As the largest, and most disruptive, generation there's a lot to learn about millennials. It's estimated that millennials will be almost 50% of the workforce by 2020. How can we keep them in one place? How can we talk to them? What can we learn from them? Can this generation of people teach older and younger generations the secret to happiness be one such lesson?
They prefer to spend money on experiences rather than on material items.
Older generations had the belief that in order to be successful you needed to have a good career with a good salary. This money allowed an employee to purchase essential items and the finer things in a life.
Most of the older generation want to purchase a home in the suburbs. They wanted that white picket fence. For most of that generation happiness was equated with a home purchase.
For Millennials, that's not the case.
"In the hunt for happiness, many have shifted away from material things and toward experiences," writes journalist and author Dan Kadlec.
"This shift spans the generations, although millennials seem to be further along. 76% of millennials said they would rather spend on experiences rather than on material things. Compare this number with 59% of boomers who feel that ownership is happiness. This information is according to new research from Eventbrite, a ticketing company."
Mr. Kadlec adds, "From the start of their working years, millennials have placed a high value on job satisfaction and enriching experiences. Millennial have come to the point of turning down offers or promotions that might get in the way of these experiences. Some 94% of millennials say experiences are an important part of a fulfilling life, according to the survey."
We can't pinpoint the exact moment when this became a turning point. Some believe that the change was connected with the Millennials feeling suffocated by the "greed is good" type philosophy. This seems to have happened some time in the 80s.
The internet bubble burst in the early 2000s, and of course then came the 2009 economic meltdown. Millennials have figured out that spending money on experiences are more rewarding and can make us all happier.
There's some science to back that up as well.
"We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed, but only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them," says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University. Dr. Gilovich has been studying the question of money and happiness for more than two decades.
Gilovich's research is the synthesis of numerous psychological studies into something called the Easterlin paradox. Simply stated it says that money buys happiness, but only up to a point.
"Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods," says Dr. Gilovich. "You can really like your material stuff. You can even think of that "stuff" as part of your identity. In some way you can feel connected to those things. Nonetheless mere "things" remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences."
Furthermore, experiences give us something to look forward to and connects us with others. "We consume experiences directly with other people," says Gilovich. "And after they're gone, they're part of the stories that we tell to one another."
They have a different mentality regarding work.
Millennials get a bad rap for being lazy. That's not true. They have a completely different mentality on work than previous generations.
Millennials like to be doing something that they love and to have the flexibility to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
According to the Intelligence Group,"64% of millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love. They would even leave a $100,000 a year at a job they find boring."
A study from Udemy found that "Young millennials (ages 21-24) are nearly twice as likely to be bored at work (38%). Baby Boomers are only about (22%) likely to be bored."
The bigger picture? Millennials aren't motivated or happy with a fat, juicy paycheck. They're seeking jobs where they can make a difference, grow professionally and personally, and have time to themselves.
"Is there really such a thing as work-life balance? If you love what you do for work, then you're not constantly aggravated by the elusive work-life balance achievement. Happiness is the barometer. You need to be comfortable that you're giving enough attention to family, work, friends, and your health."
Do what makes you happy or else everything else will suffer as a result. When things go too far in either direction, I tend to course-correct fairly quickly. "You need to be the judge of this and it varies a great deal person to person," Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow, told Forbes.
Kayla Buell, author and millennial career blogger, added:
They want to make the world a better place.
Research has shown that giving makes us far happier than receiving. Other studies have shown that that giving money to others, or donating to a charity, will put a bigger smile on your face. Merely spending that money on yourself doesn't fit the happiness meter. That's because we're a social species and survived for all these centuries because we helped each other out.
That's not to say that other generations haven't wanted to make the world a better place. It's just that Millennials have taken this to a whole new level. 74% of this tech-savvy generation has a passion to change the world and are more than willingly to make a positive difference. This generation wants to make changes in both the lives of people locally and globally.
Are you a Millennial? If so, let us what you can teach others about how to be happy.