Living in Western Australia, there is much to see and do if you are willing to be just a little adventurous. My family and I recently took a trip in a campervan down south. We stopped for a night at Margaret River, Pemberton and then arrived for a four day stay in Denmark, a place I had not visited before but was more than pleasantly surprised.
Denmark has a beautiful combination of breathtaking green rolling hills, forest and beach scenery. As you can imagine, we made the most of this and enjoyed some terrific walks while taking in some amazing sights.
On one of our early morning walks, my husband and I spotted a plaque with a photo from 1920 on it. The photo was of about 60 children in their bathing suits, standing next to the river where they had their swimming lessons. Immediately when I saw this photo, my mind went to the range of school photos I have seen over the past 18 years of teaching and I simply said to my husband: “Wow, not one of these kids in this photo is remotely overweight.” Every child was lean, compared to children today where it is not uncommon to see about a third of younger bodies carrying too much weight. In the Australian Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare document entitled, ‘A Picture of Overweight and Obesity in Australia, 2017,’ it states that:
“About 1 in 4 (27%) children and adolescents aged 5–17 were overweight or obese – 20% were overweight but not obese, and 7% were obese.” (1)
“In 2014–15, nearly two-thirds (63%) of Australian adults were overweight or obese.” (1)
When I consider what I saw in the 1920’s photo, what I have observed over the years and the above statistics, I wonder how we can go from one moment in time to another, with the images of our youth being so drastically different. The above statistics of overweight and obesity in both our youth and adults are quite shocking. An increase from 27% in our youth to 63% in our adults being overweight or obese is quite a significant health problem.
As my husband and I looked at the 1920’s photo, we also noticed that the children in it seemed at ease with themselves: they were all looking at the camera and smiling. There was no seeking of identification or recognition; they were not image driven and there was no show being put on.
Whereas today, it can be quite a different story with some of our young being either too shy, anxious or carrying self-worth issues to be photographed, to acting over-the-top, seeking to be seen and recognised by overdoing it, posing or sexualising themselves.
Now, as human beings, it is commonly thought that we are quite intelligent. However, when I look at our youth today compared to the past I see a regression in their mental and physical health, their confidence and knowing their purpose. Today we may have many more gadgets, access to more technology, bigger buildings and so on… but what does this matter when it is clear that many of our youth are not coping with life? It makes no sense.
It is clear that the area that we should be investing our time and efforts into is our youth, supporting them to:
feel valued and know who they are
know how to truly care for themselves and others
have a sense and appreciation for their purpose in life.
This photo got me thinking about the unsupportive patterns we have managed to fall into as a society and the harmful choices our lifestyle is reflecting in our young today. If someone from that 1920’s photo was walking around today, they may ask, “Why do people look so sick and unhappy?” It makes me ponder on what our children’s children will be facing if we, as a society, continue living in this way and accepting such drastic statistics as normal…
We may not consider those in the 1920s to be as advanced as we are today, however the photo shows that they were living with more health, connection, settlement and contentment – perhaps a wisdom and simplicity that we need to go back to living before moving forward.
- Aihw.gov.au. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/172fba28-785e-4a08-ab37-2da3bbae40b8/aihw-phe-216.pdf.aspx?inline=true [Accessed 1 Mar. 2019].
By Johanna Smith, BA Education, Diploma of Counselling, Esoteric Practitioner, Perth, Western Australia
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Food and True Nourishment – Why is it not Taught?
The 6 best ways to lose weight authentically (hint: it doesn’t involve fad diets or gym memberships)
Beautiful reflection, Johanna. And reading everyone’s comments have really deepened and broadened the perspective of this reflection.
I feel that if this is the contrast we’re observing between a photograph 100 years old and the current state of our society, what is it like to compare and contrast the way of living a thousand years ago and even beyond. Each period in time has its own challenges and difficulties, no doubt. Checking out and withdrawing a hundred years ago or even a thousand years ago would/may take very different forms from how we collectively choose to do them nowadays. Comparing the rise/changes in mental health is not as straightforward as it seems since just because our older generations weren’t aware of such definition or their existence among their social surroundings, because of the culture and life perspectives back then doesn’t mean that didn’t exist. Medical records weren’t always as thorough, and psychology and psychiatry as medical fields are considered very new and infantile. Mental health conditions were often stigmatised and misunderstood with people told to suck up and move on or telling themselves to just snap out of it. Beyond the physical manifestations on the body as more weight, Leigh Matson perceptively pointed out that being skinny has its own problem of not truly loving one’s body. Comparing other life stresses, it’s difficult to say since everyone’s life is so different – being born into certain social class has its privileges and drawbacks, being born into war or peace gives you different perspectives on life, and so on. My grandparents growing up in Vietnam would never say life is easy when everyday you weren’t sure if you’d have enough food to eat, if you would be poorly treated by your parents in favour of your dozen other siblings, if the war would invade further from the battlefield into where you were hiding tomorrow and your life would come to an end, etc. But as commonly experienced, my grandmother would carry hurts from being not the pretty girl in the family, from not being the favourite child, from feeling like she is not appreciated, from having to shoulder all responsibilities in her household… and nothing from the war – these issues are as common then to what they are now. Therefore, I often find comparing life now with the past is often contentious and incredibly subjective, sometimes skewed in perspectives since we didn’t truly experience what actually was going on. Photos can only capture certain moments, such minute threads in this vast cosmic tapestry of time and space.
