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Mohammad Mohammadipour

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Can Money Buy Happiness?

Maybe more cash does make people happier. Especially salient are analyses done by University of Pennsylvania economists Daniel Sacks, Betsey Stevenson, and Justin Wolfers. In their updated 2010 study, “Subjective Well-Being, Income, Economic Development and Growth,” the three compare subjective well-being survey data from 140 countries with those countries' income and economic growth rates. The researchers find that within individual countries richer people are happier than poorer; people in richer countries are happier than people in poorer countries; and over time increased economic growth leads to increased happiness. “These results together suggest that measured subjective well-being grows hand in hand with material living standards,” they conclude..


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    Feb 4 2013: First: Please, could somebody define 'happiness"?
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      Feb 5 2013: Happiness is that state of mind when you feel you want nothing else.
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        Feb 5 2013: That's a good definition, of course. I partially agree. The next question is: Is there -all along the human life- a moment when you don't want anything more? Even a little bit lasting of such moment, for example?
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          Feb 5 2013: I am no expert but wish to try to explain. I don't know about wanting anything more but happiness is a mental state when all desires die and a person feels he is at an heightened state of joy and fulfillment and has nothing else to want, except may be to be in that state as long as possible. From outside it may appear that the mental state has been achieved for no apparent physical reason so it may be easily mistaken as a mental aberration.
          I think it is possible for a human being to achieve this mental state for substantially more than a moment. I have witnessed Indian monks living in remote mountain caves in extreme cold and frugality, almost naked, perfectly healthy and happy. Strangely some of them freely talk about their previous life as successful, educated and civilized men. They are aware about the worldly events, engaged in interesting discourses but with abject detachment as if the world is a movie and and they are no more involved with it than a spectator.

          This extreme and total happiness is manifest in their remarkable health, amiability and a sense of peace around them which is almost palpable.

          I can say with reasonable authority that I did not imagine this as I have many witnesses with same conclusion.
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          Feb 5 2013: Pabitra

          While I think the Buddhists have interesting philosophies that are useful, a life of self abnegation is not one of them.

          People are happiest when they are in control, when they have goals, like a game. Have you every seen someone who is happy when they lose control? Yup the monks have learned how to be content with nothing but they are not living life and they are fooling themselves and their followers into an idea that apathy is the answer.

          Nope gotsta disagree.
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          Feb 5 2013: Pat,
          Could it be that sometimes we simply "think" we have control, when we do not? Could it be that giving up the idea that we can control everything may lead to contentment? Accepting life doesn't necessarily lead to apathy (lack of feeling or emotion; impassiveness; lack of interest or concern; indifference).....IMHO:>)
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        Feb 5 2013: How long does this contented state of mind last?
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          Feb 5 2013: I think I have answered you in above comment.
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          Feb 5 2013: I LOVE using the word contentment rather than happiness:>)

          In my humble perception and experience, the state of contentment can last forever....in every moment of the life experience:>)
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      Feb 5 2013: Dear Sean, Pat and Pabitra,

      Happy: "favored by luck or fortune; well adapted or fitting; enjoying well-being and contentment; characterized by a dazed irresponsible state; impulsively or obsessively quick to use something; enthusiastic to the point of obsession..."

      Content:"satisfied; to appease the desires..."

      Because of the accepted definitions, it appears that "Happy" includes the element of "contentment" AND elements of "dazed irresponsible state"; impulsively or obsessively quick..." and "obsession".

