Finding Happiness and a Lifestyle Balance necessary to Sustain It
January 28, 2017 | Craig Maguire, IMPRESSIONS FCS Inc.
With the 2017 New Year now in full swing, a number of issues have predominantly continued as hotbeds of debate, dispute and even despair within our daily lives. From fully-engaged views and fears concerning the election of a new American President, and his numerous "questionable" comments and convictions; to the many arguments pitting economic stimulus and growth ventures against active and engaged environmental responsibilities, and an ambitious interest to "phase out" our on-going reliance on fossil fuels; to the plight of so many youth and young adults, who struggle with the ever persistent dilemma of addictions and balanced mental health consistencies, is it any wonder why the concept of "happiness", or for that matter, the attainment of happiness, has become so obscure and tainted with complexities far beyond many people's capacity to achieve stable and effective continuity? Despite the reality that most of these same issues and concerns have always existed, in one form or another and in varying degrees, life for many, and especially our young people, has become a vacuum of accumulated disappointments and deep emotional deﬁciencies. For many adults and seniors who grew up with these same types of uneasy realities, it appears that the effects today are, more often than not, much more pronounced and detrimental. There was once a time when we were taught that happiness was "in the eye of the beholder". This analogy made perfect sense to us as we adopted a belief that we were in control of our lives and able to decide for ourselves what happiness looks like and the role and opportunities it can present for us.
Unfortunately, mental health issues have continued to be a mainstream and wide-spread epidemic whereby so many have lost their battle with making sense of their life and ﬁnding the opportunities for peace and happiness they so desperately seek.
Many of today's youth and young adults have been accustomed to a life of fast-paced, fast-food, and almost immediate gratiﬁcation as our World increases its dependency on technological advancements and less emphasis on the social and emotional attachments with those around us. This has become so evident and one only needs to sit in any waiting room, from a hospital, a restaurant, a bus stop or most any other environment to witness the masses of people consumed with their smart phones, tablets or other such devices. The disadvantage to this seemingly detached lifestyle of personal relationships however appears to have strained and depleted many people's ability and ease in ﬁnding the small joys and personal satisfaction through the bonds of friendship and social interaction that was once so common-place and readily available.
The idea of happiness has, in so many ways, become more a sense of acquiring things, such as wealth, prosperity and freedoms of expression, in a manner primarily focused on individual achievement, that it has gradually but steadily eroded a generation of young people who have become so accustomed to the isolation that has formed within their life. As a child, many of us "seasoned" folks can remember our childhoods ﬁlled with fun and laughter as we played outside with our friends, rode our bikes, climbed trees and no matter the activity, found our happiness in the enjoyment of sharing our time and activities personally and directly with others around us. Over the past years however, many children have become accustomed to having entertainment at their ﬁngertips through means of television, computers, iPods and a whole string of technical substitutions. No doubt, many of these technological amenities have increased our productivity and efﬁciencies with greater access to information, resources and knowledge but with far less reliance on the simple pleasures of engagement with others, even strangers, on a personal level which allows for a connectedness with others and a social comfort that encourages, even promotes, a common and shared interest in personal relationships. Instead, today we know many young people spend countless hours in front of a computer screen, are addicted to television as a source of entertainment and, generally speaking, are ﬁnding more and more of their time each day being spent without the connectiveness with others that once was so prevalent in our lives.
Additionally, with a gradual yet decisive scarcity of middle-income families due to poor economic stabilities, we now see many families experiencing hard times, increased demands and overwhelming stress to maintain sufﬁcient opportunities for happiness and fulﬁlment. Rather, many individuals and families today are faced with fears of long-term unemployment, ﬁnancial insecurity and enormous personal debt. These attributes, along with a steady increase in inadequate health and mental health competencies, often due to their lack of ﬁnancial and emotional resources, has seen a signiﬁcant degradation of overall coping skills and emotional astuteness in managing a life so often consumed with balancing between feast or famine. The result has been steadily observed as more and more young people feel isolated and lacking the emotional resources necessary to effectively manage their stressors with the comfort and support of friends, family and other relational strengths and advantages.
It is an unfortunate reality in today’s society that, despite a more progressive and educated population, the skill sets and emotional acuity for happiness to ﬂourish has become so distant and unfamiliar. The complexities and demanding conditions faced by so many youth and young adults today is reﬂected in an increase in the reported number of suicides, addictions, criminal behaviours and medical/health needs at an alarming rate. Sadly, these statistics appear to support a diagnosis of little signiﬁcant improvements in the immediate future.
