Sunday, December 1, 2013

When you were younger, why were you happier?

If you wish to achieve a goal, you need to be very clear about what it is first. Therefore, if our goal is to maintain the spirit of youth in ourselves and in our culture, firstly we have to pin down what that spirit really is.

Many 20-somethings and 30-somethings have reported that they feel LESS happy than when they were younger. Which is kind of surprising, because they now have an income to spend, don't have to deal with the bullying and other crappy aspects of high school anymore, and they may even have a stable relationship and a family. Back in high school, many of them just wished that they could get out of that place as soon as possible, and get some money of their own to spend. Now that they have all that and more, even if things are a bit stressful sometimes (paying bills, difficult bosses and clients at work, etc), shouldn't they be at least a bit happy? For many people, the answer is no. In fact, they have become nostalgic about high school, that place they once wanted to leave behind forever.

It's not like life was any easier back then, either. Sure, you had your parents looking after your every need, you didn't have to deal with exorbitant bills that threaten to put you into debt all the time, you probably got away with working less hard than you do now, but then there were bullies and the cool groups vs outcasts problem everywhere, your finances were controlled by your parents and you basically had no freedom at all. Some of you also had to deal with teachers you didn't like, who may be no less difficult than the boss you have now.

So what was different? What made back then more tolerable than right now? I've tried to answer this question for many years, and the one thing it comes down to is what I call the vista of youth. The vista of youth is endless hope, endless possibilities, and a space wide enough to hold the wildest dreams. Whilst being in high school was no fun for many people, the vista of hope kept them alive. Sadly, this vista has often been eroded quite badly by the time people reach their late-20s or their 30s. By this time, they have seen other people get ahead whilst they are languishing in failure land, chalking up failure after failure. By this time, the media driven culture has effectively made it clear that they are too old to be cool. All this combines to make that dream seem all that more impossible than it once seemed.

But as we have concluded from previous sections, all those things are illusions. The truth is that in your 20s and 30s, you are still on your way down the long road to chase down your dreams. If at this time you lose the vista of youth, and therefore lose the youthful spirit it brings to your life, you lose the will to travel on and fight on, like a soldier who loses their will to carry on in a battlefield, who just falls to the ground and die right there. Isn't that sad? If you don't want that to happen to you, you must fight to keep your vista of youth fresh all the time until you reach your destination in life. Next we will talk about how to do just that.

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