What Is Real: Five Stepping Stones to Contentment
What Is Real: Five Stepping Stones to Contentment
Did you know about 36% of Millennials and Gen Z’s are choosing to not be affiliated with religious institutions? Six percent are atheist, and 7% are agnostics. Of these two groups 38% say religion is very important in their lives. Thirty-six percent of this group say they seldom pray. This is all from a 2014 PEW study, and we know for certain that religious practice and spirituality in all generations are on a steady decline.
A recent CBS News report cited a study by CIGNA that found Gen Z’s (ages 18-22) are the loneliest generation with Millennials close behind. This is now causing a widespread health crisis as loneliness contributes to depression, obesity, anxiety, drug and alcohol addition to name a few issues sited by the former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy In an October 2017 report from CBS News. .
One of the contributing factors to a detachment from faith and loneliness, has been the age of the electronic media. What was once novel to one generation, feels passé to the next. To many gen Z’s now, smart phones and internet have lost their appeal.
In an article by Taylor Lorenz of the Daily Beast she found in interviewing many Gen Z’ers that they have become restless and discontent with the online world.
Pointing these statistics out is NOT a judgment on Millennials and Gen Z’ers, as every human ever born has challenges and opportunities.
We have the opportunity in Launching Leaders Worldwide to affiliate with many faith groups across the globe and we find that no group of faith is insulated from these trends.
The challenge they now have is deciding HOW to come out of the insular tech world and into a world of real relationships. No one wants to become restless or discontent in life. No one wants to experience anxiety. No one wants to be lonely.
I wish to ask the rising generation to consider a few simple practices that may enhance their journey. Consider these as stepping stones across a pond of discontentment. I offer 5 stepping stones to reach the shores of contentment and peace:
- Stage a Fast. Not from food or water, but from the electronic media. A global spiritual leader recently challenged their youth across the globe to disconnect and have an electronic fast for 7 days. The results have been interesting if not life changing. I believe this step will be a beginning to re-setting your true identity and discovering what is real about life and relationships; a beginning to more peace and contentment.
- Read and Ponder. Gather some great books about great lives or otherwise inspiring individuals and learn more of what made them great. This should be a life-long pursuit. We end up mirroring those we want to be like, and in the process, we reflect those virtues we hold dear. We literally become what we take into our minds and bodies. You can never read enough of good books. The image we have of ourselves, our true image—not one prescribed by social media, will become clearer as we take time for ourselves and become constant learners of great lives and principles.
- Seek and Find. While Millennials and Gen Z’s have pushed back against organized religion, there is still a powerful place for a spiritual space and for traditions of sanctity. Each person must discover this path. I would encourage the rising generations to make a space for faith. Whatever this looks like for you, please don’t ignore the nudgings of the inner-voice as this is the part of your life that will connect you to the best relationships and propel you toward a life of self-discovery and real joy.
- Respond to your longings. Rather than wait for the next electronic ping—think about how your longings and the dreams of your heart can be achieved. Begin to chart a course using broad strokes at first, but then start to live into your passions with more detail—one by one. Celebrate every victory and see your confidence grow as you create your own future, step by step.
- Document Reality. Journal regularly. I don’t know of anyone who has experienced a holistic life without journaling. It’s that simple. This is a habit that many Gen Z’s and Millennials already practice, but if you don’t—-develop it now. It can be so easy; do it in a note taking app if you wish, add pictures that help explain what you are writing about, and make it personal and uniquely you. Keep a note pad or electronic device handy to record impressions that you can later ponder and magnify. This practice codifies each of the other steps I’ve suggested. Be real, be authentic, put on paper what’s in your heart.
These steps are some of the puzzle pieces that over 30 groups across the globe have made a part of their individual mosaics so far in 2018 as they have participated in the Launching Leaders curriculum.
I invite everyone to take steps out of a world of discontent and consider a path that includes faith (traditions, spiritual exercises, and introspection), an occasional fast, perhaps regular reduction in electronic media, and an open mind to principles of empowerment. We have testimonials from many faith traditions and others who have made their lives more complete through these principles.
Take these steps to personal freedom and skip a few stones along the way.