Friday, March 19, 2010

Upside down

Today there's something I need to talk about.



image courtesy of clipclip.org


I don't think of myself as particularly naive, but I was taken aback yesterday when a thick, slick catalog from an upscale department store landed in my mailbox and included this message on the front page:

INSTANT HAPPINESS

Grab your BFF and get busy shopping for all those things you just have to have--amazing new handbags, armfuls of color, accents with attitude. . . .


Huh? Instant happiness??

I suppose this is the way a lot of us act sometimes--as if shopping for an "amazing new handbag" could bring us "instant happiness." But are we so far gone that this could be an effective advertisement?

In his masterful book The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard tells the story of a fighter pilot who was practicing high-speed maneuvers. The pilot turned the controls for what she thought was a steep ascent--and flew straight into the ground. Why? She didn't realize that she had been flying upside down.

Willard writes, "This is a parable of human existence in our times--not exactly that everyone is crashing, though there is enough of that--but most of us as individuals, and world society as a whole, live at high-speed, and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside down or right-side up."

I'm thinking that a society in which a department store can market its wares by promising "instant happiness" from shopping for purses is society in which a lot of us are indeed flying upside down. It's not the fault of the advertisers--surely this department store wouldn't make that statement if there were no one to read it and respond to it.

I'd really like to fly right-side up. I think perhaps we, the blogging community, can impact one another for good, for encouragement in right thinking--or we can drag each other down. When we read each other's blogs, we can find nuggets of truth and beauty and we can encourage one another. . . or we can be envious of one another and find an unending fuel source for our own fires of discontent.

I'll step down off my soapbox now. But I'd love to know--what do you think?


24 comments:

Mari said...

I am so with you on this one girlfriend. You hit in on the head...truth. I for one choose to fly upright, and make it a better world for others. When you live to serve others and not yourself, that is where happiness starts.
Great post.

Love the Decor! said...

Amen to that!!
We as a society have it all mixed up.
I am trying to fly upright!!

Dawn said...

don't step down! keep on talking!

you are right. it is so sad that this really is an effective advertisement... that our society is so programmed towards this. like the great returning of christmas gifts... to go buy what you really want. (not that i haven't returned a gift or two in my time!)

i am flying with you. right-side up.

Marla at Always Nesting said...

What's so sad is that some people really and truly buy into the instant happiness. Living within your means would surely never show up in an advertising ad.

Denise said...

I find it hard to believe people will think like that, but they do! And sometimes I do blame the advertisers for encouraging it!
Great post Richella

More than a Mom said...

I hear ya! I love the comment Marla made about "living within your means" and advertising. We as a society (and in the blogging community) should help and encourage one another. We need to lift each other up. If our society would ever do that, imagine the possibilities it would bring. No more feeling bad when seeing the ultra thin celebrity on a cover of a magazine. No more trying to impress with materialistic items. It would be a WONDERFUL world!

Carmen said...

What do I think? I totally agree. There's something to be said about living within your means. Like for instance, I really WANT a new handbag for spring. But do I really NEED a new handbag. Not really. My silver one is in great shape. I bought it over a year ago on clearance for $14 at Penneys. It's leather and it transitions just fine from season to season. So I decided to just keep my handbag for now.

This is a great post. Thanks!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Excellent post!! (I think I found another link to feature next week---wink wink)

I am guilty of thinking "if I can just bring that purse/pair of shoes/accessory/crafty thing home with me, I'll be so happy." And I am. For about 30 minutes. Only One thing can really bring true happiness. :)

It is very very easy to get caught up in envy here in Blogland. I have to constantly remind myself that I enjoy the community that comes with blogging and focus on that rather than comparing myself to other, bigger, better bloggers. That is one reason why I am reallllly trying to make my blog parties about encouraging each other instead of just linking up to show off....just my two cents. ;)

dawn said...

I hadn't heard that Willard illustration before--it's awesome. I think to fly right side up we need to step back and assess where we are every once in a while. Make sure we get our bearings--and use Truth to mark our course, cause if we use society's misguided markers, it's so much easier to hit the ground.

Keep preaching it, Richella!

Tracy said...

You're so right. When we live life with the "if onlies," we often miss not only the amazing blessings, but also the opportunities God has placed all around us. Been down that dead-end road a time (or two). Now, I try to keep my plane upright. Hoping to encourage others to do the same.

