“What is the point of living?” The question is nothing new. But with record numbers of young adults choosing suicide, it's a question that deserves our attention.
Thinking deeply about the meaning of life is a natural part of our human development. What is alarming, however, are the number of today’s teens who ask the question, not out of intellectual or philosophical inquiry, but from a deeply felt sense of hopelessness and personal failure in their lives.
According to the American Psychological Association, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for pre-teens to young adults. The most common causes are depression or other mental illness, substance abuse, bullying (especially LGBT bullying), sexual abuse, family violence and academic pressure.
It is more accurate to say those are the reasons teens cite for taking their own lives. But the real ‘cause’ is stress. When teens are not able to cope with the stress of a given situation, they often see suicide as their only option.
Adolescence is a time of both rapid physical and emotional growth and also for awakening self awareness. At no time is a person’s brain more thirsty for direction, the ego more vulnerable, than the teen years. But, what has historically been a difficult, yet natural, rite of passage for young people has now become an epidemic of self doubt.
“Mental health problems among our youth are serious,” said Ilchi Lee at the 2013 Youth Mental Health Symposium: On the Brain, Happiness, and Education
in Seoul, South Korea. “The world’s second highest youth suicide rate, school violence that grows more severe every day, the world’s lowest youth happiness index, 208,000 young people who have left the schools to wander the streets, this is a picture of education and youth in the Republic of Korea.”
Lee speaks from experience. His own lack of self worth during his academic years left him in great despair of ever finding a sense of purpose, until he discovered a way of valuing his life.
One of the most effective ways of discovering and retaining your human value is through energy principles. Yoga, meditation and brain wave vibration exercises are some easy, yet profound methods for tapping into your life force and reevaluating your reason for being alive.
Lee wants today’s young adults to find their intrinsic value and marry it to their innate intelligence and desire to learn.
Lee acknowledges that students suffer intense stress
when under pressure to do well on tests and compete with academic peers.
When your brain is under so much stress it's not able to operate in full functionality. And that is when a person is most susceptible to delusional thinking such as life is not worth living or that they have no value.
“When you become enlightened, what you at first understood as the end, death, you come to understand is simply change,” Lee says. “When you discover your value, then it also resolves this issue of death.”
Lee also encourages youth to keep having conversations with themselves. “Because,” he says, “there is a light inside of you that you have to care about. You don't only have thoughts or emotions. You have a soul.
And when you aren't paying attention to what your soul really desires, your life feels empty and purposeless.”
Lee hopes innovative teaching styles and new classroom models that focus on the student will change the system to allow for self exploration, creative thinking outside the strictures of testing and grading. Young people should be allowed to unfold who they are, not be forced to conform to an external, outdated and inaccurate measure of academic success.
Education that involves having to solve problems assigned by others using memorized information, without even knowing one’s own aptitudes, is a system that is already far behind the times. The self-directed, problem-based, creativity-developing learning of which advanced education systems boast is the kind that the human brain likes and that makes best use of the brain’s abilities.
Encouraging young people to tap into their own experience, whether it be a special skill or talent like shooting baskets or growing the best organic vegetables, can give them a sense of achievement that fills that hole in their soul. These are the kinds of skills you can take out into the world. School doesn’t last forever, but your self worth is the work of a lifetime.
Tiffany Lair, an Arizona State University student testifies to the stress reducing effects of applying energy principles through her Dahn Yoga classes
Lee would like to see an education system that values not only individual learning styles that develop talented people, but that also puts the joy back into learning.
Creativity is brought about when you are interested, challenged and enjoying yourself. Education based on rote memorization, without acknowledging individual aptitudes and interests is a system that is already far behind the times.
Self-directed, problem-based and creativity-developing learning, of which advanced education systems boast, is the kind that the human brain likes and that makes best use of the brain’s abilities.
“For both learning and teaching, let us engage in education that results in the secretion of a lot of hormones that make us joyful and happy,” Lee says.
Joy and happiness. Now, those are reasons for living.
"This message is not intended as medical advice, so please consult your healthcare practitioner with any health concerns.