Monday, September 15, 2014

Bhutan - Money and Happiness

If Bhutan becomes richer, do you think Bhutanese people will become happier? Justify your answer in relation to experts’ view on the relationship between more money and being happier.

Bhutan is an undersized but sovereign country ruled by the monarchs. It is known as the land of Gross National Happiness. The people have given preference to happiness over economic prosperity. “Happiness is a shared desire of every human being. It is possibly the ultimate thing we want. Other things are wanted only as a means to its increase,” states Thinley (1998). With urbanization, the lifestyles of Bhutanese people have changed drastically. As in any part of the world, the growth in economy has transformed the lives of ordinary people. Despite the immense transformation brought in by money, it is found to cause unhappiness as the people compete for wealth. The greed to posses more has made the people selfish leading to loss of moral values with increasing anxiety.

In the past people lived jointly in their villages bound with their relatives and friends. Living together made it easy to assist each other. Farm works were done in routine, having called the neighbors to complete the work on time. These enhanced socialization. It was easy for the people to keep the community intact. The people were happy with the lifestyle. In those days there was no money to pay wages when works were done by others, still people happily agreed to share.

In the present day, people hardly work for others, unless a payment is being made. People have become selfish in need of money. Villages are abandoned for urban settlement with the greed to earn. There is no bond with parents and family members. The hunger for more money has made the society least interactive leading to unhappiness. According to large - scale surveys by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center those who socialize and have more friends are found to be happier than those who have less or no friends (2006).

Bhutan, then, had no currency till the 1960’s. People walked for months to exchange a good for another. It was a tiring job, still people enjoyed as they got to explore and make new friends. It was an opportunity to know the lifestyle of those that lived far. People, then, had no greed or sense of competition to have more. They exchanged certain amount of goods that was enough for the family. “I wish I could turn back the time and go to the past, when goods and services were exchanged without any monetary transactions,” said a 72-year old man from Tading in Samtse (2012). Happiness prevailed in the way they lived.

With the introduction of monetary system, people have gained interest in earning. City people work late night or extra hours in the offices to earn more. In the rapid developing world, no one wants want to be left out. People desire to have more. Comparison is being made, especially with people in the community and work mates. These increases stress leading to decline of happiness. The new products will fascinate at first, however soon the people get adapted to it and look for even more. Lutter (2006) states, “If you compare two people with the same income, with one living in a richer area than the other, the person in richer area reports being less happy”. There is no level of satisfaction. The competition keeps rising steadily leading to anxiety.

On the other hand, the rise in economy has changed the living standard of Bhutanese people. People no more sleep in the cave or walk bare foot. Money can bring happiness to those who are really in need. It can eradicate poverty fulfilling the basic needs such as food, cloth and shelter. Money has become a necessity in the developing countries. If poor people get enough money, Happiness will increase. Layard (2002) states, “The effect of extra income on happiness is greatest in the poorest countries, where the people are nearest to breadline”.

People are found happy if they are at same level with their friends and neighbors in the community. Money has become a factor that determines how happy a person is. Buying a new car or an apartment gives happiness. Having no money makes people indulge into theft and burglary. People desire to have the same wealth and comfort. In order to pace with others in terms of earning, people take the wrong path. “In the past, Bhutan was virtually crime – free. However with modernization and development, crime such as burglary, theft and robbing of “chortens” (religious stupas) are becoming common” states Zeppa (2013). Such people can be happy, if they have enough money. In such situation if Bhutan becomes richer, which means rise in economy, people can be happier.

The charm of new car and apartment are only momentary joy. Though people might be happy when they first get those luxuries, within no time they get adapted and desire for more. The sense of competition keeps rising with no level of satisfaction.

The Bhutanese were happy even before the introduction of monetary system. People then worked for each other without having to pay wages. Months were spent travelling to distant places to exchange goods. People enjoyed their lifestyle and were happy. People are now living a life that is good as race, competing for wealth. Money can make people happy up to certain level but it fades away as the greed of wanting more overtakes. Therefore it is likely that Bhutanese people might not be as happy if Bhutan becomes richer.

