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Seventh Letter to Uncle Sam


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Seventh Letter to Uncle Sam

4/7/13

Happy Birthday Uncle Sam!

Speaking of happiness and its pursuit, what do you think is the state of this most uniquely American right today, Uncle dear?

Ever since it was enshrined in the constitution by the Founding Fathers, the “pursuit of happiness” has, of course, been ingrained deeply in our national psyche. For most Americans though, happiness simply means one thing: FUN. Not for us, the slow, reflective experience of Old World contentment. What we crave is the buzz of New World excitement, the thrill of doing more, having more, and consuming more. We feel something is wrong with us when we’re not having fun. So for 238 years, the fortunate who roamed the land of the free and the home of the brave successfully hunted happiness -- I mean, fun -- as if it were a herd of bison on the prairie. Unfortunately, like the bison, happiness too may be going extinct or out of reach for many Americans today.

What's the cause of this happiness recession, Almighty Uncle?

The most obvious answer is perhaps money. Many Americans simply don't have enough of the stuff that makes the world go around. Not only do we have less, perhaps for the first time in our national memory, we expect to have less and fear to have even lesser. Adding to our misery, are all those people on Facebook and Twitter who’re constantly telling us they’re doing more, having more, and consuming more. Even if deep down in your heart you know that only one percent of Americans are really rich enough to have unlimited fun, social media sure makes it seem like you’re the onliest biggest loser ever. And that makes happiness seem more elusive to more people today than ever before.

But, Uncle, there’s another important factor contributing to the great happiness recession in the happiest place on earth: the things that make people really happy – satisfying work and fulfilling relationships – are also going out of reach for many of us. So we’re trying to fill the empty hole in our middle by frantically buying stuff we don’t need and by frenetically friending people we don’t like. Is this the pursuit of happiness or the happiness of pursuit our Founding Fathers so artfully enshrined in our constitution, Uncle dear?

Happy Birthday, Wise Seer.

--CK



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