Throughout recent years, the United States and most of the rest of the countries of the world have struggled with economic recession. Many people believe that more money will bring them more happiness. Ironically, research demonstrates that beyond the necessities, increased wealth is not a predictor of increased happiness. In this regard, I invite you to consider my following paradox.
According to the former president of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Martin Seligman, “our economy is rapidly changing from a money economy to a satisfaction economy.” Well before Seligman’s observation, however, the Amish seem to have understood the importance of this emphasis. The Amish lifestyle represents a subculture within American society that is the antithesis of capitalism.
Amazingly, it is suggested that their departure from Americana actually contributes to their overall level of happiness. In recent years, author Jonah Lehrer has highlighted the fact that the Amish’s rates of depression are more than ten fold lower than the rest of the American population. The Amish appear to place more emphasis upon the depth, quality and nature of their relationships. Within the Amish community, for example, if a neighbor’s roof is damaged in a storm, the community is likely to arrive the next day to volunteer its assistance with the repairs. Sadly, within American society, many people do not even know their neighbors.
In consideration of these ideas, I suggest that perhaps a simple restructuring of priorities can help Americans and others throuhout the world to find their happiness within a distressed economy.