I asked an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen in a while.
He appeared outwardly optimistic but in a fatalist kind of way. Further discussion revealed that he was indeed somewhat worried about his job security with the local newspaper.
“They say it’s the worst economic downturn this generation has ever seen” he said, confirming my impression that he was preoccupied about something.
But this reaction was the exception. Often times if I meet someone and I introduce the subject of the current economic troubles they tend to clam up. It becomes obvious that they’d rather talk about something else.
Anything else. It’s making it difficult to get a good grasp on how people are coping.
Last week GM in Oshawa Ontario permanently closed its truck plant after 60 continuous years of operation. 2,500 workers
lost their jobs. Chrysler is set to axe a raft of dealerships in the US and GM will soon follow that action here in Canada.
Since the day we’re born we all want more. More nourishment, more comfort, more love.
More of everything.
But as long as there have been humans walking this earth there’s one thing we’ve all want more of than anything else: Happiness.
My focus on this site is all about the “happiness mindset” and how to develop and how to maintain it through the “new immunity”. But today I want to talk about one particular aspect of the debate about how happiness is achieved…
More money: Does it bring happiness or not?
I was working on this post when I came across a CNN piece written by Peter Bregman. In it he makes the point that having happiness and having money are not to be confused.
Indeed, Mr. Bregman points out that maybe, in this particular time in human history, we need to learn to be happy with less.
I can’t agree more.
After all, trying to add to our happiness by throwing money at the problem only ever works for the short term. Then it’s back to wanting… more.
Now let’s be clear here I’m not saying that money isn’t necessary. We all need money.
Our personal existence depends on having the basics of life met each and every day. And that does cost money. But when it comes to happiness, research by University of Illinois psychologist Edward Diener, a.k.a. “Dr. Happiness”, shows that additional income does little to raise our sense of satisfaction with life.
Today’s challenges are so complex and pervasive that our happiness has come under constant attack especially since job losses are at an all-time high with whole industries in peril. However despite that, the most recent Gallup Poll shows that consumers, at least in the US, are experiencing a slight easing of worry over finances (34 on the scale) within the last two weeks (down from 38).
But stats are always changing and there’s no guarantee we’ll see a lasting improvement at all.
There’s always hope though. I’ll talk about that in a post a few days from now (look for my next new post: “H.O.P.E. for the Future”).
For now there’s a funny quote from Kin Hubbard that sums up the happiness debate:
“It’s pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness. Poverty an’ wealth have both failed.”
I got to thinking about the mindset of all these people, many of whom are ordinary career employees, who are struggling to make sense out of the economic rubble around them. Seems like every time I look into one of those on-line forums the complaints pour out like a torrent out of a ruptured dam.
I hear a lot of them center their complaints around the lack of belief they now have in themselves because of the bind they find themselves in. They seem to feel that, as economic downturn victimitis sets in, their sense of control over their family’s future is weakening. They sound rather helpless like they’re all on the verge of falling into the chasm of despair and hopelessness.
A good example of this was an interview on TV one night with a news reporter and some autoworkers from Oshawa Ontario. This particular family had two generations who had followed the heard and went to work at the same GM plant every day collectively for several decades. One was a retired worker and the other was his son. Both looked like deer caught in the headlights of the new reality.