First world problems: Bigger than you think…

First world problems: I’ve got a few of these. I tend to brush them off or feel ashamed when I talk about them. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t cause me a great deal of discomfort and pain.

First world problems are deeply important because in a few decades from now millions more people will have these very same problems. So, what are they? Here are some of them:

  1. Money only buys happiness up to a point. After that you need something else. The real problem here is that too many people don’t know what that ‘something else’ is; they only know about money so they become stuck in their dissatisfaction.
  2. Stress. The world’s most productive economies are also the most stressed. Think of the US. After financial services, healthcare is the second biggest contributor to GDP. Sounds great, but the reality is feeding the GDP monster in this way requires a sick population. GDP is about wealth and progress, but progress and wealth (as measured by GDP) isn’t about wellbeing. This is the perfect example of how the wrong measures drive intended outcomes in the short-term, but unintended outcomes in the long-term. #WellbeingEconomy #HowWillYouMeasureYourLife
  3. Property prices. The more first world a country is, the more expensive it becomes to own a home – your very own place of safety. The more affordable a home, the longer commuting times become. The longer the commuting time, the more the stress. The more the stress, the more the unhappiness. You get the point. This is the cycle of despair and ultimately death.
  4. Tiredness. First world people are exhausted. Many of them are insomniacs. Neuroscience tells us that for our brains to function at their very best, we need 5 x 90-minute sleep cycles. This is 7,5 hours of good quality sleep a night. Are you getting that. Tiredness leads to obesity and other health issues when we become too tired to cook and too tired for physical activity.
  5. Relationships. The richer the country, the higher the divorce rates. And what about the high percentages of the unhappy undivorced?
  6. Loneliness. This is a curious and undesirable side effect of wealth creation. Social networks matter: Tight bonds of friendship and love extend our lives, heal us, help us to learn and remember and make us happy. #VillageEffect
  7. Ugliness. Just look around you. See how nature’s beauty has been devastated and replaced by soulless concrete, glass, tar, neon lights and billboards.

You might also want to read or listen to:

  1. Wellbeing Economy: Success in a World Without Growth by Lorenzo Fioramonti
  2. The Village Effect: Why Face-to-Face Contact Matters by Susan Pinker
  3. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

Watch this School of Life YouTube clip for how we might begin to change this all:

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