Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Light Fittings and Happiness

Well, I couldn't keep away for long - I watched another of the happiness programmes and immediately wanted to communicate the findings. It was mainly on the subject of consumerism.

Consumerism, apparently, is what we substitute for hunting and gathering in the modern world; we get the same 'high' from acquiring a new light fitting as a hunter-gatherer would get from a particularly impressive kill.

However this 'high' does not last long and is subject to 'the problem of comparison' - there is always someone who has a better light fitting. Because of this consumerism does not bring lasting happiness. The people in Bhutan say that it creates greed which is why they have banned advertising hoarding. We don't need Coca Cola, one of their ministers said, when we have good supplies of fresh water. But all people need 'things' to some extent and so the people of Bhutan aim to temper material growth with spiritualism.

The programme made the following suggestions to increase happiness.

Ban advertising, especially to children, and especially those advertisements that are pictorial - giving little information and suggesting that certain unnecessary goods are necessary to attain a certain lifestyle.

Increase taxation in order to equilibrate and distribute wealth.

Slow down and take breaks during the working day e.g. in order to visit an art gallery or take a walk in the park

Change work to a lower paid but more fulfilling role.

Or, if that is not possible, making the most of 'signature strengths' in the work place (signature strengths are the things a person is good at - character traits rather than skills).


Blogger Jason Erik Lundberg said...

Wow, Clare, if you keep posting about what a groovy place Bhutan is, I may have to move there.

Welcome back. :)

Thu May 18, 04:08:00 am  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

Fascinating. I wish the "happiness programmes" were available in the US.

Thu May 18, 04:57:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Jason - maybe I'll see you there. I did want to go to Tibet but now it's Bhutan, Bhutan. Bhutan...

Hello Patry - thanks for visiting. The happiness programmes have got a pretty good website here.

Fri May 19, 08:48:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just visited the programme website and completed The Happiness Test.... Interesting; it made me smile!
Wish I'd watched the series.
Hope it's repeated and repeated, like Happiness should be.

Sat May 20, 10:28:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Clare, I found you via Patry.

This is an interesting post. Now I know why I miss British TV!

I have another 'theory' on consumerism and people who are 'empty' inside. Their inner void is like a magnet that pulls in as many 'make me feel good' particles from the outside as they can get, consumer products in particular. 'Whole' people, on the other hand, tend to have a much more balanced view of life and are less prone to be influenced by our excess advertising, their happiness comes from their own inner well. My husband is such a person while I am still working on it and enjoying my retail therapy in the meantime :)

Take care, Kerstin

Wed May 24, 10:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Kerstin, I think your views are pretty similar to the people of Bhutan, if I have understood you (and them) correctly.

With true spirituality (or 'wholeness') possessions (or 'make me happy particles') are no longer necessary hence the apparently happy state of the buddhist monk and his complete and natural immunity to advertising.

How to achieve such 'wholeness' though? That is the big question...and I guess the one some people spend all their lives trying to answer.

Wed May 24, 11:11:00 pm  

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