The Student News Site of West Covina High School

WCHS Insight

The Student News Site of West Covina High School

WCHS Insight

The Student News Site of West Covina High School

WCHS Insight

The struggle of young men in the pursuit of happiness


The era in many young men’s lives as they mature into men is commonly troubled by depression, loneliness and feelings of being lost. According to CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) data, record high suicide rates in recent years show that men are approximately four times more likely than women to commit suicide in any given age group. More than ever, young men struggle to find mental stability and support in their lives. 

Although resources for help are improving, such as therapy and social awareness, a greater shift in the focus of how to help young men through struggle is needed. This article outlines principles that lead to a life lived with passion, will and success as well as how to implement essential values.

In order to understand the strategies and tools that are required to reach the goal of true happiness, the vision of what true happiness is must be defined. In the words of the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, “happiness depends upon ourselves.”

True happiness is the prolonged satisfaction one earns and deserves from partaking in a noble and virtuous cause. It is a state of mind that while filled with joy and pleasure is not the pursuit of instant gratification or temptation. Most of all, true happiness is independence from social validation and substance or materialism. It solely depends on the love and gratitude for life and one’s self worth, not to be mistaken with pride or arrogance. 

Having once been stuck in depression and battling addiction, history and AVID teacher Paul Gordon shared how he transformed his most difficult times in life into passion for his career and loved ones. When fired from his job at 23 and after a harsh breakup, Gordon fell into addiction and instability.

“You are going through something that is not unique in the slightest. Getting dumped is one of the most human experiences, billions of people have gone through it before you. It’s not a very nice thing to hear-but there is no cheat, there is no shortcut, there is no way to cheat your way through this. Just know one day you’re not going to feel like this anymore,” said Gordon.

“When we are going through stuff like that we all end up trading pain for happiness that extends our pain. When are we going to stop trading tomorrow for today? Pleasure is right now, there’s an opportunity cost for pleasure. There’s this guilt because I know it feels good but I know I shouldn’t do it,” continued Gordon. 

Paul Gordon commemorated the milestone of high school graduation with his former students, the class of 2023, on June 8. “I was stoked to be there and celebrate with everyone after four years of work,” said Gordon. (Paul Gordon)

After taking time to reflect, Gordon shifted his mentality, finding his happiness and passion when he turned to teaching and began prioritizing his relationships. Gordon’s new pleasure comes from the positive impact he has on his students when he makes them smile and feel recognized. 

As people search for methods to process the pain and emotion they experience, many impulsively select a distraction, such as alcohol and drugs, that while bringing short lived pleasure, digs a deeper hole into sadness, leading to crippling addiction. The method one chooses to process emotions makes or breaks growth.

During my worst times in life, I found myself limited by my own perspective and the circumstances I was born into. My distaste for social interaction due to the way people treated me seeped into my attitude of living. Fueled by anger and disappointment in myself, the people around me, and my shortcomings, I became a degenerate and resentful person, unmotivated, insecure and blaming others for my bad habits and traumas. I spent a lot of time near the edge of the point of no return as I looked for a reason to not lose hope in what use or purpose I had. 

One day, I grew tired of my sleepless nights, crying, and self pity. I sat to process my pain and reflected for hours, asking God what is holding me back from my potential and why I was born. To my surprise, something changed within me, and I realized I needed to forgive and love anyone who had ever wronged me, my parents for their mistakes, and myself for every time I didn’t meet my own expectations because I quit or failed. The tension that released from my body and mind was unlike any relief I had ever experienced.

For the first time ever, I was certain that nothing was holding me back anymore. That night, I found my gratitude and drive, reminding myself of the blessings I had, and told myself to “do the very best with what you have, it is all you need.” I was born imperfect, but possessed the purpose of becoming the best version of myself, and I strive to be that man every single day. 

From then on, I stopped focusing on what I had been doing wrong my whole life and started to focus on what I was going to be, who I am becoming, should I only make the effort to improve. A new version of myself was created, one that did not blame anything for my mental blockage I put on myself, but a person who is loving, progressing, and walks in the spirit of making the world a better place for as many people as I possibly can, including myself, and the people I love. 

On the journey to peace and success, I identified common mental blocks and outward sources of prolonged feelings of lostness and discontent. These emotions commonly come from issues including tension in important relationships and low self-esteem. All individuals experience stress and pain in their lives, but the key difference in how certain individuals successfully manage these problems lies in their resilience and mentality, attributes that anyone can build.

As a leader of adolescents, Head Football Coach Mike Maggiore shared the advice he implements in his life as a father and as a coach, prioritizing integrity, brotherhood and character above all. 

“I think being a part of a team with others and going through things with them, having memories and experiences, gives you a lot of support, it really makes you feel good about yourself, like you’re a part of something. Everyone wants to be a part of something. Sports has been a great outlet for me to feel accepted,” said Maggiore.

Coach Mike Maggiore motivates Dominic Sanchez ahead of his senior year football season. Maggiore’s team with Dominic Sanchez would go on to reach CIF Championships for the first time since 2011. “Coach Maggiore is one the best coaches I’ve ever had, he’s like a father figure for me,” said Sanchez. (Dominic Sanchez)

While happiness can be built individually, one’s environment has a significant influence on their well being. Just as negative and compromising the pressure and temptations of peers and substances can be, these communal pressures can be equally as positive. The people in an environment have the ability to raise each other up just as much as they can bring each other down. 

Do not underestimate the importance of having people you can rely on, learn from, and trust. Be selective and in search of friends, mentors, and inspirations. All connections within a person’s network have the capacity to support, motivate, and improve one another, so choose wisely who to learn from. No one can achieve success of any kind in life without the knowledge, support and love from another human within a team or family.

The most popular forms of entertainment come through media, in everything from food, substances, and social standards,  instill habits of instant gratification and materialism into society that are most harmful to the youth. As younger generations become more dominated by digital media and consumer culture, social isolation and insecurity is becoming a larger problem that is contributing to the mental health problems many people are facing. 

Theodore Moser, English teacher with 28 years experience, pointed out a concerning observation of changing student behavior in his classroom over the years because of social media.

“That online connection in the world is sometimes hampered by a loss of personal connection. I’ve had so many classes the last several years, when there’s free time I used to have to tell kids to stop talking. Now I don’t have to, they’re not talking, they are on their phones. They are interacting with someone electronically somewhere, they are not chatting with the person next to them. It’s weird and I think that’s dangerous for mental health,” said Moser. 

Moser’s observation sheds light on the severity of social isolation and loneliness many people suffer from. This social disconnect breeds feelings of loneliness even in the presence of a room full of people. This phenomenon creates a large population of young people who are susceptible to their own negativity, self-doubt and destructive temptation. 

Distinguishing a unique love for life that differs from the socially accepted is where one’s peace and drive lies, it must be individualized. On this journey of life, it is crucial to be equipped with morals, a mental compass that guides decision making and grants peace of mind. Understand that no one is alone in any experience, emotion or trauma. 

There are and always will be people who share experiences and can help each other. Everyone must open their hearts to helping one another and to the reality of everyone’s imperfections. Despite upbringing, choice of religion, politics, or interests, adopt the practices and values of resilience, unity, forgiveness, independence, self-belief, purpose, and watch the exponential growth of character and achievement surpass anything imaginable. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All WCHS Insight Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *