UnBalanced: A Toxic Dilemma for Our Young Generations
Such a simple word “balance.” The ability to stand and not fall over. The ability to put a healthy amount of energy into multiple activities without causing dysfunction in our lives.
Gen Z and the A’s (or Alphas) after them, who are being born today by the way, are facing a world where so much of what should be balanced well is painfully off kilter.
In the US, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millenials have increasingly developed lives that have serious emotional, physical and mental difficulties. We have made life more of a struggle than we enjoy and that is across all income spectrums.
A series of hundreds of choices we make minute to minute dictate our achieved balance (or imbalance) and how hard can balancing life be? It sounds simple to be happy, and it’s not. It sounds simple to be rested, and it’s not. It sounds simple to manage relationships, and it’s not. In our country – with the world’s biggest economy - we are not achieving healthy balances and it’s hard to ignore the disappointing results. The wealthy are as unhappy as they have ever been, and the lower income spectrum struggles to survive and be happy in a world where the level of prosperity is rising every year.
In search of progress, perfection, wealth and happiness, we are driven past reasonable boundaries. We know this in the back of our minds but make excuses as to why we go past healthy balances. All of us are wired differently so we tend to find our own dysfunctions. Look at this list and see if you find a few of these that you must admit you have trouble balancing:
o Work vs. Relaxing
o Doing vs. Being
o Rest vs. Constant activity
o Using technology vs. Connecting with humans
o Being indoors vs. Outdoors
o Learning vs. Applying the lessons learned
o Eating vs. Exercising
o Giving to others vs. Selfcare
o Monkey mind vs. Meditating (or just not thinking)
o Making money vs. Spending money
o Being creative vs. Doing repetitive tasks
The list goes on…
A small percentage of people are intentional about balancing all of these, a larger group will balance some of these, and the rest ignorantly live life without considering balance at all. There are ALWAYS consequences when we live out of balance, the only question is how severe. As basic as living a balanced life is, as a species, we are not great at being aware of the need for this nor the consequences we are suffering for ignorance.
Two hundred years ago people had a much better ability to balance than we do today. We are going backwards as we arrogantly believe we are so sophisticated. Lives back then were less influenced by material things and the complexity we have developed in the world today. Balance was a more natural state for their lives. The difference is we invented machines, devices and distractions that allow us to operate far out of balance in the name of comfort, greed and progress. Because so many of us want to be as comfortable as possible, have as much wealth as possible and always want to improve our lot, we drive ourselves into sickness and depression at a high rate. Thank God we have better healthcare than two hundred years ago because we damn sure need it.
So, the current reality looks bad on finding healthy balances in our lives. What about the future then? History tells us that generations go in a four-stage cycle – they influence each and oscillate back and forth between making progress, falling back, having crisis, recovering, and making progress once again. When looked at through the lens of these cycles it is easy to see that the young generations, Gen Z and A’s will learn from the past two generations, this is just the way of things. There are many lessons being taught by the Gen Xers and Gen Y overreaching for the wrong things in life, many many lessons. Too much debt, too much depression, too many suicides and too many people dying with regrets.
The Z’s and A’s are wide awake and making adjustments. They are a perceptive generation that has watched their parents carefully and are looking to make improvements on their own quality of life. They are dictating a better balance with invest time. Despite all the talk of their using too much technology, they actually seem to focus more time on friendships than the prior generations. They eat healthier and enjoy getting outside for time in nature. They may not have an app on their mobile devices that tracks balance but they have a few that help them make progress.
When I hear people say that the young folks are the hope of the world, I always smile because the person making that statement probably has no idea how true that is. Not just because they have the future in their hands, because they also are observing the need for balance in their lives. They ignore older people who call them lazy because they understand work life balance. They roll their eyes at the abject materialism of their elders. They are more socially conscious because they balance fulfilling self and helping others. They are not only the hope of the world, they are guiding the way.
Which generation are you? When looking at the list above, how many areas did you admit to a failing grade on a healthy balance? Balancing all areas of life is truly a choice and when we choose not to invest our lives wisely, the consequences kill us in multiple ways. Yes, it is that important. The good news is our kids and grandkids will have a better sense of this!