Lisa Marie Black
(40) | Salzburg, Austria | Psychologist
Each generation creates the next one with its typical behavioral patterns, values or characteristics while the external conditions, valid social norms and the given times only form and mold it. People living in the OECD countries today have basically never been better. Everybody is granted a freedom of choice according to his own will without any severe consequences.
Nowadays we are free to express our opinions, to decide where we would like to work and live, who we want to live with regardless of their gender; whether we stay single or live in an intimate partnership, as a married couple or just are divorced without any social stigma attached to it. Women can design their careers; they are more independent and self-sufficient.
There are no real threats to our security or values. Modern medicine and education are accessible for everyone. As a matter of a fact we should be an extraordinarily happy generation because we live better than any other generation before. But are we happy?
Could the very same freedom have caused this chaos and feeling of dissatisfaction? Aren’t we so often disoriented precisely because of this freedom or do we just not know how to handle it? Are we free, after all, or do we just live our lives imprisoned by the expectations and demands of a perfect world?
The daily consumption of psychoactive medication has never been as high as it is today. The pharmaceutical industry generates huge profits. The use of psychiatric medication admittedly in many cases helps to overcome periods of great grief but in the meantime they turned into happy pills. In reality, instead of causing real happiness, they cause only countless side effects. For illustration, 10% of the American population uses antidepressants and at the same time, America records the highest rise in autism. There are studies that demonstrate a positive correlation between the use of antidepressants and newborns with autism.
So why are we such an unhappy generation? Once upon a time, people were born into a certain social class and their choices and destiny were clearly defined from the beginning. True freedom didn’t exist; there was only a firmly defined set of rules people had to obey. A generation growing up surrounded by boundaries that couldn’t be crossed wasn’t free on one hand, but perhaps it was more satisfied because everybody knew their place and nobody had exceeding expectations because they wouldn’t be met anyway.
By having said that I certainly am not advocating such a world; all I am saying it was much easier to find your way in it. Today`s generation has vast opportunities and so many options to choose from yet it gets lost in those choices so many times. And so we try to build our own perfect world that we are supposed to live in. Everywhere you look, you are told to be happy, have fun and smile…
We read books that instruct us on how to be good mothers, fathers, lovers, partners; how to look our best, how to dress, how to succeed at work, which lifestyle to lead, how to earn the big money and how to be happy.
Media and the society only confirm the illusion of happiness being only attainable if you are perfect, good-looking, rich and successful. So we keep on building our ideal world, overwhelmed by information that is available at any place, any time. Our frustration has grown so far that we are willing to do anything, including selling ourselves, to maintain the illusion of our perfect world. Self-respect, courage, patience, loyalty or honor are virtues we forget very soon in situations promising a boost for our perfect illusion.
We act like cowards because there simply isn’t any room left for disappointment, loss and gaps in our immaculate and detailed life plans – our ego would perceive them as personal defeat since there isn’t any room for imperfection in a perfect world. Although we are finally able to enjoy our freedom, we opted for a dictatorship of a perfect world. It`s just the world and people have never been perfect and never will be.
The idea of a perfect world is merely an illusion that vanishes very soon upon meeting reality and the happy pills only cause apathy. Aren’t our imperfections and weak spots beautiful because they are so unique and individual? Tell me, what is so appealing about perfection? We learn from all our losses and failures, we grow spiritually and increase our inner beauty. The world has never been perfect, it is what it is. It is solely our decision whether we make any use of our freedom. It will be a gift and not a punishment only after we find an unusual inner strength with humbleness, virtues and the right personal values. Happiness doesn’t lie within an unnaturally perfect world; it lies within us.