Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine whose parents brought him to Canada when he was still a kid, and they came from a country which, when they were young, was as similar to Canada as it was different. He told me his mom always criticized teens and young adults in modern, urban Canada for being constantly exhausted and unable to cope with life. She loves Canada, she is happy to be here, but she was expressing concerns over what she saw as a pandemic. As any other child of immigrant parents, he asked her why she kept on saying that over and over for years, and what she did when she was a young adult and then a mom, before coming to Canada. What she shared with him, and he shared with me, was fairly mind-boggling in today's terms. She belonged to a generation of women who were expected to have full-time careers and also be moms and housewives at the same time. As a young mom, she would wake up at 6am, get him ready for her aunt to take care of him for the day (she helped babysit many kids in their extended family as she never had any of her own), make breakfast, and get to work for 8am! Work would be done by 3-4 in the afternoon, then a short commute followed by taking care of kids when they wake up from their nap, cooking, chores, dealing with any guests that stop by for dinner, and keep it going all the way until midnight. Then, after 6 hours of sleep (if that), it was back to the same old thing. So, an entire generation of women did that for years. Men worked hard too, but they rarely participated in chores and housework. Now, how was this possible?! Were the older generations superhuman? Hardly. Today, 50 is the new 30 if you look at a 30 year old person from the 1960's. We have access to knowledge about health, and we have nutrition and supplements that generation would have killed for. Yet, we think we are wiped out and our bodies are tired, yet their bodies clearly were not. So, what's the deal with that?! My friend asked his mom to try and figure it out together. After some brainstorming, they came to a mutual conclusion. There is way too much anxiety and mental exhaustion today that prevents our healthy, strong bodies from doing all the work we need to do! When my friend's mom was a young mom, she did not have a mortgage, though one was easy to get at low interest rates. You were able to get short term loans and lines of credit at almost zero interest through your workplace! Unless they really screwed up, people did not use to get fired and they did not worry about job security. Commutes to work were super short and there was less traffic. Bigger families were tight knit and someone could always watch your kids. Finally, the vast majority of young couples had a nest egg that they could utilize to jump start their life together. Under those circumstances, there was way, way less mental fatigue; when the brain is unburdened and willing, the body can keep going hard all day, meet incredible challenges, go to sleep and do it all again tomorrow- no problem! Today, this splendid way of living a life is not the norm for most people. Only a lucky few get to live that way. The rest of us are being held back not by tired bodies, but by tired brains!
So here we are, dearest readers, at the core of my idea. The biggest problem, bottleneck and threat we face today in the modern world is the limit we have on our brains and the culture that does nothing about it! Think about this for a second. The modern world enjoys decades of scientific breakthroughs that have made our bodies more youthful and healthier than they have ever been. Try as you may, you would fail to prove otherwise. Even the unhealthy people out there, in a modern country, are healthier than most medieval royalty. As a society,we are very body-centric and as a result we created a health culture, nutrition and supplements that can do wonders for physical development. You can get fat or skinny, toned or muscled up, and even genetics cannot prevent most of us from taking our bodies in any direction we want so we can meet any physical challenge or reach any physical goal (ok, almost any). It is truly a good time to be alive.
However, when we talk about our brains, the story is completely different.
In terms of work, let's say you start working in construction and you are average fit. You can take all the right supplements, create the right meal plan and you will be able to stand twice as long or more, lift twice as much or more, and so on! Yet, when it comes to brain power, we as a society have nothing in place to drastically increase our brain power. No, playing those so called IQ increasing games does not help (Google it). No, coffee is not the right solution either because it makes you more alert but not necessarily more efficient, productive or smarter. There is no equivalent of what we do for our body that we can do for our brains to make them two or three times what they are, and we don't have the pursuit of it internalized in our culture and everyday life. It is simply not a part of who we are as a society, and now our brains are burning out, which traps our bodies in the process, locks away our true performance levels. We did not do this to ourselves on purpose. according to ThoughtCo, for almost a hundred years the scientific community repeated the mantra that brain cells do not regenerate. Now, we know this not to be the case, and for many years we have had growing groups of experts, business people and spokespeople working on natural and synthetic ways to regenerate and improve our brains. However, this is all too little and the need for safe, widespread socially acceptable solutions is real and it is urgent! Our modern world will not get simple or more serene, the world my friend's mom lived in may not ever repeat itself, so we cannot wait for that possibility. We need to rise up to answer this huge challenge of our times, and do so collectively. We will not survive the constant state of fatigue, anxiety, stress and inability to cope and then thrive. Many of us will burn out, and our modern world will have to foot the bill for that until most modern countries become welfare states- the places where the very few who somehow make it will have to pay for everyone else who, sadly, crashed and burned.
What can be done to begin to solve this problem? I think a serious conversation and public support for those already working on solutions is very important. Experts today are dealing with improving our brains by looking for separate solutions to individual problems that can affects our brains by themselves or together. Dementia (apparently everyone has it on some level), neuropathy, brain chemistry issues, and neuroplasticity issues (big terms, I know haha). Solving problems in these individual categories will allow everyone's brains to function at their optimal state. Apparently, there are existing solutions that are all in the realm of microdosing, so if you are interested Google microdosing and brain health. As for increasing intelligence, every serious scientist out there will tell you we have no way of doing that in healthy individuals in modern societies- there is apparently nothing out there yet. Sure, by practicing doing IQ tests you can increase your score at those tests, but you don't automatically get smarter about everything you do and the increase is not nearly on the level of what we can for our bodies.
There we have it, dearest readers. How serious do you personally think this problem is? Do you also believe that our bodies are being limited by our tired brains and that this has widespread consequences? Give it some thought.