      I much prefer using the word "contentment" rather than "happy", because the definition of "happy" seems a LOT more subjective and more difficult to understand....maybe even contradictory?
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        Feb 5 2013: Hi Colleen :) Nice to see you around.
        I am neither fully happy nor fully content; like many other I go in and out of both. My personal experience is that total contentment is counter productive for creativity whereas my feeling is that total happiness requires a kind of detachment from life which is not my cup of tea. But I trust myself capable of identifying deep happiness in people.
        If you allow me to respond to Pat here (because I cannot reply directly to his comment at this point of thread), I note with interest his disagreement. As to his question: I have seen whole bands of people who have let go control on others and external situations rather happily. May be they are in control of themselves, their lives, their minds and they have goals too - goals like living the rest of their lives without as less meddling with others as possible and being happy to be like that. I do not think that is self-abnegation, even though life of an ascetic is not mine.
        Lest I should be off-topic, I would like to add that these happy people have NO money. They live on provisions of nature and small gifts of friendship.
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          Feb 6 2013: Pabitra

          I hear you and agree that the virtues the monks pursue are valuable. The ability to be in the present cannot be overstated and I would estimate a minority of humans ever experience this to any degree. I would also say that a big part of contentment comes from being able to view things as they are. In fact the point that you realize you are not a body is the epitome of spirituality and is something I agree with Colleen on.

          If everyone did become a monk that would be the end of the species. One of the main joys in life is making goals overcoming barriers and succeeding. Another one is getting interested in something and developing the skills required to participate in that thing. Another one is exchanging with one's fellows in products and ideas. Another one is serving your fellow man by producing a product that raises his standard of living. Another one is making enough surplus that you don't have to live hand to mouth and a slave to the environment or an economic slave to a government. I could go on but you get the idea.

          So yup I reject the specious ideas of the monk or as you say the ascetic.
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          Feb 6 2013: Hi Pabitra, Nice to see you as well:>)
          You say..."total contentment is counter productive for creativity whereas my feeling is that total happiness requires a kind of detachment from life which is not my cup of tea".

          I do not understand this statement. Do you have an example of how contentment is counter productive for creativity? Or how happiness requires a kind of detachment from life?

          For me, contentment is an underlying feeling which is part of the foundation of my life experience, and happiness/contentment for me, means being fully engaged in every moment of the life experience, so I really do not understand your statement...help me with understanding please?

          Nice to see you again too Pat:>)
          I agree with Pat that "a big part of contentment comes from being able to view things as they are". I believe the feelings/emotions of contentment/happiness include the perception of acceptance. I do not agree with rejecting the idea of monks because I accept the fact that they have chosen that particular path for their own learning, growth and evolution:>)
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        Feb 6 2013: Colleen, Pat, Pabitra. . .

        Dear friends: your opinions seem to me very interesting and very instructive. In the current state of my life, I think that one way closer to what we might call happiness or contentment is to start each day with the following ideas:

        1. My mistakes of yesterday are not so important. I regret having committed, I will try not to make mistakes again, but I won't torture me because I made them.
        2. Life is very, very nice. I'll try to enjoy it. Yes, (as usual) at the end of the day there has been, tomorrow I'll try again. Nothing will change that.
        3. People are wonderful. It is true that there are bad people, but I can't avoid that. I will try to be a good person with good people and good person (but not silly) with bad people. If it doesn't work, nothing happens.
        4. The things that it is worth making them, it is worth to do them well.
        5. Humility, listening to the others, serenity, clear view, brave heart, mind quiet.
        Oh, and good luck also!
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          Feb 6 2013: I wish you best of luck. I notice your mention of 'current state of life' with interest because that underlines the whole narrative. Amongst many things that money cannot buy (apart from happiness) is the resonance of mind.
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          Feb 6 2013: Sean and Pabitra,
          I agree that the statement and concept of... "current state of life" may underline everything. It suggests that we are "being" in the moment? Was that your intent Sean?

          I also agree that money cannot buy "the resonance of mind". I perceive that to be a choice:>)

          Personally, I do not think/feel that using the words, or expressing/experiencing the ideas of "mistakes" or "regret" are very usefull. I believe life is an exploration, which offers all kinds of opportunities to learn, grow and evolve. So, how can there be "mistakes" and what is the purpose of the feelings of "regret" if we can learn from the experience?
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        Feb 6 2013: Colleen

        Sorry to hear of your accident, I hope you have a speedy recovery.

