Okay let's say you have a society and you're trying to improve. I'm thinking there's different buckets you can put money in and there's going to be different needs as a society progresses. There's what has been described as 'absolute vs relative' poverty. In absolute poverty, people cannot get enough calories and clean water to survive. As that need is addressed, we might be also able to address things like safe shelter from rain and sun. Eventually, as we juggle priorities and society improves, we could even argue that the limiter is that everyone needs not just food, but quality, healthy food. But at some point, you might be inefficiently allocating capital (money, time, effort, work) to this hypothetical 'food improvement' bucket. For example, let's make sure that people have not just quality food, but gastronomically challenging, gourmet, catered dinners.
Let's shift from society to an individual person.
When I see people going from financially insecure, to financially stable, to financially wealthy...I think there's a tendency to go...well...material and financial things have made a big difference, let's quadruple down on finances again. Replace "finances" with "achievement" or "popularity" or "experiences" and I saw that pattern poorly play out. It can decrease overall quality of life. So for high-achieving people, what do you replace the "it" goal with?
I said "made a big difference" and I think that begs the question, in what? A good life. I think a goal is living well and having a good life. The specifics of that do not have to be confusing. Be a good person, contribute to society, lift people up, take care of yourself.
One of my friends made a good point in reponse to another post. In terms of living well, top things were emotional connections, meaningful work, and mental health. How do you increase emotional connection and meaningful work?
Here is where I am still learning, initial thoughts:
*There's a place for moderation that's necessary, call it Tao, or just enough, or whatever it is. Some is good, too much can be harmful.
*Perceiving these things gets down to mental wiring (how you were raised and experiences) and self-awareness.
*After having some nice things, you (hopefully, eventually) realize that even nicer things aren't going to add much to life, unless they contribute to some other aspect of life.
People bring up Plato's Republic when talking about designing a good society. The part I thought was intriguing was about using the 'quality' of elected officials as a barometer for society and collapse. The part I thought was weird was the jump from 1) elect educated groups should lead to 2) everyone else should be kept down through various methods. One interpretation I read said instead we should have everyone receive education and then everyone can be involved.