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Download PDF Moving on up: Aspiration, living standards and growth

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Conditions that make people satisfied with their life do not necessarily make them happy. Social scientists rarely change their minds, although they often adjust their position to accommodate inconvenient facts. But it is rare for a hypothesis to be so thoroughly falsified. Merely adjusting my position would not do; although I still find the idea of an aspiration treadmill attractive, I had to give it up.

To compound the irony, recent findings from the Gallup World Poll raise doubts about the puzzle itself. The most dramatic result is that when the entire range of human living standards is considered, the effects of income on a measure of life satisfaction the "ladder of life" are not small at all. We had thought income effects are small because we were looking within countries. The GDP differences between countries are enormous, and highly predictive of differences in life satisfaction. In a sample of over , people from countries, the correlation between the life satisfaction of individuals and the GDP of the country in which they live was over.

Humans everywhere, from Norway to Sierra Leone, apparently evaluate their life by a common standard of material prosperity, which changes as GDP increases. The implied conclusion, that citizens of different countries do not adapt to their level of prosperity, flies against everything we thought we knew ten years ago. We have been wrong and now we know it. I suppose this means that there is a science of well-being, even if we are not doing it very well. Skip to main content. All Rights Reserved. From a sociological perspective, the formation of a social class includes other factors: a specific economic position possibly creating conflicts of interest with other social classes and a consciousness of having similar conditions.

Today in Western societies, relatively high levels of consumption of goods and services define, or are a major attribute of, the middle class.


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Some identify this increasing consumption as consumerism and argue that this profoundly changes traditional social relations within the middle class because people tend to be more individualistic than class-oriented, and social relations are driven by more hedonistic and individualistic patterns. Subsequently, you set on a course to change things for the better.

The fact that you have finally acknowledged that something must change is an essential first step. However, the process of change may not be easy. If this sounds like you, then you will find the following process of some value. This five-step process will show you how to raise your personal standards so that they meet your goals and objectives. With a higher set of standards, you will start to think differently about the goals you are pursuing.

This will subsequently transform your decisions and take you down a more optimal path of action.

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What then tends to happen is you begin to expect more of yourself in every situation. As a result, your behavior changes, which subsequently impacts the results you realize in relation to your goal. Your first step is to clarify what it is you want to achieve. Ask yourself:. Instead, envision your goal from a future perspective of your desired reality. Your current reality is the life you are living at this very moment. Consider what kind of life this is and the types of behaviors that define your actions and results in the present moment.

The roles you play may include being a friend, parent, teacher, employer, employee, leader, sister, brother, etc. Consider for a moment:. Within every role, you play there will be a set of standards you uphold and a set of expectations that you have for yourself and others.

6 Strategies to Improve Living Standards

Consider this for a moment, then ask yourself:. You might have, for instance, modeled them while observing your parents at home or your peers at school. Possibly you even modeled them from a television role model you had as a child. No matter who you modeled them from, you have, as of this moment accepted these standards as part of your life. You have accepted them despite the fact that they may not be serving your best interests.

Now honestly ask yourself whether or not you are doing your very best in each of these areas of your life. With the right knowledge, resources and possibly with the right coach by your side you can work on upgrading and optimizing these areas of your life. All you need now is a little commitment to back your desire and actions. This is primarily where you would ideally like to be within each area of your life. What standards do I need to set in each area of my life in order to be the person I envision myself becoming? What will I accept and no longer accept of myself, of others, and of circumstances in each area of my life?

The standards you set for yourself will depend on the kind of person you desire to become and on the goals you would like to achieve in each area of your life. These are the two factors that will lay down the foundations for the personal standards you live by. Your next step is to find suitable mentors. These will be people who are currently living to the highest of standards in specific life areas that you desire to focus on.

The purpose here is to use them as inspiration to help you raise your own personal standards. This friend of yours has certain standards that they uphold each day. Your task is to get a sense of what they expect of themselves in various situations, as well as an idea of the healthy rituals they partake in.

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Ask this person what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in this area of their life. Then commit yourself to modeling these standards to improve your own health and well-being. Your task is, therefore, to go out there and find mentors for each and every area of your life where you desire for growth and improvement. It is now time to set some clear standards and expectations for each area of your life. In other words, you must identify a set of standards you will follow. These standards effectively become the rules you live by. You could, for instance, take one of your life roles and set standards for what you believe, for what you expect, for how you behave, work, and live.

The rituals you create must lead to new decisions, actions, and habits that will help you successfully maintain higher personal standards over the long-haul. The final step of this process is to utilize the pain and pleasure principle to help instill the motivation you need to follow through with these rituals, and subsequently live your life by your higher personal standards. We will not go into any details here as I have already written an extensive article on this topic. Please see The Pain and Pleasure Principle for more information.

Raising your personal standards is unlikely to be an easy, uneventful process. You will need to break old patterns of behavior and develop new rituals and habits that will provide you with the impetus you need to make positive changes in your life. Mindfulness is the key to self-awareness.

When we are mindful and self-aware, we put ourselves in a position where we are better able to understand ourselves and our personal tendencies. This knowledge and understanding will provide you with the impetus you need to make the necessary changes to move your life forward in more optimal ways. As previously discussed, rituals are the actions that support the personal standards you set for yourself.

However, for these rituals to be most effective, they must help you prepare, plan and think ahead. In other words, they must keep you moving forward while progressively encouraging you to raise your standards and levels of performance. To develop appropriate rituals, consider each of the personal standards you have set for certain areas of your life, and ask yourself:. For instance getting out of bed at 7 am and exercising for 10 minutes could be an excellent ritual that can help get your day started on the right track.

Keep things simple and straightforward, and most importantly progressively develop these rituals over time. Exercise for 10 minutes, to begin with, then increase that to 15 minutes and 20 minutes over time. Baby steps are the keys to your success.


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For instance, measure how consistently you performed these rituals over a period of a week. Again, this all comes back to taking baby steps. Incrementally take time each week to raise your personal standards and tweak your rituals accordingly.

Poverty and Aspirations Failure - Dalton - - The Economic Journal - Wiley Online Library

Progressively over time, these small tweaks will make a big difference to the way you conduct yourself in various life roles. We are all human. The standards you set for yourself and for your life will not always be attainable. You will fail time and again and ultimately make mistakes along the way. And this is perfectly okay. Learn from these mistakes and make adjustments to your personal standards and rituals as necessary. At times you may find that no matter what you do you will be unable to attain your lofty standards. More knowledge and experience under your belt can provide you with the necessary confidence and motivation you need to perform at a higher level moving forward.

What worked for you in the past, worked for a reason. Build on that experience to keep improving and raising your personal standards. Sometimes to move your life forward, you will need to take risks. At times things might just be progressing a little too slowly for your liking. However, they are just not high enough to make a significant difference in your life. Challenge yourself for a week by significantly raising your personal standards while building supportive rituals.

Then go all-out that week doing all you possibly can to reach those lofty standards. There are, of course, no guarantees in life, but there is a chance it may provide you with the impetus you need to move things forward in a better way. Remember that most people have very low standards and expectations of themselves.