an approach to Wellness from a rather different angle and if it makes sense to you then together we’ll have a strong likelihood of improving your wellness and perhaps a lot of other people too!
Below are the definitions I choose for the four primary areas of health AND in order of importance or how they might be prioritized.
Emotional Health – The ability to give and receive love, connection, belonging. This is different than Emotional Intelligence – the ability to manage one’s emotions and feelings.
Often Emotional Health is included in Mental Health but as you can see from the definition below, Mental Health is not just about being “crazy” or “unstable”.
Mental Health – The ability to focus, think clearly, concentrate, and stay on task. This is not to be confused with Mental Illness – the significant impairment of an individual’s cognitive, affective or relational abilities.
Only a small percentage of the population actually struggles with Mental Illness yet every single person could benefit from nurturing their Mental Health. In other words, not everyone is schizophrenic, psychotic or suffers from multiple personality disorder but anyone can be stressed out, overworked, overwhelmed or burned out at any given time and that is what affects your Mental Health. This is why taking a break to “clear your mind” is so important throughout the day.
Physical Health – The ability to execute our daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress. Similar to the Mental Health definition above, most people are not ill or suffering from a disease such as cardiovascular, cancer or diabetes. However, every person would benefit from daily hydration, good nutrition, exercise and rest. See, it’s pretty simple really!
The primary reason Physical Health is not first is because most people are actually doing just fine. Sure, we could all lose a few pounds, exercise and sleep more and eat more vegetables but in the whole scheme of things, most of us ARE “walking and talking” and able to go about our day. Our basic needs for physical existence ARE being met albeit maybe not fully optimized.
Spiritual Health – The ability to establish peace and harmony in our lives and understand our purpose.Often times, spirituality is equated to religion/religious. I believe that definition discriminates against those who are not religious, don’t believe in God or simply differ in their religious views. To nurture one’s purpose can fill your spirit.
If your purpose is to serve God then that is how you achieve Spiritual Health. Someone else my view their purpose as raising their family or their work. And purpose need not be something so grand. It could be as simple as fulfilling “your purpose for today” such as getting the car fixed or finishing a report.
Just like the four wheels of a car, if you only inflate or over-inflate one your car won’t drive well. Therefore, in order to nurture our overall well-being we need to nurture ALL FOUR components of health and not just one such as Physical Health.
Given how familiar people are with Physical and Mental Health and how “controversial” Spiritual Health can still be, my primary focus is on Emotional Health. Plus, I believe it is the most neglected and perhaps the most important component to achieving overall well-being. Why? Well, because our state of Emotional Health is the primary driver of our behaviors. (This may be a very new idea for many of you so maybe just take your time and think about it for a bit.)
In the Wellness Industry and life in general, we regularly speak about Behavior Change. What is it? How do we stick to it? Why can’t we do it more easily? Why don’t New Year’s Resolutions last? Etc. Well, I’ve been independently researching this topic for 17 years and I’ve even published a few articles describing where behavior change was successful.
So here’s the BIG secret I discovered that few people know or understand (which is why it may sound so “out there”). A person’s behavior is primarily driven by their state of emotional health (or un-health). I won’t get into the details here but suffice to say, if you’re ever wondering WHY someone is doing what their doing it’s pretty likely their behavior is an attempt to compensate for an unmet emotional need or an emotional trauma/pain.
The good news is as soon as a person begins to feel loved and supported their Emotional Health begins to improve and so do their behaviors. In study after study, specific behaviors have been shown to improve when a person feels more connected. In fact, a person’s behaviors are really just a symptom of a deeper, emotional, issue. I’m not saying love is the panacea for all ailments but I do believe it is the root cause for many.
Now, rather than focus on behaviors such as alcohol or drug abuse, obesity, bullying, sexual harassment, eating disorders, addiction, gun violence, etc. we can help a lot just by supporting these people emotionally. Support and love combined with other interventions could be a fastest road to addressing the behaviors.
In the workplace, the more connected and Emotionally Healthy we feel the more positive the culture, engagement and retention. While most Wellness Programs focus on Physical Health to try and reduce healthcare premiums there are many other greater expenses rooted in poor Emotional Health, yes, even at the office. While business may not seem emotionally driven if people are involved then it most certainly is.
Retention – Research shows 50% of employees quit because they’re unhappy with their boss or management. That is an emotional choice based on the feelings about a poor relationship. If the standard retention rate at an organization of 300 people is 10% and it takes 6 months to replace an employee and if their salary was $60,000/year then that is a poor retention cost of $900,000/year.
Engagement – Research shows 75% of the US workforce is disengaged. That’s like saying ¾ of your staff isn’t working or your entire staff is only working about 25% of the time. If a person doesn’t feel valued or like they matter at work and if they feel their work isn’t appreciated by their boss or organization then their motivation to try drastically reduces.
Let’s use some low example numbers… We’ll assume 300 employees earn an average of $60,000/year for a total annual payroll of $18 million. If people are only truly engaged 25% of the time it’s as if your organization is wasting 75% of their payroll or $13.5 million/year.
Culture – Happy people are far more productive, creative, innovative, willing to negotiate, compromise and work together. They do not tend to micro-manage, bully, harass, be absent, quit, disengage, argue or complain. A well-known 75-year long study by Harvard University shared their results in Triumphs of Experience (2012) showing “the key to lifelong happiness is connection”. Imagine if you and your workforce felt truly connected to others at the office, at home and to the organization, at large. Imagine how happy everyone would be and how contagious your positive culture would be. An organization like that would truly THRIVE!
Ultimately, each person’s state of Emotional Health is driven by the strength of their relationships. Positive relationships translate into constructive behavior and negative relationships leads to destructive behavior.
My #1 goal is to help you and your organization strengthen your relationships so you will thrive and I’ve developed a way to leverage technology so anyone can do it.
That’s my platform, in a nutshell. If it resonates with you then I’d be happy to help you and your organization implement a program to balance your wellness by addressing the critical Emotional Health component.
Now, it’s your turn to reach out and connect and tell me your needs and goals!