Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Whine vs. Wealth

Today, I'm being all contemplative and shit, reflecting on something I read this morning. Apparently, French workers are the biggest whiners, while the Dutch are the happiest, according to a new study by the FDS research group. (Does anyone else have a comment on the name? Going once? Going twice? Ah, forget it, it's too easy.)

What made me reflect, however, was that, surprisingly, the Americans were also among the top whiners. It's not surprising that we're whiny--it's just surprising that Britain and Sweden beat us out in terms of whininess. The study found that Americans still had low levels of job satisfaction despite having incomes that were eight times higher than Thailand. (Cost of living did not seem to be factored into this study, which also surprised me.)

I think our dissatisfaction in America comes from something that's unique to us. Yes, we are a whiny bunch when it comes to our jobs, but much of the reason can be attributed to another factor cited in the study, which was the high level of individual competition in the U.S. and Britain. According to the study, Japanese workers, who are also highly competetive, had the lowest morale. You know the saying "the grass is always greener?" We're all miserable because we're comparing ourselves to one another:

"Well, Bob has a brand new Mercedes and a three-bedroom house! I wonder what he pulls down a year..."

"Brynn's husband just bought her a brand-new jacuzzi whirlpool...he just got a promotion."

So it goes...no matter what we have, it's never enough, because someone always has more. And they make sure we know it. How can we not be competetive?

I notice sometimes when I'm with a work group, and we go out to the "trendy, happening" places where the clientele tends to skew younger, I can't help overhearing these folks who are just starting out, talking about all the material things they've acquired, boasting and bragging like those things won't be obsolete in two weeks. So then they can go out and buy more stuff that will be obsolete two weeks later. So then they can go out...well, you get the idea.

The secret to wealth, I heard someone say recently, is living beneath our means--that is, not spending all our money as soon as it's earned, so we can set more aside to save and invest. "The wealthiest ones are not those who have the most, but those who need the least," etc. (Of course, taxes are a whole other topic that we won't get into now...)

I'm glad I finally got past the "thingness" phase. I figured out that "stuff" wears out, so you can't count on it to make you happy forever. Who can keep up with it? So what if people laugh at my car, which I've been driving for over 10 years? It was brand-new once and it's paid off now.

Can they say the same for their pec implants?


Anonymous Ed said...

The only posessions worth having are those of the heart. Things will get old and if they are valuable will be stolen. What is inside of a person is a measure of real worth that can't be taken away. Most people say, "I need a new car because my neighbor got a new one only mine must be better and more expensive." If your car gets you from point a to point b that's all it needs to do.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

And it does! It's the most dependable car I've ever had. That's why I've kept it for so long...

12:43 PM  
Blogger Stephen Rader said...

Aaron - Preach it, brother, preach! There is so much truth in that post, I feel like I'm sitting the back pew of my old Baptist Church!!

...not that Southern Baptists always deal in truth, but... well, you get what I mean...

I would rather be remembered for the love and friendship I gave to others and received from them than for the number of obsolete toys I stockpiled in my house.

As I've been saying recently, "When I die, I don't want people to stand over my casket, look down and say, 'Wow. He had a great resume, didn't he?'"

1:26 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Stephen: my sentiments exactly. Although my fear is that people will be standing over my casket saying, "the tape came loose and one of his chins is sagging again."

That's why I'm getting cremated! :-)

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

They were going to cremate Jerry Falwell but where he is going it is plenty hot already. Self rightousness doesn't carry much weight with the big guy. If you hate your fellow man whether he is gay or straight, Black or white, Jew or Arab, then you don't love God. Heaven is for those who love and don't hate. Amen.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Jason Falls said...

Oh, lovey dovey heart strings my ass. Gimme a winning lottery ticket any day.

I'm a selfish bastard. It is beneath me to live beneath my means.

And deep down, I think we all have a little of me inside.


11:47 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Jason, is there a little Zacky that hasn't yet been beaten out of you yet? :-)

2:16 PM  

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