Carlene wrote a thought-provoking post this morning, about the things we get used to. She describes how happy she was in the early 70s, in spite of having so little money. So what things am I taking for granted that weren't around in the 70s?
Well, in the 70s, I was a youngster at school. We did not have TV in the house, and it did not make an appearance until 1980. So we had this valve-radio, tuned into radio plays and the news. It kept us occupied on dark winter's nights. I am one of three siblings, and we'd play card games, board games, you name it. Mum and dad read books to us, or we would go to the library and come back with stacks of books to read ourselves. We had a record-player, on which a limited collection of 33 or 45 rpm vinyl records would be played. You first had to plug the player into the radio with a DIN-standard connector. Personal computers? We had barely heard of computers; my uncle worked for IBM and he had to process those cards with holes punched into them. A far cry from the 32 GB flashdrives I see for sale in the shops these days. My dad did not own a car, as his office was only a mile and a half down the road, so he jumped on his pushbike for 38 years. Going on holiday meant jumping on the train for a couple of hours, then on the ferry for 2 more hours and be in a holiday cottage in the dunes by the seaside. No radio there at all. Gathering pine cones to fire the heater. And going to the toilet in a separate toilet block, outside. Our holiday was at Easter, so it was freezing at night. Foreign holidays did not commence until we were all at secondary school (high school) in the mid 70s.
I sometimes marvel at the things that are almost deemed compulsory. Like this machine that I spend so (too?) much time on. Music centres, compact discs, DVDs, televisions, laptops, desktops, palmtops, internet capable mobiles (that's what I call a waste of money). Christmas is 4 weeks away, and the adverts make me reach for the anti-emetics already. Why is it necessary to spend hundreds of pounds or dollars or euros on Christmas presents? Won't something less expensive not do the job as well? I have seen small kids nearly drowning in toys; I am a Tom and Jerry fanatic, so the kiddies channel that they appear on also showers me with toy adverts. Toys that kids, I'm sure, are bored with within one minute flat. I did not have acres of floorspace taken up with toys when I was little. But I was quite happy and content with the likes of Lego, that I did not abandon until well into my teens.
Money cannot buy you happiness. It sure makes life easier if you have more of it. Possessions do not make you happy per se, although, again, they can make life easier. You can be quite happy yet be as poor as a church mouse, like Carlene was when she married Danny. And you can be as rich as Solomon, yet be as miserable as anything.