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“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” – Socrates

“I wonder if they’re happier than I was?”

This was the question a lady sitting next to me asked on a flight into Denver earlier this month.

Judy was 72 and referring to the two little ones in front of us fighting over iPods, tablets and other gadgets.

Judy and I talked through the flight about how massive the changes – culturally, socially, technologically, regionally – have been since she was a child in the 1950’s. I was struck by our conversation. By the amount of change she has already seen in her life. And by the exponential change we will continue to see. Consider this:

In the 1950s the average television was 10 inches, black and white and boxed in real wood. If the antenna was working, you’d get both channels. Today the average is 35 inches, high-definition with surround sound. We enjoy more than 100 channels and can fast-forward recorded television shows.

In the 1950s the average family had one car with no radio, airbags, power steering or seat belts. Today, we average more than two cars per family. They are jammed with safety features, navigation, DVD players on seat-backs and voice-activated commands.

In the 1950s the average home size was 932 square feet; today’s is more than 2,700.

The most jarring comparison is the total number of storage units in the world.

In 1950 there were zero. Not one! If you had something: you used it, kept it in the basement or gave it away. Today, we “enjoy” more than 50,000,000 storage units; used to contain the stuff that doesn’t fit in our houses that are three times the size than they were 60 years ago.

All material indicators suggest we’re in a better place today, right? We enjoy luxuries our elders couldn’t have imagined! We have more wealth, health and longevity than in any other time in history. But, we also have high suicide, depression, mental illness, anxiety, stress and disengagement rates.

My friend, as we try to stay afloat in the material chaos we find ourselves in today, I challenge you to ask yourself one question, “What’s missing?”

Real happiness comes not from getting what we desire; but celebrating what we have. [Tweet that.]

I am not encouraging you to quit your job, sell your belongings or move to a remote location void of material goods. Instead, I am inviting you to realize that the greatest joys in life aren’t purchased, but discovered; they’re not earned, but attracted; they’re not expensive, but absolutely free.

Today, work hard, strive boldly, pour yourself into life. But remember that real success comes in celebrating what you already have. [Tweet that.]

0 replies on “Are We Happier?”

Thank you for reminding me of these absolute truths. I shared this with my 10 year old and my husband and we’ve had a good discussion because of it.

All the gadgets also seem to be robbing us of face to face time with one another, which can have a negative affect on relationships whether it be personal and/or professional. I think all the new technology is wonderful, but it takes commitment to balance it.

Well said, Amy! If you have tips for balancing it – share them here with us 🙂 It absolutely takes a conscious effort, thanks for the reminder and for ALL that you do. J

George Carlin’s comedy skit on “Stuff” focused on that same subject. All one needs to do is attend an estate sale, a garage sale, visit an outlet mall, or drive around your neighborhood on trash pick-up day to help understand this point. The term “consume” originally pertained to cancer’s effect on the human body. That same word now describes what our economy is dependent upon, more and more “consumers”.

Thank you (again) for a reminder to focus on what is important and real in life. We live in such a world of abundance that we grab hold of ‘stuff’ and it’s just wasting away when someone could be using it.

Thank YOU for sharing, Heather, and for all that you do. Keep sharing the truth that we live in abundance and that the best is yet to come. Enjoy your day! J

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