Many of us believe that we become happier when we have no problems. Problem is; we are never out of problems! Life is full of problems. We wait for more money. We wait for better health. We maintain toxic relationships. Every day we drag our asses into a job we hate. We all have problems! Some problems are better than others but if we wait for all of our problems to be resolved in order to be happy: we will never be happy! That seems to be an overwhelming problem in today’s society. A lot of us just cannot face our problems. We are just not programmed to.
Recently my son was at Toys R Us to purchase a Nerf toy. He had some saved up gift cards that he decided to cash in on something fun. When he got to the cash and the cashier totalled up his order, he was $1.08 short. To set the stage up to this point, earlier that day he was on a mission to spend his “allowance” and he quickly spent all of his cash on some Pokémon cards. As a result, he became flat broke. The wheels of despair started turning at the Toys R Us cash, he looked to his mother to supplement the missing $1.08. She didn’t budge. A lesson was to be learned that day: money is not an endless resource. If you spend it all, you cannot buy anymore. Our son had a big problem and he would have to face it head-on. He was forced to walk away from the Nerf toy very deeply disappointed. We were not going to bail him out.
As I go through life, I notice many people suffering from various happiness draining mental health issues. Anxiety and depression are huge issues facing our younger generations and I keep wondering why. It appears to me that many people are simply denying their problems and since they are not being resolved, they are left to fester. This leads to blaming and a lack of accepting responsibility for the problem. There are others who avoid their problems with addiction and distraction. Hoping that with a quick fix, things will just go away for another day; but they don’t. Either way, our problems are never resolved and we become desperate to find happiness through any means possible. We just do not have the capacity to conquer these issues plaguing our lives.
Many of us “younger” generations, the generations after the Baby Boomers, were raised to not feel pain. If something hurts you, stop doing it! If something makes you sad, stop talking about it. If something makes you angry, run away. Our well-meaning parents wanted to shield us from the emotional pain so they jumped in and solved our problems for us before they ever really got to hurt us. Problem is, when parents eventually step aside and we become adults, we are not capable of facing those problems ourselves. This inability to problem solve robs us of our happiness. True happiness is born from our abilities to resolve our problems and finding the satisfaction and confidence that comes from doing that. Our lack of problem resolution skills is a fundamental societal problem.
With more ways to keep ourselves distracted from our own selves, we can easily slip out of the way of problems that come at us. Our money problems in the form of massive debt will be solved “someday when I win the lottery”. Our relationship issues are solved by “unfriending” people on social media. Our job problems? Who cares! But we can’t keep medicating ourselves to happiness by taking the easy way. We have to feel the lows of working hard on our problems to begin to feel the highs of solving them.
My son learned a very hard lesson that day at Toys R Us. He walked away disappointed, hurt and humiliated that he didn’t have enough money for that Nerf toy. But he walked away determined to find the solution to his problem. He now realizes that he is in control of his problems and that his parents won’t always be around to bail him out.
We are never as happy to having no problems than we are in solving them.