The “societal success recipe”
Updated: Apr 11, 2021
As I mentioned in my previous blog post look-around-what-do-you-see? as parents we want the best for our children. This, I think for many parents, is desiring that our children be happy, healthy and fulfilled.
Society has a very strong message as to how a person achieves success. It is what I call the “societal success recipe” and it goes, in general, like this.
Go to school, work hard, get good grades, go to high school, work hard, get good grades, go to college, work hard, get good grades, go to University, work hard, get a good degree, get a well paid job, work hard, earn lots of money, buy lots of things, meet a life partner, get married, work hard, get promoted, make lots of money, buy lots of things, buy a house, work hard, make lots of money buy lots of things, have kids, work hard, earn lots of money, buy a bigger house, buy a bigger car, buy lots more things, set kids off on the “societal success recipe”, get promoted, earn lots of money, buy lots of things, save for retirement, retire (finally), save lots of money to give to the kids as inheritance, die.
This is a very powerful societal message, that is extremely ingrained, and is being laid down into our subconscious from an ever earlier age. In illustration of those points: we have tutors for Pre-Schoolers to “get them ahead so they can get good grades”, we have parents complaining that nurseries are “not doing enough academic work or sending home homework”. The belief in this “societal success recipe” has become almost blindly frantic in its execution.
As the “societal success recipe” is passed down as accepted wisdom, very few people stop and evaluate this paradigm. Very few people stop and question whether it really delivers what we most desire for our children: happiness, health and fulfilment.
The reality is, that whilst (generally) we are living in a materially rich era, especially when compared to previous generations, it has come at a huge cost. Stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, fatigue …to name but a few, are rife in our society and even more worryingly, becoming more widespread for our children and at an ever younger age. A significant driver (though not the only driver) of this comes from the direct execution of this “societal success recipe” and its implicit implications and ramifications. It does not take many honest conversations with individuals who have “aced” this “societal success recipe” to notice a pattern of people who feel unhappy, have mental and physical health issues, who feel unfulfilled, exhausted, trapped. Yes, there are exceptions, but this pattern is strong, growing and cannot be ignored. The “societal success recipe” appears to not only not deliver what we aspire for our children, it in reality produces the very opposite for many, many people.
It is time to stop and look. It is time to evaluate, reassess and rethink what really drives life to be happy, healthy and fulfilling. Our series of blogs will help explore these issues and ideas further.