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Everything Everywhere All At Once

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

You Are Not Unlovable. There Is Always Something To Love. Even In A Stupid, Stupid Universe Where We Have Hot Dogs For Fingers, We Get Very Good With Our Feet — Evelyn in Oscar Award winning movie, Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Winner of seven Oscars at this year's Academy Awards - Everything Everywhere All At Once. I have not seen it yet. When it first came out, it seemed to sci-fi for my usual tastes.

But I recently read this reflection on what type of film it is:

It’s about the fight between good and evil, right and wrong, social boundaries, mental perceptions taking place among washing machines…everything, everywhere, all at once. That sounds more intriguing.

Why am I even bringing this up today? Because today feels like an everything everywhere all at once kind of day to me.

I started out today like some days - quickly scanning the news. Looked at the headlines of nine different news sources (who report from various perspectives). If anything looks like it could help the order, I read it later in the day.

Today I saw this headline - The Biggest Lie the Rich Ever Told? That Money Can’t Buy You Happiness. Who these rich are who supposedly are saying this lie is totally unclear. And the story, as far as I’m concerned, is not even the story. It was in The Guardian, a British daily newspaper.

Various accounts of the research behind this story are being carried in several places.

What news sources are sharing in different ways is a story that begins back in 2010. Nobel Prize winner in economics, Dr. Daniel Kahneman, published research which suggested that money does not much affect happiness after household income reaches $75,000 (The present estimate would be $100,000.)

Big news to all sorts of people at the time. Those trying to decide how much income they needed personally, those who were advising people about careers and savings, businesses who were trying to decide on incentives, and so on.

Then in 2021, along comes another researcher with lots of credible data which suggested that happiness does increase continually with more money. (They did not study people who made more than $500k).

But, in my opinion, they missed the story, the stories, completely.

Number 1. In case you haven’t noticed, research is difficult to replicate, particularly in psychology. It’s pretty much of a disaster. But here’s what happened at Dr. Kahneman's prodding. Adversarial collaboration. What?

Kahneman came up with this notion When findings from different research seem to contradict each other, get the researchers together, along with an objective third party, and sort it out.

What a novel idea. To try to get at the truth. Now THAT is a story. Especially these days.

And, when they did the adversarial collaborating, the findings seem to be this. There is a significant association between increased happiness and money up to 100K. Then happiness levels plateau despite having more money...for one important segment of the population. Very unhappy people.

For others who are average happy and very happy, they continue to get a bit more happy with more money. They don’t reach a plateau.

But here’s the bigger story. Money is not the biggest factor impacting happiness AT ALL for most people after we have enough money to provide for basic needs (like shelter and food). Maybe you can guess what seems to be the biggest factor at this point in the happiness research. But before awarding the Oscar...take a guess.

I’ll help you narrow down the field of contenders. One of the big researchers in the field, Dr. Ed Diener, called “the happiness researcher” highlighted five factors which seemed to have a large impact on well-being.

Money, genetics, temperament (more outgoing and friendly or more reserved and cautious), environment (society and culture – like are you in a war zone are pretty peaceful place), relationships, thinking styles (for example, more optimistic and compassionate or more pessimistic and critical of self and others sort of stuff).

And though everything everywhere all the time impacts us, the Oscar (this year in research) goes to….sound, solid, meaningful relationships. But even superficial connections with strangers make a difference. That’s the big story. It's decidedly not about money. (The first two and half minutes will give you the scoop.)

And nobody seems to know who said that “money can’t buy you happiness” stuff. I don’t think it was the "rich" people. (Surely some of you watched Gilligan’s Island along with me back in the sixties and remember wealthy Mrs. Howell telling The Professor – “Whoever said that money can’t buy you happiness doesn’t know where to shop” sort of comment).

Yeah, money can make a difference, a big difference to some, but not as big a difference as some other things can make when it comes to our happiness and well-being. At least that’s the way it seems from the research this year. AND the big story is we can better figure these things out if we collaborate with our adversaries. We could use that concept in all sorts of fields.

But I said it was an everything everywhere all the time kind of morning. I needed to get centered. These quotes, these poems, and these images helped me.

From Mark Nepo. “We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are, when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved…”

“The Family That Plays Together, Stays Together.” (There's a decent quote. Play is so important for family and people bonding…to that end, another family youtube

And that goes for awe, although I can’t think of catchy wording. The couple, the family, the society, that experiences awe, expands their sense of Big Self - of interconnectivity. Awe reins in our egos and unites us all with the Big All. John and I were observing a conch shell (from our trip to Eleuthera with family.) Not only was it beautiful, a work of art, but also the Fibonacci sequence was apparent. The understanding of that science made it even more incomprehensibly beautiful…awesome

Which brings me to my last everything everywhere all the time piece. It can center us amid all the hubbub. It's a poem, by Julia Fehrenbacher, I ran across it this morning. It can relax our grasping mind...for more...more doing...more having as it expresses how love leads to a "downpour of gifts." It settles me down. Gives respite to that exhausted part of me.

Hold Out Your Hand

Let’s forget the world for a while fall back and back into the hush and holy of now

are you listening? This breath invites you to write the first word of your new story

your new story begins with this: You matter

you are needed—empty and naked willing to say yes and yes and yes

Do you see the sun shines, day after day whether you have faith or not

the sparrows continue to sing their song even when you forget to sing yours

stop asking: Am I good enough? Ask only Am I showing up with love?

Life is not a straight line it’s a downpour of gifts, please— hold out your hand

How might we journey together compassionately even with everything everywhere all the time… in ways that uplift us, keep us honoring truth, connect us, encourage us to play together, soothe us, settle us, and help us pay attention to the downpour of gifts?

(How are you holding up with everything everywhere all the time? What centers you? I’m listening. Love, June)


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