Reflecting on other cultures and civilizations around the world, many have ceased to exist while many others persist to modern time, I observe such vast variations perceptions of how the physical bodies should look like and whether they need to be modified or not. Pacific Islanders prefer bigger bodies, some local tribe in the mountain area of Northern Vietnam give girls and women necklace to lengthen their necks to look like human giraffes, many African and PNG tribes prefer tattoos, body pierces, split tongues, stretched lower lips, etc. Thus I feel that using physical bodies as the sole marker is not quite reliable in helping us to discern which way of living is true. And also, not because a culture or civilization is different from the current Western lifestyle, which we overall know to be untrue, means that it is true. Being different to something untrue doesn’t make it true. This means that our proclivity to idolize or canonize ‘exotic’, ‘ancient’ lifestyles as our return to simplicity and truth is misled. Thus we see the myriads of yogi and yoga classes, retreat wellness in Bali and other exotic locations, becoming a monk in Cambodia or Tibet, quitting our day job to follow the nomadic lifestyle of our ancestors, etc. and etc. If we constantly use the manifestations of someone’s choices or a historical trend or certain tradition and culture as the markers of truth, I feel that we’ll constantly chase our own tails, aiming without ever hitting. Things can appear or drape themselves as ‘truth’ but they are not necessarily the real deal.
I feel that each one of us deep down knows what is truth and what is not. But because of our past choices and patterns, our view can be clouded or warped. Therefore we are all on our journey to returning to our souls where the truth lies. We don’t need to look to others for the answers which are already within us, but we can ask for support from those who also understand and value our journey and the truth. From here, problems and issues are resolved once and for all and we won’t have to see their trans-generational persistence anymore.
I have a friend who sent me an email and from the email I could feel that they were defensive, cross and upset. But if I spoke to them they would tell me that they were fine that everything is okay. It’s as though we do not want to admit that life isn’t that great because then we would have to do something about it. But while we can fool ourselves that everything is okay then we do not have to look at what is causing our misery. Where is our intelligence in this?
Life is much more intense and extreme these days and it only gets further highlighted by the levels of sedentariness we now live in. Either due to changes in work requiring more screen time or the need for distraction also being more screen time. We won’t solve the worlds problems from behind a computer screen, nor can we ignore them forever from the same position.
I do understand why people overeat to the extend of obesity as the world is not a nice place to be in. There is so much corruption, manipulation, niceness, politeness, superficiality that is just not great to feel. And because most of us ignore the fact that we do feel all this it is not always easy to deal with this and we overeat, check out in entertainment and so on. So in a way it is a good thing that it has become so visible that the way the world is is not working.
“So in a way it is a good thing that it has become so visible that the way the world is is not working”, Lieke your comment caused me to reflect on the fact that even though obesity is obviously visible, we don’t see it, well certainly not in so called ‘developed’ countries. Obesity is common place, our eyes are accustomed to seeing it, which means that we don’t register it when we do.
‘they were not image driven and there was no show being put on.’ No mobile phones around to make selfies in and immediately loving it or hating it and to be deleted. Having to wait at least a week or more before the image taken was ready and could be shared. It is as if we speak about two different worlds and maybe we do…
Our commitment to living so we can all learn from what has transpired is great, but living the future now in a body that serves the divine glory of the re-connection to God that is available to us all equally will definitely show us a healthy way of living.
I’ve just tried on a belt in a clear-out that used to fit me – it no longer does. And I don’t consider myself fat. Just shows how insidiously weight can creep on.
And just seen a photo of a cricket team from the 1980s – again no overweight men. The rise of ready meals and junk food and constant snacking these days demonstrates there is something lacking in our lives. Yet we all do have a choice as to what to eat.
and we think we are improving in??? this alone shows we are not and that we seriously need to look at how we are living. Individually, as a community, as towns, cities, services and globally. Much needs to be changed ✨
Having been brought up in the 70’s there were no children suffering with depression at primary school. The odd one was a little tubby as a teenager but nothing like it is now. We had the freedom to play out all day during the holidays and wander miles away from home unsupervised, no one would let their children do that these days. Things have definitely changed but not for the better.
Yes I remember going out for all day bike rides with friends – around the age of nine – with one sandwich and maybe an apple each – in the 1950s. We came home at tea time – no one knew where we were – no mobile phones. We had such freedom…..
‘Our Youth’s Waistlines are Expanding… What Does this Say about Us?’, well it says we’re eating a lot but the question is why are we eating so much? and I would have a stab at that and say that it’s in a desperate attempt to quell the inner angst that knots all of our stomachs. And why are our stomachs knotted? well again I would hazard a guess that’s it’s because deep down we all know that something is amiss and that something is the knowing that we are currently choosing to live a very long way away from the way of life that we all know to be true.
