Saturday 3 February 2024

Materialistic and stressed out Brits

           “There may only be one crowned, but usually it takes two to either fail or succeed.”


Post gym workout, I was having a conversation the other day with a middle aged man who runs a pharmacy business.  We started talking about stress levels and people having heart illnesses in the United Kingdom at much younger ages these days.  It opened up a ten minute discussion on the whys and hows…

His main reasoning behind this predicament derived from obesity.  Being a pharmacist, his knowledge of medication evolvement regarding obesity, and its necessity it should be said, is far greater than mine.  With this considered, I can only respect his view and assume he knows what he is talking about.

He went on to further add that the only true way to confront the obesity plight we live in is in the form of prevention.  He elaborated in terms of the way to reduce obesity levels is to address it at an early age.  We both agreed that even if this process were to be successful (as there is little sign of success right now if it is in place), it would take decades, maybe generations, to show any sign of objective real life improvements.   

My take on it…

I responded in a way that whilst I agreed with his thoughts, the bigger reason towards our country becoming a high stress and heart attack vulnerable hotbed is more a by-product of working excessive hours, and further to the point, the stress involved within the time we work.  He very much agreed.  Don’t you just love talking to someone on a similar wavelength to you!?

I then stated that the main cause of this – British people working longer hours than other countries in the Europe – is because we have effectively replicated our big brother of the United States in becoming over-materialistic and searching for the (American) dream.  In essence, too many of us Brits have been dragged into the “Keeping up with the Jones” mentality, in holding desires for our lives to look better than our colleagues, friends, acquaintances, and even enemies.

A recent first-hand view

Having recently been made redundant, I met up with a Chief Operating Officer/Director of a large company in the demolition industry.  I had actually met this man just under five years ago to talk about the same job we were about to discuss, but back then nothing came of it.

I went into the meeting with an equal dose of open-mindedness and reservations to suit.  I met both him and his right hand man, and we sat down for just under an hour.

The COO just about recognized me from five years ago (granted, his high ranked position will mean he meets a lot of people), to which he said it was my hair he recalled.  To lighten up the conversation back, I said that I had aged in the interim period, but then haven’t we all.  He exerted a mild chuckle.

What first struck me, somewhat pertinent to my comment as explained above, was how much he had physically aged.  Five years may have passed in time, but he looked ten years older.  When he had to take a call, his right hand man took over for a while.  What was clear to me was how stressed and haggard he also appeared.  If he were to tell me his blood pressure and cholesterol levels were excessively high, I would have said to myself that you are only telling me what is obvious.

The COO came back, and he clarified that the main reason they are looking to recruit someone is because, due to the workload over recent years, he has been working evenings and weekends.  In his own words, he said this is why he is always pissed off.

As the meeting progressed, I remember saying to myself that, in spite of it being a financial package higher than anything I had earned previous, it just simply would not be worth the hassle and sleepless nights.  It brought back memories of a course I went on in my early career, and the course leader explained that no matter how many pay rises you receive, it will not compensate if you are just moving from one role to another, or within the same role in a job, that you hate.

A few hours later, the recruiter rang me to ask how it all went.  I told him that even if they offered a position, I would not be interested in pursuing.

How does this all come together?

I have tried to narrate this post in such a way in order to illustrate how it all manifests as follows:

1)    We are a nation which is over-stressed and susceptible to early heart trouble.

2)    We are obese and unhealthy.

3)    The main reason we are obese and unhealthy – compounding the effects of stress, mental health, and heart issues – is because we work long hours in jobs where we encounter too much anxiety and sleepless nights.

4)    Because we are working too long and too stressed, our poor diets and lack of exercise – due to both a shortage of time and lack of self-esteem – produce our obese and internally unhealthy bodies.

5)    Because of all this, we are basically an unhealthy human being in waiting for a heart attack.

In a way then, one factor feeds off the other.  Obesity is a result of over-working and high stress, and high stress and a lack of free time fuses further obesity.

Why do we work this way?

Nevertheless, the crunch of the matter, in my view, will be explained.  It is a view that not many people truly consider, or perhaps more to the point, they will not accept, as it goes against what society wants and needs us to believe.  Even clever pharmacists, doctors, or other high professionals will abstain from this belief, because quite frankly, most of them have been dragged into this quandary themselves.

In easy summary, the male British mindset is one, to secure the best woman he can attain, and two, to keep the future wife happy from leaving him.  He thinks he needs to give her everything he possibly can, no matter how unhappy he becomes.  If it means him taking extra hassle roles time after time, working longer and longer to cater, just to give her the biggest house, best cars, best schooling areas for the kids, and fancy holidays, then who gives a crap about what is best for him…

And I believe this is the problem we live in today in this country.  We all want things we cannot afford, or at least things which will cause us an unhealthy existence to get there.  If men desire to choose this path, then be my guest.  It has been a path I repulse in seeing, and most certainly a path I have never held any ambition to dip my toe into.

A final thought

Furthermore, not only is this problematic situation causing male unhappiness and deprived health, but it is often a root issue for marriage breakdowns.  There cannot be many men out there who enjoy being over worked, over stressed, and overweight, and whilst his respective wife may enjoy the extra money this troubled life of his brings, it is rarely enough to maintain her love and liking towards him unless it is a constant barrage of excess money.  Even this is usually not enough to save the relationship. 

Notwithstanding, such is the lifestyle they need to maintain to impress others, disposable income of excess and not knowing what to do with it is very rarely the case.  What is the reality is that even if the man is taking reasonable pay rises as he moves up the career ladder, the extra money seldom keeps up with his female partner’s expectations and required predilection for the nice life.

With this in mind, he just gets unhealthier and more unattractive as each monthly pay cheque arrives.  In the simultaneous timeframe, his wife’s attraction towards him gradually, or quite often hastily, deteriorates. 

The final chapter of this sorry state of affairs is, quite aptly, an affair.  The man slaving his guts off becomes unhappy with his life, concurrent to his wife and children not appreciating him for his endeavours.  Sex becomes more infrequent as each month passes, and, like no mean coincidence, temptations on business ventures or office interactions lead him to adulterate.

This is if his wife has not got there first.  She has become so unattracted and unappreciative towards him that, even if just for sexual pleasure as opposed to having a clear intention to leave him (usually she will hold desires to leave him, as a woman who cheats on her man does not want to be with him in any capacity), she will very much screen for better male options regarding infidelity or longer term.

Q-tip:                                                                                                                                        You can have everything, but if you are unhappy, your life will be shit.  Alternatively, you can have nothing, but if you are happy, your life will not be shit.

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