Friday, January 2, 2009

Why I'm just chipper about the economy

So, enough of toss pillows and dishware for awhile. How about the economy?

Social psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky in a recent New York Times Op-Ed piece explains why I have trouble getting down about the world financial crisis.

"Because the news these days affects everyone, " she writes. "We care more about social comparison, status and rank than about the absolute value of our bank accounts or reputations. . . . In a world in which just about all of us have seen our retirement savings and home values plummet, it’s no wonder that we all feel surprisingly O.K."

Sonja's got my number. In fact, I'm not just OK, I'm downright giddy. I don't even have a retirement savings nor do I own a home. Now I've got all kinds of company down here at the bottom of several socio-economic indicators. We should throw a party. (I'll bring the lentils and off-brand soda.)

On the other hand, Gallup's annual Lifestyle Poll, conducting just a month, ago says our personal satisfaction rating is the lowest it's been since 1992. Lest you think this is because big hair is coming back (the major reason I could think of for life dissatisfaction in 1992), that's the year Gallup started this poll.

For all you newbie broke people out there, speaking as a person who's been broke since Brad met Jennifer, I'll testify that being lower income can be fun.

(Before Jeffery Sachs jumps down my throat, I'd like to take a moment to define being broke versus being poor versus being dirt poor.
  • Poor is being forced to live in a high-crime neighborhood because you can't afford rent anywhere else.
  • Dirt poor is eating corn kernels blown off trucks, like Zimbaweans are doing right now.
  • Broke is not having a cell phone because you refuse to pay for the service. Which is also cheap. (Unless you don't have a cell phone because the service is expensive and you think cell phones cause memory loss, which is frugal and perhaps prudent. Or unless you don't want to pay for cell phone service and you think that when you are away from home you should be attending to your environment, not speaking in a very loud voice to your own head, which is frugerati.) But I digress.)
In her blog post How To Remain Happy When the Financial World Crumbles, Sonja says the happiest people take a bad situation and turn it into a transformative experience. And that's the whole point of this blog. We bromeliads take being broke as a challenge, one that inspires ingenuity and creativity.

And if that doesn't cheer us up, there are always new toss pillows at Target.

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