In a recent study by the OECD (organisation for economic cooperation and development) Ireland were ranked in the top 10 in the ‘better life index’ study. The Better Life Index allows citizens to compare well-being across 36 countries based on 11 dimensions in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life. This is great news for a number of reasons but I do wonder about our honesty as a nation when we’re asked questions. We have a habit of saying ‘yes we’re grand’ when really we’re not!!

As far as communication goes, we are great talkers but not when it comes to serious topics or subjects that involve real feelings. After the celtic tiger, we’re beginning to understand that material wealth doesn’t equal happiness. There’s no denying that it helps and eases the worry of not having enough for the bills but we need to look deeper. A perfect example of this is depression.

It’s great that we’re beginning to talk more about depression and mental health but I also feel that it’s scary that so many people still feel hopeless and helpless.

I often hear people say ‘just pick up the phone’, ‘’talk to someone, ‘tell them how you feel’. But picking up the phone can feel as difficult as carrying the Empire State building on your shoulders.

Every time you try it seems to get heavier and push you down. The fear is almost too much to deal with. It’s an internal battle and it’s constant. You fight back but get nowhere so in time you just decide to give up.

Recovering from depression is very hard and staying well is a constant battle. This all sounds very negative but it’s simply reality.

We need to teach our kids to accept themselves for who they are. It sounds corny but it’s true. As adults, many of us can’t even speak honestly and openly to each other so what chance do our kids have? There is no shame in falling as long as you get back up again and there is no shame in asking for help because you deserve to get better; everyone does.

Each one of us is an individual and, more importantly, unique. That means that there’s no point comparing yourself to your neighbour, friend, cousin or anyone else for that matter as they’re not you.

We all have our own unique individuality and we all hold the ability to be great. Self-belief and confidence are tools we need to teach our kids and teenagers so they can move forward with courage to grab every opportunity or indeed cope with rejection or failure which will happen to all of us in our lifetime. Some of the most successful people have fallen on hard times.

We need to wake up from the delusion of proving ourselves to others. You are not what you own and these days you are not defined by what you owe. Get rid of people that drag you down and make you feel bad.

I’ve stayed in far too many unhealthy friendships through fear and believe me it’s not worth it. We’re afraid to tell our friends we can’t go out on Saturday night as we can’t afford it anymore. If they are your friends they’ll understand and help you if needs be. Real friendship is someone who worries about your feelings, someone who’ll answer the phone at 3AM and is never jealous, only proud.

Our teenagers need encouragement and hope during such difficult times. Encourage them to be the best that they can be and let them know that’s good enough. We all run around living for tomorrow and planning for next week and very few of us live in the moment. We miss so many great normal things that happen because of this. A smile from a stranger, a door opened in kindness, the laughter of our children.

Until we understand our happiness is right here, right now we’ll never find it. We’ll simply keep searching for that one thing more we think will make us happy. Our ability to be happy is inside us. We don’t realise this because no one ever told us. We grew up outdoing each other, comparing each other and talking about each other. It’s time to just say stop.

Our levels of depression and suicide are alarming and screaming at us. Every single one of us can do something about it so please try. Until we break our bad habits how on earth can we expect our kids to?

The study from the OECD is very positive for the Irish as long as we’re being honest with ourselves.

ENDS

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