Fear of the unknown.

Fear of the unknown.

Many of us are creatures of habit. If everything is going according to plan, we feel in control. Unfortunately, this status-quo often degenerates when a curveball presents itself. In some circumstances, this kickstarts a fear response. In the eyes of many, this is often considered an uncontrollable thought process. Fear has often been described as a self-protecting mechanism, through elicitation of the scientifically characterized ‘flight-or-fight’ response, which prepares the body for action. Whilst this is beneficial in many situations, such as being confronted with a potentially dangerous scenario, it can also become crippling for many of us. In some instances, this crippling fear associates with the uncontrollable. In fact, several anxiety disorders including social anxiety and panic disorder share an underlying trait: increased fear of the unknown. However, the manifestation of fear is becoming an increasingly common trait within society, often associated with what has been coined the ‘victim mentality’. It is an acquired personality trait, wherein a person often considers themselves a victim of the negative actions of others, despite all the evidence to the contrary. For many years, I thought this. I truly believed I was the victim of some cruel universal joke. 

Due to negative and destabilizing life-events that I neither acknowledged nor dealt with, I assumed the worst in many situations. This was especially the case for scenarios I had absolutely no control over. As you may have guessed, I feared the unknown to a disconcerting extent. I feared the future. I was scared of the uncontrollable. I have always been meticulously organized and driven when it comes to work. Because of this, I would often eat myself alive when fear disrupted my flow and motivation. The worst thing? Fear would consume me about scenarios that I either had no control over, or worse… things that may not arise. I feared things that did not yet exist! Future career aspirations, ending of relationships, death of family members. Why was I so consumed by these destructive thoughts and fears?

Fear of the unknown is an acquired trait. It is learned. Because of that, we all have the ability to unlearn it. For many of us, we often allow the past to dictate our opinions on the future. We apply previous worst case scenarios to new situations, often assuming that the past will inevitably repeat itself.  ‘I was in a relationship once… they broke up with me. I had a job interview like this before… they didn’t want to hire me.’ Why should any of us believe that it will not happen again? This thought process can often lead to chronic indifference and lethargy about the potential progression in our lives. We can lose all interest in skill development because of the manifestation of fear. How is that a good life? That isn’t living at all. 

For the best part of a decade I let fear dictate my path. On several occasions I decided to choose security over the prospects of greatness. Why? Was it the fear of embarrassment? The fear of failure? I think it was a combination of the two. I was heavily bullied in school, so when I was in my late teens, if there was any instance whereby I would potentially embarrass myself, I would avoid the situation entirely. The fear of failure had become more prominent during my early twenties. Truly believing failure would extinguish any potential success, I would often avoid new scenarios in which the potential for failure manifested. Because of that, I missed out on some incredible opportunities. 

Things in life which are worth having are never easy. If they were, then we would all have them. I think this is crucial to underline. Does stress contribute to your fear? If aligned, it is important to approach and manage challenges in bitesize chunks. This makes tackling a new situation far more manageable and may consequentially help suppress the development of an exaggerated fear response. Are you worrying about the long-term consequences of failure? In many instances this is an entirely pointless process, often fueling fear, anxiety and unmanageable stress. Focusing on fear linked to things you cannot immediately control is a fruitless endeavor. 

Fear and anxiety many times indicates that we are moving in a positive direction, out of the safe confines of our comfort zone, and in the direction of our true purpose.

– Charles F. Glassman

In some circumstances, fear manifestation can lead us to develop the ‘if it is meant to be, it is meant to be’ mentality. Relying on this internal monologue results in the manifestation of laziness and reluctance. Dedicated and consistent hard work is required for success. The universe will not run that race for us. Because of this, fear in many ways is our mortal enemy.  If unharnessed it has the potential to inhibit our ability to strive forwards. So, what can we do about it? I have listed a few different approaches that may help.

How to tackle our fear.

Limiting exposure to uncontrollable situations. Many of us can get worked up by situations we cannot directly or individually resolve. In terms of global issues, newspapers and news websites are the perfect ingredient to whip up a fear storm. For example, whilst I have been living in the United States, I can say with utmost confidence that Donald Trump has exclusively installed anxiety and fear in the hearts of many Americans. His off-the-wall opinions and abuse of power have many people anxious about their futures. Unfortunately however, the presidential situation can only be resolved on election day. For now, it eludes our control. Excessively worrying about things like this during a period wherein you cannot do anything about it is psychologically and physically draining, and it’s definitely not good for anyone. Focus on the things that you have direct control over. The world is too big to worry about everything.

