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The Pursuit of Happiness: the Desire for Wealth Vs the Desire for Contentment

Updated on October 12, 2011

It is innate in humans to desire happiness.

In fact, through the years, people have tried so much to pursue that happiness. Some even say that this pursuit towards gaining the real essence of happiness is the pushing machine behind the motivation of humans to recreate life and living through imposing innovation and change with the help of new technology. The human society then claim that not until the desires of" living freely" have all been completed shall the human generations rest from continuously pursuing progress.

But what really is happiness?

According to Grind Bjorne's writing onHappiness in the perspective of evolutionary psychology , "happiness is a state of mind"; which means that the meaning of real happiness only depends on a person's perception of what really is it all about. Question is, how should one practically understand the concept of happiness?

Through the years, human individuals tried to define the meaning of happiness in different terms.

Back in the days, happiness is realized by those who are able to feed their family three times a day and still have the time to mingle with their loved ones without being too much pressured of gaining to much for a supposed "extra income or future monetary insurance".

Sadly, those day's are gone....

Ever since the beginning of the introduction of the new "essence" of "real living", the word "happiness" has already been coined based on the human want of being a part of the progressive sense of living.

I remember going to a career seminar when I was still in fourth year high school and the question was :

Do You Want to Be Happy?

Of course, everyone said "yes"... even I did so.

Then it was followed by the question "do you want to be successful"?

Again, the resounding answer was "yes"

The answer to these questions quite disappointed me though....

the speaker said

"to be happy you need to be free of money worries,
you need to have the capability to get what's[best] for your family....
you need to have the capability to have what you want and still have the energy to
do what you are supposed to do for your family"

.... this answer lingered in my mind for quite sometime. What if I do not actually want a car or a large house and lot and other material things that others claim to be the source of real happiness [because believe it or not, I don't] ? Should I consider my self abnormal?

Based from the given response to the question that has been raised...

does it mean that happiness and success could only be characterized by mere possession of material things?

I dug deeper to give response to my personal doubts....

Along the way of my research, I found some key facts the really define the reality of what happiness is:

(1) Back to the days when humans lived longer, it has been given appointed conjunction that they lived happier than the people today (Seligman 2004). Note that back then, they have no cars, no tall buildings, no amusement parks, no high-paying jobs that could given them a chance to take a vacation around the world.

Why then were they happy?

After working in the farm or out in the sea for fishing or other particular tasks that they were supposed to do, they have all the time they need to spend with their family, to chat with their friends and to simply get along with the community. Not to mention the fact that they had all the time they need to appreciate the simple things around them that were specifically made to satisfy their need for happiness.

The wonderful picturesque of nature, the sun's grandeur and the trees' lush, the flowers' incomparable beauty and the life that roams around the environment are all worthy of appreciation that most people today are not able to see.

The irony is that to be happy, they work and work to pay for a vacation that would let them enjoy these scenery of God's grand creation.

(2) Happiness has already been "COMMERCIALIZED"

observe the fact that advertisements today pertain to the idea of "success" to be based on gaining material things that are supposed to give human individuals the freedom from stress... what stress?

stress from paying "rent" for a house [so it is demanded that one gets his or her own house... how? through paying for homes that are overtly huge; a dream house... and working for the payment for at least 25 years of so]

stress of commuting [so it is suggested that one buys his or her own care to gain the freedom of through paying a monthly fee to complete a 300,000+ car loan that could be provided by banks]

As a result to this socially mandating pursuit, an average worker today works at least 5 days a week, for eight hours a day simply to be able to cover for all the expenses that he or his family might possibly be in need of as per suggested through the "ads for success". Some even need to live far away from their families, simply to give their loved ones not simply the things that they need, but the things that they "want".