I love the call to direct our efforts to supporting our youth in the ways listed as a way of life – we will also need to be open to what this brings up for adults who have perhaps not had this same support themselves.
Very true Michael. Babies are not born overweight. Its important to support people as weight creeps on and not just to ‘fix it’ but to ask why and find the underlying causation.
Our loss of true community and the expansion of our waist lines goes hand in hand.
Without the connection of community we are lost and many through loneliness and lack of connection go to food for comfort.
Good Call. So the more we are connected within and with ourselves and with each other making it about true relationships the less we will feel lost, lonely, miserable, depressed and reach for things like comfort foods. It is but all in a choice. Makes sense and oh so very simple.
Maybe our awareness is so great, when we consider the second coming of the energy of Christ, that we are numbing ourselves with a diet that does not serve our bodies!
Good point Greg – and awareness has come and is coming to everyone on the planet. Not knowing what to do with it – then eating becomes a way to numb out.
Its our own responsibility to look after our own health, we seem to forget this now a days and instead look to blame everyone and every thing else for our health issues.
I can’t believe how thin all of those children are… even our “normal” kids are bigger than that today.
Our children are completely taken by the demands of society today – with their constant influence of social media & the internet, they/ we all have no time to rest and disconnect from the abuse that is so prevalent. That’s why every now and again people actually crave to go into a forest or leave their phone somewhere, because the way we live is so draining & we all know it. Yet, how many of us are really looking at it & wanting to change?
What if we look at our bodies as messengers of life? Perhaps we wouldn’t look at the mirror and condemn but rather read and try to understand what we’re being told.
This is a really interesting article Johanna and gives rise to much thought. My grandmother was a young adult in the 1920s and when I spoke with her it was clear that although there was a different lifestyle back then, the same insecurities and lack of worth existed. However, there is something about life today where the same insecurities and lack of worth are compounded by a more sedentary life style that makes our issues more obvious and less hidden. Perhaps, this is not such a bad thing?
I love that perception Rachel, it is very true. We often look at things and because what we see does not look beautiful in our eyes, we think it’s wrong or bad. But, what if our perception needs to be broken, what if we need to learn to see through the common perception.
Mental health problems have also increased ten fold – all of this is asking us to stop burying our heads in the sand and look at what’s really going on.
“Whereas today, it can be quite a different story with some of our young being either too shy, anxious or carrying self-worth issues to be photographed, to acting over-the-t’p, seeking to be seen and recognised by overdoing it, posing or sexualising themselves.” Yes I’ve noticed this too. Few seems so at ease wit themselves as is on display in the photo from way back.
Could it be, that our waistlines have silently risen just like the waterline of the oceans on our planet? What has our part been in both? Has it been born out the disregard for ourself and the systems in nature around us that we have so fully denied any responsibility for?
Is it possible that people are actually very sensitive and are feeling more tension in their bodies today than say in the 1920’s which they may blame on family breakdown, relationships, stress at work the list is long. Is it possible that in order not to feel just how sensitive we are we eat to numb ourselves from feeling what we actually cannot stop feeling.
I know I do this myself – feeling the resistance to more awareness and I can then eat more than is necessary. Learning to stop and feel before diving into the fridge…….
Exactly Sue you are living in a way that supports you to be more aware, however there are many people who are not so aware and continuously graze on food without stopping to consider why they are doing this. In today’s society we have our 3 meals a day and snack on food and drinks in between these meals. I feel certain this is a way of dulling our senses to the pull of evolution that is occurring and getting stronger. I wonder if we stopped to consider this possibility could we then support ourselves and each other in how to deal with the tension we are all feeling. Firstly to acknowledge that it is there would be a great step forward.
Two sides of the same coin – feeling so insecure as to present yourself for the camera in way that compromises you, but gets you some form of perverse recognition, or withdrawing from life and not wanting to be seen. Both these behaviours stem from a lack of worth but neither are the antidote to the emptiness that impulsed the behaviour in the first place. It is crazy how far below that standard of that display photo the current modern generation have found themselves, and yet here we are – the outplay for which we are all responsible for. Whilst the elder generation may shake their heads at ‘the youth of today’ our lack of connection with them have precipitated to some degree what we are witnessing.
Yes the stress of modern life appears to be at unprecedented levels and yes there are more family breakdowns, abusive relationships and stress but we have to ask ourselves why this is so and look at the bigger picture. Why more tension now than in the 1920s and 30s (especially when the world politically was in an equal mess). Accounting for the advancements in technology aside and the increase in pace and lack of connection and disengagement they encourage, what is it on an energetic level that is playing out so that we are now more sensitive to what we are feeling and more in ‘need’ to numb than ever before?
The ever increasing waistlines are putting ever increasing pressure on the medical systems, both are at bursting point. The underlying sense of emptiness is not filled by calories but by reconnecting to who you are and understanding the purpose of life.