Seek support. Communicating with others who may feel similar bouts of fear and anxiety can be beneficial. I quickly realized that I was pretty good at giving advice to others about their own anxiety. However more importantly, these conversations helped me understand that I was ignoring my own advice. Eventually this changed, and it has assisted beyond description. 

Reflect on past successes. How many times have we all worried about something only for it to totally work out? Whether that was studying for exams, preparing for a job interview, or organizing travel preparations, we often like to dramatacise and imagine the worst-case scenario. Whilst a realistic approach often helps avoid excessive disappointment if something doesn’t go out way, this thought process is imminently heading towards pessimism. When fear hits you regarding a new opportunity, remember to look back at your previous successes. I hope this reflection will help you realize and understand just how suitable and ready you are for this next experience.

It is important to remember that fear is an entirely natural response, especially when we enter a situation we are not immediately comfortable or familiar with. That doesn’t automatically mean that it should be considered a negative emotion. Many of the best things in life are on the other side of fear. Harness it. Embrace it. The unknown may be terrifying, but it is also totally magnificent. 

Do not let our insecurities define us.

Insecurity is something that we all face. It is an inevitable part of life. Whether it is a physical or personality trait, it can be something that hinders us from progressing forward with our daily lives. It is inherent to the human condition.

To this end, I wanted to emphasise to my readers the commonality of insecurity and inhibition. To do this, I asked people of different ages and job descriptions to open up about their biggest insecurities, so I could accumulate their responses anonymously, before posting them here.

However, I feel it important to first open up about my own biggest insecurity. For as long as I can remember, I have had this intrinsic yet entirely irrational hatred towards myself. I am not entirely sure when it manifested, but it is something that I just cannot shake. I am 27 years old, and a post-doctoral neuroscience researcher.

Here are individual responses:

“I would say my biggest insecurity is my shyness, especially when meeting new people and starting conversations.”Age: 19, Profession: DJ.

“I think it’s the lack of being confident in the work I produce and being nervous about what people say about my work.  It’s mainly the confidence and uncertainty that play with my mind when it comes to work. Hence why I haven’t applied for bigger jobs or positions. It is a ‘am I good enough’ to push onwards and upwards.” – Age: 26, Profession: Graphic Designer.

“My biggest insecurity has always been other people’s perception of me. Whether that be friends, family or another professional.”
Age: 25, Profession: Clinical Animal Behaviourist. 

“I would say my greatest insecurity is “imposter syndrome” or the constant feeling I’m not actually capable of being where I am, and that I have deceived everyone into thinking I have, or it is chance.”
Age: 22, Profession: Trainee Accountant.

“I do not like my lips. It is where my eyes immediately go in every picture.”
Age: 26, Profession: Public Relations.

“My biggest insecurity is probably me not achieving enough. No matter how much I do in a day, I berate myself internally, telling myself that I could/should have done more. This is tied in with the constant desire to be productive, which can be harmful, as I know rationally that it’s important for our mental health to not be ‘productive’ all the time.”
Age: 27, Profession: Composer.

“I have body confidence issues.”Age: 37, Profession: DJ.

“I got good grades in school and university, but I am not sure I’ll ever do anything that makes a lasting positive impact on this world. I am also afraid that people doubt my intellect, either because of my gender, race or job. They do not hand out grades when you are an adult to prove you are smart, and my job does not actually require intellect.”
Age: 24, Profession: Advertising.

I would have to say that I am very insecure about whether people like me or not.” Age: 25, Profession: Lecturer in Bioscience. 

“I work in the beauty industry so I would say body image. I’m constantly around beautiful, almost perfect looking people. It can sometimes make me feel like I’m lacking something.”Age: 25, Profession: Aesthetician. 

“Whilst I have many insecurities, there are two main ones. My first is constantly suffering with my body dysmorphia, no matter what I do I’m never satisfied about how I am. Second, I always feel inadequate, again this is because of number one. It is a constant cycle.”
Age: 26, Profession: Warehouse Assistant.

