Australia - Still Lucky but Not Happy!
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In November 2013, it was announced that Australia's usage of prescriptive antidepressants was second highest in the world. From 2000 to 2011 it was reported that our use of these products increased a staggering 95%.
What has happened?
We were considered the lucky country, a place where there was minimal social casting. Someone born to the poorest financial circumstances could rise, with hard work and determination, to the top. I remember, we were pretty happy as kids. Our parents were unafraid to let us go out and play, to discover our place in the community. Some of us caused some trouble, some of us found more useful things to do.
We walked to school, we walked to sport, we hung out without supervisors constantly hovering, and few bureaucratic signs preventing us from all but breathing. Some of us were overactive and sometimes naughty, but we were not given pills in ever alarming numbers to quieten us down. The ADHD drugs being prescribed, in every increasing numbers, to school children in my community, frankly scares and alarms me.

If someone had an accident, through childhood misadventure, it was an accident! Some of us survived into adulthood, some of us sadly didn't, but in the main we were very happy. Most of my friends were happy, some were rich, some poor, some were ill, some had issues at home, some were smart, some were not so smart - but we were all just kids. Their families sometimes had issues, but people didn't talk a lot about what was wrong, and but talked a lot about what was right.
Then some people came along and explained to us all that the way we lived our lives was wrong, that we should be spending a lot of time seeing what was wrong, sharing it, talking about it. In some cases they were right, too much was covered up. In many cases, I think they were wrong! They helped us to believe that we were not happy, after all, they encouraged us to share this unhappiness around. We have been subjected to constantly encroaching bureaucracy and rules, rules every where we look now - rules for not even any fathomable reason. Over reaction to accidents, and the removal of the ability to take a risk and maybe make a mistake or have an accident, without someone else being to blame - changed us. If we fell out of a tree and broke our arm, it was our fault - now it is our care givers fault.

I think Australia is still a 'lucky country' - I have travelled the world extensively, and am very convinced the majority of Australians have the chance to live an amazing life.

First of all our weather is overall quite mild, and our housing built to protect us. If money is tight, there are loads of things to enjoy for free here. Radio and Television are still free to air, so music is free to enjoy. Buskers abound in our streets. Most councils provide free toilets, use of the park, and even free BBQs! We still (surprisingly) have lots of birds and wildlife to enjoy. There are still jobs advertised every day, and surprisingly despite what the media tell us, there are not enough people with good work ethics who want them! We have a social security system, if we are elderly, poor, sick or unemployed and there are both charitable and government systems in place to support and help us. There are kindly private citizens who still help others every day, without recognition.

You may be surprised to know many countries have NONE of those things! And I even mean civilised first world countries, and certainly most of the poorer nations. Yet, in many of these countries that have so much less - they are happier!

They are happier because they do understand what is important. They understand what they have, rather than what they do not have!

I am not saying that anti depressants do not have their place - but they should be for helping those of us that are mentally ill, not for so many of us with first world problems, that actually when you take a deep and meaningful look should not be needing drugs to help cope with a normal life ups and downs.

We need to think about changing how we think instead. We need to consider what is really important to us, consider what would actually matter if you were diagnosed with a terminal disease tomorrow?
When you want to argue with someone, or stress out with a situation, ask yourself how important is this really? Will we remember it next week, next month, next year? Most often the answer is that we will not!
Every day I see people stressing, and getting depressed, over things they place huge value on - yet these things are just not the things that should drag us down. In other cases, I meet people who are happy and making the very best of their life, even though they are living in actually very dire, and sometimes horrendous, circumstances.

The difference is in understanding that we are very lucky to live in Australia, we just need to think differently and appreciate our lives here, and learn to recognise and celebrate happiness, and not dwell on the negativity.

If you can change the outcome, do something about it! If you cannot change an outcome, then try to focus on making the very best of every hour and day you have! This may mean changing some things, and even people, in your life. Don't waste your opportunities to have a better day!

If you are in a situation that overwhelms you, then seek professional help. But if it is just life's daily annoyances that are bothering you, take a trip on the internet and see how your counterparts in the 'unlucky countries' are faring. You should feel a whole lot better with a new perspective!
Posted on 10 August 2015 by Terrie Anderson
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