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Is there happiness in the crisis?

28 April 2013 / 15:04:28  GRReporter
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From the moment the crisis affected Greek households significantly, the Greeks started talking constantly about the problems it has caused, empty purses and what future awaits their children. In the end, maybe the crisis was a blow to the Greeks’ former materialistic and superficial life? Perhaps the time has come for Greece to start from the beginning again, and the Greeks should redefine their needs and their principles. Is there happiness in the crisis which is not only economic? And how do children and young people perceive the crisis?

Five prominent scientists, authors for Minoas publishing house, tried to give answers to these questions at a discussion that was held on Friday, 26 April at The Music Hall.

Children know everything

“How to hide from children? They know everything ...,” sang Dionysis Savopoulos in 1979, representing a truth that a lot of parents do not see or do not want to see. “Everything that affects parents, affects children, too, of course,” said psychologist Alexandra Kapatou and added that it is ridiculous to believe that children are not aware of the crisis since news and parents’ conversations pass uncertainties on to children. And as a result, what they see strongly influences them.

Precisely because children, and especially teenagers, can understand messages, their parents should contribute to this. “Parents need to tell their children the truth, explaining that the problem does not only affect their family, but unfortunately it is a common one,” emphasised Kapatou. “What is important is how parents handle the situation according to the age and emotional development of their children.”

“The crisis disarms and leaves no opportunity to distinguish yourself”

A lot of parents determine adulthood as a tough period, full of tension and conflicts between parents and children. According to neurologist-psychiatrist Thanos Askitis “teenage years are a magical time for children, provided, however, that there is a basis for communication and stability that a teenager needs.” However, during the crisis, the uncertainty about the future of the young is increasing. Those who are pessimistic about the situation are not few - influenced by their parents’ gloomy understanding that “the crisis has destroyed everything.”

“Indeed, the crisis is suffocating expectations of people, especially young people who are at the beginning of their journey,” explained Askitis and added: “When they see their parents possessed by fear, depression, tension and a feeling of being in a deadlock, it adversely affects them since they start thinking that nothing will change, and hence there is no need to fight.” Therefore, in order to avoid losing yet another generation, parents must be honest with their children without, however, exaggerating, but by inspiring their children instead. “Do not forget that young people have started great social revolutions,” reminded Askitis. According to him, the revolution of today’s teenagers is to express themselves and acquire their own models - different from those their parents grew up with and on which they built their material logic of the pseudo-welfare.

Young people’s behaviour has atrophied

What unites optimists and those who see far is that this crisis will bring people together. And although this view is disputed by many because of the alienation brought by social networks, it is supported by psychologists. According to them, the well-being before 2010 led to the alienation of people and created warm relationships with money. “Money has become the main value of our work, feelings, and even personalities. Without it, we feel useless and unfulfilled, because we see money as our greatest need,” said psychologist Pavlos Ioannidis.

According to psychologist Smaroula Panteli, a lot of people have let themselves go on their couches and their souls stand idle. Now, when we need to activate all our internal sources of power, we see how weak these centres of our minds are.

Joy and happiness is an antidote to depression

With the increasing number of antidepressants because of depressing jobs, according to Panteli, playing with children can be very useful for the emotional state of the Greeks. According to her, with each game people experience joy and these expressions of joy illuminate a happy atmosphere in life.

At the same time, a redefinition of values based on real needs is necessary for everyone. Maybe it’s time to focus our deepest emotional needs and learn how to achieve what we really want, according to Ioannidis. The Greeks’ connection with good food and wine has played and continues to play a crucial role for happiness. “Science cannot teach us something different from what the Greeks have always said,” said nutritionist Dimitris Grigorakis and added: “A lot of people think that alcohol is harmful to health, but a glass of wine offers euphoria and contributes to the smooth functioning of the body. Therefore, the expression “Cheers!” has a literal meaning.

Despite the many chemicals used in gardening, it seems that people are returning to the Mediterranean diet and consuming more legumes, fruit and vegetables. These products are economical for the Greek family, and at the same time are useful for all ages.

Of course, before the crisis, “in order to invite friends to your home, you had to hire the best catering with the best gourmet dishes, served on the right tablecloth and wear expensive clothes,” said Panteli, adding “It was an artificial situation of how we life. Today, however, the best lifestyle includes sharing positive emotions and optimism.”

Tags: psychologists parents children crisis happiness
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