What makes us happy
My book on Social Media started with an introduction about being happy, or rather an instance where I discovered happiness, by accident, at a lecture in Miami. How I got there and why is a long story involving martial arts, publicity and a lucrative contract but what really struck me as I recalled the moment, was the rarity of it in life which basically got the whole ball rolling.

While we are excellent at putting in place processes which make the implementation of work and the measurement of it, possible, we have been terrible at putting in place any kind of process which implements or even attempts to measure happiness. And yet happiness is what we all crave, aim and strive for at both a conscious and an unconscious level all the time. 

We work hard at our jobs and when those jobs make us happy we work even harder. We seek happiness in life and become involved in activities and processes which we hope will deliver it. We become caught up in our search for happiness which frequently appears to be so elusive that it vanishes the moment we think we will attain it.

The Buddha is famous for saying: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Yet happiness, while capable of being easily shared does not appear to be just as easy to attain. There are the obvious trends of course, where the United Nations’ Happy Countries Index (link at the end of the article) places first world countries at the top of the list and third world ones at the bottom, but there the obvious trends stop and the realm of the unexpected begins.

The most prosperous countries are not automatically the ones where people in them feel the most happy and even within the least happy countries in the world it’s still possible to find individuals or communities where happiness seems the norm. This makes it obvious that happiness is not money or material possessions and it is not technology (though many of us reading this on a computer will argue against this point) nor is it youth or health, though these are obviously somewhat contributory factors.

Happiness, it would appear, lies in the values we create for ourselves and the measures we put in place to then quantify the value we hold as individuals. Within that simply explained equation lies a world of complexity and perhaps the course of our unhappiness or, at the very least, our inability to find happiness. The disparity between what we are trained and conditioned to seek and what we feel we want has few easy solutions but at least we are finally beginning to get it and are starting to do something about it.

There is a suspicion that the best way to create processes which take happiness into account we do not really need to do anything more than recalibrate the value system we already have in place. We do not have to get rid of material wealth and money as a sign of success as long as we also manage to include those parameters which help the individual form goals which help his self-development and engagement with his community.

This is no mean feat to pull off. Yet, in a social media-empowered world the ability to share concerns and find like-minded individuals should help create added weight to the new-found shift in attitudes across disparate communities. Will this lead to a readjustment of our widely accepted system of values? Most probably. Will it lead to greater happiness? I really do not know. Human beings are competitive by nature. We might find ourselves chasing “Happiness Metrics” with the same compulsive obsession we chase promotion or the purchase of a bigger car.  

Then again, the very fact that we are actually talking about incorporating different value systems, have set up a ‘Happiness League Table’ of sorts and are considering just what it will take to make us happy is an indication that we might, just might, be able to take the next step towards a more community-minded, sustainable future.

How Happy Are you? Take The Happiness Survey and Find Out.

Related Content

The anachronism with capitalism
Why are People Poor?
Social Media Use and the Future of Capitalism
How Social Media is Helping Businesses Develop a Conscience
The End of the Road for Capitalism as We Know it?
Can Social Media Democratize the Lawmaking Process?
The Politics of Value
What if we Had a New Value System for Goods and Services?
Four Common Sense Causes Which Fail the Logic Test

External Links

The UN Embraces the Economics of Happiness
World's happiest countries: 1 to 187
International Human Development Indicators