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Geography of Bliss Essay Essay

Can Money Buy Happiness
For centuries, mankind seeks to answer the question: Can money buy happiness? Therefore psychologists are exploring the relationship between wealth and happiness for decades. They came to the conclusion that money can make people happy if it involves moving from a state of extreme poverty into the middle class, but they do not have a noticeable impact in the future. It means that people feel glad and safe when they have enough of money to satisfy daily needs. It is important to understand, what really makes people happy besides the living routine. Jarod Kintz quotes “I think the key indicator for wealth is not good grades, work ethic, or IQ. I believe it is relationships. Ask yourself two questions: How many people do I know, and how much ransom money could I get for each one? ”I think it is safe to say happiness have many aspects. The real versions of well-being that plays out every day are the ones based upon an individual experience, perception and values. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner shows a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Mr. Weiner’s findings reveal, that government of Switzerland makes decisions based upon happiness and the well being of their country.

The following quote summarizes the Swiss government’s overall philosophy. “Good government, meaningful work, strong family ties –these are all major contributors to happiness, yet if you are unhappy, truly despondent, none of them will prevent you from committing suicide” ( 38).I agree that the three aforementioned major contributors to happiness do prevent people from taking their own lives. Having a secure employment and a steady income enables a person to enjoy the bounties of what he can afford, such as entertainment, relaxation, hobbies, to mention a few. There is truth to the statement that we work for a living. The key word is living. There are situations where some people work just to survive. Some people earn only enough to have a roof over their heads, food on the table, and clothes on their person – the bare necessities. That is not living. For example, instead of just living in a small apartment, one could upgrade to bigger apartment with better view and amenities. Also where one used to have meals at a fast food restaurant, one would enjoy quality meals at higher-end restaurants.

Good governance provides a secure and safe environment for people to go by their daily activities. Strong family ties provide an important social and support system in times of emotional and economic need. In times of emotional and economic emergencies, it is always better to not be alone. A support system will prevent further damage to one’s well-being in times of despair. That support system also helps to heal and rebuild. One need not start from scratch, so to speak. Then there are some people who are truly despondent despite the three factors mentioned by Mr.Weiner. Take for example a person with a 6-figure salary in an executive position. On the outside, this seems to be the ideal employment. However, some of these positions have duties and responsibilities that require a lot of skill, hours and mental abilities. These, for most, result in considerable stress. The job drains the person the ability to realize there is life outside the workplace. Then, there are some who never seem to be satisfied with what they have achieved. Some people just keep on wanting more. The bar set for success keeps on moving further and farther that it becomes impossible to achieve.

For many people it is hard to be happy if they observe that their neighbor or a friend earns more money. Envy is rife in Moldova. “If one gets out of the cauldron the others will drag him back it. Moldovans derive more pleasure from their neighbor’s failure than their own success. I can’t imagine anything less happy” (203). This phenomenon is not exclusive to Moldova. Envy transcends all cultures. There is a similar saying in Southeast Asia, specifically in the Philippines. It is said that one negative trait of Filipinos is the having a ‘crab mentality’. Filipinos are in an analogy with crabs in a basket. The crustaceans, basic instinct is to climb out of the basket to escape. Meanwhile, the other crabs below, also instinctively grab the legs of the other crabs that are near the top, pulling them down in the process. Studies have shown that happy people have certain skills that allow them to enjoy life at any cost. These people do not focus on the negative. They make the most of a negative situation and turn it into something positive. This is what is usually called, making the most of every situation.

Happy people do not care about the success of others. They are focused on their well-being. How much wealth then is enough for some people to overcome their envy? The classic American saying: “Keeping up with the Jone’s” clearly exemplifies this behavior. When a neighbor upgrades their vehicle, the ‘green-eyed’ neighbor will move mountains to top the new car. This can sometimes become an unending battle between the neighbors. Topping the other will give them a sense of achievement and contentment up until the other ups the ante. This becomes a vicious cycle to trying to outdo each other. While some temporary satisfaction is achieved, there can never be a lasting sense of contentment and happiness. Indeed, money and wealth can buy commodities that can bring satisfaction. Money and wealth translates to a level of personal and professional satisfaction. But money and wealth cannot directly buy the emotion happiness.

Money can buy a bed but not sleep; food but not appetite; medicine but not health; servants but not friends; women but not love; house but not a home; entertainment but not joy; education but not wisdom”. The important thing is what we make out of the things that we buy. If we cannot find satisfaction in the things we have, these things remain as just fixtures with no emotions attached. The bed will just be a bed and not a piece of furniture from where we can derive pleasurable rest and sleep. Formal education will just be a piece of paper without knowledgeable application and contribution to one’s life and society as a whole.

Weiner, Eric. “The Geography of Bliss.” New York: Hachette Book Group, 2008. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/money

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