When you reach a certain age it’s only natural you start thinking: “My times were the best times.” We shouldn’t need a psychiatrist to explain why. Of course once you segue from cheering your times to openly jeering today’s times, well now you’ve become the proverbial grouchy old man.
And yet, there’s a lot in today’s times to be grouchy about. The Atlantic recently published a report from the World Health Organization which found a whopping 31% of Americans suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder in the course of their lifetime. In itself that may be no surprise, but here’s the kicker. That is five times the anxiety rate among people in the Third World such as Nigeria and the Philippines.
A grouchy old man from 2000 years ago took a shot at explaining this. Seneca wrote to his fellow Romans: “No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first been deceived by prosperity.” The old grouch wrote that long before our own Rockefeller’s, Trumps, and Kardashians, suggesting that age may indeed grant a person wisdom.
Seneca wasn’t the only grouch to imply the “natural man” is happier than the rich man. Aquinas, Rousseau, Thoreau, Gauguin and Woody Guthrie are among those who have sung or painted the praises of the simple life.
Is either of our presidential candidates a good example of the simple life? According to the Los Angeles Times, this year’s political advertising will take about $10 billion in our presidential and congressional campaigns. All that money from all those rich supporters and PACs to convince all the Joe-the-plumbers that their guys stand for the little guy!
Can you imagine what $10 billion would do for our economy right now…? I mean, besides helping some rich guys convince the rest of us that being rich isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And while Seneca would agree, he couldn’t be faulted for asking: “Exactly how many of the candidates this year are poor? Living the simple life? Understanding the rest of us?”
Being a grouch is an acquired taste that comes with age. But there’s a price to be paid. All the anxiety that comes with finally understanding just how much there is to be grouchy about.
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