As a country or city develops, consumerism and materialism will set in sooner or later.
Inflation occurs, one’s earning power plummets, demand for increased pay increases, people migrate, dating and marriages get impeded, careers careen off the speeding highway and societal dissociation sets in. Having lived in a developed country often regarded as one of the most expensive or the most expensive country in the world, I am no economist but the mere acts of observation is enough to warrant concern.
Individuals’ reactions to increased standards of living vary but most would probably work harder to earn more to beat the inflation, up till the point where there is an imbalance of work-life balance. The wide income gap become the rich and the poor in most capitalistic society may be the catalyst for others to begin making comparison between the haves and have-nots. And for the intellectually and/or spiritually enlightened, it is rather apparent that making comparisons is the beginning of one’s decline in being happy.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “David and the Goliath” did made a mention of why people in some countries are happy, while the rest are not. The result may surprise you. It is not due to the wealth or per GDP of the countries that determines the happiness level of its citizens.
So, what is it?
Are you ready for the answer?
It is due to the relative comparisons that people make about those who live around them, which in turn forms the perception of how well they are doing themselves. So, when it comes to the rural dwellers, they would be happier than their counterparts living in the cosmopolitan cities because while the former’s peers are having a similar quality of life, the latter is not.
In conclusion, it’s our comparison with others and not our social standing or wealth that determines our happiness.
Having said that, it is not surprising that people in developed cities are living unhappy lives. How is it possible to be happy when comparison enters the picture and we see many possessions of others that we do not have?
The key to being to happy is to live a simple life. It has always been so.
Make do with what you have. Live simple. Eradicate excesses and exorbitant expenses. Express gratitude. Shift one’s focus from the materialistic to the spiritual.
It’s that simple.