Happiness is one of the few things considered undefinable. You can describe it as a feeling, but no one can quite agree on what causes it. As you move up and down the social ladder and travel around the globe, people will have different views on happiness. Not even so called experts on the subject agree. What most agree on is that it has to do with external circumstances. In this article, with the help of these so-called experts, I hope to shine some light on what makes my generation happy.
Teenagers today may be the same ages but, as with all human beings, they are also individuals. Each one has different interests and a variety of things that make them happy, even if they aren’t aware of it themselves. I say this because many teens today tend to stick to set patterns and follow trends. The selfie is a good example. Once a popular kid set the trend it had a domino effect on others not because people like to share their own face on Facebook but because of the likes they get. The likes create an addictive feeling of short-term happiness that teens get hooked on very easily. Teenagers in richer parts of the world generally do not experience long-term happiness that often, as they are too dependent on media.
Teen depression according to ABC News has been on the rise since the 1930’s. The cause of this may be that since then more countries have become richer and developed a higher living standard. While this may be considered positive in many respects, it has also led to an overdependence on technology, greed and materialism at the expense of human relationships. Teens would rather send WhatsApp messages to each other than talk, even if they sit just a few meters apart. The almost unlimited supply of goods and luxuries that we, by today’s standards, consider normal, like jewelry and wines, supports the formation and solidifying of short-term happiness in society. We often miss true happiness or simply do not pay enough attention to it when it does come along. For example, if after two weeks of rain and cold weather it gets 30 degrees and sunny for three weeks, we stop acknowledging our luck after one and a half day. Children today would rather play with the Wii or Nintendo, than play hide-and-seek in the garden and the house as I used to do when I was young.
People in poorer countries often deal with poverty and unfair treatment by keeping up their spirits with humor. They don’t necessarily a lot of jokes but just see the funny side of life and are happy with one another’s company. People tend to be happier with what they have or can get, like a small house or when they have enough food left from sales to feed their family. They do not need new presents and compliments on a regular basis to stay happy. American Psychologist Albert Ellis said, happiness depends on your interpretation of events. This means that you can view many situations in two different ways. For example, you wanted to go out with your girlfriend and sit by the Rhine, having a good time, but it starts raining. You have two options. If you are optimist you could go to the movies instead. If you’re a pessimist you stay at home and postpone the date.
As is evident, there are many theories as to what true happiness is caused by, some perhaps being more convincing than others. Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk, said:” Human beings can be miserable in paradise or they can feel a joy about living even in the most adverse of circumstances. I share this view as I know that in every part of the world, no matter people’s religion or beliefs, ethnicity or age, it’s not only location that makes us happy. I believe that happiness is a balanced mix of internal and external circumstances. So your way of thinking is as important as the environment you live in and your social contacts. I do understand people that say your way of thinking or your financial situation is most important but, as stated above, it’s probably a good mix of both that contribute to what you can call true happiness.Featured image by Friza Reihan, Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo by Elias Shariff Falla Mardini, Colombia
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