The United States is a country built on the near worship of economic growth, personal integrity, and ingenuity. Think of the icons of industry in the early 1900s, to the financial wizards of the 80s, and now, today’s kings of technology. Constant and steady growth in both large and small businesses alike was the aim, constantly reinforced and rewarded above all else; above health, above education, above even the laws of the land. As an American you, like me, were probably raised to believe it’s the responsibility of the individual to focus on achievement and making something of yourself for your family and your own retirement. Most of us were taught that it’s not the responsibility of the state, not the community, not even your friends or family in most situations; it is all on you. You alone are responsible for your success or failure. You alone are responsible for your own happiness. However, I am noticing a growing number of people intentionally trained to confuse happiness with contentment.
Contentment is an easier sell than joy or happiness. Contentment is cool. It requires no effort and no work. Happiness takes effort, sometimes lots of it. Happiness requires positive mindful action, confronting your fears, facing recurring difficult situations, and the willingness to have courageous conversations with your peers or employers when required. The growth of the cult of contentment parallels the growing sophistication of the message delivering it. We’ve all been sold comfort for the past three generations, as we bought bigger houses, separated further and further from each other into the suburbs, bought bigger and bigger flat screens, more movies, faster computers and take-out tacos or Chinese. It’s easy.
You alone are
responsible for your success
You alone are
for your own happiness.
Comfort, in contrast to happiness, makes you compliant. The American public is becoming docile and complacent. We’re obese and feel entitled. When we travel, we look for giant hotels that will insulate and pamper us from the locals, rather than for authentic cultural experiences that might challenge our perspectives and help us grow as individuals. Depression and anxiety disorders are soaring in America. Our inability to confront anything unpleasant around us—in thought, word, or deed—has resulted in a nation of the entitled where one simply melts in the face of opposing thought (think snowflake) or is desperate to find the next safe space, as though safe spaces exist in the world. Comfort disconnected us from what actually drives happiness: quality relationships, unique experiences, self-validation, and achieving one’s personal goals. It’s easier to watch a NASCAR race on television and tweet about it, or post about it on Facebook, than to actually get out and try something new and different with a friend—God forbid you actually go to the race.
The American public is
becoming docile and
and feel entitled.
Unfortunately, a by-product of our massive commercial success is that, like the Turkish Pashas just before World War I, we’re able to avoid the essential emotional skirmishes of life and indulge in all the easy, shallow pleasures delivered to our doorsteps by Apple TV or Amazon Direct. Throughout history, every dominant civilization eventually failed because it became TOO comfortable. What made it powerful and unique grows out of proportion and consumes the values of society. What made it strong and successful now makes it weak and open to decay. What made the people strong and ingenious now makes them decadent and wasteful. I think this is now becoming the case for contemporary American society. Growing majorities are complacent, entitled and for the most part mentally and physically unhealthy. My kids’ generation is the first generation of Americans who will likely be worse off than their parents, economically, physically, and emotionally. That being said, how many plan their path out of this malaise to earn their success? How many have been taught to just sit back and say:
“Please Sir, I want some more…”
every dominant civilization
it became TOO comfortable.
Pay attention—this is not due to a lack of resources, to a lack of educational opportunities, or to a lack of ingenuity. It’s the result of institutional corruption and personal complacency. It is character. The character corruption comes, in large part, from the self-maintaining organizations that control—from The Heritage Foundation to George Soros—our government’s policies, and the flabby contentment of the people while they sit around and let it happen regardless of their political affiliation.
There is an endless list of things I love about my country. I don’t hate it here and I still vote at every opportunity. But I think this greatest flaw of American culture—our self-absorption—is killing us one character value at a time. One person at a time… one crushed child at a time, one missed opportunity to achieve success at a time. Historically, as our nation grew insulated by two oceans from the world, this kind of thing only hurt other, more mature, nations. But now with our international market place, instant communications and endless quarterly reports, it’s starting to hurt us.
And your desire to argue with my points rather than to give them some thought is only the simplest of demonstrations of my truth.
So as you go out into the world today be careful in the sunshine…it melts snowflakes.
SPEAK WITH A LIFE COACH IN BATON ROUGE
Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.