The need of structure, social interactions, and meaning in our lives as humans
Contributed by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD, DLFAPA
Friends and patients often ask me, “What are the most important issues to consider relating to our lives as humans? (besides the basic needs of food and shelter.) Here is what I answer: In my own personal long life and clinical practice, I have accumulated experience and wisdom as I have gone along, I came to consider the following of paramount importance: the first, Structure. The second, social interactions and involvement. The third, meaning. Let me explain.
From a biological point, life just is. It is entirely up to us to organize our life under the circumstances in which we find ourselves. If you are a person of faith, then consulting the holy books – as each faith has one – you find guidelines there for structuring a relatively orderly life, providing you do not become a rigid ideologue — hating your fellow humans because of different perceptions of God.
In the structure, rules, restraint, a sense of proportion, and discipline are important. If not imposed from within ourselves, outside structured rules assist us, as the social creatures that we are. For example, the emergency conditions during the war years in Europe provided a structural sense of emergency for survival, thus, depressions and addictions were practically unheard of. Structure and expectancy for certain behavior and mutuality, and rules in a family, are of paramount importance — especially in preparing the children for orderly and satisfactory lives later on. These rules provide a satisfactory, enjoyable family life for them, as well.
Second, interacting, contributing – lots of it – in the form of acts of affection and empathy and compassion, and being contributed with affection and companionship, from our fellow humans –whether with the immediate family or your church groups, or in a hunting club, or in a political activity, and many others. We are able to live a more balanced and happy life with fellow humans, social beings as we are made to be. After all, humans cannot be understood as alone units, but as components of a network of society. And remember fellow humans are not them. They are us! The tall, the thin, the obese, the dark skinned, the different eyed, the different walks, or different talks. Just us. Just one species; us, the entire world over.
The third one is meaning: a project, a hobby, a skill, a way of expanding continuous knowledge a passionate devotion; thus, creating an identity of belonging to something meaningful and satisfactory to our own perception of what each one of us is. And remember, freedom as citizens and as individuals is not license of ‘anything goes,’ of getting lax and loose, and disorderly. If we do, we end up confused unhappy and isolated, overweight, bored, and with a feeling that life is a disease, instead of once in a life-time adventure as ought to be. Good luck!
Copyright © 2016 by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
For more information on Dr. Pediaditakis and his Raleigh NC mental health clinic, visit his Facebook page.