“Does it spark joy?”​ and Children

“When you touch that teddy bear? The sweatshirt in your closet? Does it make you feel happy?” This is a conversation I have witnessed between a parent and her children. 

Yes, we live in a material world. We have things we need and things we want. Some of us strive for goals related to inanimate objects; on some level I suppose, we all do. The “stuff” enables experiences and moments of happiness and joy.

In a world increasingly centred around ego; selfie-culture, likes and views, I have a difficult time supporting a theory that promotes any level of consumerism. That places the heart of joy and feeling around something I bought at a store.

Statistics show that children are increasingly anxious, depressed. Anxiety is the leading mental health issue among American youth, and research suggests it is rising. The latest study was published in April in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Based on data collected from the National Survey of Children’s Health for ages 6 to 17, researchers found a 20 percent increase in diagnoses of anxiety between 2007 and 2012.

Teenagers in wealthy American suburbs seem to have it all: can purchase anything they desire, and opportunity. More often than other children, they have a taste for drugs and alcohol. Researchers have documented higher levels of drug abuse and binge drinking in these communities. A 2017 survey of over 13,000 American high school students found that attendance at a school with high median family income was associated with more students engaging in this type of risky behaviour.

There is an emptiness, a void that technology, and our disconnect from each other that any “thing” can not fill. The overall concept of decluttering; cleaning up is a great one. Giving any credence to the concept that the shiny car, fancy home or high heels give you real joy is not the conversation our children need right now.

Our self worth, real value, happiness, contentment will never be found in the thrill of touching a favourite sweater. Joy comes from kindness, gratefulness, giving, interconnectedness and involving the world around us in ways that are harder to grasp, sometimes impossible to touch and more meaningful.

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