The Age of Mental Toil

Until recently (in age of the earth terms), our survival as human beings depended a lot on our physical strength. The ability to physically toil on a field for harvest or to fight in gruelling circumstances was often directly proportional to our wealth and success.

In the last 50 odd years, this has changed. We are now in the age of mental toil. There have been many a news article and blog post detailing ideas to beat stress. The popularity of “Stress clinics”  and “stress doctors” is on the up.

Can you imagine telling a farmer in the 5th century that he would need to go to a “muscle doctor” to improve his strength? He’d probably laugh and tell you that what he really needed to do is spend hours lifting irons and working even harder on the field so he gets used to it.

Many of the solutions to mental toil suggested are in similar vein – short term balm on wounds. If we really need to be capable of dealing with it, we need to work our mental muscles a heck of a lot more and make them stronger. We need to expand our perspectives by reading more, traveling more, meeting people that share interesting ideas. We also need to learn to get organized enough so we spend our time focusing on what matters and curb decision fatigue. Unlike our farmer ancestors, we have thousands of options on what to do with our time. They paralyze us.

All of this is hard mental work and requires a mind that’s open enough to experience the world and hold conflicting ideas together.

It’s far easier to complain about stress, of course. It’s always hard to open our minds before opening our mouths..