Saturday, May 3, 2008

Is there a link between Money and Happiness??

Happiness is a state of mind and it sure is not dependent on money. Look at that child outside, he is so happy playing in the mud or the sprinkler or just swinging or sliding in the park. This is inherently who we are. Nobody needs a billion dollar to be happy. At the most basic level, if we are in touch with our real self and can allow ourselves to let lose sometimes and enjoy the nature outside, or listen to our favorite music or just immerse ourselves in a good book, we are at the best of spirit and feel happy and liberated. Unfortunately, growing up, the definition of happiness changes as the detachment with inner core start taking place and we start desiring or striving for the materiality of the world. Liberation of mind or soul becomes an alienated concept then.

Then what is the real link between money and happiness? Is it true that the rich are really unhappy? Let's check out some interesting facts: USA the 10th richest country in the world is ranked 150th out of 178 countries. United Arab Emirates, the 5th richest country with per capita GDP of $49,700 is ranked 154th on the Happy Planet Index

Having said that; we cannot either deny that money is an important aspect of our lives. We are not talking of more or less here. But everybody needs the sufficient amount of money according to their means to live a comfortable life. Theory of marginal utility comes into play when we are talking of whether after a certain amount, after fulfilling the needs, that extra dollar or rupee will make any difference or not. But unfortunately, the large sections of our society do not get to that point in a life time. We are not talking about the Trumps or Mittals here. For an average middle class, having a home, a car, savings for the retirement and sufficient funds to be able send the kids to college are the most basic needs. And in order to fulfill them they work throughout their lives, often sacrificing on spending that quality time with their family due to the unique circumstances they face.For that type of an average family, not having money or enough money will be a cause of unhappiness and frustration.

Certain jobs demand people to work in tough conditions such as in shipping. Freezing weather and the turbulent ocean of Baltic are just a few challenges to mention. Are they happy doing that? Most likely the answer will be in negative, but they do that anyway because of the obvious reason. Financial security and financial freedom are definitely very important to an average person. Practically in fact our mind is never at peace if we don’t have a secure life financially. I am not talking about buying a Gucci handbag or visiting Switzerland for a vacation. Well better still!!

Success often means material success. At the college placement, the person who has the biggest smile and adorns the most confident demeanor is someone who got the biggest pay packet. People working on Wall Street do not have any time for their family or worse even for themselves, but talk to them, not even one single person would consider quitting for lesser salary but more comfortable life and time for themselves. Money presumably becomes a source of bringing happiness for those who get so used to it.

Hence, although we cannot really do without the money either, but that ever increasing mad rush running after it often reminds me of that quote:

It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy. ~George Horace Lorimer

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can humanity exist without religion

On a normal regular day, I would debate strongly against the idea that there is absolutely no connection between humanity and religion. Religion is a creation of humans based on their own thoughts and different belief patterns. Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, have all evolved as people started to differentiate and started to create boundaries based on their own unique identity and patterns of belief. How come these two need to be dependent upon each other? The existence of humanity has nothing to do with religion at all, I always thought!

But just as I was writing this particular piece, the horrific story from Austria about that “house of horror” and the startling news from Texas about polygamists started to unfold. It was so disturbing and excruciatingly painful to read about it and see the clips on TV. What often crossed my mind was how come this man never feared god? Why do people believe and think that there is nothing beyond this corporeal universe? Why don’t they think that there was a purpose behind the creation of this universe and we all came here for a much higher reason and there is always much more to life than just the gratification of our senses? I never consider myself a very religious person as I probably do not have a lot of patience to sit in front of any idol and chant the mantras or do the incantations. Religion for me is about respecting our environment and not hurting any living being on this earth. There however, has never been any proof of the existence of god on this earth, different schools of thoughts have different theories to prove or disapprove that and it’ll remain an ongoing debate forever, but regardless of whatever it is, there is some supernatural power over there, which is beyond any understanding, which is beyond any reason but which is all pervasive and omnipresent. The meaning of religion is to find God, whichever way one may want to go about it, but the ultimate destination remains the same. And by and large whichever belief system one might come from the basic tenet is the same, they all teach the love for humanity.

If humans understood this particular fact, these kinds of chilling horrific crimes would never be committed. All religions teach sacrifice, selflessness, patience, tolerance and love for the mankind. The Hindu scripture Gita teaches that “one cannot escape their deeds; they do have to pay for them”. It is not about visiting temple or going to the church or paying tributes at Mecca, it’s about understanding the basic tenet of it. It should be taken as a guiding factor to teach and show us the light along our pathway.

Believing in God and understanding that we are mere corporeal beings on this earth would make us more humane!