Do you want excitement and purpose?. Will you regret it if you don’t take another path and explore?” Many of us in our thirties and forties are asking these questions.We have loving partners, have higher education, lucrative employment, nice homes, vacations and some of us have children with all of their material needs met. So what is missing?
In this generation of media description of how we are supposed to dress, look and feel, we are confused when all of the criteria are met, or somewhat met. The standards can never be met because the media adds more expectations each day.
We are feeling a deep longing for connection to ourselves and others, for our childlike pleasures and passions like running, having fun, exploring. These can’t be bought; they come from within. What keeps us from finding these things within our current lifestyle? Sometimes guilt from family members, lack of support for shared values, lack of social support. Being responsible and thinking about your retirement and your children’s college fund is being responsible. Where did that get the Boomers? The Boomers did the right thing, dedicated themselves to an employer, worked to keep Medical Aid for their family and contributed to their retirement fund. Many lost their dreams. Their hard work was rewarded with a severance package at best.
The generation of adults who are now 30 and 40 years old (those born through late 1970’s) are longing for life purpose. They don’t want to postpone their lives by being responsible. So is this generation yearning for spiritual renewal? Have we come full circle from materialism back to a spiritual or even humanistic focus? Where does the freedom, joy, exploration, and fun of childhood go? Remember jumping rope, exploring in the woods, playing hopscotch and just not wanting the day to end? When do stress and responsibility replace freedom and exploration? Many people are asking themselves why they can’t have both.
Today’s stressful lifestyle occurs gradually and seems to be occurring at a younger age. Why are so many children on medication? Between their cell phones, computers and televisions, young people are trying to manage as many as seven tasks at one time and ADHD is prevalent. This way of life is the opposite of mindful living. People are not really living in the moment and are not fully aware of what they are experiencing so they miss the enjoyment of sensory pleasures. The stress of living seems to be occurring at a younger age. Some of my 18-year-olds are already being treated for anxiety about their school results, university placement, job future etc. They are spreading themselves thin with jobs, school activities, and other CV building activities. They feel the competition and respond with anxiety. They feel the pressure from within and at times they pick up on their parents’ fears. It is a time of change, shifting of perspectives from stress to freedom. Is this the beginning of losing yourself, your life purpose while being so busy meeting the standards that continue to bar higher and higher?
Bringing mindfulness to your daily life requires letting go and allowing time to enjoy and give gratitude for everything within and around you. Being mindful cognitively changes your ability to see yourselves and their world as a place to enjoy, explore and have fun. The moments become hours and your life becomes full of more of what was lost, the childlike enjoyment of freedom, excitement and the joy of being alive.