Why People Would Be Happier If They Were More Like Drones
Our skies and our Instagram feeds seem to be filled with drones nowadays.
The images they give us from above are somehow grabbing our eyeballs and our credit card details.
Based on Civil Aviation Safety Authority information, there might be something like 100,000 drones buzzing above and clicking down in Australia right now, and the number is clearly growing. Just check out the curiosity an ascending drone sparks in others the next time a mate starts operating a newly acquired one at a barbeque or at the local oval.
Maybe it’s because drones give us the technology and the chance to see familiar things -- the buildings in our suburbs, the country cousin’s farm paddocks, Australia’s already amazing beachside rock pools -- from a totally new perspective.
As a mental health advocate, I reckon we can do better by taking a more drone-like view of our own lives. By going up and out, and seeing ourselves in a different way, there’s much that our well-being can gain.
In the first instance, having a broader perspective helps us not abandon ourselves to all that contemporary life holds: long work hours, multiple responsibilities, or, sadly, readily available “irresponsibilities” like too much weekend booze or worse.
When we slow down and observe our own lives, rather than just run through them at Roadrunner-like pace, we can see if we have our own basics sorted.
During his recent tour of Australia -- and well outside any political controversies he attracts -- clinical psychologist Professor Jordan Peterson exhorted us to just make sure we sleep enough and we eat the right way. It sounds simple because it is, but who is to argue with his experience of thousands of counselling clients and reams of research data?
Being up high and looking out, like standing at a grand vista at dawn, lets us expand our horizons too. We might feel ourselves stuck in sadness, worry, bad habits, unfulfilling relationships, stressful jobs or just mucking about in “meaningless modernity”, but a new view reminds us of this: it’s ultimately all in our heads. It’s our reality to control just like we can get a drone to go up and down, and out and back.
An overseas friend spent two years in a Soviet-era prison where he contracted HIV from dirty needles.
Now, he runs a multimillion dollar health program for people with AIDS/HIV, commands massive respect in his country, and has significant influence over policy and practice. And, he’s helping thousands to have lives.
Dima puts it down to what he calls “limitlessness”, or not accepting the boundaries and constraints of “I’m not sure”, “seems really hard”, and “I don’t really have the skills for that”. That’s the voice of the internal editor, always looking for errors. He argues to turn off that voice and apply fundamental self-belief. And, it doesn’t have to happen at the grand scale, but is just as useful in the way we choose to talk to our loved ones or to deal with the tasks at hand with our coworkers.
Finally, when we’re up high, it’s my view that our eyeballs get bigger for beauty. We see what’s stunning about the world and our place in it. Think of looking down from your airplane seat at a mountain range. Things get gorgeous fast.
The Irish poet, John O’Donohue, wrote: “When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its lights awakens the concealed beauty in things… The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace.”
Perhaps, getting ourselves mentally up high and kind of suspended from the daily grind, we can better see the beauty in our own lives and the terrain those lives traverse.
The kind and unexpected gesture on public transport. The huge laugh at the pub. The offer to pick up the kids from sport or after school care. The surprise email from a Facebook friend. The early morning compliment to a hard-working partner.
And, maybe, drone-like, you’re the one creating the beauty in those images.
Go up in the drone over your life and ask yourself:
Am I sleeping enough and well?
Am I eating properly?
Am I controlling my own reality?
Am I setting needless limits on my life?
Am I appreciating what’s beautiful around me?
Am I contributing to other lives?
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression and mental health contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.