I wrote the jobs post and got some interesting comments from Doug and Jon. They made some valid points. Are people so caught up in the acquisitive life that they cannot be content with a simpler lifestyle—even though studies show that people are happier?
This brought back memories of a book I read. Took a while to find it. This is from one of my first blog posts in early 2004. Much of this is still true today.
Perhaps the most important book that I’ll read this year is “The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse,” by Gregg Easterbrook. Although he cites extensive research to support his thesis, the book is very readable. The first half explores research showing how things have improved over the last century and how people feel about it.
Just stop to think about it, especially if you are older than about 40. We had three bedroom houses with one car. Many people dropped out of high school and few went to college. Now we live in four-bedroom houses and have 2-3 cars, one of which is some sort of hog like an SUV or mini-van. More people are in school. Despite the media hype, test scores really have improved over time.
That last comment brings in one of Easterbrook’s pet complaints. That is, how the media feeds on people’s wish that everything is bad. Even the Weather Channel. Used to be they gave us the weather and the forecast. Now it’s Storm Stories. Recently Jennifer Lopez (meteorologist, not singer) turned to Jim Cantore (OK, so I have too much free time) and asked breathlessly, “So, Jim, how bad is it going to be tomorrow?” Every general media outlet and even some trade publications dwell on the negative.
Recently I saw an article about IT jobs outsourcing to India. If you only read the first two paragraphs, you’d think that there won’t be any IT jobs left in the US within five years. Turns out that the “experts” think that maybe 10 percent of today’s jobs will be sent overseas. A lot less than the hype of the lead paragraphs. Plus, in five years there should be many more jobs created at a higher content. Many of the IT jobs going over there are simply for coding databases. That’s not so terribly high tech any more. The more value added jobs are those working with customers to design databases and portals then managing the projects.
That’s one reason that I never watch TV news, local or national. There’s no depth. Liberal or conservative, it’s really about negativity and sensationalism. I have grown tired of the whole thing. I want real information that I can use or that will help me grow as a person.
Easterbrook then takes most of the last half of the book to discuss various reasons why humans take delight in negative information. Very informative. Recommended.
Gary – I enjoy your blog — have for a while now. Your blogs cover a variety of subject matter – makes things interesting for me and I enjoy your writing. Thanks.
Don't kow who authored this , but I picked it up in the mid 80's while working with Action Instruments and it has served me well.
H=R/E – Happiness equals reality divided by expectation
Thanks for the note, Frank. Appreciate it. That's also a good formula.