Many of my sims enjoy painting and decorating their homes with their own paintings. Me, I enjoy playing The Sims and decorating my journal with my screenshots. ^_^
I am not really a pessimist on behalf of civilization. I think it is entirely possible that by 2050, there will be 9 billion humans who are richer than I am today, eating whatever they want, traveling wherever they want, having more entertainment than we can even imagine today. Why not? The arrow is certainly pointing in that direction, and has done so for generations, and change is happening faster and faster.
But there is also the possibility that some critical resource will run out and there won’t be any obvious replacements. Actually, we know that many of our resources will run down over the next generation: Oil, gas, probably coal, and some metals. Freshwater in some areas, various types of terrain probably. As of today, alternatives are more expensive or less effective, which is why they haven’t already replaced the original. This may continue, and we would then end up with a world which is simply more expensive to run, so to speak.
Unless there is some kind of breakthrough (or breakdown), this is where we are headed, a world where most of the world’s population competes on roughly the same playing field as we for resources that are limited either in quantity or quality. This is not a disaster exactly, but it means there is a good chance we will have to scale back our expectations of becoming richer and richer year by year. Is that really such a horror? Until a few generations ago, the whole world was what we now call “third world”. Your ancestors and mine included. Even if we never get to take a trip to the moon, as my 10 year old self expected to do, we have much to be grateful for.
The value of material peak experiences is highly overrated.
People look forward for years to retirement, when they will do everything they did not have time for while working. A few months after they retire, most have scaled down their ambitions, and quite a few wish they were still at work. (And their family members wish it even more!)
People save up for years to go on a particularly rare vacation, and look forward to it with ever mounting expectation. The actual experience is usually pretty good, but nothing like the excitement in advance. It is like that with pretty much anything. A new car, a new house, marriage, divorce – while you usually don’t quite regret them, the awesomeness you waited for is nowhere to be found. Wherever you go, you still bring yourself with you, and this is the main part of every experience. Your self colors all you experience. It is the most important part of your life, so be sure to make it the best self you can.
Once you see through the fallacy of the wonderful peak experience, and are willing to settle for 95% happiness every day instead of 100% happiness “someday”, a lot of options open up. Everyday things can get you that far: A hobby that allows self-expression, spending time with friends, perhaps pets, or books. These need not cost a fortune, and you need not travel far for them.
Do you really think you should be number one? In the prehistoric time of scarcity, it may have been important. If you were not at the top, there might not be enough food for you, or you might not get to choose a suitable mate. Today? There is already more food in the world than needed for the world’s population; if you read this on the Internet, your problem is more likely to be too much food than too little. As for mating … I hope that depends on other things than being number one, now.
Once you let go of the need to be number one, life becomes so much easier. We don’t need the newest and best, we can enjoy whatever works, and can find happiness in simple things that don’t impress anyone but are enjoyable to ourselves.
Free yourself from the need to impress others, and you have a lot more time to do the things you really want to do. Which are those? They are the ones you wish you had chosen when you reach the end of your life. That is when you no longer feel the need to impress anyone, no longer wear a mask, when you are finally yourself. Why not start earlier?
We don’t need to be rich or famous to be ourselves. We just have to be honest. It is not easy, but it is affordable. Less pursuit and more happiness.