There is an article in the Daily Mail named; “Money does buy you happiness… if your friends have less of it” The article goes on to say; “Money makes you happy – but only if you have lots more than your friends and neighbours. Owning the house of your dreams, the car you always longed for and having millions in the bank doesn’t stop that desire to keep up with the Joneses, researchers have found. And if the Joneses have more than you do, you’ll be miserable. It seems envy at being lower in the social pecking order tarnishes the satisfaction of being well off.
Psychologists looked at the happiness levels of 10,000 people who took part in the British Household Panel Survey and compared these with their income. The results showed that although salary is important to a certain extent, a person’s social standing or status matters more.
And that’s where the Joneses come in. “The standard of living has gone up for each individual over the past 40 years but it has gone up for everyone,” said researcher Dr Chris Boyce from the University of Warwick. “Our cars are faster now but our neighbours have faster cars too, so we haven’t got that advantage over people close to us. Without the biggest home, or the fastest car then it doesn’t give you that same excitement as it would have. Earning 1million a year appears not to be enough to make you happy if you know your friends all earn 2million a year.”
Dr Boyce feared many of us are racing to earn more money at the expense of building strong relationships. As Hyacinth Bucket discovers in the BBC comedy Keeping Up Appearances, trying to outdo…
“If everyone has to work hard to be better than other people, it suggests that if we all worked a little bit less we could find the time to do things that might be a bit more productive for our wellbeing,” said Dr Boyce, an economic psychologist. It’s not the first time we’ve been warned that striving to keep up with the Joneses is bad for our health. Previous research found those who feel eclipsed by their friends’ material success are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, ulcers and high blood pressure.
There is one phrase In Chinese go like this “yuán mù qiú yú”. It means “Climbing a tree to catch a fish.” An equivalent English saying is “One cannot get blood from a stone.” From this article we may think that it is possible that money can bring true happiness, but it really is a case of “climbing a tree to catch fish.”
There are three different levels of happiness:
The first is contest happiness. Through overcoming a competitor the victor feels happy. This nature of this kind of happiness is brief and followed with restless. This is because there is always another competition waiting for you and nobody can always win.
The second is conditional happiness. This kind of happiness is familiar to most people. When an outside condition seems favorable to you, you feel happy i.e. you get that new “toy” you’ve always wanted. However, when that condition changes, you lose the happiness too i.e. the “toy” breaks, or your friend has a fancier “toy.”
When we stop to seeking happiness from outside ourselves and start looking for inner happiness, then we will find the third happiness; “True Happiness”. Thus, happiness should not necessarily be sought after, for if one but avoids those things which cause suffering, happiness will exist on its own.
I believe that it is instinctual for people to look for ways to achieve happiness. But many people don’t know that they can decide that they can be a happy person just by themselves. When you are sick you can be happy, when you are poor you still can happy, even when you are dying you still can make yourself happy. Why do you want to let your environment guide your happiness?
Zen Master Wumen Heikai tells it like this: “Spring has its profusion of flowers, Autumn has its resplendent moon. Summer has its cooling breeze; Winter has its soft carpet of snow. If you don’t have a heart full of vexations then every season is a good seaon.”
Whatever is phenomena (a fact, occurrence, or circumstance observed or observable) is ephemeral. Everything has a bright and dark side to it in this world. Those who only see the dark side of things bring suffering and pain upon themselves. Those who can see at the same time the bright side of it, every day is a good day!