What stole happiness away from Chinese people?

| September 13th, 2010

20100913-happiness-01

(From Tugus) Chinese people, why are you unhappy? What stole happiness away from Chinese people? Author Hei Jian visited 40 countries to seek happiness.

A few years ago, University of Leicester social psychologist White visited over 80,000 people from 178 countries and regions and drew the world’s first “World Map of Happiness”. Surprisingly, the top county was Denmark. Denmark is a country of ice and snow, the southernmost latitude is still north of Heilongjiang Province of China (China’s northernmost province). And Denmark is also a high-tax country with 50%-70% of income tax. So why are Danish people so much happier than people of other countries and regions?

He believes that in Denmark, although with a high rate of taxes, the Danish government is able to use the taxes on the people. The government is responsible for all citizens’ health care and education, and cares for children and the elderly in every possible way. It is ranked first in the world for average money spent per person. Therefore in Denmark, a person who picks up trash for living can be neighbor of people of middle class, and can live equally and proudly. Jan Dion picks up trash for living, he said he does not mind his way of life, because he only needs to work 5 hours a day and spends the rest of time with his family. No one judges his job. He enjoys life because he has many friends. Whenever his children wave at him or his wife hands over a cup of hot coffee, he feels extremely happy.

When we talk about Singapore, the first thought is that this country has strict and harsh laws. Singapore has very detailed legal provisions. Chewing gum or having long hair may be penalized. If you have committed a felony, you may also be tied up and whipped by bamboo whips. But unexpectedly, Singapore is actually the happiest place in Asia. The survey also showed that people living in the slums of Calcutta, India are happier than residents of California. Californians may have more food and better shelters, but the homeless in India have each other.

In Denmark, happiness comes from equality; in Singapore, happiness comes from the rule of law; in the slums of Calcutta, India, happiness comes from the hearts of people that depends on each other.

It is not difficult to see, whether a person is happy or not, largely depends on two aspects. One is external, that is the social environment we live in; the other is internal, that is our personal attitude to life. Today, we (Chinese people) are not happy, also can be analyzed in several aspects.

1. Lack of faith (beliefs)

Most people do not know what the expectations are in one’s whole life, simply put it, you do not know what you want. Confucius ate coarse rice, drank water, didn’t even have pillows when sleeping and used his arms as pillows, but Confucius said, “Happiness is within”; He said, “A basket of cooked rice, a ladle of water, living in the ghetto alley”, others might think this is an unbearable life, but Confucius was able to “keep his happiness”. Why? Because he knew what he is pursuing in this life.

2. Always comparing

Western saying goes, Whether a person is fortunate or not, happy or not, does not depend on how big of accomplishment he/she has achieved, but from the way how the neighbors look at them. When what we are pursuing is not happiness, but to be happier than others, then happiness will be even further away from us.

3. Living in happiness without realizing it

If a light has been constantly lit, you will not pay attention to it, but if it is brighter and darker at times, or if it is on and off at times, you will notice. Similarly, sometimes we are envied by others, but we hardly notice it. Only if one day we loss that, then we will realize.

4. Not moved by beautiful things

“The spring wind is so selfless, not asking for anything in return but blossomed millions of flowers.” We may not have the ability to create beauty, but have we been appreciating the beauty of nature, or the beautiful things created by others? We often ignore and unaware of the natural beauty, artistic beauty, spiritual beauty and many beautiful things in life around us.

5. Do not know how to give

Zhang Shangying from Song dynasty said, “Nothing is happier than being happy of doing good deeds”, only a person who knows how to give rather than just take can be truly happy. Charity is not a privilege of the rich. Donating millions to disaster relief is charity, give a stranger a smile is also charity.

6. Not being content

How much does a person need to be satisfied? Never enough!

When you are not happy because you don’t have shoes, have you noticed those who do not have feet? Contentment brings happiness.

Harold Albert is the academic director of the University of California. Once he walked on the street full of dissatisfaction and confusion because he had already lost his job and was looking for new work. He walked in the road like a depressed person, completely lost confidence and courage.

Just then, a man with no legs came, sitting on a small wooden platform which was attached with wheels from old skates. He carried 2 pieces of wood and wheeled himself across the street.

When Harold saw him, he had just crossed the street, trying to raise himself a few inches to get on the pavement. Harold’s eyes met his, the disabled man said happily, “Good morning! Sr. Nice morning weather, is not it?” At the time Harold felt a strange sense of satisfaction. He thought, I have 2 legs, he has no legs, but he is so happy, what reason do I have to be upset? So Harold became more confident, and went on happily.

7. Anxiety is everywhere

Anxiety of safety, wealth, health and anxiety of children’s education and employment… Only a person who is carefree can be happy.

8. Too much pressure/stress

Political pressure, pressure from work, family, emotional stress, financial stress, interpersonal pressure, psychological pressure and physical pressure

9. Standards are too high

Using person’s own standard to demand others “If I can, why can’t you?”

Using other’s standard to demand oneself, “If he can, why can’t I?”

