(All photos: I posted the three photos above/below for a reason; namely, to demonstrate that, from a US perspective, my family members had a pretty tough life in 1950′s – 60′s Calabria. However, if you look beyond the conditions in the photos and through the linen shirts that acted as work uniforms, you see happy people in tight knit groups that are stronger and better prepared for recession, depression, unemployment, or anything else that life was throwing at them. Why is it that the well-off cannot, at times, deal with bad times <as is the case in US currently>)?
For most Americans the recession seems to be, and to borrow a marketing term, top of mind. You hear stories of the successful, white collar, executive being downsized because his product is being eliminated from the US market or of the blue collar assembly line worker driving to work one day to spend 8 hours in a factory and the next day finding out his plant has closed. These stories are not just consequences of the “economic downturn” but real life horror stories affecting millions of families in the US. Can anything positive come out of the current negative shift in the economy?
The short answer is yes. Here are 4 good things to look for:
1. People Become More Compassionate and Realize What’s Truly Important
Just like after or during a war (think World War II) or after a major crisis (think 9/11) people tend to think about things more deeply and in turn become a bit more humanistic. Strangers hold doors open, city dwellers don’t run into each other on the streets, co-workers are thankful for their jobs, etc. Folks realize family, good health, food, and a roof over their head is pretty nice, afterall (in brief, they realize what they have and not what they want or lack).
2. People Let Go
Many folks realize that, during tough times, they are truly not, always, in control. While you do want to control your own destiny, it’s good for folks, especially younger adults who are only accustomed to good times, to struggle a bit and make due without luxuries and material things they once thought indispensable.
3. Frugality and Living Below Your Means Makes a Comeback
If you consume media, then you see local news, the New York Time, and the Wall Street Journal blasting messages about dismal corporate earnings, job cuts, horrific stock market results, and housing foreclosures every day. If you’re a sensible person, you begin to cut back on extras, save more money, scrutinizing your bills for savings, re-doing your household budget, etc. In short, you become frugal and maybe even a little bit like your dad!
4. You Find Yourself
Like death or any tragic event, there’s great lessons to be learned when bad things happen. A layoff can lead to finding your true calling and not settling for the career you stumbled into after college. Or seeing a brother or a good friend struggle may bring out altruistic talents you thought you never had; that is, more involvement with neighbors, community and family. Bad times can be like seeing a therapist (but for free)!