The next post will be the content of yesterday, the first day of the 5th International GNH conference. This one is about me demonstrating the principle of relative happiness. The idea is that we are happy with our lot until our neighbor gets a Lexus. Then our 10 year old Chevy looks like a hunk of junk. That’s what happened to me and my hotel.There was no way to get linear information out of the conference organizers so I decided from the get go to just trust the geto brazileiro – the Brazilian way. Roll with it. So no worries when I got off the plane and the conference representative had no record of a hotel room for me. I was dropped off at the Carima and handed a key for a room that had 4 beds and 4 people assigned to said beds, none of them anyone i knew and two of them men. Oh well, geto brasileiro.
Ahh, but then I had breakfast with an older couple (oh dear, maybe they were my age) who’d also ended up at the Carima. Everything for them was unsatisfactory. The heat. The accommodations. The electricity. I encouraged and “Oh well” attitude but they were having none of it. They were speakers (so was I) and deserved to be in the main hotel.
A conference organizer sat down with us. They were complaining about their private room with insufficient airconditioning. I was squeaking about my coed dorm. “I’ll handle it” the organizer said. Later I was told that the other three people had been relocated and I had all 4 beds, 1 toilet and 1 shower to myself. Ahhh.
But then I bumped into the other couple and they’d been relocated.
Now my Chevy of a room looked second class and I was pissed. I told the conference organizer, knowing I was “on it” and they couldn’t do anything about it. It took about 30 minutes to get back to geto brasileiro and reframe the situation as the best of all worlds really. And so it is.
But this is one example of what we are learning from the researchers and the Bhutanese. That happiness, until you have what I refer to as “an internal yardstick for fulfillment” is comparative. So a new question: how do you create happiness for a culture when human envy is so hard wired?
Stay tuned. A more objective report on yesterday’s presentations is on its way.