The Synergy Of Caring: 5 Ways To Fight Indifference As A Destructive Force

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depressed and indifferent woman

Are you fighting the urge to be indifferent? Do you want to flip the switch to support a more caring lifestyle in order to have a better future? It all comes down to synergy.

The Merriam-Webster definition of indifferent is "marked by a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern for something" and "marked by no special liking for or dislike of something."

Meanwhile, synergy is nature’s principle of wholeness. Although synergy means "working together," the Greeks invented the word to describe its effect — the whole of viruses, cells, or people working together is always greater than the sum of individuals.

Though synergy can make something more of our lives, it has a dark side.

So what does indifferent mean in a time of crisis?

Covid-19 has promoted a lifestyle that has unleashed a synergy of pandemics (syndemics).

For over 50 years, diseased ways of living have gradually become the norm while slowly synergizing multiple pandemics — inactivity, obesity, and lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

Slowly taking their toll on your health, these conditions work together to synergize the faster, more disabling, and deadly Covid-19.

Active individuals have been forced into inactivity by the isolation mandate. Those struggling to cope may have gained or lost an undesired amount of weight. Some are drinking more alcohol or are not getting their desired amount of sleep.

If you're a parent, essential worker, young person, or person of color, the stress is likely making you more anxious or depressed.

Overall, this is synergizing the lifestyle factors that heighten your vulnerability to its more severe and fatal outcomes.

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Understanding what leads to you feeling indifferent.

We are conditioned to be indifferent about our health. Though never explicitly stated, we live in an environment that covertly promotes indifference, through advertisements for processed foods, alcohol, and tobacco.

Indifference affects us individually, socially, and globally. It entitles us to subordinate our body, other people, life, and nature to serve our whims. Moreover, any subordinate challenging our superiority becomes an enemy to be conquered.

Ironically, rather than conquering nature, Covid-19 suggests the anthropocentric destruction of polar caps, coral reefs, and numerous non-human species is backing us into the corner of extinction.

Like most infectious diseases, Covid-19 is a zoonotic, a virus transmitted from animals to humans.

If we keep invading rainforests and jungles, the home to animals that carry these viruses, these transmissions will continue and Covid-19 will not be the last or the worst of these zoonotics.

According to Inger Andersen, the United Nation’s environment chief, Covid-19 is a warning shot from nature — and it's not the first one.

From 2015-2017, life expectancy in the United States declined. Although another drop is projected for 2020 due to Covid-19, this decline is primarily fueled by an epidemic of deaths due to suicides, opioid overdoses, and alcoholism.

These "deaths of despair" are synergized by our environment of indifference as the social pain of its divisiveness becomes intolerable and eventually renders life meaningless.

Now is the time to heed nature’s warnings and make the synergy of caring the new normal.

How do you switch from the synergy of indifference to the synergy of caring?

The synergy of caring is our hope for a better future.

Caring gives magnitude to one of nature’s strongest integrating forces: love. The more you care, the more you love.

Like all forces, love and caring existed long before we invented words to describe them. Every universe, plant and animal, each one of us, and everything else that works together to make itself whole in nature is held together by an integrative force like love.

When you interact with your body, one another, other living systems, or nature, it's the magnitude of your caring combined with the caring of others that compels you to stick together and work together.

The synergy of caring transforms you into something more than the sum of love exchanged between two people — the sum of work that goes into building a family, community, and an environment.

RELATED: 8 Amazing Mental Health Benefits Of Gratitude To Remember During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Here are the 5 ways to make caring your norm, instead of indifference.

1. Heighten your sensitivity to indifference disguised as caring.

Indifference is the poison of happiness, especially when disguised as caring for exploitive purposes. Many advertisements exploit caring by linking the ideals of life for which you long with the purchase of their product.

Inherently toxic, these ideals are meant to inflict the pain of social comparison, make you "feel like a loser," and emotionally compel you to ponder how incomplete and unhappy your life is without the advertised product.

The illusion of caring is the antidote to the ideal’s venom — it fortifies the false promise of restored wholeness and happiness when you purchase the advertised product.

2. Critically assess caring in advertisements.

What is the intent? Is it your well-being and happiness or the well-being of those behind the advertisement?

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Does the advertisement even make sense? Can the product really deliver on its wholeness and happiness promises?

3. Assess the mutuality of caring.

Does the delicate balance between giving and receiving the best of care exist in your relationships? Assessing the mutuality of caring helps you determine the wholeness of your relationships.

It can also inspire a sense of gratitude from knowing that the caring that permeates your relationships is reciprocal.

The combination of gratitude and caring cultivates a way of thinking that revolves around Friedrich Nietzsche’s noble question, "How can I give back to life more than life has given me?" and manifests itself in noble actions.

4. Reboot your senses.

In times of despair, you might see how impossible it is to live without joy. Now is the time to reboot, sharpen, and train your senses to be as ruthless as the indifference that stops you from caring for your body, others, this world, and the healing powers of nature.

You may never know why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, why the sky is blue, how flowers are always beautiful, why birds sing, or why a berry tastes so good, but you can sensually experience the joy they offer.

Technology is no substitute for sensually lingering in the happiness restored by involuntarily pondering how your life blends with all of life and nature.

5. Build up your wholeness arsenal.

Wholeness is the goal of life. As you strive to answer the question, "How do you make yourself whole?" beware of the black magic market peddling superficial, momentary feelings of being whole and alive.

In the absence of mutual caring, you are inevitably left fragmented and unhappy. The density of wholeness experiences is the synergistic product of working together, participating in the day-to-day work of living your life.

The density of any wholeness experience — good nourishment, exercise, a nature binge, gardening, or the camaraderie of community — is commensurate to the caring that synergizes your working relationship with your body, other people, living systems, and nature.

To know wholeness is to know health and happiness.

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Stephen Almada is a health psychologist. He developed the Mindfulness Eating Training Program and the Stronger Than Stress Training Program. For more information, visit his website or e-mail him at salmada@hsichicago.org.