I’m sure you’ve read the article that everyone else has about how your happiness increase until you make $75,000. This was touted as a “good thing” by many, although I’m not sure why, because I have quite a lot of friends who don’t make $75,000 (I never have!) and it’s bizarre to think that others who make that much are quantitatively “more happy” than I am even though the particulars of my life are not known! Never having made $75,000, according to these economists I could be a happier person if I made more money! To that I have to say “Ouch!–that’s harsh!” as well as “That’s just an easy answer being fed to us by an economist who’s bound to believe by his value structure (as well as job for that matter) that a monetary value is tied to one’s well being!” I mean if I did a job that didn’t resonate with who I am, or in fact conflicted with my values, and I made $75,000, would I be happier than if I made, say, half that, but I loved my job?
All of this discussion, as well as recent events in my life, have made me toy with the idea of going freegan. I almost joined a meetup group for it! I had second thoughts when it came to whether or not I have what it takes to be a good dumpster diver, but it’s still there in the back of my head as something to consider. I’m by no means a socialist, but nor do I think capitalism, and especially rampant consumerism, has all the answers. The internet and information society we now live in I believe has upped ante of how much people think they should “have” and what return they should get on their investments on a yearly basis. Gone are the days of slow, solid growth. Now people expect instant wealth in addition to instant love found on social networking and internet dating sites. It’s no wonder so many Ken Lays and Harvard plagiarists have cropped up in the last decade!
What does this all have to do with the upcoming Saturn conjunction with the Sun this coming Thursday, September the 30th? Well Saturn isn’t going to let you get away with any easy answers! And I believe this $75,000 study that was done constitutes an example of the “easy” answers that society wants to give us. I mean, I’m sure this Daniel Kahneman is a nice guy. I might even like to hang with him, have a chilled rose at some bar and discuss the world economy sometime. But just because he’s a Nobel Laureate doesn’t mean he has all the answers! In fact, maybe he doesn’t even have any answers–at least for you or me!
Putting a number on happiness, even if it’s a low number by some people’s standards, is a misleading thing to do! It bespeaks of a mindset that sees the world as things to be bought and sold! I fully admit to never studying economics, although I do like to keep up and read articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, but the whole notion that we have to keep buying and making more and more things in order for our economy to expand and everyone to make more and more money is just bizarre to me! It should seem obvious that at some point, people will just have too much stuff, and revolt and want to run away to a zen monastery and then the economy will collapse (or in our most recent history, you’ll have a housing bubble because you overvalued a thing, and then the economy will collapse when people can’t afford said thing or realize it’s just not worth it!).
The Saturn conjunct Sun transit on the 30th will not bring easy answers. We will not be able to say that if I only do X, Y will result. Life is often too complicated for simple equations to describe it. Finding your own answers is something that everyone has to do, and Saturn teaches us through discipline to do just that. Keeping up with the Joneses, or listening to someone that a number on one’s tax returns is going to make one happier won’t give you the answers that you need. Remember that in many ways, only you can make yourself happy, and happier. Your values get exercized when you make choices. We’ll have lots to think about during the upcoming Venus Retrograde in terms of values, starting October the 8th and lasting through November the 18th. But the Sun conjunct Saturn is all about whether or not you’re being real with yourself! Take some time this week to think about what would really make you happier, and don’t put a dollar number in your answer!