The latest issue of Outlook Magazine, one of the widely published Indian weekly magazine, conducted a country wide survey on Happiness. It says 85.5% of urban people in India think they are either very happy or happy. Yes, 85.
This is a striking contrast to what I saw recently in the major cities of developed countries, where the ‘Occupy’ protesters waved a placard saying they were 99%, shouting that only 1% of their population dominates the wealth and the rest is unfairly exploited, or unhappy.
How could this happen? The United States, Europe, and even Japan think that their majority are unhappy, after all the hardwork on economical and social development, while India, with less than 1/10 par capita GDP of these developed countries, thinks they are all happy.
Who moved my happiness?
Let’s start from the US. The United States’ Declaration of Independence declares that “the Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are unalienable rights to the human being. And ever after, the Americans have been chasing this Happiness.
It’s a competition called American Dream. After seeing dozens of success stories of self-made billionaires, they believed that everyone has a chance to become the next Steve Jobs.
The reality was not that sweet. American Dream was only about the 1%. The remaining 99% was left behind unhappy.
As being a good fellow of America, the Japanese joined the pursuit of Happiness once they rebuilt the country after the War. They had enjoyed the unprecedented economic growth and everyone had became happy, until when the Japanese economy plunged into recession in 90’s.
Since that time till today, they are struggling to rediscover Happiness. What happening in the process of redefining happiness is a sort of downsizing. During the economy growth, happiness was almost equal to the accumulation of wealth in a financial or material way. As a hope for getting back track on the glorious economic growth in the 70’s and 80’s is thinning, people, especially younger generations, started to downsize the definition of Happiness.
If Happiness is not in the US, Japan, or any other developed countries, is it in India? Apparently so.
A Japanese folk song band GODIEGO, once very popular in the 70’s and regrouped in 2006, wrote a song about the ancient Indian city Gandhara, where people believed to find happiness. So did Steve Jobs, who were well ranked in the 1% category. In his youth, he traveled to India for months to find a guru to learn the secret of Happiness. Although neither of them succeeded to find their Happiness in India, the Indians seem to have one. Again, 90% think they are happy.
Why? The number one reason of their Happiness is, according to the survey, their optimism towards the future. 89.8% people believe that their future is better. Do the US or Japan have this optimism? Probably not.
Happiness is not in the past, but in the future.