Call me crazy, but I think there are positive things to draw from this recession. True, I never worked for Lehman Brothers. I don't have a mortgage or build SUVs for a living. But I live in New York, I work in media and I used to enjoy professional hair dye. I'm by no means impervious to the effects. But I do think we can learn from the crisis as we adjust to the times.
I made some adjustments of my own. My old column, "The Way to Work," became “The Way to Keep Working.” It was when I wrote about the “Recession Depression" that I realized staying happy means making sure the quality of your life doesn’t sink too low. So I recommended five things to keep spending money on during the recession and asked our readers to opine on my choices. It turned out that readers had a lot to say on the subject. So we decided to launch a full-scale inquiry. I asked for feedback through Facebook, Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter Out and the Qwidget commenting tool. And that’s when I really started to see the silver lining.
What I found was an eager, articulate, positive and brave community. "Things You Can't Live Without During the Recession: Readers’ Choice Edition" gathers what people are saying about the things they love. Good wine. Good food. Running sneakers. Coffee. Gummy bears. Someone even e-mailed me to tell me that she couldn't do without a solar-powered birdbath in her backyard.
The indulgences that people are allowing themselves are not outrageous. Rather, to me, they help to define everyone’s individuality and humanity. A year ago, people were concerned that materialism was driving this country to ruin. Now, we’re working toward a happy medium. We’re finally ready to put some meaning into where our money goes.