PROVO — "If you could have the content of an oil deposit or all the ideas at Google, which one would you rather have?" writer, author and lecturer Gregg Easterbrook asked students Tuesday at a BYU forum.

He focused his speech on topics he addresses in his books, "Sonic Boom" and "The Progress Paradox."

When referring to "The Progress Paradox," he said technology today has brought a new way of thinking to the world, and ideas are more advantageous than any other weapon.

"During the period when most of the people have been in this room, human beings have fought each other less and less," Easterbrook said.

He said sometimes the media only reports the scandal and the negative, but he said the world as a whole is progressing positively.

In the "Sonic Boom," he researched why the rise of the standard of living has not caused a rise in happiness.

"The reason we aren't happier because of the rise in living standards is because the things we really want in life cannot be purchased with money," Easterbrook said.

He said there are traits a person can learn in this life that will benefit them more than any education or money could, including forgiveness and optimism.

"If you think of what your ancestors went through 150 years ago to live in relative luxury in Utah, and you don't feel grateful for that, who's being cheated? You are," he said.

He said people can find happiness by knowing their purpose in life.

"You do not have to derive that sense of meaning in a religious fashion," Easterbrook said. "You can be an atheist and believe your life has a purpose. You're here for a purpose. Your life has a meaning."