So what, if anything, can be done to truly be of assistance and support to so many youth and young adults who ﬁnd depression, hopelessness and isolation their presiding and ever debilitating experience in daily living? Naturally, there is no one answer that will sufﬁciently and completely apply to everyone however, there are some basic premises that our youth need to be seriously coached and continuously mentored. These are essential to embracing the very challenging economic times we face with such heavy demands and personal expectations often contributing to notable increases in identiﬁable mental health concerns, relational difﬁculties, addictions, crime and violence, and a host of other debilitating conditions.
1. An acceptance of our insecurities and inefﬁciencies and a perspective which supports new growth and optimism: Each of us need to remind ourselves that it's alright and acceptable that we will not always achieve the results we desire no matter how hard we have worked and no matter the sacriﬁces made. This does not imply failure but moreover, a maturity in understanding that not everything will always turn out exactly as planned. Believe it or not, this is often a good thing and allows us to re-evaluate our goals, intentions and aspirations toward endeavours better suited to our individual needs, strengths and capacities. In-other-words, we learn through our mistakes and setbacks and this growth serves to motivate and strengthen our resolve to achieve the success we desire through thoughtful and attentive decisions for our future.
2. A renewed "connection" in our relationships shared with others and a revitalized commitment to strengthening our social interactions: Simply stated, if you are comfortable tweeting, texting and e-mailing others, but feel less comfortable with face-to-face contact and personal interaction with others, this is an indication that you need to explore your capabilities and develop new strategies for strengthening your relationships as well as enhancing your availability for such relationships to exist. In this way, you are creating an effective and genuine support network which will equip you with the resources needed to achieve the successes desired.
3. A truthful disclosure to self and acceptance of habitual behaviours and unfounded beliefs, with a determined willingness to rediscover your strengths and abilities: It is not always necessary for us to share all of our deepest fears and weaknesses with others however, it is imperative that we be honest with ourselves and give ourselves permission to move forward. To do so, and this is not an easy task, we must often re-evaluate our current beliefs and convictions and make dedicated alterations necessary to enable us to achieve the goals we have established. This can sometimes mean doing things differently or doing completely different things – but, regardless of the approach, the signiﬁcance in truly embracing these changes is essential in maximizing our potential, and our realities, for sustained growth and future success.
4. A concerted balance in your daily responsibilities and a pledge to rediscover your happiness through time, effort and commitment to a healthier lifestyle: If you wait around for more time and opportunity to arrive in which to enjoy some of life's pleasures, chances are you will be waiting a very, very long time. It's time to recognize and accept that the only one standing in your way of happiness is YOU!
Despite all the problematic things going on in our lives and around us, the only one who has the ability to change things is you. The change necessary has little to do with outside inﬂuences and conditions causing you stress but more to do with your ability, and willingness, to take time out of your schedule each and every day and make time for yourself, loved ones, and the activities that bring you comfort and joy. We are ALL busy! You need to make an investment in yourself in much the same way as you invest in your job, your responsibilities or your plans for ﬁnancial freedom. If you are not prepared to make this time available for yourself, how will you ever realize the rewards that come with the successes to be achieved?
5. Slow your World down and organize it into appropriate and manageable strategies: It is so easy to get caught up in the daily demands and expectations we own. Our fast paced and ever increasing ON-THE-GO lifestyles can sometimes make us oblivious to the real effects this lifestyle choice is having on us. From health to happiness, it is important that we organize our days in such a manner that promote our success and not our shortcomings. Many of us live with unrealistic and unsustainable routines that serve to eventually "burn us out", affect our health and well-being negatively and demean our most valued and treasured relationships. Putting off till tomorrow just never seems to work like we hoped and intended it. For this reason, construct manageable strategies of time and task management in much the same way as you do your school work or job responsibilities. Prioritize and establish a schedule that promotes success rather than one which has you trying to accomplish more than anyone could ever possibly realize. In simpler terms, take smaller "bites" and, if need be, leave some tasks and go back to them when you're feeling more adept to tackle the needs and requirements of those tasks. However you choose to structure your day, the result will always be dependent upon your ability to manage your time and efforts successfully. By planning and organizing your endeavours, you create a sense of comfort, peace and structure to your plan and, before you know it, you have adopted new daily living skills and routines that will serve your purposes and signiﬁcantly reduce the stressors, and their negative effects, in substantial and meaningful ways.
Ultimately, happiness is indeed something each of us will view a little differently and hold varying degrees of importance and relevance. Having said this, there is no one in the World who doesn't need, and deserve, the happiness that exists and is readily available to them. If you look to others for your happiness, sadly, you may never truly realize the happiness you are craving. That's because only you can deﬁne what your happiness is and what role it will play in making your life more enjoyable, manageable and fulﬁlling.
Make today, and every day after, an opportunity to guide your lifestyle with purpose, meaning, and opportunity for optimistic growth and renewed determination to live happily and successfully.