If you’ve ever taken a marketing course, you’ve likely heard that the entire field is dependent on communicating the value of a product or service as its ability to meet needs and wants. Most professors follow that comment with “People’s needs and wants are inherent human characters, these things are constant and unchanging, the means by which they are satisfied are reactionary to the environment in which they are raised”. It is an interesting point to consider, I would imagine that most individuals want to feel safe, have a place to live, and to have people to care for and be cared by. The distinction is the difference in the consideration for what it is that would satisfy these needs. Consider the difference for example of the standard that would adequately deliver a feeling of safety to an American living in a small town in Kansas with that of a someone residing in Syria.
I have a lot of friends who are lost. They haven’t any idea what they want their future life to be, what they believe, or who they can trust. More often than not they don’t put enough effort into placing themselves into situations that would be most likely to provide the opportunity to figure these things out. The happiest Millennials in my immediate network are the ones that embody and embrace working hard, positively impacting their local communities, finding stable relationships and living independently. Sadly, I’ve noticed that the more populous of the clusters happens to be the former rather than the later which is extremely disappointing. I attribute much of the dissatisfaction and unhappiness to be a result of influences that condone actions that self-isolate, encourage unremorseful cruelty towards others, and justify resenting when another is successful. The willingness to disguise and excuse bad behavior only encourages more of it and allowing individual perceptions to take precedent over reality contributes to an avoidance of personal responsibility and a lack of incentive to overcome challenges. In my opinion, if we are going to be a successful generation it is important that we remedy the self-destructive tendencies by rejecting these behaviors as acceptable as soon as possible and replace them with a determination to achieve personal growth and satisfaction. After much thought, I realized that the happiest among us will be the ones who have a determination to fulfil the previously stated needs through traditional methods; finding a fulfilling career path, having faith (or at the very least an unwavering moral code), and building a family and a home.
Trust me, I get it. Everyone always wants to bash the Millennials, but sometimes the criticism is warranted. We are living in a time where there is historically unprecedented access to information, mobility and purely convenience producing technologies. Our career choices are not limited to the industries existing within our immediate environments and new businesses can come to fruition almost instantaneously and with little resources. These are things that often go unappreciated, and it is time that we recognize and appreciate how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits associated with them. If you were to compare the standard of products and services and their respective costs to those of only a few decades ago, ours certainly would have exponentially higher value. I am not trying to say that it isn’t a challenging time to be someone in their early adult years, because it is. It is as if we are a generation in limbo, unsure of who or what deserves or attention, individuals treat others as disposable and there is a struggle to maintain longevity in our interpersonal relationships as a result, and we are regarded by previous generations as entitled and lacking maturity, regardless of our individual accomplishments because the least motivated among us have chosen to live in perpetual adolescence.
The pulse of our environment has echoed the sounds of uncertainty. We are the generation that recounts 9/11 as one of its earliest memories, we understand that anything can happen at any time and the decision of one individual can change the course of history in an instant. Having access to an endless stream of information with us everywhere we go doesn’t help much in providing a distraction to that reality either. If anything, it creates more anxiety and tension and has certainly contributed to the rapid pace at which we are expected to digest and interpret the events that are outside of our control but have the potential to have an effect on our lives. If we find it impossible to keep up, how can we feel like we’ve got any sense of stability?
Well, let’s start with recognizing what, when embraced, has high potential to satisfy our inherent needs/wants as Millennial Americans in 2018. (Yes, I understand that there exists great variability in the composition of this group, however on from a global perspective, this cohort would be recognized as relatively homogeneous). For one thing, it has been my conclusion that a strong faith can help to diminish the anxieties that are brought on by constant exposure to uncertainty. I won’t advocate for the following of a religious ideology but in my opinion, religion provides guidance in evaluating our individual hardships, serves as a framework and source of accountability to adhere to the values we determine most significant holding an unwavering personal set of beliefs. Millennials have developed a reputation for being an unhappy generation and having high depression rates. National Opinion Research Center founded a strong correlation between happiness levels and religious practices. According to Pew research, millennials in the United States are remarkably less likely to consider religion an important part of their lives. Perhaps happiness levels would improve if there were an increase in having a connection to a faith.
For security, stability and economic reasons I find it would be beneficial to encourage millennials to seek partnerships and sustain lifelong marriages. A Gallup report reveals that married Americans have higher average daily spending than those who are single, meaning if there were higher marriage rates, overall spending would likely be higher leading which could contribute to improved economic conditions. I think that having a sustained long-term commitment to building a life and family will positively impact life satisfaction and should be something that as a generation we actively encourage rather than criticize. Married couples have greater economic stability than those who are not making it desirable from a financial perspective to achieve higher marriage rates. Aside from the economic benefit that high marriage rates would provide it is important to highlight the ways that marriage can remedy the feeling of instability and contribute to overall happiness. According to Time magazine, younger Americans rank education and economic accomplishments as significantly important parts of adulthood while nearly 55% find marrying and having children be unimportant. Psychology Today however has asserted that marriage is one of the strongest life factors associated with consistent happiness. The report suggests dependable companionship is a basic human need. Further it is established that 40% of married adults consider themselves happy in comparison to 23% of those unmarried. I would suggest that millennials re-evaluate the prevailing attitude toward marriage. Having a society that values marriage as an important aspect of life can improve overall quality of life and decrease feelings of depression and loneliness. Dedication to establishing and providing for a family provides a source of focus and purpose for an individual and minimizes the level of significance and attention given to trivial matters.
We need to realize that it is our responsibility to manage our own behavior, to consciously make decisions that will contribute to the achievement of our individual satisfaction, and to actively avoid those that would create a negative externality for another. Our generation becomes increasingly obligated to satisfy the needs of our external environments as the population ages, and the outcome will be a reflection of ourselves. It is not to say that the preceding generations lacked faults in their management of this responsibility, but rather to understand that when we bear it we can be far more successful when a collective if we learn to avoid and manage chaos. If we chose to identify the satisfaction of our individual needs as a personal responsibility rather than as a guarantee based on our external environment and adopt a deep-rooted sense of personal accountability for our own behavior as a cultural value, we can achieve an overall improvement in the social environment of our society. We as a generation can be persistent in our pursuit of personal fulfilment by placing immense value in being a self-sufficient and resilient population. Having these qualities as a population would minimize the need for national intervention in resolving societal issues and allow for policy to be rational, efficient, and minimally restrictive or intrusive in the day-to-day experiences of the individual.