What does it mean to be a good grownup in the 21st Century?
I often find myself feeling like there are no grownups anymore. Many adults, including myself, seem stuck in adolescence much of the time.
Our legacy will be a burning planet stripped of resources where it is difficult to thrive, if we don’t rethink this grownup business fast. I propose three starting principles:
Recognise that we live in a closed system where everything is interconnected and interdependent
So your actions count. There’s no ‘away’ to throw things. Our bargain tech, clothes, food, etc probably equal poverty and exploitation elsewhere. Luck and unearned privilege underpin success more than we dare admit.
21st Century grownups need to be comfortable with the discomfort this understanding brings. Connect dots in time and space. Collaborate to solve problems. Willingly follow and lead. Be unpopular and make personal sacrifices if needed.
Be thoughtful and well informed
In a busy, busy modern life, it’s easy to have no time to think and learn.
I do it regularly. Books and reports don’t get read. I skip meditation or exercise because there isn’t time. Convenience trumps good choices for what and where I buy.
It’s time to slow down. Embrace silence. Say less. Listen more. Notice emotions and their messages. Critical life skills for grownups.
Live by design
Sometimes we fall into a life path and move relentlessly forward without ever considering if what we are doing aligns with what’s important to us.
I only realised that I was super stressed because what I was doing wasn’t aligned with how I truly am when I hit burnout.
Designing my life to align with what matters is now a core practice for me. I am far away from consistency, but I notice more quickly so can realign.
These principles might seem unrealistic. I certainly don’t live up to them yet. But perhaps it’s time to aim high in how we behave, rather than what we achieve.
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