It’s not just the rising waistlines as well that show concern but I would also question if those who are skinny if that is their true weight. Then extending that to peoples posture and their gait, are they truly standing and walking around as the true them? Are these not factors to consider? For example, if I am walking in a rush with my head 10 steps ahead of me that creates stress which exhausted me then leads to a can’t be bothered attitude and an “I’ll just eat anything” mindset. Our whole way of life is reflected in our body shape and movement.
The sobering reality of today is that we are not living what we know to be true within.
I have to wonder if part of this issue of obesity and lack of joy and purpose in life is our obsession with youth and the consequent devaluing of elders? If those from generations past lived with such health and well-being then we must have allowed a big disconnect to those generations to live in such an opposite way to how they did. I realise there are many factors impacting on changes to our weight and our relationship to ourselves and life, however true gold on how to live simply and with true health was embodied by previous generations. We now look to information from the internet and experts but the wisdom of how to live well was in those earlier generations.
Having taken a trip to Turkey recently one of the things that stood out to me was how the eyes of the youngsters in the villages were so bright and the kids were so lively without a TV or computer in sight. They were playing how we played back in the 60’s, out in the dirt with our friends.
Yes, that struck me too. They were so vital and enjoyed interacting with us too. Beautiful often non verbal connection.
In the face of all our ‘advances’ and technological development in the world we are getting sicker and unhappier. It is not rocket science to realise that we are very astray. Speaking to a beautiful, sweet, wise, cool 20 year old the other day I was amazed – but not necessarily shocked – to hear that he was the only one in his peer group who doesn’t take medication, either prescribed or otherwise. Where are these young people going to be in 10 years time?
Wow, that feels quite shocking, it seems the pharmaceutical companies have a wide scope across ages to profit, but what’s truly needed is a return to living well and simply by honouring our body and the true essence of who we are. The only thing that’s worked for me has been Serge Benhayon’s presentations on self care, body awareness and The Livingness, it’s very simple and practical.
When statins were first approved in the US in 1987 they contained CoQ 10 that help replace what the statin removes as side effect, of muscle pain and weakness. Could it be that pharmaceutical companies saw a way to make more money by selling both? With self-care, body awareness and the Livingness simply a way to step off this merry-go-round?
The guy that you spoke to may not have been medicating with medicine but he like the rest of us would no doubt be self-medicating with something, be that watching movies, eating cake, running, computer games, beer. We self-soothe with all manner of things constantly because we’re in an almost permanent state of tension. But what is absolutely brilliant is once we’ve sorted ourselves out, truly sorted ourselves out then the need/desire to self soothe completely drops away. In fact we avoid anything that is going to ruffle the harmony that we feel inside and all forms of medication do that.
Having recently travelled to Turkey it was evident that as yet in the Eastern part obesity is not yet a thing. However I’m sure – sadly – it wont be long…..
Why would we even question how amazing any photo of the past that is simply sharing the Truth as you have presented Johanna, as health and vitality is exuding from every child. Maybe it is big business who makes money out of obesity and the main two industries, could be sugar and then the pharmaceuticals who both definitely benefit from a society that is obese.
And hospitals have vending machines that peddle sweet and salty foods too. The food cooked therein isn’t great either – for the most part.
It is a little disgraceful and a tad ironic that institutions that promote health and well-being, like hospitals, do not consider healthy eating as a priority.
We want the vending machines salty and sweet wares, we’re happy that they’re peddling their wares; saves us from having to get up and walk too far to find them ourselves. We’re happy to have a dealer on every street corner. Cut the demand and the supply will automatically be cut.
Is it possible that we as a society are asking for more sugar and more drugs because we cannot cope with the intensity of the life we have made for ourselves. Is it possible that we feel that we are unable to cope and so seek to dull this tension that we can all feel with anything that races our bodies so that while it is racy we cannot feel this internal unrest. We would have to eat a lot to do this and of course we are.
I think we are a bit dumbfounded as to why we cannot explain our erratic behaviours as a human race. Psychologists cannot, even if they are the ones that perhaps should know why we behave the way we do. Serge Benhayon on the other hand does have an explanation for this that goes full circle and makes sense.
So true, over christmas dinner with some family we were looking at photos of our grandparents when they were young. They were also so lean and their faces were so clear, the innocence even at the age of 20/30 was quite evident and they seemed quite content with themselves in a way that it is very, very uncommon in our society today.
Yes we could say that life now is so different than back then. Now we have so much gadgetry to focus on and careers to pursue but maybe that is us resisting the settlement the people in those photos show. Times changes as they say but has time really changed or have we given up on the quality of life?
Wow reading this I can see how much as a society we are living so disconnected – from each other and ourselves.
Not suggesting a pretense that life was perfect at an earlier time or that we should mimic how people lived in another period. However it is important to be really honest as this blog invites us to be, and question the foundations we are standing on when life offers such clear reflections that as a human race we are not going as well as we would like to think we are.
