Millennials grew up within unique circumstances. The technology that we use and take for granted today was newly developed. Things like the internet, cell phones, and email were just beginning to take off. Along with those technological advances came better marketing.
Advertising, when done well, compels people to take action. And when Millennials were discovering the joys of childhood, they were being exposed to excellent marketing different from its predecessors in terms of its pervasive reach. Children of all ages were being shown enticing images and sold fantastical ideologies about how various products would transform their lives. The constant bombardment of advertising had a negative impact on their happiness.
A study by Gallop found that 70 percent of Millennials are disengaged at work. None of these individuals identify with being involved in and enthusiastic about their job. And because other research studies indicate that contentment in one's career is directly correlated with life satisfaction, it's logical to assume that most Millennials are unhappy. Many Millennials are unhappy for one reason--they are influenced by a lie deeply embedded within American values.
The one lie all Millennials believe that keeps them unhappy is thinking that owning a material object will create a favorable effect.
Millennials have been brainwashed by advertising. In fact, one study found that up to 80 percent of students cannot tell the difference between advertising and a news story. And this is hardly their fault--the integrity of mainstream news organizations has plummeted over the years and marketing has far more tools to make impressions than it did in the past.
All of this creates a strong myth that owning a possession will create some magical change. Millennials grew up in a world that told them, "if you own X, then you will gain Y."
During my childhood (yes, I'm a Millennial), I thought that wearing a pair of nice basketball shoes--like black and red Air Jordan XII's or Allen Iverson's simple Reebok Answer IV's--would make me jump higher.
Seriously, a suburban white kid with no calves was convinced that owning nicer shoes would make me run faster and jump higher. I imagine that many of you aren't surprised--and that's the point!
Millions of people are brainwashed into thinking that taking supplements and using in-home gym products will mysteriously unveil washboard abs that they see on TV. Yogi's think that buying Spiritual Gangster t-shirts and wearing Lululemon gear will bring them closer to enlightenment. Others imagine that reading self-help books--rather than seeing a therapist--will somehow manufacture higher self-esteem. All of these thoughts are lies designed to create and maintain unhappiness.
When people are convinced that material possessions can create positive change, they become lazy and complacent. They think that consuming more and more is the answer to all problems and uncomfortable feelings, resulting in a never-ending cycle of melancholy and mindless consumerism to temporarily assuage emotional voids.
So, what can you do?
Acknowledge your conditioning. Increase your awareness of when you are robotically following cultural norms rather than listening to your own wants and needs. The more that you can separate what thoughts and impulses are yours versus society's, the clearer your illogical beliefs become.
Know the truth. Material possessions won't give you magical powers, alter significant aspects of your experiences, or bring you happiness. At best, they will bring you temporary pleasure. Stop trying to take in objects to fill emotional holes.
Discipline yourself by re-committing to your values. If you value high self-esteem and real confidence, then schedule an appointment with a therapist or life coach and start the hard work of real self-development.
If you care about physical health, stop purchasing pills and start learning how to diet, exercise, and hydrate properly. There's no need to waste time continuing to feel unhappy like a hamster running in a circular wheel toward a cheese dinner he'll never catch.
Overcome the myths and lies of your culture, and start re-claiming the power that you possess when your actions are aligned with your values.