I think most of us would agree these aren't the most financially stress free of times in this world. Sure, the reported U.S. unemployment rate is currently down to about 5.5%, but with freelancers making up over 34% of our work force, and that number on track to balloon to 50% by 2020, many of us have to work harder than ever just to stay afloat because we're responsible for paying the grand total of our own Social Security tax, for our own health benefits and free time, and for our own retirement funds. More than ever, it's important for us to find the similarity—not the differences—we share with people, and band together. We need to do this for social reasons which will have massive economic effects. Life's more fun with shared connections! The only thing we all have to do is take little risks, try new things, and meet new people. Perhaps that seems cliché, but don't we all enjoy life around people we care about? I think we just need to be willing to care about even more people. It's true that sometimes when we're willing to care about people we get burned because of it. It happens. It's even more important that we don't take the experience of getting burned by someone and apply it to the next person we meet in a similar circumstance. Replaying hurtful memories over and over in our minds only furthers to isolate us. The stronger our sense of community, the more empowered we are.
I'm going to make a hypothesis: The secret to fixing our world's economy is to make strong social connections with each other.
When we have a stronger sense of community we feel like we're an important member of a group. That's why every organization, team, club, or gang is formed. Everyone wants validation and no matter who we are we're all striving for internal peace. I'm of the opinion that we're closest to the that feeling when we're around people we care about. My mother recently got married. I can honestly say it was one of the happiest days of my life because I was happy about something that had nothing to do with me. How my opportunities do we get to be selflessly happy? Those moments are some of our happiest because we're a part of something much bigger than ourselves. It's what a strong sense of community can do. How can this adjustment fix the world economy? We'll spend less money trying to acquire things in order to make ourselves happy, which will get us living more closely to our means, and we'll spend more of our free time doing things we enjoy with people we love. Perhaps less of us will have the brand new toy, but who gives a damn about the latest toy if we have no one to play with?
Most of what's being advertised to us today is telling us to become more narcissistic and to move faster and faster. Take this 2016 Acura ILX commercial for example. The chorus of the jingle is telling us "don't slow down!" That's insane. How about this famous iPhone6 TV spot. Apple doesn't mention a single product spec because the only thing they want you to know is that the phone is huge, and bigger is better. It's almost like they're saying that if we don't buy this iPhone immediately, we're failures. That is crazy. Bigger is not always better. I think what's better is being genuine, following our instincts, and doing more real things to enjoy life. The last thing I want to tell anyone is not to spend their money. My mother has been calling me "the deficit spender" since I was borrowing against my allowance in order to buy more things I wanted. I've been there on multiple occasions. I do think money is always much better spent when it's spent with someone we enjoy. With so many built-in expenses in life, it's important to remember that happiness has always been a free commodity.
I have always felt the need to be a part of something bigger than myself because it's those shared connections in life that make me the happiest. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that disallowing same sex marriages would be unconstitutional. What a day to be a part of! What was the most important part of this day? It was about something bigger than ourselves: Love. The more love we share, the deeper our sense of community. The deeper our sense of community, the more love we feel. Whether or not we agree with same sex marriage, disallowing it would absolutely be unconstitutional. That's no different than saying that I, as an Italian-Irish American couldn't get married to a Hispanic-American woman because it's amoral. Our American political ideals distinctly separate church and state. I strongly believe that having any discriminatory notions only serve to drive us further apart.
We are, right now, a part of history. Every moment that we're alive is a moment in time. The present tense is being created, which means that it is within our power to create whatever history we want to create. Have you ever known of any sports team or company that thrived when everyone was in it for themselves? Why should it be any different in society? Teams, organizations, and tribes are all microcosms of society as a whole. We might be living in a world megalopolis, but the stronger our sense of community the less fear of the unknown we'll have simply because there will be less unknown. Our lives can be made much easier if we band together with people based on commonality. A thriving community is a beautiful thing. It's always a great time to get out and do things we love. Let's do them with people we care about.
Keep getting out there, and keep breaking those walls!
This article was originally published here. Cover photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times.