Expectations for happiness and the pressure to succeed are high, the erosion of traditions and the pace of change can feel bewildering. Society expects everything to be easy and social media has exasperated the problem by encouraging us to curate an edited snapshot of the best bits of our lives.
However, despite the consumer cults of convenience and individual entitlement, some things in life are just plain difficult (and always have been). Although the difficult things such as: learning something new, earning a living, ‘life admin’, trying to do the right thing, saving for the future, living with your body and mind, living with ill-health and death will always be difficult, scientists, policy-makers, service providers and technology are slowly making these difficult things a little easier.
From the adoption of universal basic incomes in response to the threat of autonomous technology potentially taking away large numbers of jobs from society. UBI’s, provide a set amount of money to cover basic living costs to keep people out of poverty and encourage them to pursue more creative entrepreneurial activities. Helping to create a prosperous and fulfilled population, UBI’s have already been adopted across the world from communities in Finland and California to India.
Taboo topics are now being brought out into the open and tackled in new and innovative ways. As life expectancy rises, age-related ailments are set to become more common. Over 400 million people worldwide are affected by incontinence with little help except from bulky, unflattering adult diapers. Willow is a new direct-to-consumer underwear brand for people living with incontinence offering a discreet and direct service. It joins a host of new start-ups aiming to refashion taboo health issues. ‘Hims’ and ‘Hers’ tackles male erectile dysfunction and female hair loss, ‘Blume’ is the first cohesive line of self-care products for tweens going through puberty and ‘Genneve’ is a telehealth service helping women going through menopause. All these products and services start to evidence a much more candid approach to a wide range of emotional and social problems that people face every day across the world and which can cause debilitating anxiety.
Even the stigma of death itself is being challenged as more people engage constructively with our own mortality to take some control of their deaths. Holding live funerals while the star of the show is still living originated in South Korea and Japan where it is called Seizenso. The idea is spreading and becoming an increasingly popular social occasion. The rise of living funerals is part of a more significant shake-up of death and mourning. People are moving away from traditional and formal funerals and burials and instead considering alternatives such as ‘eco funerals’ that provide burials in forests. Biodegradable coffins come in several guises from clothing made from mushrooms to pod-shaped coffins designed to fertilise a tree. Perhaps more radical is the ‘Sarco’ pod that allows people to administer their own death in a matter of minutes. Being mobile, it allows people to choose a special place to say goodbye and take ultimate control of ones ending.