Man standing on path into green hills.

Growing up, I couldn't have imagined the kind of business and personal journeys I've participated in, to date. And I tell you, it's been already one of a heck of a ride going wide and deep across the country. It has had plenty of bumps and bruises but has also been worth every second. My life quest has been defined by a personal constitution that's driven by service and doing good. My generation, Gen Y, still chases the American life, the one defined by the rising expectations of our consumerism and standard of living to increasingly diminishing returns.

The rat race goes something like this:

We graduate college and when the light turns green we race, we crush the competition chasing assets that we will never take with us when we die, and current generations less interested in things and more interested in experiences of a life worth living.

I’ve had the privilege of friending rich and poor in cities like Manhattan, and if we'd be more often reminded of our expiring time on Earth, perhaps more common ground would be possible between the privileged and underserved, the haves and have-nots. After all, it's still perplexing to be amassing assets that are short-lived and victims to our mortality.

...you can’t undo and un-create the joy and lessons of the quest.

Like many in my shoes and growing up with modest means, I could have been a lot more conservative with my personal, professional, and financial choices. I could have graduated college and become a tenured public school teacher. But for ages we've been advised that the unexamined life is not worth living and that all beings, by nature, desire to know. I’ve made my life quest about: what are my dreams, what was I born to do, and what matters really? It is noble to be seeking and chasing our nature to do good better on a greater scale as modern beings, hungry for a better self, community, people, and planet. I chose to splash paint at the wall and kick buckets of joy and possibility into the many gardens of life. It has worked, not in the number of zeroes on a deposit slip, but in the networks and company of my personal and professional life. It has worked in being able to do small gestures lifting the hopes and spirits of rich and poor alike. Yes, I encourage a little chaos and lots of wonder along with skill and luck to guide and help the journey of the unadjusted. Go for your dream, pursue what you were born to do, and find what matters to you really because you can’t undo and un-create the joy and lessons of the quest.

I challenge our generation to define and re-imagine the indicators utilized to measure our happiness and standard of living, and instead, audit our capacity and propensity for action rooted in kindness, sharing, and being a helping hand. Why not be of service to friend and stranger? And perhaps I insist and share this because I too dearly know and empathize how generous friends, family, and mentors had to be with me.

It's a wild world to be measuring a life worth living by the size of our paychecks. Our ecological negligence is catching up with us in part because of it. A new way of seeing a good and loving life is overdue. Poets and philosophers have warned us against the perils of consumerism and reminded us about the importance of finding fellowship with each other. Yes, it's hard. Take risk, play with uncertainty, and we might discover something genius. Enough. Love the life you've got already in ways that really matter.

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About The Author

Henry Cross's picture

Henry Cross grew up in sunny Miami, Florida. Upon graduating high school, he moved to the politicized Washington, D.C. and double majored in History and Politics at the Catholic University. He served as a social studies teacher in Prince George’s County Public School in 2008-2009. In the fall of 2009, he moved to New York City to continue and grow his work in education and service.

He joined Hosh Yoga in 2011 as a teacher and Program Director. And since 2013, he founded and expanded programming for the organization with Hosh Kids and Hosh Seniors. Henry's entrepreneurial spirit helped developed the organizational, program, and financial capacity of the nonprofit to deliver self-sustaining and self-supporting health and wellness services to over 3,000 children, adults, and seniors every month in a cost-effective and fairly-priced way. And from 2014 to 2016, he participated in a philanthropic role by expanding the programming, policy, and public advocacy efforts of the Sonima Foundation as Community Relations Director.

His work has been featured by the Huffington PostElephant JournalBlog Talk RadioThe NYC Social Innovation FestivalSocial Venture Institute, and multiple Brooklyn and Queens newspapers. He is an appointed New York City official of Community Board 5 in Queens, serves on a Department of Youth and Community Development Neighborhood Advisory Board, and on the board of directors of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association. And in 2015, Henry was selected as an etsy.org business fellow and awarded Top 40 Under 40 Nonprofit Rising Star. He finds joy in his community work service everyday and loves ballroom dancing!

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