02 March 2009

Recession | The Good Stuff

They may be difficult to notice, but the recession has caused some positives. I've noticed them, and have decided to share. I know it's not easy to see good on a Monday morning. It may be even worse if you're unemployed, supporting someone who is, about to be laid off, watching your home value plummet, or feeling guilty because you're not affected and feel like you have to act as if you are. There are lots of reasons to be down this year, but once the world rights itself, there will be long lasting benefits - courtesy of the recession.

When there is less money, there is more time. I learned this last month when I forbade myself from buying the nonessentials. The majority of errands (for me anyway) were based on finding an opportunity for convenience, going somewhere, and buying the desired fix. No money means being content with what I already have, and avoiding stores full of things I can use but don't need. I have more time to myself because I'm not shopping. I also imagine if we had kids, we'd be spending more time with them as well. We might play board games and make staying home more fun. The recession is forcing people to make the best with what they have.

It really could be worse. There is a new definition of "awful" now, which I think helps people keep things in perspective. Working weekends might have been "awful" at one point - back when "working" was a given. Now it's a pleasure to be asked. Rising college tuition is & was "awful," but not as bad as pulling your kid out because you can't afford to send them anymore. It's easier to see what's actually terrible these days and therefore easier to dismiss the small(er) stuff.

People are caring, and acting. I've read volunteer rates are up. People know it's bad and they want to help. Without cash to donate, time is all a lot of people have to give. I tried to volunteer around thanksgiving. The first weekend opening was in mid-January. I was pleased to know that. People are also paying more attention to government. Hopefully we've learned it does not pay to simply let the leaders lead. It's time for involved participation *after election day. Even if people don't know what they as individuals can do, they know it behooves them to watch investors and politicians and determine how their actions affect us all. The economy is so bad, people are inspired to be more involved in their communities and with their country.

Better physical health may be over that next hurdle. Some restaurants have recession-ized their menus. Smaller portions for less money. That tells me Americans (the ones who still eat out) will be eating less. It gives me hope for obesity rates. Maybe parents will cook more and give their kids healthier meals. Or maybe they'll still eat out, and just eat less. Either way, saving calories will be better for our overall health. We stand to emerge leaner and healthier.

I've made other assumptions about recession benefits. Despite my feelings about organized religion, I think it's good more people going to church. That shows me people are looking for hope and camaraderie. They're possibly expecting divine intervention, which I think they'll find through community support. I see more people choosing repairs over buying new, more recycling, more reading, maybe more donations from people like me who want a higher tax break. It seems to me people are looking for ways to give, ways to be better neighbors, better employees, and better Americans. I can't see us going wrong with that.



~ Danie D.

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