Will the Millennial and Z Generations save the planet?

I walked by a book display table that featured “body-mind” books. I instantly reacted with a question, “Where’s the “spirit?” In my work, we always talk about “body-mind-spirit” as the “trinity” of holistic health. We have seen years of scientific research that makes the connection between mental health, spirituality and physical health. It occurred to me that perhaps booksellers think that “spirit” should be dropped. I was having none of that. 

Following my visit to the bookstore, I searched the internet for the latest research and found articles that suggest that Millennials and Generation Z identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Digging deeper I learned that the Generation Z want to make a difference with their lives. They want to be socially relevant. They see the planet at risk and fear for their future. While individual freedom is a core value, they experience a deep sense of wonder and awe about the universe. They want their lives to have meaning and purpose, and they want to make a difference.

That desire to make a difference in the world is one of the dimensions of spirituality discussed in my recently published book, “How to Take Your Spiritual Temperature; 10 Dimensions of Spirituality—From Angst to Joy.”  Sorry for the drawn-out title… Chapter 8 discusses “Life Meaning and Purpose” with real life personal stories that illustrate the struggles and challenges associated with finding life meaning and purpose and how that relates to physical and mental health.

For example, the woman who survived the Asian tsunami, but lost her entire family, said to herself, “There must be some reason why God allowed me to live through this.” She set out to find purpose and meaningful activity, and soon she was providing shelter and food for children who had lost their parents. Scientific research studies have confirmed that people who have a clear sense of life meaning and purpose experience a strengthening of their immune system. People motivated by purpose are more resilient in the face of disaster and loss. Life meaning, purpose, and resiliency are spiritual themes.

Activities to rescue the vulnerable and to save the environment are loaded with spiritual energy. In coastal areas, like Deerfield Beach and Tampa, young people have organized to clean up the beaches. They are serious about making a difference. In the face of indifference from corporate and political America, they are taking the future into their own hands. Isn’t that spiritual?

Let’s not drop “spiritual” from our vocabulary. We may soon discover that adolescents and young adults are on fire with their own flavors of spirituality. They may not be religious in the traditional sense, but their spirituality may save the planet.