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Why aren't we happy?

Continuing my reading of Gregg Easterbrook's book, The Progess paradox, I run across this:

"Ninety-five percent of American dwellings are now centrally heated, versus 15 percent in our grandparent's generation; 78 percent have air conditioning, versus essentially zero then......But the premise of contemporary American life is that everyone should at all times be as comfortable as physically possible; how could anyone possibly stand a too-warm house ten days per year when calls to air conditioning contractors and to the bank's home-improvement loan office can change this?......There is nothing wrong, and much right, with seeking utmost comfort; the only real objection is that billions around the world have far more basic needs that go unmet." pp. 18-19

I woke up this morning and it is 10 degrees F out side and the gas furnace is purring away and it is a toasty 62 degrees inside and has been all night as I slept like a baby.

Every now and then, I thank God for what I have. I have to remind myself that I am happy and have nothing to complain about.

Easterbrook's thesis is that our perception of circumstances that make us happy is all relative. Happiness does not come from external circumstances but from our personal meaning that we make from our awareness of those circumstances. As the mystics have taught us the best frame of mind for us to cultivate that would make us truly happy would be attitudes of gratitude and compassion. And the best way to cultivate the attitudes of gratitude and compassion would be to take care of ourselves and then our neighbor.

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