(3) Rich people are the ones with the most devastating lives when it comes to the relationship that they have with their families and their loved ones:

Fact 1 : 45% of rich fathers have lesser time for their children and have more time mingling with their coworkers and their staff. Likely, the time they spend with their family only amounts to at least 23% of a year compared to the 58% they spend on work and the rest of their year in casual mingling. (Myers, 1992)

Fact 2: 35% of husbands who are rich have unsatisfied wives.. no wonder, many women today resort to work as well to release the stresses they feel when it comes to their relationship failures. (Myers 1992)

The balancing of time and work is impossible if one desires to have more than what is needed.
Happiness, being a state of mind, should be understood as the contentment on the things that one has. Being able to provide your family with what suffice their being or their need to live is better than being able to give them the things that they "want" while not being able to stay with them in their times of need.

Yes, true happiness lay strongly on the capability of one to see how living sustainably is practically applicable along with the idea of simplicity. Seeing the simpler matters of life as the grand gift of pleasure provided by the natural beauty of God's creations over the commercialized presentations of satisfaction.

Undoubtedly, the meaning of "happiness" for the human society is constantly changing every year...
as the life of humans are practically defined by commerce, the level of happiness that humans pursue becomes more and more impossible that it only implicates frustration rather than satisfaction.

Being able to free ourselves from the idea of pushing forward for a much richer life that is not at all that necessary for us or for the one's we love would be the very matter that would free us from worries and give us better chances of enjoying life with less stress and less pressure. Through this, we are able to give priority towards the more important things in life that most people disregard today, our spiritual bond with our creator who gave us the basic matters we need to be satisfied and happy with life.


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    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 5 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Yes, I completely agree as it is said "happiness is a state of mind"; but state of mind demands solvency in finance, romance for sense organ and peace of mind in the faith of spirit for being afraid of death and the future. In the midst of all these mind remains in the state of restless condition and happiness never rests in mind till death. This is what life I do believe is. Thanks for an illuminating article.

    • rutheddavid profile image

      Ruth Serrano 5 years ago from Philippines

      thanks a lot for the comment midget38 ....

      it really is worth it to be contented and do away with what cannot be realistically achieved.. It pays to have peace of mind because of having what we need and being contented with it.

      have a great day :)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      A very good discussion on happiness. Really, it's what we make of it.....and being grateful for what we do have is a key! All starts with gratitude. Voted up.

    • MBGreen profile image

      MBGreen 6 years ago from Northeast USA

      Nice job - Great outlook on life - we think a lot alike

    • rutheddavid profile image

      Ruth Serrano 6 years ago from Philippines

      i hear you loud and clear janeenjesse@yahoo :)

      think is, I also have a son and at some point, I do feel the same way you do... Good thing here in the Philippines, I could actually control the environment he lives in. Given that he is studying through homeschool, we are able to minimize the effects of the outside world on him.... Adjustments are hard to make in this world of material pursuits.. but with great efforts come great result... [and we are still in the process of the effort-thing :) ]

      have a great day to you mate! :)

    • janeenjesse@yahoo profile image

      Joanne Kathleen Farrell 6 years ago from Rensselaer NY

      Thanks for writing this hub. I really enjoyed it. It made me examine a few things in my own life. I have found that what holds me in the constraints of the norm is kids. I would like to just live in the rural farm and have no electricity; grow my own food and do what I think is right... but, with children everything becomes about what is best for them. Sometimes I think, 'am I doing what is best for them'? Do they really need these slave factory shoes from China or elsewhere? Is this cell phone teaching my son anything? We buy a cell phone and he uses one his friend gave him. The one we bought was not good enough. I think what is that? How about no phone! Today if a parent does not buy shoes and clothes constantly others call you a bad parent and parents worry social services will come take your child if you do not conform. However, I have tried my best to not conform to it all no matter who likes it. I try to install a sense of freedom in my kids. I do try to teach them that conforming is limited... and we need a greater sense of what is important in order to grow as a human being. It is hard to teach these things in our material world. I do not have cable and we use the internet at the library. I have alternative utility company and phone service. I try my best not to conform to social borders.I think if I free my self and go after a life I think is right and feel free enough to do it my children will eventually do the same. So for, this is not the case. May be when they are older.