Here we are in the most technically advanced and prosperous period in all of recorded history. And I live in one of the wealthiest cities on the planet, in a wealthy province, in a wealthy country. Exotic foods from all over the world are sold at my local supermarket. Textiles, gems, spices, great works of art – all are available at the mall down the street. We live like kings and queens here.
So why do we complain?
Like Louis CK said on TV one night, “Everything is amazing right now, and nobody’s happy.”
Then there’s dating. A hundred years ago, when you got old enough to date, there were about 3 or 4 eligible singles to choose from within a day’s hard riding. You had to get married (because that’s what everyone did), and you said your vows, and you stayed together until one of you died. And you were probably happy with that, because, what other options were there?
Now you can date people from anywhere in the world. There’s no end of options. Dating websites have thousands of great singles looking for someone just like you. It’s awful, because none of them are a perfect fit. Either I don’t want to date them, or they don’t want to date me.
With thousands of options to choose from, why settle for less than perfection? So, a lot of us stay single for a long time, or go from relationship to relationship, or get married for five years and then go through a messy divorce.
We didn’t have these problems when we had no options. Now it doesn’t matter who you pick, you know there will always be someone better that you could have had if you’d only waited another week. So we end up regretting the one we got, and looking at all the others, and pretty soon we’re divorced and dating again. And because divorce is so common now, it’s acceptable, which means you don’t have to work at fixing the relationship you’re in – you can just throw your husband’s crap out the front door, change the locks, and go date the guy from Accounting while cleaning out your joint bank account.
Dissatisfaction isn’t limited to dating and marriage. We have unlimited options in all areas of our lives here in the wealthy West. Self-help gurus and prosperity coaches teach us in a never-ending stream of seminars, books, CDs and workshops that we can have anything we want if only we use their proven formula. We just have to visualize, affirm, commit, exercise, pray – whatever – and all that we can ask or imagine will be handed to us. Weight loss, wealth, spiritual enlightenment, the perfect career – it can all be yours!
There are thousands of voices telling us to strive for more, because what we have is not good enough. So just get online and order that new product now, before it’s too late and you can’t have it any more!
Simple case in point: When I first started shaving, over 20 years ago, the standard razor was a single blade. But Gilette had twin blades. They showed animations on their TV commercials, one with a single blade, the other with twin blades, and how the twin blade razor got all the stubble and the single blade didn’t. Then when they started losing market share to the store-brand twin-blades, they had to bring out a 3-blade shaver, and the commercials changed to show how the twin-blade razor just didn’t cut it, and you needed a 3-blade shaver instead. Then, not so long after, they came out with a 4-blade razor. It’s getting ridiculous. How many blades do we need?
They train us to become dissatisfied with what we have, because there is always more stuff available that they have not sold us yet. And if they are not selling us the stuff, they are selling us the seminar or the book about how you can get the stuff that you deserve to have, and how you should not limit yourself to merely enough – you should pay a fortune to some guru so you can learn to have more than enough.
Meanwhile, depression has become pandemic in our society. Visits to the doctor for depression and anxiety doubled between 1994 and 2004. And suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people over the age of 10.
Why are we so depressed and suicidal, when we live in a society where we can have anything we want?
I think you can guess by now what I’m getting at. For one, we are brainwashed by success gurus into believing that we can have more than we can actually afford. We buy into that brainwashing because we want so desperately to believe it. Then when we fail to get everything we’d dreamed of, we feel like failures.
And even when we get everything we want, there is always more to have. It’s simply impossible to get everything, to do it all or to be everywhere. We are always comparing what we already have, to what we could have. Dissatisfaction creeps in and kills the joy we had with our lives being just fine the way they were.
So I say screw it. If you want to be happy, then love the one you’re with, do the work in front of you, and enjoy the stuff you have.
Okay I’m done now.