Will we ever be happy?


I’ve been hearing the term “millennial” for quite a while now. Somehow I always thought this didn’t include my age group because millennial would mean people born in and around the millennium (Duh?!) But I am wrong. By a long shot. It does include me. I contribute to the madness too.

Author and consultant, Simon Sinek in a recent video that has since gone viral, describes the millennial generation (people born in and after 1984) as lazy, narcissistic, entitled and self-interested. He fears that this increasing group of people can never really feel true joy in their lives. Their life will at best be, fine. It’ll pass.

I go back to a recent conversation I had with one of my friends. His father has been serving in the government for over 25 years now and I asked him, “What do you think your father would’ve wanted to grow up to be when he was little?” He seemed rather amused and responded with, “I don’t know. I should ask him. Maybe a footballer.” He didn’t ask. He didn’t need to. Both of us knew that our parents would have answers to that question. Amusingly ambitious. What struck me as odd though was the fact that, most of our parents ended up doing entirely different stuff and yet they never complained about how their jobs sucked or how they were going to quit soon. They weren’t necessarily head over heels with what they did, but they stuck to it. Because they had made a commitment to it. Yes, also because choices were limited back then.

Having a choice is a luxury. And luxuries are supposed to make you feel happier. More comfortable. Why aren’t we happy then? Why are our parents, who have possibly never even heard of the term “job satisfaction” more satisfied and content in their jobs than we’ll ever be? What drove them to go to work to exactly the same place every single day for over 30…40 years and do the exact same stuff every day without complaining? How did they form such long lasting relationships with their co-workers that they became family friends and remained so forever?  How they were so patient all these years and never had a bad day at work which they brought home with them? How come did they never have any sleepless nights because of work related stress?

So. Is it true? Are we never really going to be happy like they were? The answer to that is probably yes. Do we agree with it? No not really, we are the more evolved generation which is cooler, has all the right gadgets, is quick and sorted and we know so much. Know SO MUCH. Yes, we do know quite a lot about everything. More than our parents did anyway. But are we happy? Are we content? Wise? Ouch.

Brings me back to what Simon Sinek accused us of being. Lazy. Entitled. Self-interested. And narcissistic.

Are we? All four and more?

Let’s talk entitled. We finish school, we pick a subject we like, and we go to college. In college and universities alike we’re taught of theoretical concepts that sound too good to be true. Knowing how things work and people behave or the other way round, makes us feel powerful. It makes us believe we have answers to questions the world doesn’t know yet. That’s where the problem starts. We begin to feel the world owes us something. It owes us an acknowledgment for knowing stuff and it owes us a job where we can use all of these concepts we learned and make the world a better place. Bingo!

But the world doesn’t owe you anything. It never promised you a job, leave alone a 25th-floor glass office where you could have pace back and forth and take decisions. It didn’t. It’s you who has to get there (if you want to) on your own. Yeah, you may be amazing and special and hugely talented, but nope, the world still doesn’t owe you anything. It’s all you. Running. Slogging. Falling down. Turning back. But never giving up. You have to stop feeling the world owes you happiness and contentment. It owes you nothing.

Okay, lazy much? Yes. All of us want to change the world. But where are we? Probably sitting on our beanbags! We wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, come back, order food, and we’re so exhausted. Flashback to 10 years ago, my mother woke up at 5 in the morning, finished all the housework, went to work, came back, more housework, cooked cleaned washed, and slept peacefully. Imagine being able to do all that? And without multivitamins? Wow. We are sloths, typing away on our phones and taking pictures and dreaming that one day, we will change the world. We will. For greater health risks maybe. But just about that. We have got to get up and do something instead of only tweeting about it. (And since we all look for validation in the no. of Retweets we get, THAT’S NOT CALLED MAKING AN IMPACT FYI)

Self-Interested. Are we? Wait. Let me take a picture first.

Impatient. We are so used to instant gratification that we want everything and we want it now! We need something. We order it online. We don’t even have to move. Our parents have given us better lives than the ones they had. But do we look at that as an advantage?

I remember my mother telling me how she was the 5th of 6 siblings and by the time a textbook got PASSED to her for her use in a particular grade; it had practically lost half its pages. Not advocating that, because let’s face it, times have changed and so has social status and incomes. So why not live a little better. But the problem with this scenario is not looking at what we have as a privilege but as a birthright. When we are used to getting things that easily, we lose the virtue of patience. Of learning to wait. That may not be a problem when you want things because you could just order them online, but is when it comes to relationships and job fulfillment. We get a new job and BOOM, as the one-week excitement starts to subside, we start to feel like we are bored already. Like there’s no excitement left. Same goes for relationships.

What we don’t understand is that it’s not as easy as ordering stuff online. You can’t Amazon everything (I mean you can, just not people and skill sets!)

And jobs and relationships cannot always be wonderful and magical. Sometimes they are not. But do you just toss them in one corner and move to the next? No, you don’t. You cannot expect a relationship to always make your world go round. Likewise, you cannot expect your job to be exciting and all adventure ALL THE TIME. It doesn’t work that way. What you can do though is stay put, through both the good times and the bad.

Now I’m the last person to advocate staying in a relationship or a job that sucks the living soul out of you. But having said that, don’t also expect it to be full of wonders all the time. It’ll make your life a lot easier. Learn to not expect too much anyway. You’ll always be surprised!

I just realized that this has become a self-help book. No one likes those. And no one follows them anyway (NOT EVEN CHICKEN SOUP DON’T LIE).

But the good thing is you don’t have to. You can just sit there on the beanbag and order food.

Or you can reflect. Or do both. But let’s order Pizza first.

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2 thoughts on “Will we ever be happy?

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