Friday, August 27, 2021

Are We Happy?

The prompt for this blog was that I found my old cell phones stashed in the back of a drawer. For grins, I decided to power them up and surprisingly, they all buzzed and beeped to life. What made me smile was scrolling through the address books and text messages. It was like discovering a forgotten box of letters in an attic. I missed the simplicity of these old phones. Our newer smart phones and their apps make them supreme data collection devices, always eavesdropping, scanning our photos, marking where we are, who we communicate with, what we communicate, what we shop for, etc., etc., etc., We're truly in the age of 1984 but that's a topic for another post.

Every technological leap forward is couched as progress, as a rung on the ladder to utopia. Apple is great at marketing this idea. A bright shinier tomorrow. Happy! Happy! 

But are we? On the individual level, while only speaking for myself, and that makes me the expert, I say yes. Those who are not happy, it's their own fault. In social media, people are always grouching over the imperfections of this and that, mostly in politics and culture. Sometimes, when I point out the need to be positive, especially in your personal life, I get dumped on as either a partisan troll or a delusional fool.

If anyone in this world had a reason to not be happy, it was Helen Keller and here's what she said:

Your success and happiness lies within you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you will form an invincible host against difficulties.

Life is of course, the struggle against difficulties. Though some are seemingly born under a rainbow, nobody gets a pass. One of my favorite Scriptures is from Matthew 5:35 "... for He maketh His sun rise, on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust." In other words, God, the Creator of the universe, is telling you, Life is not fair, so suck it up and smile.

However, there is a rising tide of despair in the developing world and the culprit is the very technology that promises to make us happy. Our interactions with these devices has been engineered to make them addictive and like all addictions, there is a dark side. The advice for good mental health is to unplug and seek affirmation with in-person interactions.

Yesterday, I started thinking on this post and then unexpectedly dreamt about it last night. In this dream I had been invited by the mayor of Denver to participate in a working group in how we could make the city a happier place. The replies turned out to be more practical and less woo-woo. When it was my turn, my suggestion was for everyone to do better at their jobs. We all benefit when things work as they're supposed to, when the busses and trains run on time, to take pride in what you're doing, to be happy as you do so, and if you don't like your job, then find something better and move on. If that advice makes me a troll, then I like my place under this bridge.

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