10. Not being oneself

A person who becomes a good son, a good husband, a good father, a good friend, a good partner… but if a person cannot become someone that himself/herself desires, always fighting with oneself, then this person has no balance, and naturally, it is difficult for him/her to be truly happy.

39 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Diane says:

    Yikes, the biggest one of all, No Freedom! The past 60 some years the Chinese People have endured some of the most horrific treatment by the Communist Government anywhere in the world. Under Mao and other leaders they have been through hell.

    Now, just because China has embraced a form of capitalism they have no real freedom of speech, freedom to choose their leaders, rule of law, freedom of press and many other freedoms that we in most countries take for granted. Money as we know does not always bring happiness, especially with freedom.

    • Tim says:

      Actually, look at the freedom index for Singapore and it’s pretty low too. Freedom really isn’t this be-all-end-all cure for happiness; if that were the case, wouldn’t the States rank up there?

    • dongshizhang says:

      freedom isnt free, it costs folks like you and me…
      more money more problems…

      Diane you are doing number 2 and i have to warn you, it could lead to unhappiness. you give the average Chinese the choice between some money or some freedom…

      • GuoBao says:

        Dammit, now I have to put that movie on, maybe just the Kim Jong Il parts.

        China wake up. Nobody needs 3 Bentleys and 100 million in the bank. Redistribute the wealth more fairly. The possible consequences of NOT doing so could have some very dire effects in the long run. I wonder if 1 billion borderline poor Chinese people will accept that 99 percent of the money China is making these decades end up in the pockets of 1 percent of their countrymen.

        • Gary says:

          It’s not inequality of wealth that’s the problem, it’s inequality of opportunity and systemic corruption. Communists promise equality of outcomes and deliver inequality. A sure formula for general unhappiness.

  2. Dr. K says:

    Hell, the Chinese do not have the freedom to choose to have more than one child.

    • Al Jensen says:

      The one child policy has a lot of loopholes, now it’s mainly market forces that are restricting child bearing (there has been a similar effect in the US recently with falling birthrates since the recession).

      Although again this depends on urban vs. rural, if the first child was a girl, and if the parents were both only children themselves.

    • Tony D says:

      “Hell, the Chinese do not have the freedom to choose to have more than one child.”

      Yes they do. They have the choice to ignore the law and have another child and pay the fine. Them having no choice would be something like, parents are sterilised after the first child so it wouldn’t be possible to have another…

      • Al says:

        A lot of times there are not even really any fines to pay, there’s a lot of loopholes.

        Having more than two children is quite difficult, unless you are a national minority.

  3. GuoBao says:

    I know someone is firing for effect here but I feel I should correct some info from the first paragraph regarding Denmark. I do claim some knowledge since I am Danish myself. “Denmark is a country of ice and snow, the southernmost latitude is still north of Heilongjiang Province”. First of all we get snow in winter just about every 5th year so snow and ice is something most Danes rarely experience. Snow is actually so rare that around Christmas all the kids look expectantly towards the sky for that coveted snow that never falls. Also our northern location is severely dampened by the fact that we have a mild coastal climate as opposed to Heilongjiang and the Gulf Stream supplies plenty of heat during all seasons.

    I’d like to point out that even though our taxes seem steep they are nowhere near 70 percent. Ordinary middle class people pay around 40-45 percent in taxes and people who earn a LOT gets a “rich people” tax on an extra 10 percent slapped on top of that. Surprisingly very few people seem to mind those rates, knowing that the money will be spent on free education, free healthcare, infrastructure, the police, the fire brigades and all such things.

    One of the things that generally make many Scandinavians citizens feel happy is that we know that if one day things go bad we will get help from our government. Lost your job? Sufficient financial help until you are back on your feet. Caught cancer? No need to sell your house to pay for treatment. A victim of a (rare) crime? No problem. The police is well liked and helpful, the courts are transparent and fair and corruption is virtually non-existent. When you add the facts that wages are high, labor laws are strictly in place to help the employees, religious influence is held historically low and that every party in parliament weight the environment high, well, it’s really a no brainer why so many of my countrymen feel content, safe and happy.

    That said of course we do have our problems as everyone else but let’s save those for a rainy day.

    • Mmmm says:

      seriously dude, how can i get danish citizenship?

      i’ve been thinking about it for years now…

      • AlleyCat says:

        Sorry, you cannot be awarded a permanent residence permit if you have been sentenced to more than 60 days in jail for violating Danish Criminal Code Chapter 12 (crimes against the Danish state’s independence and security) or Chapter 13 (crimes against state agencies and leading state authorities, etc.), or have been sentenced to at least 18 months’ mandatory imprisonment or other criminal court decision that involves, or could involve, your incarceration for a crime that would have resulted in a sentence of 18 months or more.

