At first glance, you might believe that this term is fairly new. Reserved for millennials and a generation of spoiled, entitled young adults who have seemingly had the world handed to them. Upon further review, I can look back to past generations and see that they may have had the same affliction. It just wasn’t labeled. You can go back, at least to the baby boomer generation, and among them, you will find a longing for a different life from their parents. I will ask a few questions and then try to answer them with logic and a little passion.
Do people today have it too easy? Why are so many of the people I meet unhappy with they have been blessed with? Is the idea that there must be something more to life an anchor around the neck of a future without internal struggle? What does it take to find happiness in the crazy, disjointed, hectic world we live in? How do we find peace with what we have? Has the advent of social media and its proliferation left us longing for what others have and what they are doing? Is there something more?
Let me say a few words about why I think life is too easy. I find the whole idea of not having to get off your couch for anything…very disturbing. Because we have such great technological capability, we don’t have to reach very far for anything. You can have anything your heart desires without leaving the comfort of your home. Telecommuting has pervaded the workforce and even a workplace friendship is becoming a thing of the past. As connected as the world is, we are getting more disconnected every day. This, ease of access is feeding a world of loneliness. Not that is anything wrong with living a life of solitude or a monastic existence as an individual. But we are quickly becoming a whole culture of solitude and disparity. The human connection is dwindling before our eyes and no one seems to realize it. Or, maybe they do, and just don’t care. I think that having the world at your fingertips is one of the causes of modern disease. Along with this fact, we have too many choices, and it is dividing us.
The only people I meet that are truly happy are young children. The ones that have not been exposed to the hardships of everyday life. The ones that see endless possibility because they haven’t been told that most of those possibilities are out of reach for most, and haven’t become jaded as a result. Teens, young adults, and adults, on the other hand, are at the opposite end of that spectrum. It seems that most people, of every age, I meet are missing something. And, at some level, they aren’t happy with either what they have, or where they are, or who they are with…or something. But let me say this. With the level of sophistication and intelligence, it takes to get through this life and navigate the complex society we live in; we should consider everything we have a blessing. Not to trivialize the amount of effort it takes to just get out of bed in the morning when you feel that your life is lacking something.
Maybe I’m overthinking the whole thing. I mean, seriously, since the dawn of man we have been searching. There has always been something driving us to want or search for more. At first, it was just survival instinct; a need to eat and live beyond being a meal for some other animal. After that, our collective and individual pioneer and innovative spirits motivated us to find and conquer new lands, new heights, new worlds; to build civilizations and propagate as a species. But with that, there were things that needed to be done. That is to say, that everything was unknown territory. We didn’t know what lay beyond the horizon and didn’t care if there was a danger. In fact, we relished the danger. It made us feel alive. I suppose that this idea, of nothing more to conquer (at least in our daily lives), is just another cause of our modern disease.
Are we doomed to travel through this existence with the weight of dissatisfaction pulling us to the bottom of a vast ocean of an ordinary life? (What is an ordinary life? Is an ordinary life a bad thing?) Of course, we’re not! There is a large number of people out there that have found what it takes to get through it with a happy heart and a bright outlook. If you meet one, you know it. They are the benevolent souls. The ones that put others right up there with themselves, if not a bit higher. They are the ones that, as Joseph Campbell said, have found their bliss. If you haven’t heard of Joseph Campbell, I suggest you look into him. Deeply. Anyway, find your bliss. Help others. Create art (whatever that is in your eyes and in your heart). We all start out so bright eyed and bushy tailed. Then we lose something along the way. Rediscover a part of you that used to drive you and make you passionate Get your blood pumping again. Get out there and do something hard, even if you fail. Failure fuels desire and desire feeds your soul.
In his book, Wild at Heart, John Eldredge alluded to an idea of having and needing a dragon to slay. My interpretation of this idea is that we all need that reason to get out of bed in the morning and do something that satisfies our soul. A passion to feed on. Me, I like to hear myself talk, or write. I hope people will like it, or not, but it makes me happy in either case. It does not have to be the loftiest goal. Whatever it is, it should be hard enough that it takes some real effort. The only requirement is that it gives you a sense of inner peace. People find most of their dragons within themselves. To slay them, some go to church, some do yoga, some paint, some dance, you get the idea. Go find your bliss and slay your dragon. Try to find positive meaning in the things you already have in this life. Family, faith, love, hope, earthly possessions, your crappy car….everything. It is all good. Every last bit of it. You should let it be enough. There most certainly is more, but the majority of it is already inside you. It is waiting for you to let it out and share it, even if you only share it with yourself. Your passion could bleed over on to the person next to you, and the next one, and the next one. Before you know it, we will have eradicated modern disease and discontent.