I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our modern conveniences, especially hot water and electricity. I can’t imagine living without either. And yet for most of human history our ancestors did not have electricity and had to work very hard to get hot water. It would mean building a fire, gathering the water, putting it over the fire and heating the water up in whatever container they had. Long hot showers were not a thing for most of human history.
When the power goes out, it’s an incredible inconvenience in today’s modern society. It seems everything we do depends on some form of electricity. And when the power comes back on, it seems to make me very happy! But this is not the kind of happiness that lasts or is deep or is truly meaningful. The convenience of electricity can make me happy only to a point. It offers me the ability to get onto social media, where it seems a lot of people are very unhappy. There’s nothing like watching people be unhappy to help with happiness.
These musings just have me wondering how much our modern conveniences are actually taking us away from our true nature and our ability to be happy. Rather than having to solve problems in order to get things done, it seems everything happens now with the push of a button.
Recently I was working with some new software and found myself frustrated when every link I clicked did not lead to another page in the software. I’m so used to working with easy user interfaces where all the buttons take me somewhere fabulous. Around the same time, I found myself frustrated making a bank deposit using my phone, thinking to myself “This takes too many steps.” Really? Too many steps compared to what? Having to get in the car, drive 20 miles to the nearest branch, fill out the deposit slip and hand the check to the teller? I think my impatience says more about our own modern conveniences than it says anything about the software.
In fact, I’m not so sure that all this software isn’t making us soft.
While I don’t really want to have to get hot water from building a fire, can you imagine what a treasure hot water would be if it took that much work to get it? I just wonder how many of the modern conveniences that we consider so essential are really complete treasures. Our lives are so incredibly easy and yet we don’t seem to be any happier.
Sometimes, I wish I could have a time machine to go back and see what life was like when things were simpler and our world was smaller. When we could only go as far as our horse could take us in a given day, rather than across the country or across the world. When we had a small group of people around us that we knew and trusted. Maybe humans were not any happier back then, but I can’t imagine that we were as distracted as we are now. What we now consider inconveniences were just normal life back then.
I’m not sure where all of these musings are meant to take me. One thing I know for sure. I’m going to start taking joy in the conveniences rather than being angry at the inconveniences. Every time I turn on the light, every time I get in my car, every time I experience a hot shower, I’m going to take joy in the ease it which these things come to me.
What is your favorite modern convenience? What would you most miss if you could never have it again? Where are you take joy in your life right now?