Happy ChildrenMany of the concepts I’ve been writing about are foreign to many people. It is difficult for some to comprehend what determines one’s success. First off, the way that past generations were defining “success” is no longer the way that we are now defining it. In the past, our parents and their parents put much emphasis on money and status. Many of these people continue to define their success in that way. A new way to gauge success has recently hit the scene. It is most familiar to the young people in their 20’s and 30’s. Facebook, media, discussion forums, books and articles are speaking about concepts like “empowerment”, “fearlessness”, “positive thinking” and “living your dreams”. In this major generational gap, we’re looking at two sides of the spectrum of success. More people are now attributing success to fulfillment, or happiness versus towards money and wealth.

We all know that money can’t buy happiness. To satiate one desire after another, is an endless cycle, that frankly distracts one from a very human element: our emotions. The more we continue to struggle to achieve meaningless things, like bigger homes, better cars, more “things”, the further and further we get from taking ownership of our lives. Simplicity, is the new concept we’re talking about here. Once all of your needs have been met-and I’m talking about basic things like, food, water and shelter, anything more that we acquire after that is to continue an endless cycle of self fulfillment, To prove to our selves that we are lovable, because we don’t already believe that we are, to prove to ourselves that we are worthy, because all of life has told us “you’re not good enough”, to prove to ourselves that we are strong, because we continue to feel weak and afraid, or threatened by the world outside of us. Some of us are in even more difficult situations, like not being able to meet those very basic needs. Many individuals in poverty cannot work, even though they want to. They might be sick, injured or disabled. Others found themselves as unfortunate victims of corporate greed, where money takes a higher value than human well-being, thus these people experience foreclosures, terminations and wait in line for hours in the cold at the local food bank.

Before one can meet their basic needs, they are forced to directly confront difficult realities that sprout feelings of powerlessness, victimization and fear of the future. Anyone that hangs out in their mind for too long with continual thoughts of hopelessness, eventually looses faith in themselves and the world, thus perpetuating the co-dependent cycle that binds people to continue to seek outside of themselves for not just happiness, but to actually meet their basic needs. Furthermore, when they fail at meeting their basic needs, they are then forced to attend public schools, wait in public offices, sleep in their cars or motels (which by the way Government $$ pays for most of the time, instead of just financing a community home or shelter) and completely disassociate from society because of their embarrassment, shame and disappointment. There are some (extremely overbooked) social services that offer counseling and therapy for these people, but they’re still an “outside” source that a person dealing with poverty then comes to rely on. The system (which was put in place more than 50 years ago when President Johnson declared the war on poverty) is frankly, outdated and cannot contain the immense amount of impoverished communities that are now sprouting up in both urban areas and suburbs (suburban poverty is up 26%!!!).

The psychological effects on the brain due to stress from poverty are also a factor, for both children and parents. If one were to visit a 3rd world country like Nepal or Philippines, people are so happy you wouldn’t believe it. My mother just returned from Brazil, and she told me that when the tourists docked at a small town on the coastline, dozens of small happy children began to run up to the “westerners” to hug, hold hands and laugh with everyone. My mom said the experience was so touching that one couldn’t help but take off everything they owned and give it away. Why then, is there such simplicity in the poorest of the poor countries, that even though they are saturated with the same if not worse threats like AIDS, hunger, clean water they can still smile and appreciate making toys out of twigs and spending the day barefoot? In America, the disparity between the wealthy and the poor is so exploitative and obvious, and corporate consumerism is so blatant that our brains are literally trained to “want” things we don’t even need! It’s impossible not to compare your 20 year old volvo to the 2014 Mercedes at the same stop sign. This is not to say that the wealthy have done anything wrong, it’s merely an observation of an extreme disparity of resources.

When I ask myself, what does one person need to know that will help them meet their very basic needs (there are so many bits and pieces of advice one could apply to so many different life circumstances) but the most important piece of advice is just have faith in yourself. Never give up on yourself. You have the whole power of the universe to back you up.


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