“I am worried that I will go nowhere, and I won’t succeed in my chosen career and will not achieve my aim in life.”
Age: 24, Profession: Medical Systems Specialist. 

The commonality of insecurity within society is undeniable. It is important that we all communicate more openly about what inhibits us, as this may eventually help to set us free.

Is Grief a Mental Illness?

Image from Pixabay

For the majority of us, grief is an inevitability. 

If you have ever experienced grief, you may be familiar with questioning your own sanity… ‘Did I just fleetingly see my loved one wade through a crowded street?’

In some circumstances it can even result in us questioning our own reason for living. Whilst disturbing, these thoughts usually diminish over time, becoming less consuming and intense. However, sometimes these thoughts can pass the line into pathology, wherein treatment may be required to help alleviate and remove the developing problems. 

Pathological grief disorder (PGD) is a condition which is a fairly new addition to what has been dubbed the ‘bible’ of psychiatric disorders – referred to as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This disorder is commonly known as traumatic or prolonged grief, wherein it typically lasts for longer than six months. However, the addition of the disorder to the DSM has been a fairly controversial one. The reason for this being because it allows for medical treatment of grief related depression within the first few weeks following a bereavement. Diagnosing someone with depression so quickly after a significantly traumatic event is, in my opinion, not the correct decision. 

Grief is a natural response the naturally diminishes over time. This is particularly pertinent to individuals who believe the ‘strong’ and ‘stable’ approach for other family members following a fatality – primarily being men. In 2017, Prince William discussed the destructive nature of the ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, admitting that it had taken a devastating toll following the death of his mother, Princess Dianna. Thus, relying on medication to potentially numb the emotion of someone in grieving may only exacerbate the issue, especially when the medication is eventually withdrawn. If that was me, I would probably start to believe that prescription drugs were the essential crux for any potential happiness. Whereas in actuality, any recurring negative emotions would have likely reemerged due to not having sufficient time to process the death prior to pharmaceutical intervention.

Whilst immediate medication is not advised, it is crucial to identify signs of chronic psychological distress following a bereavement. Here are a few PGD symptoms to be aware of:

  1. Concentrating on little else apart from the deceased loved one
  2. Extreme focus on reminders of the loved one or excessive avoidance of reminders
  3. Intense believing that life has no meaning
  4. Inability to enjoy life or reminiscence on positive experiences with the loved one. 
  5. Wishing to die to be with the loved one.

Pathological mourning is not a new concept, with publications discussing its commonality and treatment options in the 1980s. The primary problem is that the DSM does not discriminate PGD from intense ‘normal’ grief, thus likely yielding huge false-positive diagnoses from psychiatrists. This is likely to cause additional stress to an already vulnerable individual.

A major reason for this is because the signs between PGD and ‘normal’ grief are practically identical. However, in PGD the symptoms are considerably more prolonged, debilitating and intense. Numbness and detachment can last for over six months, and perhaps extend considerably longer. It is in considerable contrast to feeling sensitive after being exposed to emotional triggers of that loved one – for example, videos and photos or anniversaries.

Nevertheless, ignoring any type of grief is potentially an extremely hazardous choice. The severe consequences of losing a loved one can, without intervention, manifest in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Whilst primarily associated with individuals who have worked within the military, PTSD is common amongst various groups, including the bereaved. A recent study looked into the rates of PTSD in 132 people who had lost a close relative due to cancer. Strikingly, at one month 30% of the volunteers were rated as having PTSD, with another 26% displaying pre-clinical signs of the disorder.

Interventions for pathological grief disorder

Because the diagnostic criteria for PGD is lacking, many suffers are instead diagnosed with major depressive disorder and are ‘treated’ with antidepressants. Whilst this is sometimes beneficial for the patient, evidence is lacking as to whether this is successful for PGD sufferers. 

On the other hand, grief counselling is available. Therapists for this type of support are widely knowledgeable and understand that each experience of grief is entirely unique, complex and emotional. Your culture, personality and individual experience will all affect the grieving process. A ‘one size fits all’ approach in terms of medication is unlikely to help the majoring of us. Grief counsellors on the other hand will intricately tailor treatment to meet your specific needs. 

