was telling someone the other day how on hot summer evenings in India’s
cities, people sleep outdoors, under the sky on their roofs, and terraces.
The person looked astonished. “But there is so much poverty in India.
Didn’t you get robbed?”
“I replied” despite its poverty, people in India don’t live with a
constant dread of menace. “Why”?
may think it wrong, but the Indian psyche is steeped in two things –
acceptance of ones lot, and doing ones duty while leaving the rest to
destiny or God or whatever you want to call it.”
these poor people are not unhappy that some people have so much and they
so little?” my interlocutor asked incredulous now.
but still the most important thing to them is not money, but a sense of
self steeped in doing ones duty.”
then is the happiest person in the world? According to last weeks edition
of The Economist, which reported on “happiness surveys” it is not
necessarily the richest man in the world and he does not live in America.
recent study, reported this leading financial magazine, said ‘she’ –
(note it is a woman,) is educated, married, well-off and retired. Still
another, ‘famously concluded’ that marital satisfaction could be
predicted by the frequency of sexual encounters minus the number of
the primary focus of the happiness article in this leading financial
magazine is on the most recent ‘happiness’ survey conducted by Andrew
Oswald, a professor of economics at Warwick University.
Oswald, who believes his survey could revolutionize public policy says the
idea that money can buy happiness is wrong. According to Professor Oswalds
findings, health and love count far more towards being happy than income.
He backs this up by saying that although Britain is nearly three times
richer than it was half a century ago, people are not happier. That, says
Professor Oswald, should encourage the government to look beyond GDP as a
measure of quality of life.
controversially, the Economist reports that Professor Oswald has come up
with a way of putting values on "life events". On average,
Oswald says, “getting married brings the same amount of happiness as
about £60,000 (about 600,000 TT) a year in income. The loss of well-being
caused by widowhood would take £170,000 (1.7 million TT dollars) a year
to offset. Unemployment brings psychological costs equivalent to much more
than the average drop in income, if jobs are unavailable to people who
want to work. ” Oswald has yet to place a price on infidelity but
implies it could cripple the perpetrator.
of Professor Oswald’s colleagues are skeptical both about his survey and
results, believing that happiness is subjective, and that go getters who
take their life in their hands, tend to be happier in general. But his
battery of researchers defend him saying their samples are large enough to
average out individual answers.
what can we conclude about Professor Oswald’s survey? Simply that once
more, scientific data points to the fact that human beings requirements
for basic happiness are the same everywhere.
sounds cheesy but Professor Oswald took the roundabout route to tell us
what we all knew all along. That the primary requirement for happiness for
us all from Trinidad to Timbuktu is not money but love with all that it
implies, an ally against a harsh world, someone to keep loneliness at bay,
someone to cheer you along, someone to add richness to your life, to laugh
and cry with you to bear witness to your life.
second is good health. We knew that all along too. But it could be another
wake up call to us all – that we often don’t realize until its too
late, how important good health is to us all. So we’d better cut out
that nicotine, that fat, those calorie packed soft-drinks and take a bike
ride or a run as our route to maintaining happiness.
stable income comes trailing in third as a contributor to happiness. More
important than that, according to the economics professor, is job
satisfaction. So he’s again reveals what we know deep down. Its
important to spend your working hours doing what you love to do, so you
can turn the final key to happiness – financial stability, security, and wealth - the ability to
buy trinkets of status.
cable has ensured that we, like people worldwide, have been brainwashed
and are now consumed by the idea that cars, phones, designer shoes are
necessary to happiness. And this pursuit of wealth at all costs without a
context of an ingrained philosophy of life, has swallowed up the humanity
we find lacking in our criminals.
sad thing is they can kill, and hold up and hate people who work hard for
what they’ve got, but accumulation of wealth will not, according to this
economics professor anyhow, make them happier people.
don’t want to trivialize poverty and hunger – we know that Governments
have a responsibility to their citizens to ensure that every human being
has his basic right, shelter, food, security. We know this basic right is
being denied to millions of people worldwide, that poor people are daily
exploited. We know too, that Governments are generally made up of greedy
people who squander in a day, funds that could feed a village for a month.
we know too, that we can never buy, not with Ten Million dollars, or one
million pounds, the sense of wonder, a ragged child feels on looking at
sunset dusted with gold pollen, or the exuberance of being absorbed into a
game of hop-scotch.
however, Professor Oswald’s theory has refuted something we’ve all
heard at one time or another from an older person – You cant live on
love and fresh air. It seems we can – well, just about. Ask the child,
living intensely in the moment, concentrating on weaving jasmines flowers
outside her hut, which she will tenderly put in her mothers hair.