The phrase “Don’t worry, be happy” originated from Meher Baba. He was a spiritual master born in Pune, India in 1894 who considered himself an Avatar (God in human form). He is a prime example of how we, as human beings, have been searching for happiness since the beginning of time. In more recent years, we see the search continue through self-help books and pop songs, and I find myself asking “Can happiness be as simple as Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’?”
I, personally, feel the answer is yes. The secrets to a happy life can be as simple as Pharrell Williams’ song. However, we have constant factors working against our happiness.
I work with many young families who are so stressed and worry so much. Our brilliant, young millennials have been brought up in an age of technology where everything moves rapidly. The information age can be detrimental to true happiness. This is what I have noticed in the past seven years as the millennials have come to start businesses and families, making their way into the world. They get picked on constantly and are continuously under a microscope, thanks to social media. Can those of you in an older generation imagine everything you do and say being recorded and dissected and misinterpreted?
Because of this information age, our younger generation is bombarded with all kinds of information from research that may or may not be vetted as valid. Not only do they have an overwhelming amount of information at their fingertips, but they are also are trying desperately to be the perfect generation—right all the wrongs of the past, do away with injustice, find acceptance in everything and everyone. There’s too much to see, too much to hear, too much to learn, too much to do.
Our young adults’ worries are endless:
“Am I doing the right thing?”
“What do others think?”
“Am I eating the right things? Am I eating too much or not enough?”
“How is my family, my in-laws?”
“Why can’t I sleep? Why am I short of breath?”
“Why does the world feel like it’s closing in on me?”
“There’s too many germs, not enough money, and too many politics!”
“What if my body, my clothes, my hair isn’t enough? What if I’m not enough?”
On and on and on the list goes. This young generation is smart and loving, but, man, they have a lot they are worrying about. They put a lot of stress on themselves. They have been told over and over how they are supposed to be better than the generation before them, however, they live in a time where that is not happening.
Why does this concern me?
I learned early in my life and marriage that truly bad things can happen. We lost my brother-in-law, Tony, to leukemia when he was 18 years old. I had only been married a few months when this tragedy occurred. Losing a loved one can devastate and tear apart families. However, this family—my mother-in-law, husband, brother-in-law, aunts and uncles—came together to love and support each other. Tony’s young short life was not in vain. He brought us together in love and support. It taught me that life can be short. Things and people can be taken from us, and we need to cherish each other above all things this life has to offer.
But I am not seeing this sentiment in young families. I see them so caught up in the day-to-day grind and sometimes toxic environments of media that they don’t see the true value of each other. It saddens me so much that the hyper-focus on things that don’t matter, like clothes, cars, what’s not “perfect,” are keeping us from being truly happy in the moment. I would love our future generations to bathed in love, support, and acceptance. I’m concerned the next generation is going to feel they are nothing but a burden due to the pressure and stress filling their lives. It has to end.
Stress is a life disrupter and can cause mental and physical decay. It stands in the way of true happiness. It stands in the way of success and providing for that better future we all strive for. It can paralyze us and prevent us from moving forward in a positive direction. That’s why I’m speaking up. I want better for this young generation, and I want better for future generations.
What can we do about managing our stress? Stress is perception. What stresses me may not stress you, or vice versa. I have a found a few simple steps to help me manage my stress.
- The first thing to do is manage our response to life around us. Life can be messy and unpredictable. We can get frustrated and mad, or we can be fluid and shift with whatever comes our way.
- We can be thankful for every day and everything in our lives. We may not be content with our current situation, but does that mean we don’t have anything to be thankful for? Every day I take a moment to be thankful. The list may be small at times, but that’s okay.
- The next thing I do is prioritize my life. When I am making decisions about going forward with anything, I think about my priorities. For example: I waited to become a midwife until my children were grown. I wanted them to be my main focus and priority, until they came of age to take care of themselves. Best decision I have ever made.
- I also like to think the best about everyone. This doesn’t mean I let every stranger, I meet in my private life, but I also don’t think the world is out to get me. I believe most people are good people taking care of themselves the best way they know how. The decisions others make that affect me are typically not made from a place of malice but of ignorance or thoughtlessness.
- Finally, I don’t dwell on the negative, bad, or inconvenient things that happen in life. As a good friend of mine says, I might have my “feelings” about it for a while, but then I move on.
There are a million quotes out there on being happy, but I think, ultimately, it boils down to these four statements:
Being happy is a state of mind
Stress is all perception
Be thankful every day
Take time to enjoy each moment
Stay Strong and be HAPPY,