Jurich: Gross Domestic HappinessWritten by Stacy Jurich | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We live in a time where production and consumption is the name of the game. We are inundated with advertisements telling us to work so we can buy, but we don’t have jobs, or houses, or health care. Food and resources are under lock and key. Our national health and happiness is going down and debt is going up. The name of the game should change to “consume less, live more,” where our gross national happiness is more important than the dubious GDP. This is the philosophy in Bhutan and is catching on as one of the “5 Big Ideas for a New Economy” as described in Fast Company.
I can relate.
Last Saturday, Brookview Dental offered free teeth cleaning, fillings and tooth removal for adults from 8a.m. to 3 p.m. Since I don’t have health or dental insurance, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to get freshened up, and get a free toothbrush and floss. My mom really wanted me to go, too, and she kept reminding me. All the while, I knew there would be people lining up before sunrise. And I didn’t want to wait in a line.
At first I thought I’d go get in line around seven. Realistically, I’d try to get there any time in the morning hours and I’d be fine. Then my thought turned to, “I’ll get there when I can.” Outwardly I was pretty excited about a free cleaning, but inwardly, I wondered if I would get seen or not … meaning, would I get there early enough and would I wait in a line.
Friday, the day before the free cleaning, was a much-anticipated day, too. I helped coordinate an ice skating party with live DJs at Ottawa Park Ice Rink. The rink was filled with music, merriment, dancing ice skaters and people falling with a smile (and snow) on their face. People were having so much fun! It was one of the only days this winter that we’ve had snow, and it was quite beautiful and gave me an overwhelming happiness. My friends and I were skating with Augusto, an Argentinean who was in Toledo for the evening. He, along with several other people, asked why we were having the event, assuming there was a specific cause or reason. Creating a unique and stimulating space to bring the community together for fun was the only reason. Augusto replied with a childlike innocence and honorable enthusiasm, “I love fun!”
A good friend from Columbus was also in town that evening, and I was mischievously delighted when she and another friend made breakfast plans for us Saturday morning. I now had a great excuse to not have to get in line at seven … I could wait until after the first rush.
I got home from breakfast around noon, and I was swept into the gaze of irresistible eyes and midday sunshine coming through the windows. I was trying to get out of the house, but only in a way in which I was saying I needed to get going, but my actions spoke otherwise. Later, after spending 30 minutes trying to get my car started, I got to the dentist just before 2:30. I convinced myself it was perfect timing, but it was too late. There were still about 10 people in the waiting room and they had stopped taking in new people. I stood there and pretended to be in disbelief as if I really tried and as if I didn’t know this was coming. I stared at the pot of coffee and sugar cookies (yes, that’s what was offered at the dentist) and facetiously wallowed in my sorrow for a short minute. Then I jumped in the car, grabbed my dog and went out to the park to enjoy the sunshine and snow.
I didn’t get my teeth cleaned last Saturday, but I was smiling all weekend, which could be linked to good oral health in some way, right? Maybe once we elect a Green Party president or a candidate that isn’t bought by pharmaceutical companies and the like, we will have universal health care and I won’t have to decide whether I should spend the majority of a day waiting in line to get my teeth checked.
In our fast paced world, I tend to feel a lot of pressure to be productive. In fact, sometimes I have to remind myself that I am allowed to relax and do nothing for a while. And I can do things just for fun!