Dr Jordan Peterson gave an inspirational talk recently and discussed clinical depression, how to avoid it and surprisingly stories have a strong impact on us at the biological level.
Many would agree that having stability in your life is better than not having stability.
Having a job and having a serious partner are two that common sense would suggest. If you have a regular job, or a long term partner you have some islands of sanity to ground yourself.
“So for example, if someone comes into to see me, and they say they are depressed, I ask them a very standard set of questions:
– Do you have a Job?
If you don’t have a job, you are really in trouble in our society.
First of all, your biological rhythms tend to go off the rails right away because there is no reason to go to bed at a particular time, there is no reason to get up,
for many people”
What may be surprising, as Dr Jordan Peterson recently explained, is how sensitive we are have having those pillars knocked out from under us. Having a couple of these anchor points give way, and your other anchor points may break under the strain. Suddenly your stable existence is gone and you are drifting quickly towards depression.
“So Sometimes you see people who are depressed have no job, have no friends, have no intimate relationship, they have an additional health problem, and they have a drug and alcohol problem. My experience has been if you have three of those problems it is almost impossible to help. You are so deeply mired in chaos that you can’t get out because You make progress on one front and one of your other problems pulls you down.”
From a purely clinical psychological point of view, having a job (or “Any job damn job, even if it’s not the one you want right now”), friends, and serious relationships are recommended anchor points for life. Life with them is not necessarily easy, but without them it will be far more difficult.
“Put together some of the foundational items that are like pillars that your life rests on.
You can look at your life and you can see what isn’t right about it and then you can start to fix that; and the way you fix it is by noticing what you could in fact fix.”
Of particular interest is what Peterson says about stories – It is well proven experimentally that stories affect us – and we are not even aware of it. Clinical experiments has shown repeatedly this effect. Therefore logically extrapolating, profound stories would probably affect us more.
“And the stories have an effects on you.
Here is a classic experiment. So you take two groups of undergraduates and you bring them into your lab and you give one group a multiple choice test that has a bunch of words in it that are associated with being old and you give the other group the same multiple choice test except the words are associated with being young. This is independent of the content of the test – its just description. Then you time the undergraduates as they walk back to the elevators. The one that completed the multiple choice test that had more words associated with ageing walk slower back to the elevators and they don’t *know* they are doing it. That study has been replicated in many forms many many times. You are unbelievably sensitive to the story your environment is telling you.“
This perhaps explains why the profound biblical stories can impact us so deeply, in particular at the physiological level. The bible is working at biological, moral and spiritual levels – giving us an additional pillar of stability.
As Dr Peterson concludes:
“Life can be meaningful enough to justify its suffering; cause its not optimistic exactly.
Some people tell you “well, you can be happy”. Well those people are *idiots*. I’m telling you they’re idiots. There’s going to be things that come along that flatten you so hard you won’t believe it. but that isn’t life. life isn’t to be happy. If you’re happy you’re bloody fortunate and you should enjoy it.
It’s the grace of God so to speak.”
Listen to the complete “Jordan Peterson Inspirational Talk” is here