In Pursuit of Happ(y)ness: A Brief Introduction
Dr. Rebecca Housel
From Mental Health For Millennials: Vol 3 On Happiness, Published by Book Hub Publishing, Galway, Ireland (2019).
Happiness. We all want it, regardless of age, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. No matter where you live or how you live, or even why you live, you want to be happy. It’s universal. Given that happiness is a common shared goal amidst all of humanity, the fact that it is still, somehow, so elusive points to both societal and cultural disconnects rooted in our very psychology. Mental Health for Millennials III: On Happiness is a collaborative effort that strives to bridge the gap between everyday life and the ability to attain some level of consistent happiness within ourselves.
Happiness is an inside job after all. There will, to use a postmodern term, always be “haters.” There will always be bills to pay. There will always be that neighbour who refuses to wave. But if we are happy at our core, we can take life’s little insults and injuries in our stride. We can handle bigger problems, too. Once you see the world as a place of possibility, a sense of freedom will follow. That comes from being proactive instead of reactive. It’s easy to play the victim when so many seek to victimise. But rising above those who lack self-awareness is part of feeling happy within, regardless of what may be going on around us. Though this book focuses on the Millennial generation, happiness is for every generation. Millennials span more than 20 years—it’s by far the largest and most influential generation to date. That’s why we all live in a Millennial culture today. Depending on your level of engagement with technology, you are part of that Millennial culture, too. You don’t have to be between 20 and 40 to be a foodie, or to take a selfie and post it on social media. People of all ages feel more entitled because we all have more access to technology (and the convenience that comes along with it).(1)
Heating something in the microwave for more than 30 seconds feels tedious today. But if we think back to the early 1980’s, when Sharp’s first “microwave ovens” were not yet in every kitchen in the Western World, it sheds some much-needed perspective.
Our expectations are higher as a society, particularly of our time. Thanks to technology, we all have more of it. But Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the increased convenience of increased home and office technologies. Generation Z, however, is the first generation to grow up with no contact outside of convenience-tech like smart phones. Early Millennials are between 30 and 40. The youngest of that set were graduating high school around the time the first iPhone was developed in 2008. Mid-90’s Millennials got iPads the year they graduated—the first of Apple’s tablets came out in 2010. Having access to smart technology at younger and younger ages will surely affect human psychology. In terms of Millennials and happiness, multiple chapters discuss the focus on experience over material wealth. This is a sentiment shared by 70’s-born Gen Xers, who are more closely linked to Millennials thanks to a shift in public school curriculum in the early-to-mid 1970’s. (2)
The last official year of the Baby Boomers is 1963, putting them squarely in their best earning years, and yes, in full use of all levels of technology available in the second decade of the 21st century. So, no matter where you may fall in the span of categorised generations, we are all part of this unique Millennial culture, ushering in a fresh new take on what happiness means…and, what it doesn’t.
As you peruse the following chapters on happiness, remember that there is no one way to achieve it. Happiness is as unique as each of the more than seven-billion people on Earth today. Our book is a more in- depth look at how we all perceive happiness, as well as what the biggest cultural influences are on our overall emotional state. Whether through sports, nature, sex, social media, meditation, learning a new hobby, or just hanging out with friends and family for some food— happiness can be found everywhere, if we wish to find it.
Happiness motivates us to not only survive but thrive. You just have to want it. Seek it out. And, be willing to grasp and keep it. My grandmother had a saying that sums up happiness in a nutshell, “Health is wealth. Money is just honey.” May all those who read this book enjoy a wealth of good health…and of course, happ(y)ness.
1. This statement is made in reference to a broad, general audience within the Western World, acknowledging that even in 2019, it is not the case for “all” people re: conveniences of technology—that’s a topic for an entirely different book.
2. Jean Twenge wrote extensively about this in her seminal work, Generation Me: Why Today’ Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before (Free Press 2006).
Mental Health For Millennials: Vol 3 ‘On Happiness’, Published by Book Hub Publishing, Galway, Ireland (2019) was edited by Dr. Rebecca Housel. Series editors are Dr. Phil Noone and Dr. Niall MacGiolla Bhuí.