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Lots of people are feeling lost.

At Terrific Mentors International we see increasing numbers. We meet many people socially and professionally who express their situation as ‘I don’t know what to do next’. The mass media are declaring greater uncertainties among well-established groups of socially motivated people. Some individuals have already given up, saying they will enjoy whatever comes along but won’t make much effort to change it. The world political response to the scary evidence of climate damage smacks of ‘Haul in the ladder, Jack, I’m on the cooler deck’. We can’t stop climate change. We should now be preparing to handle it.

Heaven forbid we should become a society of fatalists. That is not what built humanity with our mastery of science and our potential for greater joy and more compassion. What is causing this demonstrable retreat into individualism, protectionism and unsocial idealism? Three things are at the root of what is happening. Information heads the list. Knowing the problems in your village is one thing. Knowing the problems of the whole world minute by minute, quite another – especially when they are reported excessively grimly to titillate anxiety.

Pace must surely be another cause of concern. Even with extended life we have but a relatively short time on earth. Wanting to cram as much excitement and pleasure into it as possible is understandable. Busy lives can often be good lives. Peace and calm produce joy, too. Self-recognition and wide-ranging reflection are gifts we think few other animals enjoy. When we need to heal the body, stillness often forms a big part of the prescription. The spirit and soul need stillness too if they are to help us become whole.

Lack of care would be my third choice as a cause of feeling lost. Not simply the care we receive, though that is important, but the care we give. If you want to see how vividly care given returns to the giver visit a hospice and talk to the nurses and doctors. Surrounded by what we think of as sadness, often shedding tears when a patient dies, they nevertheless understand that what they give they get back tenfold. Even sad tears are an acknowledgement of how precious life is, not a lament for what others see as destruction.

Who needs to understand these causes of feeling lost if they are to help adjust the course of the planet and its people? All of us. Everyone who has a mind, especially those who hope to leave something worthwhile for their followers plus anyone who regards their existence as a gift to be nurtured and developed.

Is ‘lost’ a mental illness? Nobody knows. It is represented as one by people who badly want attention. Such a need, beyond the point of a mild longing, may actually be a definition of mental illness. Stress above a certain level is a sickness. It is claimed that over 67% of all adults in Britain have unresolved trauma, often from early life stress. This is credible given that children have a built-in parental love-hate relationship as part of their make-up. Without it they would never become independent – nor, self-evidently, would their parents.

Emotional pain can be just as tortuous as physical discomfort. Just as a physical accident requires making the patient immediately comfortable to start the healing process, so a lost person needs the security of knowing who cares and their commitment to making the injury better. But the physically damaged patient must get up, exercise, strain their muscles, force their pace, if they are to recover their exuberance and wellness. Mentally damaged patients must do the same. Rest is best when it makes way for effort.

Just as there are three main causes of ‘Lost’ so, too, there are three main routes to ‘Finding’. Their initials are K,P,I. Not the worn out Key Performance Indicators but the KPI of Knowing, Purpose and Inquiring. They are The Keys to Life. They are the keys to ‘Finding’.

Tomorrow’s Daily Paradox will explain them. Perhaps meanwhile you would like to think about what is your own version of the KPI ‘Keys to Life’. We all adopt other people’s ideas, all the time. It makes sense to do so.

It makes even more sense when we reflect and mull over our own Keys To Life.

Good morning

John Bittleston
[email protected]


Call it homework, call it fun,
Life may soon have just begun.

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30 July 2023