Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 14 No. 5 • November 2011

The journey of a thousand miles begins by finding your shoes.
— Lao-Tzu (first century BC)

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Sign in a Japanese amusement park: Those who suffer from high blood pressure, mental disease, horrifying of heights, and liquor heads are refused.
— (Above two found in the 2012 Anguished English Desk Calendar)

I know you lawyers can, with ease Twist words and meanings as you please.
— Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1740)

The mass of the law is, to be sure, accumulating with an almost incredible rapidity ... It is impossible not to look without some discouragement upon the ponderous volumes, which the next half century will add to the groaning shelves of our jurists.
— Joseph Story (1779-1845) Address before Suffolk Bar, Sept. 4, 1821

Shrinking Future Options During a Period of Economic Decline:
Can Money Buy Happiness?

We were thinking about what a tremendous difference it makes to your sense of well-being and happiness when future opportunities shrink because of general economic decline. It may be true that (as indicated by some scientific studies), at least once you reach a certain level of wealth such that you needn’t be concerned with the basic needs of shelter and food, increasing income doesn’t add much (or nearly as much) to happiness as it does when your wealth is below the basic level of sustenance. However, it occurred to us that a major effect that loss of opportunity to increase wealth has is to limit future options and, thus, to shrink the future. Just as youth is generally thought of as an open door to an expandable future (as compared to middle or old age), so wealth also opens the way to myriad future options that would otherwise be unavailable.

We were thinking about those who have saved enough wealth so that they needn’t be too concerned about a foreseeable even fairly near term economic collapse in the United States, at least in terms of their basic survival and even allowing for fairly comfortable living. What effect would the general deterioration in economic conditions have on the well-being and happiness of these pretty well off people? We realized that it would dramatically reduce the sense of an open future associated with a vibrant free economy such as the United States has long been and that the sense of an open future is an important part of happiness. Yet, if one were able to develop sources of increased income, it would greatly mitigate this sense of a lost open future and, hence, ameliorate the loss of happiness that accompanies a shrunken future.

So, yes, money can buy happiness in a very real and very important sense.

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