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STUDENTS CORNER -48

The last point in the relationship between GDP and the Quality of Life is Eudemonics.  This word means ‘finding ways of happiness’.

Happiness is an elusive and very complex subject. There are some misconceptions about happiness. In other words, there are plenty of words that carry the meaning of happiness. For example, to mention just a few significant words: enjoyment, contentment, jubilation, laughter, pleasure, cheerfulness, exuberance, gladness, gaiety, joy, bliss, hilarity, cheerfulness, joviality etc. All these words -some more are there-point to an experience that resembles happiness. Each word carries some difference of meaning, it might be subtle but a fact. Let us take enjoyment. Enjoyment is an experience of pleasure that you get when you fulfill some needs.  Any act that you do if it gives satisfaction; you say you enjoy doing it. You enjoy hearing songs, painting pictures or even spending time with friends. Like this, we can differentiate one word from the other in terms of its relationship with happiness. But this is not necessary since it takes us outside the scope of the current topic.

Some basic facts we have to grasp before we discuss what happiness is and what are the ways to find happiness and do those ways depend on material comforts alone. Feeling has levels of intensity; you could have yourself felt the intensity of the feeling of hunger at times when you do not get food at the right time but inordinately delayed. A lukewarm feeling is not strong; it is mild and passing.  It wants satisfaction but even if it does not get it, it still passes on; it leaves you. But all feelings are not like that. Until you get your favorite drink, you wait and during waiting you can still experience that the feeling is still there and it is becoming stronger. Genuine feeling is characterized by intensity as and when you become subject to that feeling. Happiness is a feeling that sustains itself. Like deep waters making neither noise nor visible movements, happiness appears calm but it is not passive and idle.

One popular misunderstanding about happiness is it is very often mistaken for comfort.  But comfort is not happiness. The major difference between happiness and comfort is the latter depends on some cause and happiness is causeless. A cup of coffee in the morning brings you comfort you are used to but we generally mistake this comfort for happiness. If you look rather deeply into this morning coffee, you find that coffee is more important at that time and you depend on it for your experience of comfort which gives you pleasure. If you go still deeper, you find you are actually enjoying pleasure through remembering the past experience of taking coffee. While, therefore, experiencing comfort of taking coffee, you largely though unconsciously live through your past pleasure of coffee consumption. Once the act of taking coffee is over, the pleasure ceases. Happiness, it is said, does not depend on any external cause or on any internal memories of earlier experience. It is also said that it is not related exclusively with the mind and time. Happiness relates to one’s being, not to one’s mind and body and it is timeless.

We have taken pains to explain in detail to some extent just to point out that happiness like all feelings of pleasure and comfort is deeply subjective and personal. This goes to the next point: GDP will not be able to measure happiness; in other words, GDP cannot decide happiness because GDP is exclusively concerned with the material things like money, house, and cars and so on. GDP may point out quality of life; but it does not describe well-being of an individual. A man travelling in an expensive Audi may not be so happy when worried over next business meet unlike a poor man walking home after labour hours for his cold food. This is just an example. So, GDP cannot measure one’s well-being. With this we almost complete the indicators of quality of life in relation to GDP.

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