It’s amazing the kind of things that pass for news stories nowadays, isn’t it? Just the other day a news personality who I follow on social media mentioned the results of a new study and wondered what her followers thought of it. So I told her. This column is a longer, more thoughtful version of that response.
As reported by the Daily Mail, this study found that women are the most difficult family members to live with, but they are also the ones we depend upon the most. Okay. In what possible way could you scientifically prove this? It’s not really a study; it’s more like a poll and is based upon 1100 people.
Let’s just say I’m incredibly skeptical that the billions of people on earth can be accurately studied with a 1100 person sample. But, beyond that, I have a more important and practical question and here it is: How on earth is this information helpful to anyone?
This is just part of a trend I’ve noticed that seems to be growing. The trend is to divide everyone and everything into the smallest possible groupings and then try and figure out who’s got it the worst. So we see studies all the time telling us how hard life is for women, racial minorities, the handicapped, and many other groups.
Not only do I find all of this “information” dubious and unhelpful, but I believe it’s downright harmful. It’s just an extension of our culture’s tendency to spend copious amounts of time and energy in what amounts to navel-gazing. We look at ourselves on social media, in an endless number of polls, and a downright tsunami of “studies.” We are assured these polls and studies are trustworthy, until next week, when there’s a new study telling us the opposite!
So back to my original question – how is any of this helpful? Instead of wasting our time finding out just how miserable we are supposed to be, why not do something beneficial? Look, life is hard for everyone, and at times all of us are hard to get along with aren’t we? Why make a big deal out of who’s worse? Who cares?
Let’s stop focusing on ourselves and instead try and do a couple of fairly simple (but not always easy) things:
- What is my problem or problems?
- What can I do (or stop doing) to make it better?
- Get started on number two right now.
Guess what? You don’t need any studies or polls to figure most of this out. What on earth did people do before polls and studies were invented anyway? I think they probably enjoyed their lives a lot more than many of us do!
As I said in my reply to the social media post – live, people! – just live.
Open your mind, take some risks and dare to change. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t change, because you can. With the right help, I believe anyone and everyone is capable of changing in ways that can make their lives immensely better.
So stop the navel-gazing, forget the studies and polls, and start doing what you know in your heart you need to do. And see if that doesn’t make a huge difference in your life!
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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.