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Old 29th April 2009, 05:42 PM   #1
plumjam
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Is modern life more stressful than for previous generations?

You often see references to modern life being stressful, presented in a way which suggests that life for previous generations was less so.
I could go either way on this one, and thought it might be an interesting topic for people to offer their views.

From a personal point of view I think about my grandparents and their life in the country. Although life was, for them, economically less comfortable and secure I just get the impression that their lives were lived in a less frenetic, less stressful way than it was for both my parents generation and now ours.

This kind of personal impression is strengthened by having lived some years in central London and now living in Spain. Since coming here I can honestly say I can't remember ever having seen a single person rushing in the street, whereas in London that's pretty much par for the course (and I'm living in a city, not the Spanish countryside).
I imagine that this is pretty much how life was for my grandparents and before.

I have to ask myself 'why all the rushing around?' What do people really feel they're achieving by buying into that attitude to life?

(I know people like to have definitions, so here's one for stress.

a. A mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health, usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and depression.)

Last edited by plumjam; 29th April 2009 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 29th April 2009, 05:48 PM   #2
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I would argue that life is less stressful, but that we're more stressed. I know so many neurotic people who get stressed over the most utterly ridiculous things.

Compare that with, say, getting stressed about whether your son has the Plague, or whether Lord Hufferschmitt the Third is going to claim "jus primæ noctis" on your pretty new virgin bride... well...

(Yes I know that the actual existence of jus primæ noctis is questionable.
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Old 29th April 2009, 06:02 PM   #3
plumjam
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
I would argue that life is less stressful, but that we're more stressed. I know so many neurotic people who get stressed over the most utterly ridiculous things.
I agree. Seems to me that a big difference between the last few generations is a large growth in the amount of information-bombardment with regard to cultural attitudes about what constitutes 'the good life', how people should be living in order to be fulfilled and happy, what they should think, how they should act, what they should have etc..
Most of it, IMO, comes from advertising/marketing within the context of a generally materially-defined understanding of life.
Whereas in my grandparents day there was the Church maybe once a week, the daily newspaper, the influence of your peers.. and not much else.
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Old 29th April 2009, 07:27 PM   #4
Sir Robin Goodfellow
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Some people have screwed-up priorities and think they have to be rush-rush all the time. It's like how just about everyone has a cellular phone because they feel that they must be in touch with the world every moment of the day. They feel that because everyone is a "must be able to be reached at all times" person that they should be too. I refuse to buy into this mindset. People think they need more "stuff" to be happy. Well, a motorhome and a bigger house, and a bunch of other crap won't make me happy, they'd make me broke. In fact, they'd make me less happy, because I'd have to work more so the bank didn't come and take them away.

I don't think the "olden days" were great, though. If it was 1900, I'd have long ago died from a mining accident or typhus, or scurvy, or one of those other old-timey diseases.
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Old 29th April 2009, 08:28 PM   #5
aviolet4u
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We have more distractions, more things to keep us amused these days.

Back in the day it would take longer to get simple things done hence technology. Idk I'm talking mostly out of my...here.


Yeah the "olden days" look good...on the TCM channel.
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Old 29th April 2009, 09:42 PM   #6
ImaginalDisc
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
I would argue that life is less stressful, but that we're more stressed. I know so many neurotic people who get stressed over the most utterly ridiculous things.

Compare that with, say, getting stressed about whether your son has the Plague, or whether Lord Hufferschmitt the Third is going to claim "jus primæ noctis" on your pretty new virgin bride... well...

(Yes I know that the actual existence of jus primæ noctis is questionable.
That makes perfect sense if you consider the sorts of challenges we are wired for.

We're wired in such a way that we worry about things the wrong way. We' evolved in small social groups where the opinions of others and relationships with them were extremly important to our survival and a certain xenophobia of outsiders was adaptive. Today we have vast numbers of people we interact with and the distinction between in groups and out groups isn't so clear. Our instinct is to care more about Bob our coworker than Alice the anonymous person on the phone, even if Alice's opinion actually affects our survival more than Bob.

We're wired not just to be able to persuade others, but to be persuaded. An infomertial preys on our evolutionary history as much as a shiny car, a fast food restaurant, and pain killers. We suck at judging facts, but we're great at judging sincerity or at least we respond a person's sincire interest in us and possibly our wallets.

We are plains apes with celever brains that have built a world we did not evolve in. The facts are that we have an easier and less painful life than our ancestors, but it's also true that we evolved psychological mechanisms that make us worry about trivialities and ignore serious problems.

Last edited by ImaginalDisc; 29th April 2009 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 30th April 2009, 04:59 AM   #7
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It depends on how you define stress, people have a common usage that lacks actual definition, the one used at a stress workshop I went to many many years ago is something like this

: a state of exhaustion that makes it harder to cope with the issues of the moment

in that the main symptom of being stressed is

-being tired

which makes one more vulnerable to

- feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, trapped
- more likely to engage in less than healthy coping skills
- more likely to make less than optimal choices

Now this is not what people want to hear when they go to s tress workshop because the solution is to:

-take more breaks and schedule down time
-reduce less than healthy coping skills
-increase healthy coping skills
-get more rest


Now what are the differences between modern humans and especially pre-agricultural humans
-we do not maintain a good sleep pattern
-we try to do too many things all day long
-we live and work in high stimulus environments which is 'stressful'


So while we do not have to worry about, floods, insects, droughts, disease and calamity the way the pre-agricultural humans did, we still get overstimulated and worn out.
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Old 30th April 2009, 05:01 AM   #8
Dancing David
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Originally Posted by Sir Robin Goodfellow View Post
Some people have screwed-up priorities and think they have to be rush-rush all the time. It's like how just about everyone has a cellular phone because they feel that they must be in touch with the world every moment of the day. They feel that because everyone is a "must be able to be reached at all times" person that they should be too. I refuse to buy into this mindset. People think they need more "stuff" to be happy. Well, a motorhome and a bigger house, and a bunch of other crap won't make me happy, they'd make me broke. In fact, they'd make me less happy, because I'd have to work more so the bank didn't come and take them away.

I don't think the "olden days" were great, though. If it was 1900, I'd have long ago died from a mining accident or typhus, or scurvy, or one of those other old-timey diseases.
I agree, I would have died before 12 from pneumonia, at 16 from a cracked kidney, and at a later time from infections and an abcessed tooth. And i would now have a year old melanoma.
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Old 30th April 2009, 06:45 AM   #9
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Simply compare our health with the health of the members of a primitive tribe.

They will show all of the signs of stress that we do.
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Old 30th April 2009, 06:56 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
(Yes I know that the actual existence of jus primæ noctis is questionable.
It is?

God dammit, why didn't anyone tell me?

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Old 30th April 2009, 08:30 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
i know so many neurotic people who get stressed over the most utterly ridiculous things.
Oh yeah? Just who are you referring to!!??"
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Old 30th April 2009, 06:37 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by plumjam View Post
I have to ask myself 'why all the rushing around?'
Things not going the way you planned since installing that two-way mirror?
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