I remember a conversation with a friend in high school. He said: My family isn’t very wealthy. I understood what he meant, but was also baffled. They had a beautiful house in a beautiful area of Norway. They had a car. They had all the food they needed. They didn’t lack anything of the basics and none of what makes life comfortable.
In a Norwegian context, they were perhaps quite average. (Very similar to my family and most of the others in my school.) But from a global and historic perspective, they lived in the lap of comfort and luxury.
For me, it’s always been important to keep this in perspective. Most of us in the western world’s middle class live in luxury. We have comfortable houses. We have cars to get around in. We have access to public transportation and planes. We can travel around the world in a day or two. We have clean running water. We have indoor smell-free and sanitary toilets. We have showers with warm water. We can cook our food by turning a switch. We can go to the grocery store and get fresh food from around the world at any season. We have more clothes than we need. We have the internet which connects us with people around the world. We have mobile phones.
We live in a society that values sanitation. We live in a mostly peaceful society. We have access to amazing modern healthcare. We have good education for everyone.
All of this would seem wildly utopian even just a few generations back.
In most respects, we live far beyond how even royalty lived in the past.