What makes a teenager happy? Stephanie Wimmer-Davison, the academic director of a private school in Switzerland, wrote to LEVEKUNST art of life about an interesting project. “I would like to ask if I may at some point use some of the articles from your magazine as springboard to discussion with the teenagers? Also, perhaps if one of our students has their own insights based on something they read then maybe they could send you an article? The students range from age 13 to 17.”
We happily agreed.
Here is the first article by Tanyia Naik.
The teenage years are the most complicated stage of our life. A teenagers happiness changes every other day. One day likes pop music another day he or she might like heavy metal music. Nobody can predict what makes us happy. But throughout our life we have learned some lessons and we know somethings that could make us happy permanently. This article explores some of the things that could make a teenager happy.
Sources state that money and beauty bring us joy. Every teenager wants money to buy food, go out with friends and enjoy their teenage years. Money can buy our basic needs and if we don’t have our basic needs met we will be miserable throughout our life. But most teenagers want to live a luxurious life with electronic gadgets. The motive behind such wishes can often be only to impress friends and fit in. However, these wishes may not bring long term happiness. As the hedonic treadmill hypothesis suggests, people who have experienced extremely positive events revert to their original state of happiness after a short period of time. For example, although big lottery winners report being super happy after winning the lottery their happiness falls back to baseline levels of happiness after 2 or 3 months. So, clearly those type of material gains don’t bring us permanent happiness.
On the other hand some sources mention that it is self esteem rather than money which brings happiness. The Oxford dictionary definition of self esteem is, confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self- respect. Having confidence is an amazing feeling. You not only believe in yourself but also others. This builds strong relationships with people for a very long period of time or may be throughout your life. Here I would like to share my personal experience. When I was about 10 years old I moved from Finland to India my home country. It was my first day of school and I had no confidence in myself that I could talk to people or make new friends. But my mom didn’t lose hope for me and told me to be confident as I entered my school. I did as my mom said and I made many friends on my first day at school. I was quite impressed as I had previously thought I couldn’t even talk to people.
People often confuse high self- esteem and thinking highly of yourself. Thinking highly about yourself can often give you negative results. People who think highly about themselves tend to have low self-esteem. Because they show they are superior from others from the outside but from the inside they are insecure about themselves. This drives people away from them and they are not happy from inside. For example people who have skill or luck in particular area or subject, often show that they are the best and nobody can compete them and they don’t accept that they might sometimes be wrong but from the inside they are scared that they will lose their position in that particular field.
Beauty is the most important thing for a human being. Everybody wants to look presentable in front of the world. Some people think they look beautiful when they dress up classy, others think they look beautiful when they dress up as hipsters. All around the world people have different opinions of what beauty really is. But sometimes people take beauty very seriously. Many people want to look beautiful and that’s all they can think about. They think if they look pretty or handsome they can achieve everything. Many people are bullied for not looking perfect like a Victoria Secret’s model. I personally think people are beautiful in their own way. Dr. Jennifer Aaker suggests beauty doesn’t bring us happiness.
Dr. Aaker also suggests confidence can bring you permanent happiness. The Oxford dictionary states that confidence is a belief in your own ability to do things and be successful. If you could face the world with confidence you don’t need beauty. Confidence can help you to go through any challenging situation.
Helping others is one of the best thing a man can do. “Neuroscience shows that when we help others it activates the reward centre in our brain in the same way as receiving a gift does.” However, many people expect something back after they help someone because they think karma works like this. This often makes people unhappy as they have high expectations that the other the person will help or reward them but the other person doesn’t always fulfil their wishes. Such high expectations can then damage friendships and connections. Yet helping and supporting others without too much expectation of reward in return, can make us happy as it builds connections with different people. The more people we are surrounded by the more happy and peaceful we are. And we also learn many new things from them. I had many personal incidents where I felt happy while serving others.
Often people think if they ask for help they could look like a coward. However, it is beneficial to ask for support in difficult times or when you don’t know something. The other person then feels that they can be valued and trusted. A level of confidence in that person is built in your mind. Asking for help or support also helps us to bond with people. However, when people ask for help in every single activity it could also annoy the other person and make him/her think you are completely dependent on them. The person then tends to ignore you or not help you the next time you ask them for help.
Acting is something many of us are good at. On numerous occasions people act that they get happiness from something they are not really interested in and they pretend that it brings them joy. People do this because their friends or family like it and believe that going with the crowd will make others happy. For example if your friends like to go out and have fun in the pub while you prefer to read a book or go into the woods you should do that rather than what your friends like. Although you should be authentic and true to yourself, once in a blue moon it is still fine to go with what others like as it helps you to keep your connection with others as well as yourself.
I personally feel that self esteem, confidence, helping others, taking help from others to build connections and being true to yourself makes a teenager happy. Whereas beauty, money and going with the crowd give you temporary happiness.
But there are many teenagers with different personalities who might not find happiness in these factors. For example teenagers who are suffering through poverty might find happiness in money and education. Teenagers who are billionaires might find happiness in expensive materials and beauty. But at the of the day you should always remember to be happy.
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