In New Jersey, experts tell us that the economy is improving – based partially on the fact that there are fewer people receiving unemployment benefits than in previous years.

The assumption is that those formerly unemployed are now working. But actually, there is a sizable percentage no longer receiving unemployment checks, as they’ve exhausted their benefits. They haven’t found jobs but are no longer counted because they no longer receive unemployment benefits. In the meantime, the poverty level in the state is rising.

In Newark today, the police are advising those filing simple assault complaints to take these matters to municipal court instead. There aren’t enough police officers in the city to address violent crime, so they’ve taken this approach to deal with “lesser” criminal matters.

Because of this, it might seem as if the crime rate in Newark is going down. Crimes that aren’t reported to the police don’t get counted in the police department’s figures.

And in some ways, we judge ourselves and others by flawed figures as well. We seem to measure success by “false positives.” Things such as what’s in your bank account, what sort of car you drive, and the amount of jewelry you have. These things in and of themselves are not negative, but using them as a barometer of accomplishment can have a detrimental effect on the psyche. It can leave you feeling empty.

The question is: are you happy? Do you have projects that make you feel as if you’re tapping into your creative impulses and allow you to contribute something in the world? Have you found the people who “get” you so that you don’t have to explain yourself, and yet you know that they’ll always have your back? Are you walking the path that you’ve chosen, or have you fallen into a life of what’s expected of you?

Don’t let the world’s definition of success skew your sense of who you are. Peace that travels with you, a Co-Pilot you can count on and faith that moves mountains. These are the things that keep your soul whole.

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