It is very difficult, although not impossible, to win a race if we have to start down in a hole. However, this is the precise handicap which a lot of people face during their search for happiness. Because of such handicap, climbing out of the hole and arriving to at least the starting line represents an exhausting endeavor. Apparently, this is not logical… this is not how life should be. But truth be told, we can only start from the position we are right now, and we can only use the resources available to us right now. In order to achieve happiness we have to shut off perturbing messages, such as “I cannot”, “I’m going to lose”, “Maybe tomorrow is a better day”, and so further. We have to put all these miscreant ideas aside from our mind, to remove these slimy sentences which do not contribute to our goals. It’s easier for us to attribute the responsibility of our failures and defeats to others… those who taught us, for instance. Some people like to attribute to their parents and teachers an alleged fraud… everything bad has been their fault, not ours. They hold on to the past. They are losers. On the contrary, winners focus on overcoming each obstacle that rises until accomplishing their goals. Winners want to be happy and to bring happiness to all the people around them, sharing the love, their views on life, and perhaps, their goals.
Some serious studies demonstrate that people from developed countries are not necessarily the happiest ones. A lot of nationals and residents of such countries manifest to feel unhappier than those of some developing or poorer countries. In this sense, let’s recall the Easterlin paradox, based on a study by professor and economist Richard Easterlin: Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? published in 1974, while he was with the University of Pennsylvania. Basically, the paradox states that economic growth does not necessarily lead to more satisfaction. It’s obvious that people in poor countries become happier once they can afford basic necessities. But the important idea behind Easterlin paradox is that absolute income does not matter as much as relative income does. In other words, how much you make compared with others around you is what really matters. To put it in today’s terms, owning an iPad doesn’t make you happier, because you then want an iPad Pro 🙂
Nevertheless, a study by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers rebuffs Easterlin paradox. The study suggests that a better income contributes to a happier life. There is an obvious relation between higher incomes and happier people. Economic growth means investments in scientific research that lead to longer, healthier lives. It can also reduce your working hours, which in turn allows spending more time with family and friends, vacations, relax. Does this mean that money buys happiness after all? I doubt so.
Certainly, affluence helps to reach happiness. And we should want to be richer. But it’s your attitude what is really important. I personally know plenty of rich guys, which have enjoyed a top-notch education and access to quality healthcare systems, and which unfortunately are very sullen people. They don’t enjoy a good musical performance, they are not congenial or cheerful. Thereby, they are isolated from most of the world, and are restricted to a very limited (and sometimes envious) circle of friends, which slowly devours their self-confidence. Typically, they evidence worries about the state of their finances. They live in a hurry. Is that happiness? I doubt so.
Conversely, I also know people of regular or lower income, which are frequently smiling. They enjoy their works… they have nice families and plenty of friends. They are not that worried about money and its things. They easily chat with you. And albeit they know sadness, they are optimistic. And they have the mindset to be winners, and to fight for that dream. Are they unhappy? I doubt so.
Finally, I present three germane quotes by the Nobel laureate Albert Schweitzer:
- Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
- I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.
- Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.
Bold letters are mine. Pretty clear. Let’s be happy.