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June 16, 2008


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I watched a similar TV special on why Denmark is the happiest country several months ago. One thing they mentioned that probably contributes to the happiness level (it was probably a different show) was that the country is extremely homogeneous. While this is not something you would normally associate with happiness, it makes things much easier. In America, while it is exciting that we are this big melting pot, it causes problems, too -- there is racial tension, language barriers (have you noticed how everything is printed in Spanish and English now?), illegal immigration problems, and other issues that come along with having an assortment of diverse cultures.

The term "settling for less" is relative. You seem to view money as the end-all, be-all and wonder if it's possible to be happy without a lot of it. That's why you say "low expectations" are what's at play here. I beg to differ. It's not low expectations; it's a different set of expectations. Not everyone has it as their dream to be the richest, most powerful person in the room. That alone does not bring happiness, as I'm sure we can all agree. In fact, the sacrifices that are necessary to get to that place almost seem to preclude happiness. I think the key to happiness is to approach your dreams in terms of what you want to do, not how much money you want to make. Do that and also live within your means, and I think you will be surprised how happy you are.

I don't see why you can't have both, you just have to be conscious of it. Plenty of people say, "I want to ______" and use that as a measuring stick for their life. That's the error.

I have plenty of high aspirations and plans for my life, I see nothing wrong with that. I do however, very much so enjoy my life in the meantime. I am not in the best of wealth, but I have a job that allows me to get bills paid every month. I have great friends, am a volunteer Firefighter, play bass in a band, go to school... Life is full of joys that don't involve the Hamptons or Yachts.

I think I can relate to the idea of money vs. happiness. I have been offered a job that I would really like to do, that would ultimately make me happier than the office job I have now. However, it pays ever so slightly less than my current job and is an extra 25 miles away from home.

So the question for me is, do I want to make a little less money with a lot more happiness or have a little more finacial security with a dull, lifeless job?

The only thing that truly scares the crap out of me regarding the job change is the gas price situation. I would be in more trouble if a year from now we have to ration or gas prices break $5-6 gallon...


Is moving closer to the new job an option?

David --

Actually, I didn't say "low expectations", 60 Minutes did.

Well then I beg to differ with 60 Minutes. Do you have an opinion, FMF?

Their "low" expectations also include a government infrastructure that provides tons of benefits, an economy with low unemployment, and a huge amount of tax to pay for it all (#1 income tax in the world!)

I also think that's this is a common Scandinavian feeling in general that goes, 'sure we don't get to have the stuff, but we also don't have to worry about much either.'

There is song by a Swedish band who's refrain is: "We´re not living in America, but we´re not sorry. I knew there was something that we never had, but we don´t worry."


It is a possibility, but several factors are keeping me from doing so. First, I own a home where I am and am not sure that I could unload it right now. The housing market isn't as bad here as it is elsewhere, but there are some repairs/updates to the house that I would need to do before selling. Second, my wife and I are expecting and we now live close to both of our families. We can save a bundle on child care by utilizing grandparents and other family members who are willing to take care of the baby during the day.

But in spite of those obstacles, I might still consider moving. We have a relative who is a realtor and I am going to ask her to look the house over and give us her opinion.

David --

I think that many Americans do link their dreams/happiness with (for many) unrealistic expectations of financial success. So when they don't meet these expectations, they are disillusioned and "unhappy."

What do I think the key to happiness is? Hmmm, if I had the answer to that, I would certainly meet my financial expectations. ;-)

Seriously, I think happiness is personal and unique for each person and even trying to give a general formula is not that worthwhile.

This is a simple, but a smart bit. However I agree mostly with Emily @ Taking Charge, it's not so much about setting for less as setting for different things. True happiness have little to do with financial success unless you are made to think that by the society.

By the way people in Guatemala is also one of the happiest in the world although they are far away from rich.


"True happiness have little to do with financial success unless you are made to think that by the society."

Exactly. And I think most of us know the extent to which American society emphasizes wealth as the primary indicator of success and, therefore, happiness. It's easy to say happiness is what you make it, but breaking free of Americanized conditioning is easier said than done. I have mostly broken free from it but still find myself falling in a rut now and then.

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