        If you are convicted of a lesser offence, you will be temporarily disqualified from being awarded a permanent residence permit.

        http://www.nyidanmark.dk/en-us/frontpage.htm

    • elenore says:

      Lucky the E.U. is still weak.The Federal Government sues states in the U.S. for trying the same thing.Why you ask ,because poorer States/Greedy Corporations block it.That’s why State Attorney Generals are really,really important,they have to fight the U.S. government in Courts, constantly for everything from environmental laws to Energy to State issued licenses for driving etc..Michigan is a little luckier because the State of Michigan owns 1/2 the property of Michigan and citizens/business the other and not the Federal Government like other states where Federal Government owns most of the land and mineral rights in the States and pretty much makes the decisions on how to use them, when.We also have pretty much control of our shoreline in Great Lakes.Plus our state is sneaky,we use Non-Profit/Taxes,business and mineral licenses and by buying stocks in Companies to lower costs for citizens And bully Corporations(we are basically an un-friendly business environment according to Rich Douche Bags) like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was never allowed to deny coverage to anyone as long as they paid and they did nothing but complain.Now Michigan Dems want a State bank instead of relying on Federal Reserve and N.Y.I think it is a good idea and surprised it didn’t come from GOP.DTE is building Wind farms after getting approval from State to raise rates to cover costs and a bunch of Texans and people from Ohio complained.They want us to buy and burn Coal from Ohio owned by people from Texas and then sell it to Canada.There is so much political BS going on in the U.S.The states are constantly fighting each others legislation for their own industries.Don’t ever give the E.U. any authority or the same will happen in Europe.

      • wtfdik says:

        The EU works differently. It is mainly used by politians of the member countries, so when the f*ck up they can blame it onto the EU.

  4. xino says:

    the chinese government stole Chinese’s happiness away:/

  5. Jay K says:

    don’t talk about happiness in China, it is only a legend

    • Mmmm says:

      happiness is in taiwan, it’s going back to china as soon as they are reunified.

      where are my wu mao?

  6. xian says:

    I dunno, I’m pretty happy

  7. Crystal says:

    As for Singapore being a happy place – it’s similar to the situation of children who need some rules and limitations. If you allow kids everything – go to sleep any hour they want, eat or not eat, respect others or not – they will lose a sense of security.

  8. Peggy says:

    The main reason is that we do not know about ourselves, and pursue what we do not really want even not realizing the wrong direction. We can not find the satisfaction also because we dont know what we want. What we have got is not the what we really want even others envy it.

  9. Steven says:

    I’ve been living in Singapore.

    Yes, its quite a happy place.

    Has anyone seen The Island? That’s pretty much the kind of happiness we have there 😀

  10. Amy says:

    1. Normal people don’t have hope of a wealthy life even if they study and work very hard. A city like shanghai, the real estate price is too high. People from normal families don’t see a hope of living in a nice spacious apartment downtown. Many couple breaks up because the guy couldn’t afford an apartment…sad…

    2. Chinese society is not fair. If born into a poor or normal family, will always feel the unfairness all life. The offsrping of government higher official and rich people are so rampant that they show off what they have, what they do. The media shows young minds how cool it is to be rich, to have luxurious bags, cars,going to classy restaurant or clubs… Young people, even some adults are confused what is a happy life…

    3. Freedom is not that a big deal to normal people actually. We’re born into a place with not much freedom and we’re used to it.

  11. B-real says:

    Kill off half the population in each city, provinence area, village, cun, town, zone, section … and watch China Grow exponentially in a good direction. Along with all the bull shit that China has to deal with , even with a transparent Gov the country can’t afford to take care of all its people. Its too many fucking people sapping and flooding the labor force. There fore their are plenty of restrictions and the “every man for themselves” approach to everything, making China very cut throat. For allot of the population they are essentially shit out of luck on anything.

    The rich are making too much and the poor are not making shit. Fuck freedom its over rated inside ones country but cherished once allowed out of their borders.

  12. Christopher says:

    And it’s getting worse, I am in China right now and everyday I see how sad are the people here, they are so obsessed with money and material possessions that they forgot how to enjoy life, how to be satisfied with what they currently have. When I am hanging out they are staring at me, not only because I am a foreigner, but also because I am happy and they can see it in my behavior, on my face, I can hear the people here whispering to each other “why is this foreigner so happy?”, “how dare he smile in front of me!” and so-on.

    Chinese people are sad because they have no faith, they have no goal in life (except making money), they are individualists and selfish and thus does not believe in mankind and other people, their only social interactions are based on how much they can get from you.

    Wake up Chinese people, you can have as much money as you want and still you will be sad, money does not bring happiness and it never has, human relations and faith in mankind does, and I say this as the son of a wealthy German CEO, I enjoy more spending time in the slums of some third world countries than going to have business dinners with millionaires, because the people from these slums are humans, they does not do everything by interest, they are open minded and non-judgemental, they do not judge people on how much they earn.

    People in China should also learn to not judge other people on appearance, despite the fact that I come from a wealthy family I dress simple (a no brand T and jeans), sorry to not show of my wealth around, it seems that ladies in China are only interested in the “show-of” kind of men, too bad for them they probably miss many opportunities to meet actual wealthy men because many of them are not flashing their money around.

    China is sick, very sick.

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