In search of that elusive elixir: joie de vivre, I stumbled upon this BBC article which unviels the five happiest places in the UK, according to research from the government.
Tellingly all five are in remote regions – far from large, sprawling, commercial hubs; environments offering a simpler way to live, a sense of community, less industry, concrete and wide, open, green spaces.
But, we knew this already didn’t we? Or do we? Happiness seems to be far harder to achieve here in the West, despite the fact that we literally have everything we could ever possibly need, and some; and, in fact, some more – frothy milk anyone?
We strive to look right on the outside, yet can feel utterly desolate and confused on the inside. Living in a materialistic society makes it difficult to understand our role within it. Our choices are constantly motivated by consumerism – products the marketers create to help us establish our, apparent, uniqueness.
As child education expert and author Sue Barker says in her fabulous book, 21st Century Girls; “Visual media demonstrated how products can define identity; they teemed with images of successful new men and women, attractively dressed, carefully coiffed, driving smart cars, eating exotic food, and living in swish designer homes. So we concentrate on earning enough money to pay for the perfect lifestyle, clinging to the belief that this would make everything come right in the end.”
She goes on to describe how family life has turned into family lifestyle…yikes.
However, this is not our faults; this is the product of us all coping in what is an increasingly global, capitalist world.
But we can make choices based on creating a simple family life rather than a family lifestyle. We find it easier to read the marketers message – a message that our children cannot decipher between.
It is easy to fill our children’s lives with gadgets, toys and screens, it is hard to say no. Yet we need to to help our children have lives and not lifestyles, not just now but when they become adults in this progressively faster technology-based world we inhabit.