I would strongly recommending reading about grief counselling if you believe there is a loved one who requires it. Communication with health professionals (alongside loved ones) is absolutely crucial for healing and recovery. Unfortunately, grief is a normal and upsetting part of life. Instead of immediately jumping towards medication as a potentially damaging crutch, take the right initial steps following a bereavement: Emote and communicate with friends and family. But remember, never be ashamed to seek guidance and support if you think you need to. 

Social anxiety and loneliness.

Image: Pixabay.com

Fearnounan unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm. 

Does that sound familiar to you and your experiences? Perhaps it may. Anxiety is often coined to be a particular type of persisting fear, wherein we worry about potential future outcomes associated with specific events. In fact, the way we feel when either frightened or anxious are extraordinarily similar, because the basic emotion for both remains the same. So, despite not being in any immediate danger, anxiousness can result in similar symptoms to that of fear: increased heart rate, feelings of sickness and/or dizziness, and a loss of appetite. For many, new social situations can be a common trigger of these symptoms, often termed as social anxiety. 

Social anxiety: what is it?

Also labelled as social phobia, social anxiety presents itself as a long-lasting fear of being humiliated or scrutinised by others. It is sometimes (and incorrectly) compared to general shyness. However, whilst shyness often manifests for many prior to an unfamiliar situation, this usually dissipates following exposure to the new social situation. This is not the case for social anxiety. The latter often manifests during adolescence, when the opinions of friends and peers become increasingly important. This impairment can continue into adulthood, wreaking havoc on a wide variety of important life events. Separating social anxiety symptoms from those of general shyness is thus essential before discussing management and treatment options. 

The symptoms

Symptoms of social anxiety (as with any form of anxious behaviour) can be wide ranging, and it is unlikely that any one individual would experience them all. All anxiety disorders can be associated with the symptoms mentioned previously. However, common identifiers for social anxiety usually include the feeling of dreading everyday activities, such as starting up conversations with strangers, speaking on the phone to unfamiliar people, or even going into work. As a consequence, social anxiety can result in the avoidance of many social activities such as eating out or going to parties.

Can social anxiety effect my health? 

Because of the primal need for social interaction between humans, the consequences of social isolation on both physical and emotional health can be catastrophic. A recent meta-analysis – a statistical approach which combines data from multiple studies – identified that a lack of social connections can heighten health risks as much as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day or having an alcohol consumption disorder. The analysis suggested that social isolation can significantly increase the risk of premature mortality, with the magnitude of risk exceeding that of other common leading health threats. A recent study in 2019 analysed the data from more than 580,000 adults, finding that social isolation increases premature death risk for every race.

The negative impact on both mental and cognitive health is also apparent. Evidence supports a link between social isolation and adverse health effects including poor sleep quality, depression and accelerated cognitive decline, the latter of which is associated with problems in memory, language and judgement. A 2018 study also discovered a clear association between loneliness and dementia, increasing a person’s risk of developing the latter by up to forty percent. Examining data from more than 12,000 U.S. adults aged fifty or older, participants rated their loneliness and social isolation alongside completing a battery of cognitive tests every two years for up to ten years. 

Do you think this applies to you?

As reported by a 2018 survey, loneliness levels have reached an all-time high. Of the 20,000 U.S. adults approached, nearly half reported feeling alone, with the youngest generation being the loneliest of all. However, isolation is also well characterised in the elderly. According to Age UK, over two million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, with over one million stating that they go for over a month without conversing with a friend, neighbour or family member10

It is essential to determine whether social anxiety and/or loneliness applies to either yourself or a loved one, and then take appropriate action. It is important to try and communicate with friends and family where possible. However if this is hindered, it is imperative to seek out advice from a qualified medical professional. 

Anxiety: How it links to our future.

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“After all, what is happiness? Love, they tell me. But love doesn’t bring and never has brought happiness. On the contrary, it’s a constant state of anxiety, a battlefield; it’s sleepless nights, asking ourselves all the time if we’re doing the right thing. Real love is composed of ecstasy and agony.

― Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello

This quote really stuck with me. Love is an incredible thing. Whether that feeling is for a significant other, or perhaps for work or even an environment, it is an emotional rollercoaster. You appreciate how fantastic that person/thing is. However, at the same time, it can cause a sense of worry and sadness. What happens if things change? How certain is the path that I currently walk on? What if change detrimentally alters my current position or relationships? Continue reading “Anxiety: How it links to our future.”

It is time to crucify the self critic.

Self-criticism. It can be one of the most disabling components of our psychological wellbeing. Unfortunately for most of us, we will always be our own worst-critic. Relationships, friendships, work progression; self-critical thoughts can make us second guess our ability and worth in all of these areas. Continue reading “It is time to crucify the self critic.”

The disaster of getting inside your own head.

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I am sure we can all relate to this. Whether it’s insecurities which have built up as a direct consequence of our scrambled society, or perhaps due to previous exposer to a singular toxic perpetrator; self-criticism can cause undeniable havoc and internal conflict. The constant flux within our culture, alongside a concurrent addiction to unrealistic expectations has led to the manifestation of many young individuals feeling like they will never be good enough. Continue reading “The disaster of getting inside your own head.”

Don’t let the past dictate your future.

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Most of us understand that an upsetting childhood can affect our adult lives. Depending on the nature of the trauma and the resilience of the individual, resulting consequences can sometimes lead to misery, which often manifests itself through extended depression and anxiety. This is especially the case if no professional help is sought. Continue reading “Don’t let the past dictate your future.”

Where Words Leave Off, Music Begins.

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‘Where words leave off, music begins
– Heinrich Heine

The power of music, it’s inescapable. Many suggest it to be the universal language of the human race, alongside being the greatest form of communication on the planet. Think about it… even if we do not understand the language someone is singing in, we can still identify and appreciate good music when we hear it.

Scientists have identified that listening to music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. Because of this, many people see incredible potential in the power of music to change the brain and modulate its functioning. For example, music has been shown to help stimulate thought to be forgotten memories in Alzheimer’s patients. Curating a collection of music that an Alzheimer’s sufferer may have listened to when they were younger appears to encourage the activation of long-term memories pathways. Additionally, a technique referred to as melodic intonation therapy utilisesthe use of music to trigger portions of the brain into taking over for areas that might have been previously damaged. It is sometimes used for individuals who have suffered a stroke, and lost their ability to speak, for example. In some cases, it can help patients regain their speaking prowess.

It’s unsurprising then, that music is so extensively intertwined with our emotional responses. It almost has the ability to allow us to become an ultimate version of ourselves. Think about listening to music in your car. It makes us feel totally invisible. If we sit there and play the stereo at full volume, it’s almost as if other people cannot see you, as if it tints your windows.

Music is a feeling, not a sound. The majority of music that we choose to listen to gives us some form of emotional buzz. Whether that is happiness, anger, or sadness, music has the ability to stimulate these emotions in all of us. Over the Winter months, focusing on the negative can be, unsurprisingly, unexceptionally normal for us. So much so, the term seasonal affective disorderkeeps cropping up in society. This is then further highlighted when people change their moods once the sun does eventually make an affectionate appearance.

For me, when the sun is out, the UK is one of the best places to be. Sun in the capital is incomparable, and it sets up an unlimited number of possibilities. Yes, sure, experiencing sun all year round on a beautiful beach in Thailand is an idealistic paradise for many. I just think that having to wait for good weather in a place where it is usually so dismal, heightens the experience.

Whilst we all wait for summer, I think music can really help with the negative emotions that we all feel when we brace the winter months. Most of us are clinging onto a savior, in the form of a holiday or travel trip. But, some of us don’t. I know when you’re sad it is exceptionally easy to stick on some upsetting music, thinking it will help with the emotions. It generally heightens them. Sadness as an emotion from listening to particular songs however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can embrace the art of a song that was intentionally designed to provoke sadness. It’s listening to music which propagates your own personal experiences of negative situations that you need to avoid. The songs you used to enjoy because of an ex-partner would be the perfect example of this. An otherwise upbeat and energetic song would now be riddled with negativity and despair.

Last year I curated a list of negative and positive songs to listen to following a traumatic experience such as a break-up, or a bereavement. The post specifically highlighted that listening to the negative first, followed by the positive, is generally better for our psychological wellbeing. This time, I have accumulated a playlist which has been getting me through the wet and rainy days over the past few weeks. I hope it helps you as much as it does me!

