The story appears on

Page A7

August 26, 2019

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Opinion

On increasing satisfaction in era of consumerism

A visitor to Nepal has recently made some thought provoking comments.

“Coming back from the Nepal trip, there is one question that keeps puzzling me. People from developing countries come here (Nepal) to enjoy the ‘poor conditions,’ get relaxation and serenity. While out there (back home) we are trying to be developed with all sorts of state-of-the-art equipment and so on. So, which living condition should we aim for? A poor but simple, fresh, serene, peaceful lifestyle, or a modern lifestyle full of stress, pollution, and consumption?”

This statement, from a person who had spent two weeks in the mountainous nation, predisposes that in the countryside, where life is rustic and slower-paced there is contentment and happiness (this is sometimes called life satisfaction).

When faced with such a situation, most people will look towards the objective circumstances such as a good job, a happy marriage, good interpersonal relationships, good health and a safe environment to live in.

Objective predictors

These objective predictors involve matching and even exceeding the society’s biological and cultural standards.

People will do things that the culture values so as to feel good. One objective circumstance that has been shown to make a consistent difference in happiness is social connections.

People who are alone are less likely to be happy than people with strong, rich social relationships.

The other objective predictors seldom keep us happy for long.

Economists and politicians want us to believe that happiness is linked to the increase of the gross domestic product. Yet, the reality of the situation tells us that it is not so.

Today, South Korea has a higher income per capital as compared to 1985. However statistics show that in 1985, there were 9 South Koreans committing suicide per 100,000 compared to 36 per 100,000 today.

This is similar in the case of developed countries like Switzerland, Japan, France and New Zealand.

As Shanghai Daily reported recently, the New Zealand government is introducing an innovative approach to measuring the overall health and care of its people rather than just chasing after monetary measurements.

So the occasional visitor to a third world country who feels that the slower pace of life is a more ideal abode is in a temporary illusion.

One possibility is that in rural settings (found everywhere) given the three-tier families environment existence and the presence of kinship helping out, as well as the intimate personal connection with daily chores, “poor” economy residents have a strong backup pyramid in the form of social and family supports.

Positive psychology

If the rural setting is “nirvana,” why then do thousands of residents move to the cities in search of a better life?

Some young Vietnamese ladies from poor families are prepared to be brides of unacquainted bachelors from another country.

This personal sacrifice (sad but fatalistically noble) is for the economic betterment of their families back home — enabling younger siblings to go for education and lessening the financial burdens of their parents.

How then can one increase life satisfaction in this fast paced consumption culture and Internet environment?

As recently reported, after winning the French Open for the twelfth time, Nadal said that he was content with what he had achieved.

“You cannot be thinking ‘one more’ all the time, otherwise you are never happy. You want more money, a bigger house, a new boat, an even prettier girlfriend! You have to thank life for all that it gives you.”

That statement from the “King of Clay” in another report is somewhat equivalent to the “positive psychology” group’s espoused tenets. This group wants us to look for positive actions that can increase our happiness.

These can be summarized in the acronym E.A.R.: Enjoy the things you do, appreciate what you have and what others are, and reciprocate feelings.

The author is a consultant and trainer based in Singapore.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend