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Combating Generational Pessimism

The younger generations are pessimistic—very pessimistic. This gloomy outlook is not completely unfounded given today’s myriad social and environmental challenges.

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    Combating Generational Pessimism

    Combating Generational Pessimism

    The younger generations are pessimistic—very pessimistic. This gloomy outlook is not completely unfounded given today’s myriad social and environmental challenges.

    Consider three such issues and the perspectives of Gen Zers and Millennials.

    1. Climate Change—In one recent survey, 75% of Gen Zers and 77% of Millennials indicated that climate change has affected their major life decisions, while 71% of Millennials and 67% of Gen Zers said climate change has negatively impacted their mental health.1
    2. Personal Finances—According to a survey by Deloitte, 46% of Gen Zers and 47% of Millennials say they live paycheck to paycheck and worry about being unable to cover their expenses. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that over a quarter of Gen Zers and nearly a third of Millennials are not confident about being able to retire with financial comfort; as it is, there are already those deciding to unretire.2
    3. Politics—As Time magazine observed, it seems everyone under 40 hates Washington. Ninety-one percent of Democrats and 93% of Republicans in this demographic said they are angry or frustrated with politics in Washington.3

    While the negativity is understandable, it’s also counterproductive to making meaningful, positive change. This is where the experience and wisdom of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers can help younger generations view these challenges through a more conquerable prism.

    Addressing Generational Pessimism

    There are a number of ways that older generations can help Gen Zers and Millennials  avoid the generational pessimism and find a path to greater optimism.

    • Encourage active, willful, and hopeful actions and words. Change never arises from defeatism or cynicism. As overwhelming as these challenges may seem to be, active engagement is the only way to gain a sense of control and hope.
    • Acknowledge problems, but keep them in context. While comparing living standards from one generation to another is difficult, in many ways today’s life for Americans is immeasurably better than for previous generations, from technology and health care to working arrangements that no longer require commuting.
    • Encourage connection with others. When people socialize and learn more about one another, it improves the mind and spirit.
    • Disconnect from the negativity. While all the blame cannot be laid at the feet of the echo chambers of anger and hostility of social media and cable news outlets, they don’t help. Consider it addition by subtraction.
    • Encourage gratitude. There is a lot to be thankful for, though our good fortune is often too easy to overlook. When time is spent reminding oneself of the things that are good in life, it makes for a healthier, more optimistic mind.
    • Become a mentor to young people. Let them know they’re not alone. Sponsor seminars that empower younger generations to take control of their financial and mental health concerns.

    Pessimism doesn’t go away on its own. It takes work on all sides to acknowledge the problems at hand and work together towards better solutions, both practically and personally.

    Sources:

    1. https://swnsdigital.com/us/2020/04/majority-of-young-american-adults-say-climate-change-influences-their-decision-to-have-children/
    2. https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/genzmillennialsurvey.html
    3. https://time.com/6142138/young-voters-unhappy-washington/

    Please reference disclosures: https://blog.americanportfolios.com/disclosures/

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