Oh Wonder – Lifetimes

Peking Duk, Elliphant – Stranger

MK – 17

Mallory Knox – California

Lower Than Atlantis – Could Be Worse

Lo Moon – Real Love

Just Kiddin – More To Life

Fred V & Grafix – San Francisco

Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly

Draper – Who Are You

The xx – Hold On (Jamie xx Remix)

The playlist is also on Spotify, here https://open.spotify.com/user/115449199/playlist/3wGsGoEnLh2LOM7cocWKmf?si=e-A72QRJRzyei1tUz0FLVg

 

 

To The Future, Not The Past.

hawking quote blog

‘However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.’ 

One of the greatest lights to ever grace the universe with its presence, has been blown out. Professor Stephen Hawking, born on January 8th, 1942, the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death, has died on March 14th, 2018, the anniversary of Einstein’s birth. Time really is magnificent.

Professor Hawking was diagnosed with rare and extremely aggressive form of motor neuron disease (also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) when he was 21. Doctors gave him a prognosis of two years. So… only wrong by 53 years, then. He really was a remarkable human being. Always wanting to remain fiercely independent, he regarded himself as a scientist first, and a popular scientific writer second. Unsurprisingly, he wanted to be acknowledged as a normal human being, with the same desires, dreams and ambitions as the next person. This emphasises that just because someone has an ailment, does not mean they are any different. If anything, when someone with a disability remains able to achieve astonishing things, they will always be infinitely more remarkable.

It’s important to remember this, however… we’re all the same. We all feel similar emotions. We all go through comparable life experiences. Regardless of where we grew up, or now currently reside. I think we can sometimes lose sight of this fact. As unfortunate and saddening as it is, I hope the death of someone so iconic and highly recognised can help stimulate us to realise that yes, time is not infinite. We will all die. Why then do we promote hostility towards each other to potentially speed up this process? Do we not all want to enjoy life to its fullest? Stephen did this. After all, when he was younger, he was notorious for the wildness of his wheelchair driving. If that isn’t living life to its maximal capacity, I cannot think of anything that is.

A man with a crippling disability has become one of most recognisable individuals in our lifetime. If you need motivating to achieve greatness, Professor Hawking should be your inspiration. If you yourself are disabled, I think this quote from the man himself is a perfect summation of his life, and his work ethic…

My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.

If you’re worried about your potential for greatness, please keep in mind that he was never the top of his class in school. He has openly admitted this. Being able to memorise lots of words in a textbook doesn’t prepare you for the complexities of life. Not everyone needs a degree to be successful. Besides, a large population of people with brilliant school grades and a respectable degree can still be unhappy, or unfulfilled. I have been in this situation before. In fact, I have only really just gotten out of it. The reason behind it? Change.

Changing your own personal surrounding and situation could be the catalyst for happiness, greatness, or both. For me, I want to leave the UK, and work internationally. That is my target, this is my goal, and I am 100% committed to it. Perhaps it’s time we all look within ourselves and try to decipher if we are truly happy and content.

If anyone remains doubtful about their future, and believe that they are ‘destined to fail’ and that there is ‘no point’ in continuing on your life trajectory, please keep in mind this final quote from Professor Hawking.

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.

I think the death of someone so influential can sometimes highlight an inevitability – our lifespan is infinitesimal. In fact, in terms of time, the human race is entirely insignificant. Yet, ironically, a large proportion of us believe that humans are the most significant thing to ever exist; that we vastly outweigh and surpass anything that has come previously. Let us put this into context. The big bang likely occurred around 13 billion years ago. In comparison, Homo Sapiens have lived for about 315,000 years. If we convert the big bang into a 24-hour day, humans have existed for approximately 1.26 seconds of that day. As a species, we are anything but special when scaled to the universal clock. So perhaps it’s time we treat everything with dignity, love and respect.

I thought I would end with a rather remarkable thought. Every atom in the body of every single living organism has come from a star in the universe that exploded. It’s rather poetic. Essentially, we are all made up of stardust, from the nuclear furnaces within stars. So perhaps, we are all equally as special as one another.