PEOPLE FELT RICHER in the 1950s
when houses averaged 1100 square feet than they do now,
when they average 2000 square feet. There were no VCRs, no microwaves,
no cable TV, no PCs, no video games, hardly any dishwashers,
and in most homes only the father brought in an income. Yet according
to surveys, our reported level of happiness peaked in 1957 and
has gone down as our level of wealth has gone up.
The reason is simple: You and I dont
need much to be happy. Most of us are doing too much, working
too hard, trying to make enough money. But it costs
us time. And after a certain point a point we have all
passed a long time ago you get less and less happiness
for more and more expenditure of time to earn money. And that
is time taken away from time spent with your loved ones, where
a good deal of happiness does come from. Those moments
of simple human interaction talking, playing a game, taking
a walk, cooking together those are the real riches of
Youve been exposed to a barrage of
advertising, something like a million ads by the time youre
twenty. And those advertising people are experts on human nature.
Theyve read all the studies showing what influences people,
and they carefully design their advertisements to pull your attention
and then to convince you their product would make you happy.
They have been trying to manipulate your values since you were
a kid. Theyve been trying to get you to believe having
things is what will make you happy.
Most of us are way too busy, and thats
just perfect as far as the advertisers are concerned. Were
out working to earn more money so we have more to spend on products.
If we would learn to curb our desire for so much stuff, we wouldnt
have to work as much, so wed be able to spend more unscheduled
time with our loved ones.
You already know this, Im sure. But
the more you hear something the more of an impact it will make
on your feelings and behavior. Ask any advertiser.
You want more time? You want more enjoyment?
There is a way, but it will require a little discipline: Do
without. Youll be a lot richer.
Remind yourself you dont
need much to be happy.