The fact that society has worsened so much in terms of illness and disease, as well as in general vitality, is testament to the fact that in earlier times things weren’t too sound in the first place. However that said, even up to a generation or two ago, as this blog suggests, we were living in a way that was certainly not as given up or disconnected. This begs the question as to why, but in order to make the shift that’s needed we will really need to want to know why. I am not sure we are there yet, so it is going to get a whole lot worse before this change happens.
Way back – before the introduction of the NHS in the UK – and free medical cace, we took greater responsibility for our own health. Nowadays people want a quick fix and a pill for every ill
Looking at photos from the 1940s and 1950s it’s striking how healthy, vibrant and slim people in UK looked compared with a cross section of society today. We have taken a massive wrong turn in our food consumption with consequent ill health and draining of health service resources.
What a great blog, Johanna. Your observations are keen and simple, just as life should be. What strikes me is how far we have strayed from keeping life simple and uncomplicated, and how the above snapshot of a moment in time reflects back to us the joy of simpler days. Humanity has done its best to present so called highly sophisticated and convoluted reasons as to what is happening to our growing waistlines when in reality it’s this over complication at all levels that is keeping us disconnected from what is truly going on.
‘We may not consider those in the 1920s to be as advanced as we are today, however the photo shows that they were living with more health, connection, settlement and contentment – perhaps a wisdom and simplicity that we need to go back to living before moving forward.’ In the consciousness that time is a linear movement and that by virtue of this false thinking we move from A to B, leaving A behind and that in moving forward, so called, we are evolving means that we are quick to dismiss the past and to dismiss it as being irrelevant to now. What you are sharing Johanna is very pertinent. Comparing the vitality of those around 100 years ago to those who are around now, quickly exposes we have not evolved much at all.
Inner unrest and disturbance feeds our obsession with food: we eat to feed an inner emptiness. Our concern is less with expanding waistlines, but the expansion of an inner disease of unhappiness that starts in childhood and dwells in many throughout their lives.
‘…we eat to feed an inner emptiness.’ The truth in your words is a calling out to humanity, kehinde2012. Our obsession with food and drink stems from this inner emptiness and the sooner humanity chooses to understands this, the sooner our issues of ill health and dis-ease can begin to be addressed at the root cause.
This inspires much consideration. With an ‘inner unrest and disturbance’ there is no amount of food that will satiate or fulfil; our obsession with food and the amount we overeat is evidence of this.
An important piece of writing for the signs of what will come if we allow the ‘regression’ described here to continue are clear. Decreasing mental and physical health, social disconnection and lack of purpose do not sound like a future anyone would apsire to. We need to take notice sooner rather than later.
The issue is that decreasing mental and physical health, social disconnection and lack of purpose have become the norm. I have also noted that many within the next generation feel entitled and are unwilling to put the work in, wanting an immediate gratification and are often unwilling to take responsibility for their choices. At what point do we call a halt to this freight train and how bad does it have to get before we finally apply the breaks?
‘Sooner’ has already gone, we are already in the ‘later’. It’s simply a question of how long will we allow ‘later’ to become.
There’s so much we can learn from our past as society. Of course for not falling in the same mistakes, but also to reflect on and be inspired by the vitality and health then existed and now we clearly miss
I spent years and years eating without even being consciously aware that I was. I was so disconnected from what I was doing that I was oblivious to the quantities and types of food that I was almost constantly putting in my mouth. Eating has become almost as automatic as breathing for so many of us and this is a real concern. The only way to tackle any unwanted behaviour is to increase our awareness around it. It’s like shining a light on it, we start to examine it, question it and take it apart. Gradually over time it dismantles and loses it’s hitherto hidden position in our lives.
We’ve been sold a lie, taken down a track that leads to increased illness and disease and inner unrest and told this is something to strive for. If this is a good life, then I don’t want to be part of it.
Our transgression into obesity is just one of many pointers that could alert us to our ongoing wandering on the wrong track. Immersed in comfort, indulgence and our blinkered view of life being only human we are getting sicker… it is a question of when not if we wake up and have a major reset.
Our physical bodies will always reflect the truth of who we’re choosing to be in any one moment, there is no escaping that.
Not only does our youths waistlines expose we are not living right so too does the massive increase in ill mental health and self harm.
There is an old saying that says – ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and the thousand word you have written magnifies the fact that something has changed. The degree of indoor entertainment that children participate in, are babysat by or distracted with is one of those things. I wonder what that reflects about our lifestyle choices?. Great article Johanna, thank you.
We may, as a society, think we have advanced in many wonderful ways, but looking at that photo and seeing the naturalness of these children exposes that in one important area, the welfare of our children, we seem to have gone backwards. So why aren’t we, in general, seeing this shocking truth that is being presented to us and asking ourselves the question as to why; why are we failing to raise our children to be healthy, to self-care and to know who they truly are.
Who is it that would be asking that question Ingrid? Most of us don’t consciously know who we are and so don’t know that we’re doing anything harmful in the way that we’re parenting. In fact most of us would defend our parenting to the hilt.