P.S: This is the first research essay that I worked upon. I had this submitted in the first semester for the module Academic Skills. The module focuses on developing reading, writing and communication skills. I being Dzongkha student take no literature classes; therefore the numbers for this module will be taken as rankings for English. I really had to put in my will. Well, I managed to score 77, which I assume to be satisfactory.
Thank you for visiting. Please do tour over. Good Day! Take care.

12 comments:

  1. Happiness is something that is within. It has to grow from within. But to grow from within at this time and age isn't easily possible. I feel money plays a supporting role, though it isn't the main actor. I accept it as part, at least at this era. But ask me, if it alone can be happiness. It can never. So, that's why I feel father of GNH aptly said, " Happiness is a balance between spiritual and material well being". There is a need for spiritual and material balance to have happiness. Thanks and sorry for having to beat around bushes. Thanks.

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    1. Truly, I am with your words that money alone can never be happiness, although it has become the inmost necessity in today’s rapid changing globe. Thank you for taking time to add up thoughtful comments of yours, Sangay sir. Please do visit again. Have a great week ahead. Take care!

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  2. Gross National Happiness in Bhutan is not so happening from my point of views yet people talk so much on it...If money is there no-doubt people will become happier by the day...Yes, mam Lekey whatever you have said is all correct la...Nice read

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    1. I indeed agree with your statement, Sancha sir. Thank you for taking time to drop in wonderful words of yours. Please do visit again. Have a great week ahead. Take care! (You can address me with my name, dear sir. I am student still. Thank you).

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  3. I should say that there is a connection between happiness and wealth, but it is not absolute. Happiness greatly depends upon the perception of thoughts we think and pretty much on the wealth we drink. After all, "Happiness depends upon ourselves," as quoth by Aristotle. My chief point here is; If Bhutan becomes richer, I think Bhutanese people will become happier as long as we make up with our minds to be happy. Simple, think happiness and you will feel it. An instructive post Lekey ma'am. Hope everything is going well everyday. Take Care. :)

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    1. Glad to know your perspective, Ugyen. So true are your words that we can be happy as long as we make up our mind to be, but people today seem to have failed to instill in this concept. People are into race competing for wealth, with a fear of being left out, which in turn is preventing them to be happy with what they are gifted with. Thank you for taking time to pour in inspiring remark of yours. Please do visit again. Have a great week ahead. Yeah, am doing well. Hope you too. Take care!

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  4. Happiness is subjective in nature (Veenhoven, 2006). It means different thing to different people. For instance, Veenhoven (2006) asserts that it can even mean ‘how much one likes the life one lives’ which is commonly understood as ‘satisfaction of life’ or the ‘degree to which one evaluates one’s life-as-a-whole positively’.
    It is a necessity for all the human beings. Our 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck has realized that, at the far end, it is only happiness that is craved by all. But his concept of happiness widely tagged as Gross National Happiness is unique and comprehensible. Gross National Happiness is a ‘kind of happiness that does not come at the cost of well-being of other people’. His views were further substantiated when many scholars claimed in the same vein. One of such is James (2012), who stated that happiness is within and inherent to an individual. Happiness is made by our own mind.
    (Note: Enjoyed reading. This was one topic that was actually in the menu of my going-to write posts).
    For more details on happiness, I would recommend you to read:
    Veenhoven, Ruut (1993). Happiness in Nations: Subjective Appreciation of Life in 56
    Nations 1946-1992. Rotterdam: Erasmus University Press.

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  5. If you are interested, the link of this paper is http://www2.eur.nl/fsw/research/veenhoven/Pub1990s/93b-part1.pdf

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    1. Thank you for taking time to pour in overpowering messages, Dumcho sir. Indeed significant are the statements. Truly, I would love to know your interpretations too. Thank you for the recommendation and dropping in the link above. I would love to explore. Please do visit again. Have a great week ahead. Take care!

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  6. Wonderful research essay !!! GNH, Gross National Happiness??? We are still far away fro GNH. However the concept GNH is good as many people accept it. Let's search GNH in the country for all common people.

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    1. Indeed, I would love to explore on the topic, if time permits. Thank you for bringing in the subject. Thank you for taking time to drop in thoughtful words of yours, Jigme. Please do visit again. Have a great week ahead. Take care!

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  7. Its a impressive write up. you had a very well research done.

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