The idea of the "good life" has changed dramatically during this century, according to Christopher Lasch, a historian at the University of Rochester.

In his research, Lasch has tracked what Americans expect from the Hoover era of "a chicken in every pot" to the Reagan years when we took the chicken for granted and banked on two cars and a house full of energy-gobbling appliances."Unfortunately, the Earth can't support billions of people living like Yuppies," he says. How might Americans return to a more frugal lifestyle, and still find satisfaction?

Lasch recommends they read Jefferson, Thoreau and Emerson, who captured the sense of the good life in simpler times.