Most of us are familiar with the term Midlife Crisis. It is the cultural phenomenon* that has become the punchline of many a joke in our culture. The term conjures up visions of middle-aged men selling their Station Wagons for Mustangs, and leaving their wives for their much younger Secretaries (yes, I said Station Wagons and Secretaries, two words that are now obsolete proving just how old this concept truly is.)
Have you heard of the more recent term, the Quarter Life Crisis? The name given to describe those in their twenties whom, after graduating from college, are finding it difficult to adjust to the real world. The term has expanded a bit and appears to now include aspects of Erik Erikson’s theory of Intimacy vs. Isolation within it.
This broadens the idea to include those in their late teens to late thirties who are struggling with the realities of adult life and the challenges it brings. With the pressure we all face today, it is no surprise that many of us are unhappy and struggling.
The challenges we face in our lives vary from person to person, and though the majority of North American society has it pretty good, with food, shelter, and employment available to us, 75% of people still consider themselves emotionally unhealthy.
The problems could be lack of a work, no romantic prospects, overwhelming responsibilities at home, or unhappiness with a career choice. Any of these sound familiar?
Are we simply to accept unhappiness when in reality we are abundant in more ways than the rest of the world?
Visit again next week for Part II of The Quarter Life Crisis….
* Note: Only approx. 10% of those 40-60 actually have have an age-related “Midlife Crisis”!
I came across an interesting article this morning in The Globe & Mail discussing the modern day quest for happiness, and the excess emotions that come along with it.
The article touches on many interesting sub-topics, including “happiness anxiety,” which is our fear that our happiness will be followed by pain and suffering. Objectively many can see that happiness does not necessarily lead to eventual suffering, but it is so common that even a new term, “happy-chrondia,” has been given to the subject by Robert Holden, a UK-based positive psychology expert.
An interesting perspective is brought up by the author of the story, which I have thought of many times before, which is the difference between the current and the past generations. In author Sarah Hamson’s words she revealed, “I couldn’t order up happiness on a take-out menu. It wasn’t a consumer product. If I wanted it, I had to sweat a bit in the kitchen of life.”
Hamson then discusses in depth the history of the Puritans and their role in our previous thoughts on happiness, and how those thoughts have dissolved in the recent decades.
An important aspect of our current state of happiness was brought up; the fact that many today believe we cannot be happy when there is so much suffering in the world. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and creator of the Harvard Happiness course said of this belief,
You’re not making their lives any better by being unhappy. In fact, you’re decreasing your ability to create a more positive world, which would help them as well. It actually dishonours other people’s suffering when we don’t celebrate the meaningful and happy parts of our lives, because that’s the part that gives us hope – that, in the midst of suffering, we can make a better world. But if the people experiencing a better world are not cognizant of it, then it eliminates hope.”
An interesting article that I believe shows that this quest for happiness is a common theme throughout the current generation, and also highlights that as a society, our compassion and empathy as a whole has increased.