        Content and Happy in this case are not interchangeable definitions.

        But regarding your disagreement about the monks I will agree to disagree. Once again your disagreement and agreement are duly noted.

        Simply put life is best viewed as a game, which will bring you happiness. I don't see much of a game in self abnegation.
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          Feb 6 2013: Thank you Pat......just another speed bump in the life experience! I was rushing to go downstairs and meet a visitor......one lesson I was reminded of, is that I need to slow down, and be more careful! It really could have been a lot worse, and I'm grateful that it wasn't! I'm also grateful for your encouraging words:>)

          I thanked my visitor SO much for being here to help, when I fell down the stairs, and he reminded me that if he hadn't come to visit, I would not have been rushing down the stairs to greet him........LOL:>)

          I don't honestly perceive many situations where the words "content and happy" are interchangeable. The more I explore the meaning of "happy", the more I do not like to use it to express a certain feeling, which to me is more "contentment".

          We all probably experience the fleeting feeling of being "happy" (very joyful, enthusiastic, excited, etc.) and I really think it is the underlying feeling of contentment that people are seeking?

          Regarding the monks.....yeah....I agree to disagree. I am content to accept their life choice, and I do not need to engage in a judgment of what it is, or is not for them:>)
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        Feb 7 2013: The time frame from when one is "content" because he has accomplished something and the moment he yearns for he next goal is very short.

        The reward is the journey, of pursuing the goal, which is the very definition of happiness.

        I know you don't think so but I'm not opining here.
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          Feb 7 2013: Hi Pat,
          I believe the time frame from when one is content because of accomplishment, and the moment s/he yearns for the next goal can vary quite a lot depending on the person and the circumstances. We are all different....different thoughts, feelings, ideas, goals behaviors, opinions, etc., so our perception of "time frames" are different, just like humans are different:>)

          I believe the reward can be the journey AND/OR the end result....depending on how we, as individuals use information. I believe happiness/contentment can be a way of travel, not just a destination:>)
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        Feb 7 2013: Duly noted

        In the general public at a quick glance who is happier the guy pursuing goals or the guy without any?
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          Feb 7 2013: Pat,
          The only one who knows if those "guys" are truly happy or content is the guys themselves.

          I've observed people driven to pursue goals, who are not happy/content with the journey OR the end result....you've seen those folks haven't you?

          Then there are lots of people, (like me at the moment), whose only goal at this time, is to live every moment of the life experience with open heart and mind:>)
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        Feb 7 2013: Duly noted. Agree to disagree.

        The epitome of life is achieving goals. Without it is less life. This is the very substance of Survival.
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          Feb 7 2013: Pat,
          I think I understand your belief that "survival" is the concept underlying all of the life experience. While it is a very important factor, and still very much in the forefront for many people, in general, I believe humans have evolved beyond "survival", and we are able to focus on different aspects of the life adventure.

          Goal: "the end toward which effort is directed"

          I personally, do not think every day about survival, nor do I observe that happening consciously with most people in our culture, although I know it is an underlying factor of our (human) life. Unfortunately, I am aware that many people in our world, do indeed face survival every single day, as their goal.

          In some respects survival may be the substance of life, or life the substance of survival, I do not perceive survival to be the epitome (a typical or ideal example) when the topic question is:
          "Can Money Buy Happiness?"
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        Feb 7 2013: You still do not understand the survival is not a yes or no.

        You teach prisoners because you care about their well being (survival)

        You care about your children (survival)

        You advise people on TED to help them survive better

        You exercise on your bicycle to help yourself survive better

        You recognize that having an accident on the stairs is not good for your survival

        And each of these areas vary in condition from chaos to very successful.

        Again survival is not a yes or no proposition.
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          Feb 7 2013: Pat, it appears to me that we are agreeing, and stating our perception in different ways:>)
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          Feb 13 2013: .
          All in all, “survival” is to keep our DNA alive.

          (See my Jan 28 2013 comment below herein)

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