The word ‘advance’ has been bastardised. There can be no advance when society falls below the most basic standard of holding self and every other human being with love, regard and respect and accepts this as a norm.
It’s interesting how with modernity we feel we are evolving and yet when we look at the general health and vitality of people as we are now compared to a generation or two ago, we can clearly see something is desperately missing, and whilst we can certainly say my Grandmother’s generation did not have it all sewn up they were certainly happier and healthier. Great to have raised this Johanna so that we may ask what is it about our life choices that predicates this fact.
‘As my husband and I looked at the 1920’s photo, we also noticed that the children in it seemed at ease with themselves’ Great observation and reflection. I really feel the use of social media and the high use of being online, among many things, is one of the reasons children and young people might be less at ease with themselves, whereby most of the time they are looking at screen and how this affects their health and wellbeing massively along with their ability to communicate and express themselves. Holding workshops in schools I have noticed sometimes how our younger generation’s attention span is also very short where they switch off or get ‘bored’ easily, not all the time but a lot of the time. We have a lot to work on here in order to truly support them.
Reading this reminds me that when I went swimming recently in the holidays it was great seeing all the children – mainly boys- out swimming and enjoying the pool. I did notice a considerable majority were carrying extra weight. I pondered on this. I don’t remember this being a factor when I was young. There weren’t computers to keep us transfixed and sedentary; we all played outside all the time we weren’t in school. I’ve heard so many parents say, ‘well, at least I know they’re safe at home,’ when they’re spending their time gaming…
If parents are saying ‘at least I know where they are’ to me it feels like a convenient excuse not to ensure that the kids are engaged and communicative. It doesn’t take much to connect with our kids, to find out about how they are feeling and to check in with them if they are on their devices, monitoring the effect of them on their wellbeing. It is ok to insist they come off them and develop ground rules for how long they may be on them.
The concept of ‘safety’ is a false one. The kids who are holed up in their rooms are being attacked way more than the kids that are running around outside, it’s just that they are being attacked by unseen forces. There are forces at play that are heavily invested in us zoning out and they rub their greasy hands together when a kid loses a few hours of their life to a screen.
As a child growing up in the Fifties and Sixties, I remember being content with what we had, small and simple things brought joy, but there was never a lot of choice. Today, the proliferation of choice in every area of life bewilders adults let alone children and young people. We’re sold the lie we can have it all, but in reality we can’t. Having more sold to us from ‘out there’ creates complexity and confusion. Guided by what we feel is true for us and not what we’re sold by media or other outside forces, we can be more discerning and choose to limit our choice of what to eat, view, and participate in.
The vast array of choices is nothing but a hoax, a hoax designed to fool us that we are living a life of luxury. The truth is that there are only ever two choices to choose between because absolutely every single thing comes from one of two sources. Those that come from soul and therefore support us to return to soul and those that don’t and subsequently seek to keep us away from our soul. All thoughts, words, actions and products fall into one of these two categories, there is no third category ever.
I agree with you Kehinde2012 when you say we have been sold a lie, actually we have been sold many lies and the lie of we can have it all is just one of the many. And it’s all a game to keep us distracted away from the fact that we are on this plane of life to evolve back out of here and not to indulge in all the distractions on offer.
Working with elders it is interesting to observe the difference between their approach to life and food from younger generations. Those who lived through World War II and experienced food rationing, are still influenced by those times. Whereas today, it is common for younger generations to eat a whole bar or box of chocolate in one hit or big bag of crisps, these ladies will ask for one or two chocolate cubes or small bowl of snacks. Often when asked if they want more food or second helping, they decline and say ‘That’s enough for me thank you.’ This seems to come from an inner quality more content with life, than not, even if life it is not all they would like it to be. There has been a definite shift for the worse with many young people less able to cope with life as they meet it.
How ridiculous do things have to get before we wake up to ourselves? Do our kids have to get so fat that we have to use a hoist to get them out of bed and into wheelchairs in order to get them to school? And if this sounds ridiculous then consider how ridiculous it would have sounded to someone living in the 1920’s if we would have told them that we have now got to the point that some adults have eaten so much food that they have to be cut out of their homes in order to go to hospital.
It is up to us to wake up to the madness of our behaviours and stop our chosen blindness to our declining health and vitality – both physiological and mental.
Lack of awareness is akin to being in a drug induced state. An inability to discern truth from the proliferation of lies is the biggest sickness we face.
We can cram as much food as we like into our bodies but we’ll never be able to fill the gaping hole that leaving ourselves has left behind.
I feel you are onto something here Alexis, and I agree with you that we over eat to compensate for the emptiness we feel inside us because we have disconnected from our soul. And it is the disconnection at arises a need which we will never satiate while we are in the disconnection.
Our bodies will always convey the truth of what’s going on, it’s as simple as that. It’s actually a Godsend that as much as we lie (and we are all compulsive liars) our bodies will always tell the truth.
Yes, we may hate this fact but it’s what leads us back to truth, integrity and love.
