Growing Up Is Overrated: Part 2

choose joy

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.


17 thoughts on “Growing Up Is Overrated: Part 2

  1. Yes! I believe that you’ve hit the nail on the head! We, as adults, sometimes forget that all we really have is “now”, and now is eternal. It’s the only thing that we have a little control of. If we stay in “now”, there’s no need to worry. Responsibilities are going to be there — there’s no way around that. But why lose today by worrying about tomorrow, which may never come, or give it the potential of ruining today? Our “inner child” would never allow that.

    PS: thanks for the shout!

    1. Very insightful! Your comment reminded me of something I just read in Meditations, the great book by the stoic writer Marcus Aurelius. Aurelius made exactly the same point you’re making. By the way, I highly recommend everyone read Meditations. It will change your life!

  2. what would i need to do to find bliss; what brings me true joy? reading. if i could read, all day, every day. learning. i want to go to school forever. space. i’m overwhelmed by people a lot of the time, lovely people, understanding and friendly people who want nothing more than to spend time with me but who don’t seem to get that i need the alone time to make the together time possible.

    1. Yes, it’s all about balance. Unfortunately, this way we all have to live now is so full of sound and fury that signifies nothing. There’s so much “white noise” and so much that distracts. Even the internet makes me nervous. Unplugging feels so healthy. Yet I miss not knowing, not being “connected.” Again, it’s all about balance and moderation.

  3. It’s so true. Everyday is like a teeter totter trying to keep a balance of everything life should involve, and only now trying to demand the time I need to keep me happily in the present and let out that creative blissful inner child.

      1. One glimpse of this was near the end when Brooks carved into the beam “Brooks was here,” followed, later, by “So was Red.” They had become childlike, hidden away from the world.

        As horrible as prison was, “the outside” was worse.

        As an adult, Brooks had spent his entire life asking permission for a bathroom break, like a schoolboy. Faced with “growing up,” in an impersonal world, he chose to hang himself.

  4. Some times some responsibilities are surely ways of doing good to people and no one is born alone in this world but yes the inner child is always there to enchant

    1. My point was that we have be responsible in this life but that responsibilities can sometimes consume us. We have to try hard not to let that happen. Thanks for your comment.

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