Finding Happiness Essay
Happiness is a reprise from the many trials and turmoil of life, test, and tumult of sprightliness, and so it is natural that we should try to find happiness within ourselves. Ironically though, in our naïve belief that we can somehow augment the amount sum of happiness in our world, humanities, we are actually making devising our world more depressing to live in. John F. Schumaker, in The Happiness Conspiracy, debates over why happiness should be obtaining through your life experience and fulfilling everything that you want to achieve. Rather than forcing yourself to have happiness in your life.
In Schumaker essay, he discusses how society doesn’t really understand how to obtain happiness anymore. These days there are so many “how to books” and Schumaker states this in his essay, “At every turn are “how-to” happiness books, articles, TV and radio programs, videos, and websites… Personal happiness is big business, and everyone is selling it” (374). There are so many products on teaching society how to be happy, however, the effect of these products leads to our life to mean nothing. In society today, the reason to further continue ones’ education or work is that growing up you’re taught that if we do x y and z we will obtain happiness in the end. Yet, why is a family in Nigeria the happiest country in the world? Schumaker belief explains, that the families in Nigeria live a very simple day to day basis life.
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There was a documenter done on the small Himalayan nation of Ladakh, it shows examples of a “happy society”. Throughout the documentary, they show how happy the Ladakh were before consumerism was introduced to their culture. Schumaker states this in his essay “Writer Ted Trainer says before 1980 the people of Ladakh were “notoriously happy”. He sees in their tragic story a sobering lesson about our cherished goals of development, growth, and progress” (376). With the development of their economy comes greed, and with greed there is consumerism. This brings back the question, what is happiest in a consumerist world?
To many people, it’s the ability to be able to buy the newest things just to obtain them. They don’t need it, but merely want something that the majority of people can’t afford. For example, in today’s society Apples latest product the Air Pods, Wireless headphones that cost $200. There is a big controversy on own one of these products, people who have Air Pods considered themselves rich because they can afford the product and show it off. However, to those who can’t afford it seem “broke” to be able to obtain a pair, this leads Air Pod users to classify themselves to other people which in turn brings them happiest.
Overall, Schumaker ends his essay by explaining that happiness is not something that you can achieve by yourself. But it must be shared with the people we surround ourselves with. Throughout this essay, I found Schumaker purpose was to shed some light on how consumer culture is horrible. I completely believe with Schumaker argument here, I feel like we are enslaved to consumer culture and that our purpose of life has devolved to feeling good. There are many people that I personally know who are always searching for the next upgrade. Whether it’s upgrading their iPhone X to a new iPhone Xs, buying a brand new 2019 car, or even trying to hit that next promotion at work for the validation to feel good. The feeling of these accomplishments are temporary and will fade away quickly, we’re always going to want more than what we currently have. Once you’re comfortable with something you’re getting regularly you want the next best thing, which ultimately is greed.
When Schumaker gave the example of Himalayan nation Ladakh it became very obvious that we are enslaved to consumer culture. In our culture, most of us would give up some of our time for some extra money in our pockets. Also, there is a saying through the American culture that “time is money”, but what about the time spent with your family? Is that not valuable in itself that you don’t need to earn money to spend some of your time? If you’re not working or doing something productive to contribute to society, society will look down a pound you. I mean we look down at homeless people who are unemployed and just begging on the street, it’s something that we shouldn’t do but it’s hard because that’s how we were taught. It’s hard to quit cold turkey when we’ve been raised with only knowing this system in our heads. So even though it’s not hard to reject consumerism if you feel compelled, it is hard to feel compelled to reject it.
If you take the time to look around at other people’s lives you will see much of what is talked about in this article. People are always in a hurry, always having to be somewhere at some specific time. Never giving themselves time to just mosey or have an spontaneous day to relax and what whatever you want. People no longer introduce themselves to their neighbors and families split apart and live on all different sides of this planet. I’m not saying that these things are bad but when it is in a company’s best interest to keep us discontent so they can fill the void and make s content with their products. These practices have influenced our society a lot and even if you think that it has been for the good, it’s still interesting to notice and analyze it.