Editor’s Note: This article was written in April 2010 but its message continues to be relevant today…..

Did you catch this recent good news story?  Back in late February, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released their survey results of 18-to-29-year-olds — “millennials” —and reported that this group remains optimistic, despite the financial recession.  At that time, most news sources reported it, but it was easy to miss.  Here are a few key findings from their report:

  • Millennials embrace multiple modes of self-expression. Three-quarters have created a profile on a social networking site. One-in-five have posted a video of themselves online.
  • They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults.
  • Despite struggling (and often failing) to find jobs in the teeth of a recession, about nine-in-ten either say that they currently have enough money or that they will eventually meet their long-term financial goals.
  • Two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful” when dealing with people.
  • One-in-four are unaffiliated with any religion, far more than the share of older adults when they were ages 18 to 29. Yet not belonging does not necessarily mean not believing. Millennials pray about as often as their elders did in their own youth.
  • Millennials (like older adults) place parenthood and marriage far above career and financial success. But they aren’t rushing to the altar. Just one-in-five Millennials (21%) are married now, half the share of their parents’ generation at the same stage of life.
  • About a third (34%) are parents, according to the Pew Research survey. We estimate that, in 2006, more than a third of 18 to 29 year old women who gave birth were unmarried. This is a far higher share than was the case in earlier generations
  • Among 18 to 24 year olds a record share — 39.6% — was enrolled in college as of 2008, according to census data.
  • About one-in-eight older Millennials (ages 22 and older) say they’ve “boomeranged” back to a parent’s home because of the recession.
  • More than six-in-ten say that families have a responsibility to have an elderly parent come live with them if that parent wants to. By contrast, fewer than four-in-ten adults ages 60 and older agree that this is a family responsibility.

In a recent issue, the Christian Science Monitor interviewed Morely Winograd author of “Millennial Makeover” about the Pew findings.  Winograd, who has studied this generation, described them as “collaborative, creative, tech smart, and idealistic in an ‘impact the world’ sense.”  The Monitor noted how it found Millennials were coping with the current economic climate.  Many see it as an opportunity to go back to graduate school.  Many are accepting internships without pay just to build their resume for the future.  Many are taking your technical skills and creating online businesses.  Many are volunteering to help others — not only to gain skills and experience but to truly help.

I love this story!  The Millennials are going to be a very key factor in moving humanity through its current challenges into a future that works for everyone.  Their optimism gives me optimism for our future.  Here are a few of my observations on this report:

  • As I have written about many times, what we focus our attention on is what we tend to grow in our lives.  The more this generation focuses on a positive future, the more likely we are to manifest one.
  • Futurist John Peterson of the Arlington Institute frequently reports on the planetary trends that point towards a dire future.  Yet he remains optimistic for several reasons, one of which is the tremendous rate of technological growth that we are experiencing and its potential to alleviate our problems.  The millennial’s tech savviness will be crucial in putting this technology to work.
  • Scientific theories such as Spiral Dynamics and  Integral Theory show that humanity has moved through a series of worldviews.  That viewpoint drives how we see life and what motivates us for the future.  Much of our culture has been mired in a type of personal selfish materialism.  This view of life is characterized by an over emphasis on the accumulation of material wealth.  People who move beyond this viewpoint tend to place less emphasis on material possessions defining their self worth and are more motivated by serving the common good.  Some of the characteristics  that these theories show emerging in their higher evolutionary cycles (“second tier” in Spiral Dynamics, “integral level” in Integral Theory) include being aware of all of the systems’ interconnectedness of life and becoming spiritual but not religious.  The Pew findings tell me that Millennials may be moving into these higher worldviews.
  • Creating a positive future that works for everybody, in my opinion, is one in which we value diversity of all types.  We can be ourselves and express their own uniqueness while honoring others even if they are different.  The Millennial’s high degree of self-expression combined with their respect for their elders and being part of a more ethnically diverse group seems to point towards this positive future.

I think the rest of us can learn a lesson from this upcoming generation.  Let’s embrace technology, diversity, our own uniqueness, and defining a quality life not by material possessions but by the kind of life we live.  And above all, let’s embrace wholeheartedly an optimism for humanity’s future.

Mark

(Click here to review the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press report)

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!