But is there such a thing as TOO MUCH excitement?
Absolutely. Because you can't live your life doing something like THIS every day.
|Creative Commons / Flickr copyright GlynLowe|
And yet this is what we are bringing up our children to expect. Bigger, better, more WOW factor every time. Forget drugs, the biggest problem the next generation face is adrenalin addiction, and I don't mean too many roller coaster rides.
I've blogged before about the important of saying no to our children, of not giving them everything too soon, and I'm not going to repeat myself here. I'm talking about the way our view of life has fundamentally altered in recent years, how we are no longer content with normal, not happy with just "ok" and "all right" is absolutely not acceptable. It's not just our children who have ever increasing expectations it's adults too.
Our daily lives are now a frenetic buzz of sound bytes, summaries and snapshots. No more the hour reading the broadsheets, with time to breathe and think. We use our phones for a quick fix on media, news and for the majority of communication and I'm as guilty as the next person in this. Why? Because there is no TIME, the demands placed on us all in today's society compound our desire for the next best thing and the combination is pretty toxic. But as we try to do it all, be everything and have it all we've forgotten that normal, mundane and average are really not so bad.
Schools have OFSTED expecting lessons to be exciting, as learning for the sake of itself has all but vanished. Children expect rewards for everything even in school, which devalues the currency of attainment. But self esteem receives no boost from this reward system, and children have little control over it.
|Creative Commons/ Flickr Photo by Alexandre Normand|
Excitement and adrenalin have become the currency of normality, our expectations of experience grossly distorted.
And the problem is, this need for everything to be thrilling is seriously impacting on health and lifestyle. The element of excitement is seen as essential everywhere. And if you don't have any excitement in your life that is seen as a major problem!
For example, councils supporting children with additional needs do an excellent job of providing days out, short breaks and all manner of thrilling activities. But what about someone to help support attendance at Cubs, or to pop round and play board games for an hour, or kick a football around in the garden? Or Carer's support that seeks to offer similar excitement, when actually a friendly face popping in to make a cuppa and do the ironing would tick far more boxes for me. The stress involved in leaving the house sometimes makes going anywhere or doing anything "exciting" nigh on impossible, and surely such activities are far more expensive than finding a volunteer to do the ironing and make tea? By raising the bar we make our lives so much harder, excitement is expensive and has little to do with meeting needs. Too many Carers live life on the edge and could tell you what it's like feeling completely exhausted. They live at the extreme with enough stress induced adrenalin and support needs to recognise that.
The problem with excitement, fuelled as it is by adrenalin, is that there is inevitably a come-down. The day when your get up and fly has got up and flown. When you have run out of exciting activities, events, gadgets, clothes etc. What are you left with?
Fatigue, "burnout" and a phenomenon known as "Tired all the Time" or TATT is becoming commonplace in our society. Having tricked ourselves that such high levels of adrenalin are normal, we keep going..... until we drop. And then we kid ourselves that the reason we are exhausted is because we don't have enough excitement in our lives! When actually we are artificially "depressed" because of adrenalin withdrawal, which is very different from clinical depression. Nonetheless it's a real problem faced by many, and we are failing to see the answer staring at us in the face.
But "mundane" doesn't sell anything, does it? "Normal" and "good enough" not such attractive descriptions? So maybe it's time to rename normal? And being bored is not so bad, after all it's usually the catalyst for new ideas, new solutions and inner calm. And (note to self) NOT time to get a puppy....
Crucially, we are driving ourselves to a deliberate state almost like ADHD, unable to plan, concentrate or evaluate complex situations and information. And research has shown how damaging pushing children on from in depth exploration can be - naturally learned associations which would create complex networks in the brain are not laid down and the adults those children become continue to live in this snapshot world.
Concentration is too often the victim of excitement. Both rarely occur simultaneously without a high degree of outside pressure. I see it all the time in my son who does actually have ADHD. He cannot concentrate well - not due to adrenalin levels but lack of stimulation of certain neurological pathways. But the end result is similar, and it occurs to me that he might be little different from his peers as he grows older, maybe even more resilient in a world of excitement and immediate satisfaction.
We aren't robots lining up to be programmed, or adrenalin thrill-seeking junkies but people. We should accept and embrace a slower pace of life, take time to smell the proverbial roses. As Prof Brian Cox said, we should allow our children - and ourselves! - the chance to get bored, and "let the dreamers dream" because without concentration, there is not enough thought. And it is the power of thought that makes us human.
I think we should hang on to our humanity - if we're in it for the long haul.