Happiness Index

Tina Brown was interviewed on NPR this morning. The piece was about looking behind the appearance of things for the TRUTH. She talked about recently published magazine articles. But, this thread clings to my mind, snapping and sparking like static. Why are we so easily accepting of appearances? We flip through magazines and look at models selling shoes and purses and watches and clothes and accept them as the slide rule of beauty. Our brains do not see anorexia, malnutrition, mental distress, social isolation, self-destructive behavior or drug addiction. And when someone challenges us, we defend the illusions. We want to be tricked?

The freezer section is chock-a-block full with Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine that we select as meal alternatives for a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Bread is bad. Flour is bad. Butter is evil. Sugar is the new addiction. And these modern TV dinners save us from having to THINK. Yet, they are loaded with sodium, transfats and leave us hungry 2 hours later that we eat something else. But, they comprise a massive component of the food industry.

We watch the talking heads on TV: “reporters” which are often just actors, pundits, politicians, lobbyists and every hawker for a special interest. We let them tell us they are EXPERTS on their issue. Their spew gets propagated, mutated and served up as fact. Where is the TRUTH? Where is the SCIENCE? Where are the hard numbers? Since the economy is not a linear foot race, there is never any clear winner. Sometimes the biggest winner is the guy who places the bet on the front runner failing. This negative mindset is so contrary to the concept of progress, it baffles. We bet a futures market fails? We bet on a big freeze slamming the orange crops. Now we can bet on the box office success or flop of future movies.

All of wealth accumulation seems to hinge on making the good bet. It is not a work….earn….save. It is work (as little as possible), get paid more than you’re worth, buy Lotto and poker, buy on credit, pay the minimum due, live large and save nothing. You can’t take it with you, right? We are all upside down.

Bhutan has a gross happiness index. As a nation, their government measures HAPPINESS. They measure what we measure too….all those economics 101 parameters. But…they care about the souls, the spirit, the emotional wellness of their country. If we apply their ruler to our country, we need electroconvulsive therapy. We are flailing through life as if in a pinball machine, pinging around trying to hit the right winning combination. RUSH. SPEND. CONSUME.

I want to laugh, breathe, rest, share and love. And that combination is contrary to the status quo of the consumer economy.

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