What if the world was happy? Like seriously happy. September 10th, 2001? Before 9/11? Before Trump announced his candidacy? Before the God Particle was found? Before the housing crash of 2008? WHEN WERE THINGS BETTER?
I allege the world is unhappy. The lottery of post-Covid people waiting to return to normalcy has been robbed by its continued global contamination; regardless if you think it's gone, it ain't. The ongoing war with Russia and Ukraine, and many other things, prevent us from returning to the world as it was in 2019, before B.L.M., and before America's cities burned, before transgender sports.
We lost the world's funniest man to suicide, and so we don't mention him or show his movies anymore. Before our homes became our prisons and we were forced to watch a global pandemic coughing itself around the world. Maintaining a pure heart and truly being comfortable in today's world has been increasingly hard. You almost have to be a goddamn nun threshing cannabis in a cohort.
Anyone who is visibly happy these days is suspect. There's just too much negativity out there to be Mary Poppins 24/7.
What would it take to make the world happy again?
What if we suspended our belief we were returning to the past where we felt safer? What was so good about 2019? Well, we respected the police, for one. We weren't as racist until the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police ignited the racist powderkeg. And B.L.M. picked up the bill and walked away with the cash, dragging the name George Soros into our lexicon.
We didn't believe the world could be locked in their homes as a plague raced around the world, giving us flu-like symptoms yet making us wave goodbye to loved ones from outside hospital windows. Then it did. Depression reigned as lonely people ran out of TV shows to binge on. These last three years, too many of us have let social coercion and fear drive us to dictate what we say aloud, say to close friends, and even what we think. Seriously, I don't even think we need a king anymore.
According to a new World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey, on average, 59% of people expect something like 'normal' will return within the next 12 months. We really believe in a return to 2019, as if that was 'normal.' The world had had three years of Trump. I'd say a return to normal we'd at least need to go back to 2015 before Donald Trump announced his candidacy. A meme during the 2020 lockdown laughed at anyone with a five-year plan. I concur; the gravity of the coronavirus has sucked most people into a new form of reality. We've all accessed a way of new and significant thought, illustrated by our media circus.
We were as naïve in 2019 as we were on September 10th, 2001, the day before people flew planes into buildings on LIVE TV. Our innocence was shattered. I can prove to you how innocent we were. Here is the original webpage for McDonald's in 1996. This is where our minds were at, and this was our level of sophistication:
That is the average 2001 person's mentality that got hit a few years later on September 11th. We were a race of children. A child became a man that day. A little girl became a woman - just like that. Imagine the people we were in 1996 using THIS kind of "simple" internet. Today we'd say it was designed by children.
We were a young and innocent world. It's almost offensive to see how the internet has grown around us, what we're used to about today's internet, and how it envelopes itself through our psyche. If you understand one thing from this article, it is that the internet grew up too fast, too loose, and too mean. And therein lies your biggest problems, what happened and how you found out about it; then, if it was even true!
Look at the family on the webpage above. They seem happy. Genuinely happy to visit McDonald's. It was a cheap alternative before it became an expensive one. A cheeseburger in a blender will taste the same but have fewer takers. Every day, 7% of the US eats at McDonald’s. In Iceland, a Big Mac costs $5.50. We need McDonald's work and strategy to bring us to their restaurants. We need clean architecture, polyurethane slides for kids, and hamburger science. In America, you will see an average of 500 advertisements a day. We needed Wendy's and Burger King holding McDonald's feet to the fire. It was 1996, after all. Tupac was still alive, Princess Diana was still alive, Kobi Bryant was signed by the Utah Jazz, and everybody under 30 wanted a "Tickle Me Elmo."
Contrast McDonald's 1996 foray into the electronic realm - to today's 2023 iteration of the CGI-washed, 4K, dynamic LED Hi-Def McD's flashy app on your iPhone 14 and its dizzying screens begging your thumb to click on more choices of cheap and innutritious dopamine-laden Happy Meals.
On September 11th, 2001, two hijacked planes smashed into the World Trade Center towers, the largest in the world, and over two hours, brought them to smoking husks, with thousands dead. If you look at the panic caught on video in those dizzying hours, you see the cars we drove, the clothes we wore, the fashion products we thought were fashionable. 2001 footage is locked into a time machine.
