By Troy Headrick of Thinker Boy: Blog & Art
My “Growing Up Is Overrated” caused quite a stir. Lots of people liked the piece and posted comments. Many readers of the blog seem to have rightfully concluded that a great many could live much happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives if they could learn to be a little less “adult.” This would require them to get “out of their heads” and become more carefree and playful. Of course, that’s easier said than done but is certainly not impossible.
Brandi, from Afrologik, penned a nice companion blog entitled “Enter the Good Vibes Zone.” The first part of her piece was her diagnosing the problem—that we spend an inordinate amount of time “doing what we have to do” as opposed to what we’d like to do or enjoy doing. She then offered a couple of techniques she uses to get in touch with her inner child as a way of being happier and more centered. I encourage you to go back and look at her blog in its entirety.
Before I go any further, I want to make clear that what you’re about to read explores the same themes I touched upon in “Growing Up Is Overrated” and that Brandi looked at in her “Good Vibes” piece. It occurs to me that the topics of happiness and how to achieve it still need further looking into. We haven’t yet exhausted this discussion.
In this blog, I’d like to focus on the concept of responsibility. I would like to begin by arguing that responsibility is really a double-edged sword.
As we grow older, we are given or are forced to assume more and more responsibility. As a matter of fact, one way of distinguishing the difference between childhood and adulthood is by looking at the former as a period where we begin learning about responsibility and are progressively given more of it to manage while the latter is a time when we become fully responsible for our own lives as well as the lives of those who might be dependent upon us. We sometimes say that responsibilities are things which must be “carried out” and that they are “heavy” (and therefore burdensome). The constant toting around of all this weight makes us strong—which is a good thing—but it can also be detrimental to our overall well-being.
It is these adult responsibilities which teach us many important life lessons and shape our characters. However, they can also cause us, if we are unable to deal with these burdens in a psychologically healthy way, to become introverted, stern, overly serious, humorless, sour, grouchy, frustrated, nervous, and angry. Adults who feel overwhelmed by responsibilities need to find of way of achieving balance in their lives. They need to find a way of doing what needs to be done while not losing touch of the inner child that lives within us all.
I would argue that one of the really great mistakes in life is taking ourselves (and our responsibilities) too seriously. If you find it hard to laugh at yourself (or at anything), I would suggest that you need to find a way to lighten up.
Responsibility controls us. It requires us to put our personal needs aside and focus on doing what must be done. Therefore, responsibility puts us into a kind of prison, so we need to find the keys to open our cell doors. If our duties are causing us to live joyless lives, then we need to pursue things which delight or fulfill as a counterbalance. This requires us to become self-aware and self-knowledgeable—to know ourselves fully. (Unfortunately, many have become so preoccupied with their weighty responsibilities, that they’ve actually forgotten who they are, what it means to be happy, and what needs to be done to enjoy life again.)
Ask yourself these all-important questions: What activity, pastime, pursuit, or “escape” provides me with true joy? If I were to follow my bliss, what would I follow and where would it take me?
I’ve left us all with lots to think about here. And I’ve asked some important questions. I look forward to reading your responses.