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.
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