GPH- Gross effort at personal happiness

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.


4 thoughts on “GPH- Gross effort at personal happiness

  1. Its easy to watch and smile from the sidelines but difficult sometimes to personally be in the thick of it… seems for me that ultimately there has to come a time of trusting and surrendering that the best outcome will come, even if it doesn’t look like it in the moment…and that leads to a feeling of serenity and acceptance that is closer to satisfaction that allows for some snippets of joy that tips the scales that magnetizes an even greater outcome….something to the effect of (sorry Mahatma) You Must Be the Happy You Wish to See in the World”….

  2. This “internal yardstick” term expresses the shift from doing what others or the culture says to doing what will truly make you happy. Are you buying/consuming/doing something because of external stimuli (everyone does it, they expect it of me, advertising) or because you have consulted yourself, honestly, and asked, “Does this merit my time and life energy? “Will it bring me more than a passing jolt of happiness? Will it contribute to my goals?” I teach this in the Enough Point class – developing the capacity in terms of money, stuff, time, busyness a consistent capacity to discern what really works for you.
    Sometimes, when you consult this internal yardstick, you find that YOU don’t really want it enough to put down your hard earned cash or precious time on it, you’re just responding to some external prompt or pressure. Or you might find it’s REALLY worth it, so much so that it merits spending more. A silly little eg as I just flew home from Brazil, leaving Rio, bumping down in Congonhas in central sao paulo, bussing to Garulhos on the outskirts, flying to houston then connecting to seattle. Along the way I was hungry. In Sao Paulo, instead of the cheapest i decided to get myself my last caipirinha (like a margarita) at airport prices and got big value (plus a mild high that helped me sleep). But in Houston, I opted for less food and only what i wanted – not letting the volumes of food available to Americans everywhere they turn convince me my hunger was bigger than a bit of chicken. developing this “internal yardstick” you attend to inner signals, not outer assumptions. Does this help?
    (written at Seatac as I wait for the shuttle to take me home to whidbey)

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