So true Alexis. The bodies of too many of our children are conveying so very clearly “the truth of what is going on” in the world; that we are not as advanced as we believe we are. It’s time to wake up to the lie we are being fed, figuratively and literally and to say no to the corruption of our wonderful children.
In seeking comfort about else, we’ve killed vitality and health of the human body.
It makes us question the integrity of so-called advanced and intelligent societies.
It is definitely a big sign that our society is ill when we have so many people unwell and overweight and rather than pointing the finger at the individual we do need to look at our collective responsibility for why this is occurring.
Yes, absolutely. Often there is such a shaming of a person for how they are dealing with living in the world. But really we can all be far more responsible and supportive for each other and ask, what is it that a person is struggling with in life? Is it something that isn’t just of their creation but something that we’ve all contributed to?
I know I’ve often felt overwhelmed at all the lovelessness in the world, especially in the systems that are set up to be helpful like social care and education, but actually can be very abusive. When systems that are meant to help but aren’t able to offer what’s truly needed, it can be easy to feel there’s nowhere to turn to; so coping mechanisms like over-eating then become a person’s solution to deal with something they’re struggling with.
Today we have access to everything 24/7 but we chose to focus on smart phones and texts. True joy is also on offer around the clock if we just choose to drop everything else and connect.
Great blog reflecting and asking the question .. are we truly moving forward?
I agree, we think we have advance but the toll of that advance on mental and physical health shows we have not advanced at all. Peeling back the layers to re-connect with a very simple knowing of what when and how to eat, builds a foundation that means we clock when we are eating our emotions or controlling our food as a means of not addressing why we have a need to control it.
Yes it is deeply concerning that the physical and mental health of our youth is getting worse and many are feeling so disconnected from life. The reflection of this photo from several decades ago shows how far we have moved in the wrong direction and just how pressing it is that we address these issues before they get passed to another generation.
I remember at school being taught about what a balanced meal looked like. Essentially I was being told what to eat. It would have been much more helpful to have been taught about emotions and how to understand and address them.
It has become so normal to carry extra weight, and experience the range of health risks that come with that. When I consider the difference between now and back then, I see a young population that is struggling to be themselves in the world.
When I am struggling, I will put on extra weight and use food to soothe and comfort me. However, the thing that I don’t want to feel doesn’t disappear, as much as I may try.
You are right Simone, how good would it be if we were taught about why we eat and what impact that has not just what we should eat based on a rule that comes from a government department? I dare say we would have more awareness about our impact on our own health outcomes if we were taught in this way.
We’re not taught as children to be balanced emotionally, what this feels and looks like. Consequently, emotions when out of control fuel the desire to want to eat more. When we take care of our inner world and how we feel about ourselves, we often take more care of our body.
Yes it is very clear that health programs that just tell people what to do (especially with young people) do not work. We have more knowledge and information about health than ever before. We often know what is good for our health and yet we do the opposite. We need to go deeper than this and look at why it is happening.
You really got me thinking Johanna – and googling too. Images from the 1920’s consistently show a whole different BMI cross section than today – actually so did old images up to the early 1970’s. My nearly 10 year old daughter looked and said wow mum all those people are skinny. Her eyes are accustomed to a different ‘norm’.
Golly. Certainly explains why when I’m just the average weight I pretty much mostly have been that people nowadays say I’m looking slim.
Our whole scale of normal with weight has slid so far in one short lifetime that my once normal (average) weight is suddenly ‘slim’ comparative to the new average.
That’s a stop moment.
We are adjusting our ‘normal’ based on the commonness of overweight, obese and extreme obesity.
Health care systems are breaking under the strain of tailoring to large numbers of bariatric patients – in hospital myself recently I sat on a special bariatric loo and felt like a mini person in a newly maxi world.
Advanced society??? I don’t think we can claim advanced when as you so accurately point out Johanna – we are clearly going backwards.
There will inevitability eventually come a point when the maths of food lobby greed does not stack up against failing and bankrupt health systems – but why wait – why not cherish and value and dare to feel and not numb our sensitivity now and turn the tide ourselves not waiting for corporate greed to be called to a crumbling halt.
In a longitudinal women’s health survey I am a participant of of the 1972-1978 cohort 98% reported not eating enough fresh green vegetables daily, claiming exhaustion and life demands as a contributing factor.
When will we all start asking the questions Johanna offers here? When is enough enough and time to turn the tide?
Kate in answer to your question ‘When will we all start asking the questions Johanna offers here? When is enough enough and time to turn the tide?”, I feel that we’re a long way off the point when we will feel that enough is enough. We have already got to the point where we accept that some people eat so much that they need to be cut out of their homes and lifted out on a crane. We don’t even blink when we hear that someone requires a gastric band to be inserted in order to prevent them from eating too much and to be honest we will readily accept the fact that soon we will have kids who have to be pushed to school in wheelchairs because their weight prohibits movement so much. We, ourselves are too numbed out and disconnected to truly care right now, we are too busy being who we are not to either see or care about others doing the same but in different ways.
