TED Conversations

Ian Surridge

Design Student,

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Why don't we have economies built on the growth of well being and happiness, instead of material things, which by the end have no value?

We should just be getting on with living. Living on the most awesome planet anywhere, I mean technology and material things are great but in the long run we are essentially just renting them, using them until we no longer need them, shouldn't our economies, (our daily grind) reflect this?

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    Feb 20 2011: First, i doon"t think there are some contradiction between the growth of well being and material things.Material things make our life more convenient and comfortable. But it also brings many obsession to people nowadays.

    Advertisment has influenced us unconsiciously so deeply that we are all pullzed by something we don't need.The government don't want the economic to slow down so it has to stimulate consume until the resource has run out .
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    Feb 20 2011: Actually it is opposite. The material resources are the ones that continue with our achievements ( this includes the information ) and the ones that die out are us, with our emotions, memories and happiness. Good thing the next generation is there to take control.
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    Feb 20 2011: I think that we can only speak about happiness once our basic needs are satisfied. You can't think about happiness if your family is starving - you just want to get money to feed them. And then there's injustice in all that, because the more people have, the greedier they get. And in my opinion that's just because they don't understand that money and things will not make them profoundly happy, it's all about personal progress and learning to live with yourself. That being said, there is a fundamental thinking trend that needs to be transformed - we have put way too much emphasis on things - because land and property and things were important for survival (and still are in some places of the earth). But once we got them, we wanted more and more, being used to fighting always for survival.

    I don't remember where I read that obesity is a problem nowadays because the human body has been used to eating as much as it can get from fear of scarcity, and now that we have so much, we didn't learn to stop. It's the same with happiness. We have to realize that our basic needs are met, at least in the western world, and that fame and status and money is not synonym with happiness.
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    Feb 20 2011: because material things do have a great value when it comes to wellbeing and happiness. it is trendy to say otherwise, but if you are honest, you must see that our wellbeing is connected to a lot of material things ranging from shelter and food, to tasty wines and cheeses, to the internet and computers, to modern healthcare and so on.
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    Feb 19 2011: Of course it is not possible to create a system that delivers happiness as a product. Yet we could have economic and social systems that promote it. We should be helping people to be successful as people and not only as potential customers. Everyone should be given the opportunity to find and then do what they want to do, instead of being forced to find any form of work just to sustain a life of pointless work.

    Yes there does need to be a huge paradigm shift, from governments and leaders, to go from (How can we make more money than we did last year?) to (How can we be better than last year?) As a county, as people.....
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    Feb 19 2011: The world mostly runs with the Pareto principle: 80% wealth is in the hands of 20% of the world's population. Those 20% can either create opportunities or make problems benefiting the powers and people that be.
  • Feb 18 2011: Well being and happiness cannot be measured as easiliy as material things. Major economic theories assume material wealth correlates with happiness, which isn't the case, to change this requires a paradigm shift, which is extremely hard to do.
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    Feb 18 2011: Because everyone has a different idea of what creates and sustains happiness. Just ask a heroin addict. Happiness is as diverse as the genetic code.