Despite their pervasive presence in the media, superheroes are, in fact, fictional. What happens to a world in which everyday citizens try too hard to be perfect?
Did you know Marvel's "The Avengers" is the fifth highest grossing movie of all time, beating out "Frozen" and "Harry Potter"? Altogether, Marvel's superhero reboot occupies four of the top 12 spots on the box office list. We have become obsessed with superhero culture, but, more importantly, we have lost sight of what makes our favorite men and women in tights so incredible.
They don't do it all alone.
Iron Man's body is fueled by an artificial heart. Captain America underwent chemical injections to make his body more formidable. Thor isn't even human; he's a Norse god.
The truth is, nobody on planet Earth can live up to the tremendous accomplishments of the superheroes we see on the big screen. Yet we keep trying, and it's driving us insane.
With mental health taking up so much of the spotlight in today's world, many studies are being done to show the debilitating effects of our "more, more, more" culture. According to a study published by the CDC, “6 percent of adolescents have serious emotional or behavioral difficulties.”
Think it's just kids? Think again. Even adults are dealing with increased amounts of anxiety these days. As the sales of adult coloring books skyrocket, we've watched our nation's grown-up population revert back to kindergarten behavior, trying relentlessly to color inside the lines.
Experts point their fingers at unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, antisocial lifestyles and video games (including superhero-themed games). But there's one very important culprit lurking in the shadows.
We're working ourselves too hard. So what can we do to fix it?
Finding out how to channel your energy effectively may seem like a herculean task, but the more you practice tips like these, the easier it will become. Try these tips to recharge your batteries when you're feeling super overworked and not super heroic.
Concentrate On One Thing At A Time
According to Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., founder of the Center for BrainHealth, our brains don't function well when we're distracted.
Multitasking is a brain drain that exhausts the mind, zaps cognitive resources and, if left unchecked, condemns us to early mental decline and decreased sharpness.
While Thor may be able to hop back and forth between planets, we earthlings are a more fragile breed. In order to keep yourself alert, focused and functioning at full capacity, list out the tasks you need to get done. Take the first one on the list and work steadily on it until it's complete. Then, select the next item and start again.
Take A Break
There's a reason superhero movies only last an hour and a half. Studies show our brains can only handle up to 90 consecutive minutes of hard work and concentration before they need to take a break. Taking a 15-minute break after every 90 minutes of work will help your brain rest and refocus for the work to come. (Even Iron Man has to recharge his suit periodically.) If you find your entire life is too busy, consider taking a longer pause to evaluate your goals.
Let It Go
At the end of the day, allow yourself time to put your work away and make a meal with a loved one. Get outside. Paint your nails. Sing karaoke. Being mindful about the different aspects of your life is an important way to keep your stress levels in check. David Gelles, a business reporter for the New York Times and author of "Mindful Work: How Meditation is Changing Business from the Inside Out," touts the importance of mindfulness.
Instead of obsessing about what we could have done better last time around, how we're going to handle whatever comes up next, or who is on our nerves, mindfulness allows us to focus on what's happening right here, right now.
Remember how stressed and scared Captain America was when he woke up to find almost 70 years had passed? Being mindful of your life allows you to embrace a greater sense of calm and live each day fully.
We, as a society, need to focus on working smarter and not harder. We need to stop trying to do everything.
We need to leave the superhuman feats for the big screen.