I strongly believe that the next generation should be empowered and supported in order to make a positive impact on society. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience with the younger generations who will soon be leading and guiding us. But how is that done without becoming blind to my own ideas?
The future of our world lies in the hands of the next generation, as it has been so for our generation and the generations before us. But it also lies in our hands to prepare the next generations for what they will encounter by preparing ourselves. If we should expect to be able to share useful knowledge and experience, we need to not only accumulate ideas about being “good” human beings but also need to have daily practices where we integrate the knowledge and experience we want to transfer into the future.
The next next generation
I believe that our attention should be addressed not only to the next generation being our children but to the next next generation being our grandchildren. How do we live our lives today so we can become role models for knowledge and experience that can be transferred to our grandchildren?
Without doing anything in particular, we will transfer certain traits of behavior to our children that again will be transferred to our grandchildren, and through generations, we have also received traits from our parents and grandparents that are integrated into the way we live our own lives. But instead of passively accepting that “something” is transferred, my suggestion is to do it actively and with presence, consciousness, and awareness.
How do we support the next next generation?
Some practical questions are how do we transfer helpful knowledge and experience to future generations, and what would be the correct, right, or best “things” to bring forward? A suggestion for the knowledge and experience we could transfer forward could be something like:
- Awareness and presence
- Self-insight and right actions
- Empathy and compassion
- Healthy values and principles
- Acceptance of difficulties and avoidance of “the perfect life”
#1 – Awareness and presence
When we are aware of what is going on inside and outside ourselves, we can become learners. Without awareness and presence, we would be stuck in old assumptions that might have served us when we were younger but might be outdated to support us in the ever-changing world.
Awareness could also be called “awake” or “alert” and covers any kind of action, that will make you pay attention to what is going on on the inside of you (senses, emotions and thoughts) and outside of you in and among other people. It is the kind of emotional and social intelligence to grow and develop as individuals and collectively.
Presence could also be called “clear mind”, “direct knowing”, “aha-moments” etc. and can feel like a state of flow, where you feel both strong and agile and you know how and when to engage and when not to.
#2 – Self-insight and right actions
When we have self-insight, we will understand when we are attached and identifies with our personality or ego. Such attachments and identifications will limit us in our behavior as we will repeat old behavior and we will have difficulty changing our mindsets and way of acting.
When you have a high level of self-insight you will recognize when your somatic, emotional, and cognitive patterns are controlling your behavior, self-image, and thoughts. That recognition will help you to re-balance yourself and end your repetitive behavior for a while.
When demonstrating “right action” we also handle several mindsets at a time and, among them, find the best suitable action possible for the moment. In the moment we often don’t know if the action is the right one, but when we practice we will learn how to center our selves and find our way to the right action.
#3 – Empathy and compassion
When we demonstrate empathy and compassion, we, first of all, feel, sense, and understand how others are feeling, sensing, and understanding things. This gives us respect, acceptance, and a better understanding of others. With that, we can demonstrate empathy and compassion and accept others instead of blaming them for being a malfunctioning version of ourselves.
#4 – Healthy values and principles
When we act from healthy values and principles, we take the consequences of what is valued by us and what we believe in. We can all value time with our family or friends, but when it comes to it, how much time do we spend with our families and friends – really? Taking the consequences of what matters most is something useful for future generations.
#5 – Acceptance of difficulties and avoidance of “the perfect life”
When we avoid pursuing the perfect life and accept that life includes difficult moments, we can forgive ourselves for wanting to become perfect, and instead of being stressed by being alive, we can enjoy life with its ups and downs. In my experience, this area of accepting, being, self-acceptance or life-acceptance is crucial for the younger generations, which mostly mirror themselves in the perfect life of random influencers.
Walking our talk
My experience is that we can only inspire others to certain actions if we take our own medicine or walk our own talk. This means that we need daily practices for building awareness and presence, training self-insight and conducting the right actions, mastering empathy and compassion, taking the consequences of our values and principles, and engaging in the acceptance of what it means to be a human being with all that might include.
Avoiding being blind to my own ideas
I am making my best effort to take my own medicine and walk my own talk, but how can I be sure that this will also help the next next generation? What test or research could I do to make sure that my ideas about today also will work in both the near and far future?
Every year I teach around 1.000 young adults, and they agree with my 5 suggestions, but what they long for is a place for mutual conversation about those topics. They don’t want to enroll in a “school system” where they have to perform, go to exams, and prepare themselves for more education. What they enjoy are what I in Danish call “samtale saloner” which could be translated into “conversation salons” originating from the educational salons for women before they were allowed to study at universities.
So if we want to transfer something to the next next generations, the solution might be inviting to “salons” where young adults will learn in a more old-school fashion way by engaging in conversations without traditional teaching and performing.
The photos used in the graphics is from a workshop hosted by The Academy for Talented Young People in Denmark. (click here to read more about the collaboration between THINK ABOUT IT and ATU)