I came across a radio interview with Daniel Akst the other day which blew me away! This guy has created a bit of a storm with his views on modern life. I've mentioned him on my ADHD and Aspergers page
Essentially, we live in an age of excess, which is making people incredibly unhappy and unhealthy. Our well-off lifestyle has created sick people. We don't formulate long term goals and work steadily towards them, enjoying that fabulous feeling of achievement when we reach it. No longer do we follow precepts such as restraint, self-denial, frugality, moderation. We obey, blindly, the advertiser's maxim - 'Don't wait, have it now!' There's a lot more to this topic. A powerful podcast interview is available here: interview with Daniel Akst. If we understood how this modern way of thinking affects the lives of the next generation detrimentally we might change the way we behave and the values we espouse. In his book, 'We Have Met the Enemy - Self-Control in an Age of Excess' Daniel describes the modern crisis of super abundance: obesity, diabetes, overspending and addictions. It amazes me how we spend our leisure time in shops, wandering around looking for things to buy, rather than being out there in the world experiencing life!
Daniel says the crux of the crisis is a fundamental inability to control short term impulse for long term goals. In other words, if you've had to fight for it, plan for it, wait for it, then you'll appreciate it so much more and feel a sense of contentment, rather than this constant restless urge to have more stuff. In reality, we don't need much to be content. A comfortable home, enough to eat, sufficient clothes, a reliable car, hobbies, interests, good friends and a loving family.