Written by Karl Perera, MA, DipLC
Any purchase you make supports my work on this website. Thank you!
The past is more than just a lesson in a history book or a collection of antiques that gather dust in a garage, storeroom or closet before being displayed in an estate sale or auction. There is so much we can learn both from consumerism in the decades past and the historical acts that took place, and the impact that they have on modern times.
The Value of Hard Work
Think back to the industrial age and how factories were the norm in busy cities such as New York and Detroit. People worked producing goods such as clothing and shoes, and even automobiles. Most of the goods for sale were from this country instead of outsourced.
When it comes to seeing this history today, all we need to do is look at antiques. One thing you can clearly see in most pieces is the attention to detail. For past generations, crafting items was all about uniqueness as opposed to mass-produced items that we see on shelves in every department store today. Furniture was mostly handcrafted with carving and embossing details as you can in see many antique dressers for sale in shops and online. Today the art has been mostly lost, though there are still those who make furniture by hand with a pretty devoted following.
Today, there more goods to choose from, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For example, you can decorate a bedroom with a mix of antique furniture and modern decor such as Woolrich quilts to give the room a tasteful touch that perfectly blends new and old.
Communities Banded Together
When times were tough, communities gathered their resources and made sure nobody went without. Families cooked large meals to share with neighbors and rationed out food during the hard times. When a crime occurred, they banded together to help protect the neighborhood. The same goes for illnesses, neighbors would take turns cooking for the family if one of the members was sick.
Today, that same camaraderie does not exist in most towns, and definitely not in the big cities. Some communities still embrace these values with a focus on hospitality and there’s a lot to be learned from this generosity. Helping each other means that everyone thrives rather than a select few that are wildly successful while neighbors live in need.
History Repeats Itself
Think about the lessons that we’ve learned in history class, about times and events alike. The sage advice “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” carries a lot of merit. There have been many instances of historical events threatening to take place in the country again, decades after they were resolved. War is one example of that.
It’s not all about politics, though. If you want to see history repeating itself in a clear way, all you need to do is look at the clothing racks in stores. Styles from the 1970s and 80s have already come back full circle in recent years. And they will again in the next 40 to 50 years as trends become popular once again.
Changes in Consumer Happiness
In earlier decades, it was enough to work hard for new-ticket items that weren’t necessities. People would save up for months or even years to be able to afford a new television or car. The happiness came from the hard work that went into earning the money that eventually paid for the products, in full. People took pride in their belongings because they had to work for so long to eventually afford them.
Then came the age of credit, where people were content to rack up huge amounts of debt in pursuit of keeping up with the Joneses. The consumer society has undergone lots of changes, especially where happiness is perceived and all too short-lived these days. People will buy a TV and then lament about a newer model that came out a month after they made their purchase.
While the past had its downfalls, it also came with a completely different mindset that could benefit today’s society as well. Everything changes throughout the years, but some traditions and manners are well worth bringing along for the ride.
Website Author and Your Guide
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.