First came the "Baby Boomers," then came "Generation X." The branding of the subsequent generation was less definitive, ping-ponging between "Generation Y" and "The Millennials." I'd like to add a third name: "Generation Stress." According to Stress in America, a study commissioned by the American Psychological Association, Millennials are the most stressed demographic. And it's reasonable to assume that higher levels of stress put the Millennials at higher risk for all sorts of destructive downstream consequences, from diabetes and obesity to anxiety and depression. Not surprisingly, work is one of the biggest causes of stress. The job numbers are grim, and even those lucky Millennials that land a decent job often face a workplace rife with destructive definitions of success. So here's hoping that as they advance through the ranks of the workplace, Millennials will do themselves -- and the generation after them (Generation Z?) -- a favor by redefining success.
The Millennial Generation may be stressed, and it’s also—arguably—irreligious. And this may be their parents' fault. Millennials had parents who didn't make much effort to provide a religious education, model the value of religious devotion, or show their children how faith has a positive effect in helping us cope with the unpleasant aspects of life. So, Millennials were short-changed and now they're twenty-somethings, and gosh, they are not special, they are not getting ribbons, medals and stars and life is hard, and religion doesn't do a darn thing for them.
Some make a distinction between “religious” and “spiritual,” a distinction I just LOVE to hear pop up in conversations of which I may be a part. When I hear that someone is spiritual but not religious, I know that it’s likely I am facing a narcissistic egoist for whom religion is inadequate because religion does not place the individual at the center of the universe, but God. Those who prefer to be known as spiritual—but eschew religion (using preceded by “organized”) opt for private, meditative spirituality (PMS) because PMS does not make demands, does not require discipline, does not push one to spiritual maturity and growth. It’s religion that’s handmade and self-serving.
This is the Millennial Generation. Spiritual. But Stressed.