As a child of the post-World War II generation, life was relatively simple. Built on a mixture of social and family values, for the most part, times were pretty austere.
Over the decades we have witnessed a steady rise in living standards with massive leaps in how we have lived with the accumulation of wealth in some form or another.
Social structures existed around strong communities and vigorous communication, this was achieved by verbal means ensuring there were always avenues of support available when required by the individual. A strong element of realism and humour existed.
Nevertheless, I accept there is a tendency to cover ourselves in a blanket of sentimentality when remembering those times, we tend to forget life was generally not exactly a bed of roses.
What cannot be denied we seemed to take a lot more joy and derived a high level of happiness from life even though possessing very little? The welfare of people was at the centre of community thinking. It has also to be acknowledged we laid the foundation stone for some grave mistakes in thinking and practice, which are coming to light today.
My generation laments the passing of those decades of simple living and there are still many who hold on to the hope they are not completely gone forever.
Some of the most commonly spoken phrases one can hear are “It was never like that in my day’ or “It would never happen in my time”.
Well, we have to face the reality that it is no longer “our day”, and those times have been consigned to history.
What people are experiencing today does not bear any resemblance to the past. The times are just not comparable but we continue to believe there is merit in the discussion on the subject.
Of course, the world has always has had its problems and always will, it is the nature of our existence but one has to acknowledge our current plight in terms of the number of complex and seemingly intractable issues we are facing are extremely worrying.
One might blame our predicament on an imbalance between prioritising financial issues over social need. The inexorable growth of technology and innovation changing the landscape of employment. The alternative methods of communication changing the way we interact. The misuse and abuse of power and man’s preponderance for greed or our seeming disregard for the welfare of our planet.
There can be in no doubt the social implications have been colossal, the way we approach life has completely changed and although many have achieved material wealth our general feeling of happiness and wellbeing has diminished.
Wherever one chooses to lay blame, one thing is indisputable, we have evolved into a very fractious and unhappy society.
I cannot offer readers a Mary Poppins moment and suggest everything will work out fine that is not going to happen, we have come too far down the road to reverse the some of the damage we have and are doing to ourselves and others.
For many of my generation, these modern times are extremely distressing and our failure to come to terms with the rapid changes is all too plain to see. Although quite frankly it is hard to imagine we cannot be a positive force to the transition to this new world and act as a steadying hand on the tiller.
It has been proven time and time again to ignore experience has very negative consequences for the people following that generation. Unfortunately, there is strong evidence we are seeing that mistake being made again.
The eternal optimist in me sees signs that suggest the upcoming generations want to ironically return to an environment where we achieve a more balanced, fairer life. Having seen the direction the world has taken with disastrous results they reject the notion they should follow that path themselves.
I would add a note of caution that those idealistic aspirations will take a massive commitment by those individuals to achieve success and they themselves will be required to modify their own actions currently being employed.
The process of finding happiness starts and ends with the individual.
First of all, we need to establish that finding happiness does not mean the abandonment of work, it may mean changing direction but it is really examining about what is right for you and suits your individual circumstances.
What is important to you and how this can be achieved in your life?
This may come across as trite to some but how can you personally make a contribution to happiness both within your sphere of influence and beyond.
Recognising by applying a small amount of support to others you can have a big influence on their lives. Bothering to intently listen to others concerns and issues, something we know for certain is in marked decline.
By the way it is impossible to achieve happiness every day just maintain a balance like most things in life.
One should be under no illusion this is a massive departure how we operate today but what is staring us in the face are a set of circumstances which does not result in a happy ending for any of us.
Any improvement will not happen overnight but we are receiving strong messages that people have come to the conclusion that material wealth will not solely complete their lives.