The Smaller Richer Life

from the New York Times: In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less

This is the best news possible to end a decade which Paul Krugman declared to be “the decade where nothing went right”.  That’s a pretty strong statement, but he’s pretty justified in the macro-scale.  Here we are facing the biggest threat since the human population was in the triple-digits, and we can’t even agree to do something about it!

And then a tiny ray of hope, the unprompted move towards a smaller richer life.

I have long believed that this was the next step.  Psychologists have found that experiences make us happier than things, for the most part; and going by even the most basic understanding of happiness economics, we should seek that which maximizes authentic (i.e. sustainable) happiness.  While no one in power is saying we need to remake our economic models to reflect a truer understanding of utility and go by happiness metrics rather than the positively insane accounting measures like GDP (making a mess then cleaning it up counts for extra spending = more ‘good’).

So I was very surprised to read this article, which says that we’re moving towards a more experiential life, slowly and for many, unconsciously.  Colin Beavan talked about this in No Impact Man, how he became happier by cutting off the technological lines and spending more time connecting with friends and family.  While his case is a little extreme, it’s still informative.

So, for 2010, I’ll have to keep practicing what I’m preaching here, and do more fun stuff!


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