By: Teresa Peterson

Last week I cleaned the largest house I’ve ever seen in my life. It took 6 hours to clean the main floor, which consisted of a personal library, living room, master bedroom, kitchen, three other bathrooms, a guest bedroom, and their elevator. There are many important lessons to be learned from house cleaning but I’d like to begin with my observations on the way we measure success and happiness in our culture. It seems to me that the amount of money you have, the possessions you own, and a career that requires you to wear something other than jeans and a t-shirt to work are the most widely accepted criteria for success. These people I work for, they have that. But I have to ask, as the square footage of their homes increases does their happiness grow too?

I’m not so sure…

After my initial shock upon walking into what feels like an episode of MTV Cribs, after I vacuum the personal elevator, and find the lost dog in the massive basement (that actually happened) it becomes apparent that these people have so much that it would be close to impossible to maintain for themselves and this leads me to recognize that in order to pay for all that space and all those possessions these people spend a minimal amount of time actually utilizing any of it. Yet and still, that image and that lifestyle are what the American Dream narrative teaches us to desire. That good ol’ rags to riches story—that is what we think will make us happy.

What do you think?

These are the most “successful” people in our community, in our state, and some of the top earners in the country even. But we have to ask, is this really what our dream “success” should look like? Do money and possessions really equate to happiness? I mean sure, having your own movie theatre in your house would be cool but not having the time or energy to use it, well then it becomes relatively meaningless.

I want you all to chew on that for a minute and check back with me in the coming weeks for a look at what happiness, success, and the meaning of “The Good Life” is to one of our very own artists, the one and only Mr. Turner Jackson!

Questions, comments, whatever it is — get at me