Happiness Tied to Income

Money Does Not Equal Happiness

Episode Transcript

Greetings, this is Carl, and you are listening to Behavior Gap Radio. This is another field report coming from Mumbai, India. Again, just completely blown away by India. It’s been one of the most amazing experience, certainly the most amazing travel experience of my life, just amazing. One of the things that I have been thinking a lot about today and talked with a good friend here in India on walk today, we walked through a section of Mumbai, and while we were walking, we were talking about the role of money and happiness.

This hopefully will just serve as a reminder to all of you, but money does not equal happiness, right. It certainly can help, but it also doesn’t equal happiness. The reason that came up is we were talking about one of the neighborhoods where we’re going to go visit a friend of mine, a recent new friend of mine, lives in one of the slums of India and is going to take me to visit some of his friends. We were talking about this particular slum. I want to be clear here, I am brand new to this, super ignorant, so please, I’m not pretending to be an expert, I’m not pretending to even know what I’m talking about. What I am doing is bringing a question to you.

The question I had for my friend was, you know, I first asked, is it safe for me to go? They, “Oh, oh yeah”, there’s just no doubt safe. He said, “One of the things that’s going to be really interesting is you’re going to see some of the happiest people, some of happiest people you’ll ever meet.” I was struck by that statement. The place we’re going is clearly one of the poorest places on the planet, and yet here I’m being told by somebody who knows, and you can agree or disagree, it’s just an interesting statement. I’m being told that I’m going to meet some of the happiest people I’ll ever meet. I was asking that question of my friend saying, “Explain that to me a little bit.”

He said, “Well, you know, I’m not sure, I’m not totally sure happy is the exact right word, maybe content.” That’s another fascinating concept. I’m not, I don’t have a grand conclusion to this episode at all because I’m left without conclusions, unmoored, if you will, by my experience, but I’m seeing and feeling stuff that I’ve read about, you know, things that people have said, like happiness, that I’ve said before. Of course, we all know, happiness, money does not equal happiness, and I’m meeting people that live well below the international poverty line, which is $1.90 a day. One dollar, ninety US cents a day, and there’s a warmth and a radiance, and I’m going to use my friend’s word, a contentment that stops you in your tracks, right, makes you think.

Now, there’s all sorts of interesting implications around that statement like what does that mean? Does that mean we should all live on the … I’m not even interested in any of those. I’m just interested with letting that sit for a little bit. Right, so maybe join me. Let’s not draw any big conclusions. Don’t say, “Yes, but …” Don’t listen to this episode to judge whether you agree or don’t agree. Don’t do any of those. Just pause and let that sit for a minute. The question that should be floating in the air is, “How can it be true?” I’ve heard stories from plenty of places around the world, it’s not just India, that often you will meet some of the most content, dare I say happy people in some of the places where they have the least. Just pause and let that sit in the air for a minute.

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