What Builders, Boomers, Millennials, and Gen-Y Have In Common

generation boy


Point and click just about anywhere on the web and you’ll find an article about the animosities, antagonisms, or incompatibilities of people of different ages. People born in the 1930s and 1940s see life differently than those born in the 1950s and 1960s who see life differently than those born in the 1970s and 1980s who see life differently than those born in the 1990s and 2000s. Rather than rehash all the ways people of varying generations see life differently here’s a list of what people of all ages have in common.

We all like feeling good. While our activities, foods, clothing styles and entertainments differ, we all share the pursuit of happiness.

We all like avoiding pain. There are very few locations where generations mingle. The exception is for medical needs: Emergency Rooms, doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms, and hospitals. Age differences vanish when it comes to toothaches, broken bones, or appendicitis.

We all want to be “liked.” Teens count their Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and Instagram “likes,” and elderly shut-ins count the number of visits they get. Even scoundrels, criminals, and cads prefer negative attention to no attention.

We all want meaningful lives. What fuels the pursuit of religion, science, hobbies, sports, work, money, or fame? A desire to feel like our lives matter.  People have different pathways to meaning but the motive is same: an aversion to obscurity, futility, and wasted lives.

We all want kindness, respect, love, affirmation. My clients range from 12 to 80. What they have in common is an aversion to conflict and a desire to create healthy relationships.

We all love air. Artists, novelists, poets, musicians, film makers, and marketers want to create content that will be the next “big thing,” smash hit, or viral Youtube video. But in reality the only thing humanity universally embraces is breathing. This being the case it makes more sense to  view younger and older generations as fellow passengers on space ship earth rather than aliens.

“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” George Orwell

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.” Henry David Thoreau

“Rather than seeing different generations as square pegs in round holes let’s enlarge the hole.” Erik Johnson



Understanding As a Spiritual Discipline


One doesn’t often think of empathy and understanding as spiritual disciplines but they are. They’re disciplines because they require focus, practice, and hard work. They’re spiritual because they fulfill the command to love our neighbors.

What are the steps to understanding another person?

Listen without judgment. Even if they embrace ideas you find nutty, set aside your inner critic and really listen. Listen for their passion, their emotion, and what makes their heart sing. Everyone deserves a good listening to!

Get curious. Picture this person as a six year old and imagine all the factors that made them the adult they are today. You’re not talking to a mere person, you’re talking to their DNA, training, trauma, choices, parents, siblings, neighborhood, socio-economic background, gender, and shaping by popular culture.

Try on their glasses. Looking at life from another’s point of view is an inexact science. But we can try. See the world through their experience, their values, and their priorities. This is a great exercise for those who don’t have the funds for world travel.

I’m with Lucy in the cartoon above. I think this world would be a better world if there were more understanding between people. We can work on understanding bugs later.