I just watched an old episode of Laci Green's youtube show, Sex + (I'm not sure whether it was called that at the time, but that's the most recent title I've seen for it) titled "Does Size Matter? (b00bies version), in which she discusses the pros and cons of breast enhancement. Here's the video:
In it, she points out that while it can seem easy and reasonable to try to change something about your physical body or situation as a quick fix for self-esteem, it's really better to work on your mind.
I agree, of course -- this isn't even really an issue for taking sides. She's right. But it can still; be very hard to do. I still tend to think of a lot of my "I'll be happy if" presuppositions as being about external things. Accomplishments, acquisitions, and conditions. And I do think there's a give-and-take. A certain amount of stuff is necessary to feel stable and happy. I mean, you have to be stable, know where you're going to sleep at night and whether you can eat the next day.
But beyond the extreme cases of lacking, it seems like this ties in a lot with the things I've been thinking about lately, about the Uganda issue, activism in general, and my work on myself in therapy. All signs seem to point to how important it is to just know the right answers.
I don't want to blame it all on capitalism, because I think a lot of this is just the basics of being human, but in our society system it's easy to view everything as a problem of spending decisions. I'm unhappy because I don't own the right stuff, the problem in Uganda is that they don't have enough money.
But very often the problems we have are not spending problems, they're attitude or perspective problems. I'm bad at feeling emotional satisfaction. The Ugandan government is corrupt.
Of course, maybe if we were in the opposite system, we'd never run into any perspective problems, and we'd notice a lot more glaring holes where the solution really is just 'throw some money at it'.
But I think it's worth occasionally reflecting on the value of reflection. There rae definitely problems out there, and not just little ones, some of the biggest problems we have, where the solution is just to think hard about it and find a way to understand, and the right behavior will follow naturally and easily from that.