Today the standard of living in successful countries is the best the world has ever seen. In “Standards of living and Modern Economic Growth”, John V. C. Nye states that the average citizen in successful countries enjoy a material standard of living that would have made the greatest king of two hundred years ago turn green with envy.
The Economist released an article in 2006 regarding a study made by two economists indicating we have more free time than we think we do. The study indicates that “Over the past four decades, depending on which of their measures one uses, the amount of time that working-age Americans are devoting to leisure activities has risen by 4-8 hours a week.” The article goes on to say there have been advancements in the “household economy” that has freed up time. I have entered adulthood with the convenience of ordering off of Amazon and enjoy appliances like the dishwasher and Keurig.
This leads to the question: What more do we want? We have more time and a superb standard of living. Why then are many of us stressed out beyond belief or have a feeling of emptiness? It is possible humans are programmed with an archaic “wanting more” attitude that is hard to break. Certainly, dreaming of a better life is what got us to today.
This is all speaking to the “average” person: the person with food in their fridge and the ability to watch television or scroll Facebook on their phones. Of course there are individuals in wealthy countries that do not have these luxuries. I want to be clear that I am not stating that everyone today has an awesome standard of living and leisure time.
So, what does this mean for the average millennial? I think everyone wants a life of meaning and purpose. However, many of us, like me, do not know how to achieve this. I can’t say if our generation wants a life of meaning more or just as much as our parent’s generation did. Regardless if this is unique to us or not, with the standard of living going up and free time increasing, I think we have the amazing opportunity to live life how we want to live it.
Welcome to a millennial’s attempt at a journey to create a meaningful and happy life in the best way a math major knows how to: trial and error.