Resilience, Busy Hands and Healthy Hermits.


Hands courtesy

Hands courtesy

In the previous post, I suggested that reserves of resilience have declined as it has become easier to survive in modern societies.

Since writing that post, I have read two articles that support that argument.

The first, Raise Your Mood With Your Hands,  by Adam Khan from Moodraiser quotes From Kelly Lambert’s book, Lifting Depression: A Neuroscientist’s Hands-On Approach to Activating your Brains Healing Power. The article states that rates of depression have risen as our lives have become easier. That when it was more difficult to survive, when our ancestors had to work harder just to meet the demands of the basics, food and shelter, they were mentally healthier.

It could be argued that as may be applicable to the prevalence of diseases like cancer, most humans in earlier times, did not live long enough to contract diseases or mental health problems that afflict older people in modern times. However, neither cancer nor mental health issues are confined to old people. Many people today in their 30s to 50s, ages similar to those reached by humans hundreds or thousands of years ago are afflicted.

The suggestion is that by reducing the need to use our hands, we are not stimulating our brains with the anticipation and satisfaction of carrying out complex manual activities.

The second article appeared on the GoodShit blog, Yes that really is the name! A warning – before you click that link, it is a strange mixture of good and offbeat articles and photographs of nude women. The name of the blog is highly appropriate. It is a digest, each weekday, it has a huge number of short summaries of articles on a wide range of subjects with links to the original source. It also has old photographs of buildings, people, events and landscapes dating back to the 1800s. Articles of serious scientific, philosophical, political or medical interest are mixed up with ones about subjects so weird they make my hair curl.

As a single source for a varied daily diet of creative inspiration, it is one of the best I have found. Of course I only read it out of a sense of duty, not for the distracting photographs.

Yesterday, there was a headline “The Strange and Curious Tale of The Last True Hermit“. A story about Christopher Thomas Knight, who had lived as a hermit in the woods near North Pond in Maine for 27 years. He had survived the harsh winters living in a tent deep in the woods, stealing food, clothing and books from local cottages and cabins to survive. Too nervous to light a fire because of the smoke, he cooked on small propane stoves, stealing full tanks when needed.

For almost 30 years, he had only one direct contact with another human being when he passed a hiker on a path and exchanged one word – Hi. A brilliant example of someone living with adversity in many forms and surviving.

The reasons for his decision to become a hermit and the details of his capture are not the point of referring to it here.

What is relevant, is his answer to the state troopers when he was eventually arrested and asked what he did for medical care when he got sick.

His answer was that he did not get sick. He had not taken any medicine or seen a doctor in 27 years. He believed that you only get sick if you have direct contact with other humans.

The hermit lifestyle is impossible and impractical for most people, but it is interesting how Christopher Knight developed the resilience to survive harsh winters, solitude, spasmodic and presumably inadequate diet without getting sick or becoming totally mentally unbalanced.

The same resilience that allowed concentration camp victims to survive years of atrocious conditions.

There certainly seems to be an inverse relationship between comfort and resilience.

With the rapidly changing situations developing in the world today, more people will need to discover if they have the resilience to survive and succeed.

What do you think?



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  2 comments for “Resilience, Busy Hands and Healthy Hermits.

  1. Roberta
    August 31, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Very interesting topic. I do tend to believe that an easy life makes one soft; unable to deal with life’s ups and downs. Today I believe that too many parents exacerbate that tendency by over protecting children and trying to make sure they never get hurt. I have always believed that leads to spoiled unprepared for life adults. Today too many parents also do their children no good if they do not have chores (using their hands) to do. That is why so many young people think life owes them, not the other way round. God forbid we ever have another concentration camp like scenario for today’s young people would not be prepared to survive.

    Now I Must go check out that Good Shit web site. I think I am resilient enough to deal with it. LOL

    • September 1, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Hope you survived your visit to the Good Shit site, there is something for every one there, it’s amazing how much stuff the publisher manages to find every day.

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