Sweet blessings,
Tracy

Cindy said...

I love love love LOVE your inspirational messages.. Did I say LOVE! Thank you.

Patricia said...

You are always so wise and see things for the way they are! That is why I so enjoy your blog! You keep it real and all in perspective.

I used to think that THINGS will bring me happiness and have learned the hard way that when THINGS are gone... you are left with what really matters.

I can truly say that I am happy and joyful in my life now.
My hubby is unemployed and we cannot get or have THINGS... but we have one another and our faith and our friends and family and I am grateful to God for this misfourtune in our lives... I thank him everyday for showing me how to be REAL and how to use the talents he gave both of us ~ afterall I belive that this is not my life to live for me but it is my life to live for Him!

Blessings
Patricia

Cyndi said...

Good one Richella. It is so easy to get caught up in it.... I do sometimes but I know what brings true happiness......Jesus Christ and nothing else. Thank you for the reminder!!

Terri said...

I have a friend who lives upside down (she's not a Believer) and it is soooo sad to watch. She never has enough and she can never relax. While I like to live a "pretty" life, I am content to live it within our means! My joy is in the Lord. And I love reading blogs {like yours} that radiate that same joy. Blessings!

Vonda said...

Yes! We do need to encourage one another. We, who tend to agree with one another, tend to read one another.

I just read something very similar
http://www.ifmeadowsspeak.blogspot.com/

Mary Lou Rutledge said...

The sad thing is that sometimes it does bring us instant happiness. Problem is that it doesn't last unti we get out of the store..
My husband was a fighter pilot and that very thing happened to a friend of ours.
Lots of food for thought there..
Thanks

Tonya said...

Great post Richella! I find that in the time I allow myself to read others blogs, I don't want nor desire just "fluff". I want to read something that is going to inspire me to be a better wife, mom, Christ-follower, friend, etc. Now if a blog has those "nuggets of truth" and a little fluff....that's ok! ;)

You inspire me!

Kristi said...

Excellent!! Isn't there a song called "True North?" Twila Paris, I think? The world, the flesh and the devil would have us believe that there is another option for north....that there is another option for true happiness, contentment, and joy. But two things in direct contrast to each other cannot both be true. One must be a lie. Truth is truth not based on my belief of it nor of my experience of it. Truth is something changeless, something outside of myself. Thank the Lord that Truth is found in Himself - whose character is the essence of Truth and changelessness - among many other amazing attributes. What other hope do we have except in the Truth? Thank you for reminding me to preach this truth to myself...again. Blessings to you, my friend ~

Kimba said...

Indeed, my friend. Indeed.

Flying right-side up is something I have to work at. If I find myself in a period of blue-discontent, I'll often find that I've allowed myself to start flying upside down.

As much as I love blogging, I think this is one of it's greatest pitfalls...particularly in the house-y niche. We can so easily become discontent with what we have or, more importantly, who we are. It's easy to forget that we're only seeing a small snapshot of someone's life. The power of the zoom lens is dangerous.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom. :)

Kimba said...

Oh bugger. I misused it's vs. its on the grammar teacher's blog right after she taught a wonderful lesson on the topic. :)

The Scooper said...

Oh I just have to comment here too. I am particularly guilty of the handbag-will-make-me-happy syndrome. Seriously, I have been dying for a new bag for about a year. I mean, I really have spent an embarrassingly long amount of time thinking about it. And you're right, it's a fleeting and silly idol of a thing taking up precious space in my mind and soul. As for the envy part, every time I think I've moved on...it blindsides me when I least expect it. Truth is something we fight to keep hold of every single day isn't it?

Erin said...

Thank you so much for talking about this. There is so much truth in what you're saying. I find depending on which blogs I read I can come away filled with a spirit of joy and peace, or of greed and materialism, or even discontent and hatred. It reminds me to guard carefully what I read and not put anything out there on my blog that could drag another down.

Midday Escapades said...

I so agree about the blogging world. It's so sad when I see blogger taking diggs or being ugly about fellow bloggers.

Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

Tiffany said...

Love this sharing of your heart! I agree with it all. I am always trying to fly upright. It's the only way to fly. Thanks for this post.

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