By David Anderson
If you live in the United States you are. At least generally speaking you are. “Among big countries, the United States ranks first” in happiness according to the “World Happiness Report” per an opinion piece the morning of April 16, 2012, by Robert J. Samuelson of the “Washington Post” .
You’re happy, according to the world happiness-meter, because the economy here is better than elsewhere, the poll reflecting the relationship between economic growth and smiley-faces.
However, another study – in the same article, with “the middle class and rich reporting being happier than the poor” – did not reveal that the richer people became that their happiness-level increased along with it. Riches and happiness were not, as it turned out, on a parallel track.
So if economic growth – the emphasis of a lot of countries and cities, including in the latter case our own – doesn’t make people happier, what does?
At least according to an article this month of April, 2012 in “AlterNet”, which bills itself as “an award-winning news magazine and online community (that serves as) an alternative to the commercial media onslaught.” It’s headlined “America (is) a Less Healthy and Happy Place” because we – that is “the prudes (a.k.a.) social conservatives” among us – “detest . . . pro-gay legislation, nude or topless beaches, legal or decriminalized prostitution, (and) adult entertainment.”
Countries in Europe where these activities are pursued with more-than-less abandon are happier. Sex is mainstreamed, not an alternative life-style, per the AlterNet article anyway.
So why is President Obama angry?
Major media networks reported April 14, 2012, “At a Sunday press conference wrapping up his visit to Colombia, President Barack Obama said he would be angry if it turned out the allegations that 11 Secret Service agents brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms were true.
“’When we travel, we have to observe the highest standards. We’re not just representing ourselves. We’re here on behalf of our people,’ he said.”
Why be angry? Why standards?
Why not just do as the Europeans do, ala ‘Don’t worry – or be angry – be happy!”
Tell me it ain’t so.
For all the clothes-flinging, freedom-expressing, cultural-taboo-jettisoning, happiness-seeking of our friends across the pond, Samuelson observes, “The irony is that Europe, where the happiness movement is strongest, generally registers lower happiness.”
So if riches don’t equal happiness, and sexual freedom is found wanting, what’s left?
There’s an ancient proverb that commentator Clarke suggests has the answer.
“One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.”
Unraveling what appears to be a riddle Clarke says: “The words are here in the hithpael conjugation, which implies reflex action, or the action performed on one’s self, and often signifies feigning or pretending to be what one is not, or not to be what one is; the words may be understood of persons who feign or pretend to be either richer or poorer than they really are, to accomplish some particular purpose” (emphasis mine).
In other words, if you are living for yourself, purposing for yourself, ‘self’ being the emphasis of this proverb, you’ll never be happy, rich or poor, married forever or sleeping around. Happiness is about others, serving others – your wife or husband; mentoring children; reaching out in your community.
Take two-tenths of a second and Google “All About Me” and you’ll get 1,020,000,000 results. Google “All About Others” and you get only seventy (70).
Tell me that there’s some other purpose than it being all about me for being on this planet; tell me that what the happy people are saying ain’t so.
For those who live for themselves and say they’re happy – just give ‘em time.