But nothing mattered in the moments the buildings fell; not what you earned, not who your daddy was, and not what you had for breakfast. It only mattered that you got safely to a place from where you could say, "Oh my God..." These were the prerequisites for surviving 9/11. Then you tried calling so-and-so to tell them your harrowing story, where you were, what you saw. And slowly, we emerged as a new caste of people.
Seriously, we are almost a new breed of humans compared to 2001. And I don't even recognize the happy family walking into the 1996 McDonald's website. I don't recall that naivety we had stored up as things that made "this year's 1996" worth remembering. I don't care to dig up a 1996 time machine. It can only serve to embarrass us. Five years later, that child-like smirk was smacked off our faces, and we were under attack.
Travel got tighter. Airline travel got ridiculous. Policies changed to detriments, cockpit doors were reinforced, travel took twice as long as we all had to take our shoes off, and Homeland Security was created to keep us safer. People scoured. Who could you trust? We had seen armageddon writ large in downtown Manhatten. Suddenly we were at war with old men half a world away who didn't use computers but traded handheld notes and rode bicycles. And they didn't have McDonald's.
We grew racist against people we weren't really racist against before. Naturally, few Afghani people were in the American limelight. Everyone from the Middle East was suspect. An innocent knapsack forgotten on some school steps was destroyed by the town's convenient anti-bomb disposal unit forces. CCTV cameras went up to catch the country should anything mischievous go down.
We matured! We forfeited human rights so that our shores and skies would be protected. We used our flip-phones to start what would be the electronic, human leash as the iPhone was released six years later. And we haven't looked back except to gasp. Who were those people in 1996, and what were their lives like?
How different is the past from the present?
Comparing the ease of the past to the present is subjective and depends on various factors. Certain aspects of life may have been easier in the past, while others are more convenient now.
Communication has significantly improved with modern technology. Instant messaging, emails, video calls, and social media platforms have made communication faster and more accessible compared to the reliance on mail, telegrams, and landline telephones in the past.
Access to information has undergone a transformation with the advent of the internet. Searching for knowledge previously required extensive library research or consultation with experts. Nowadays, search engines and online databases provide quick and convenient access to a vast amount of information.
Technological advancements have simplified many tasks. Household appliances, transportation, healthcare, and other areas have seen significant improvements, making daily life easier and more efficient.
Work processes have been streamlined through automation and technology, leading to increased productivity in some industries. However, this has also brought challenges such as job displacement and the need for ongoing upskilling to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology.
Global connectivity has expanded with advancements in transportation and communication. Traveling between countries has become more accessible and affordable, offering opportunities to explore different cultures. Additionally, globalization has opened up markets for exchanging goods and services across borders.
While technological advancements have brought numerous benefits, they have also introduced new challenges. Information overload, online privacy concerns, cybercrime, and environmental degradation are some of the issues that present unique difficulties in today's era.
It's important to note that perceptions of the past can be influenced by nostalgia and selective memory. Different individuals and generations may hold contrasting views on whether life was easier or more challenging in the past compared to the present.
Because from the hindsight of 2023, we've been through a lotta growing up in 25 years. How do we translate this into happiness? It has something to do with losing the past, forgetting the future, and living in the now.
It's called Mindfulness, and it's used to help everyone from anxiety to PTSD. And to reiterate, it only means a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. 2023's answer to your greatest woes may be to focus on all you can, specifically on this moment we're living through.
But I'm telling you, "now" will, at one point, be the worst moment you've ever lived through because that is how history seems to work. We never know what we have until it's gone for good. Today's tent cities littering America are another such "now" that isn't so much as a slice of time but a decade of it always being a perpetual "now."
Sorry, there ain't going back to the past. We have a fear of God for the future, and yet we're told, as if we had options, to enjoy the "now."
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While this article stands as a testament to the work I've done with Mindfulness with my occupational therapist and subsequent studies and therapies - this is PART I of the question asked in the introduction. The next iteration will be much deeper and unpopular. So enjoy what you can from MINDFULLNESS because it's "THE" growing therapy.