Sobering and stark and agreed Alexis. Things are set on a trajectory now to get a whole whole lot worse before a tipping point is reached – as it inevitably will be – but we each as active contributors to and agents in society could very easily turn it around right now if we cared enough.
More costly suffering to come it seems before this cycle is done to death and questions are truly asked and tables start to turn.
It says that generally as a society we are very dissatisfied.
In 1992 I travelled to Australia from America, where I had been for 6 weeks. I had travelled across the country on the train and I was shocked and unsettled at the level of obesity I saw. When I arrived Australia I was relieved to see that most people were of normal weight and that the world wasn’t too crazy after all. Well, that probably wasn’t the attitude to have, because of course since then obesity levels have risen globally to completely disproportionate levels. Far from being ok, this general trend is simply a reflection that the world is crazy – ill health showing clearly that we have not got things right and that we urgently need to address the emptiness that is our drive to kill ourselves with food.
As obesity levels continue to rise around the world we have certainly come to the point where we need to be addressing why so many feel the need to abuse their bodies and shorten their lives in this way.
To me, more than the obesity epidemic, it is that lack of self worth that is the most shocking thing about this current generation and the behaviours that reflect this.
So true Michelle and the obesity is the consequence of this as the drive is so much upon valuing things rather than people
I agree Michelle, we have a lost generation of young people with lack of self worth fueling the obesity crisis. Isn’t it a crime to not support children to love themselves and know they are worthy?
Lack of self worth feeds obesity and obesity feeds lack of self worth.
I read recently, that instead of western and more affluent nations learning from the healthy and cleaner lifestyles of some so-called poorer countries, they are exporting their low standards of food and lifestyle to these countries. When the evil web of ‘profit before people’ extends its reach to more innocent shores, the problem described here is multiplied exponentially across continents to the detriment of children the world over.
Our outside scenery may be changing and looking more advanced in many ways (e.g. technology, buildings, cars etc) but our bodies as a collective human race are going in the opposite direction. Something is not right in this equation.
Today’s children learn that ‘things’ are more important than people.
“This photo got me thinking about the unsupportive patterns we have managed to fall into as a society and the harmful choices our lifestyle is reflecting in our young today.” That is really something to ponder and I am wondering why this is not more a common knowing so that we as society can talk about it. Thank you so much Johanna for highlighting it in your powerful blog.
That photo is really telling. I love what you suggest Johanna, that we need to focus on helping our youth to: feel connected, feel valued and know who they are, know how to truly care for themselves and others, and to have a sense and appreciation for their purpose in life.
Food is only one part of the problem. That comes after; when there is a feeling of emptiness then it’s easy to try and fill oneself up with unsupportive foods that are difficult for our bodies to deal with.
Yes it is a vicious cycle, we eat badly, we sleep badly, we then eat badly to sustain the body as we continue to drain our resources and then reserves till it all breaks down and we need medication to sustain the cycle.
This arrogance that says we have it better now compared to how things were before merely from a point of infrastructural convenience seriously needs to be let go, and let honesty speak its words. I dread to think there might come a time when people would look back at this time today and go ‘Good old days…’
The kids in 1920’s grew up in a community where they were more connected to other people and kids and roamed free playing with their friends with supervision from the whole community. By physical activity they were more in touch with their body unlike today’s gadgets or growing in silos in the fear of safety, looking for recognition.
I so agree Johanna, people are less healthy now then they were 20, 30 40 years ago. What is this saying? A lack of respect for our own bodies – that is for one.
Walking through a high street the other day is was shocking to see just how many people looked sick, some people with very either yellow or grey skin it was the first time I have really observed this in such as way and to see that we have dropped the bar on general health and wellbeing to a very very low level. Why is this? I am wondering whether we care LESS about ourselves than we used to and again if so why?
A huge driver behind the present state of society is profit before and people, greed and lack of responsibility.
Yep plus the amount of sugar and processed foods that are around …. which as you mention is the greed and profit before people.
To lose sight of humanity invites the worse kind of corruption and evil.
It’s not possible to lose sight of humanity without first losing sight of ourselves. By re-connecting back to ourselves, we, in turn re-connect back to humanity because we and humanity are one and the same. A living Oneness that is forever bound.
The contrast between these youngsters from the 1920s and today’s overweight and troubled counterparts is stark and a sign that what we call intelligence and progress – surely can’t be it.
We equate more choice with progress but it’s not. The amount of food choices that we currently have is unbelievable, I mean that quite literally ‘unbelievable’. I was in the UK recently and was hit by the overwhelming and seemingly never ending choice of snacks. Aisles and aisles of snacks everywhere. But what really are we choosing? We get bamboozled into thinking that we’re choosing between savoury and sweet, crunchy or soft, hot or cold but what we’re really choosing between is a food that’s going to support us to stay connected to ourselves or scramble that connection so that we lose sight of or remain disconnected from our true and real selves. In fact so many of us have been so disconnected from our true and real selves for such a long time that we’re no longer able to consciously recollect who we actually are.