Millions of smileys are exchanged over the latest iPhones and BlackBerrys. ‘Likes’ and ‘tweets’ flood social networking sites daily, but Youngistan, it seems, is not a happy place right now.
The Hindustan Times - MaRS Youth Survey 2012 reveals that 62% youngsters in India’s cities consider themselves happy, a significant drop from last year’s 74%. The survey, conducted among 7021 urban youngsters in 15 cities, tried to explore the ‘state of mind’ of today’s youth.
Youth in Jaipur, Bengaluru, Kochi and Chandigarh turned out to be the shiny, happy people, registering happiness much above the national average. But those in Indore, Bhopal, Patna and Hyderabad had a case of the blues, with well over a quarter respondents describing themselves as unhappy.
A slew of scams, a sluggish economy and a gloomy job scenario are the possible factors that may have sullied the smile of young Indians.
But there is another factor — you.“Your thoughts have the power to make you happy or sad. Your choices and priorities can determine your state of mind,” says Sameer Malhotra, head psychologist, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.
So, what factors aid and abet youngsters in their pursuit of happiness?
Advertisements may insist ‘har ek friend zaroori hota hai’, but despite the generation gap and ideological tussles, 42% respondents felt that their parents are their chief source of joy, ranking friends only second.
Actor Minissha Lamba says that this is a sweet sentiment. “I believe this can happen only in India where we still value our family bonds,” she says.
A minority (8.1%) felt that moolah makes their world go round – young India maybe be aspirational, but not necessarily money-minded. And what about personal relationships? Girlfriends and boyfriends gave just 5.3% youngsters a reason to smile.
But life is not sunny side up for these youngsters, with all sorts of warts and worries giving them sleepless nights.
Unsurprisingly, be it BPO employees or newbie managers, work made only a measly 5.5% youngsters happy. After all, who doesn’t complain about work, right? But in a times-are-a-changing twist, more full-time employed females were happy than their male counterparts.
Jobs are the biggest headache, making three in four youngsters chew their fingernails in anxiety. Success, the natural ally of jobs, worries 66% youngsters. “Waiting for companies to come for recruitment was scary. Even those people who landed a job were jittery and uncertain,” says Aditi Saxena, 22, an recent economics graduate.
In the age of male fairness creams and anti-aging treatments featuring models barely out of their teens,looks, also unsurprisingly, worry two in three youngsters. A slightly higher proportion of young women (69%) fret over their looks than young men (61%).
Interestingly, while 19% women said that they do not care about being stylish, only 14% men agreed, proving that the metrosexual, preening-and-grooming man is here to stay. Good news, ladies.
But Lamba isn’t too happy about this trend. “Media and the consumer goods industry puts too much pressure on looking good, making people feel that it is the most important thing. One needs to be strong to not get bogged down by such pressure,” she said.
Being physically fit is important, but spending too much time in front of the mirror finding faults is unhealthy. “If you keep struggling to achieve an ideal but are never content with the way you look, it can lead to body image issues,” cautions Malhotra.
Formula One race driver and youth icon Narain Karthikeyan also feels that looks should not be an obsession. “You are what you are. I feel there are more important things to concentrate on.”
Finding that elusive thing, love, worries 47.4% of India’s young, and the worry is more underlined among the younger respondents in the 18-21 age group. Perhaps the older ones have already found their valentine.
And finally, more than half of the participants said that they couldn’t care less about what others think of them. Devil-may-care rebels? Individualists, say both Lamba and Karthikeyan.
“It’s not rebellion. It’s just that they know exactly what they want,” said the ‘fastest Indian’ in the world.
(With inputs from Navdeep Kaur Marwah and Vinayak Pande)