Rich is an Opinion, Poor is a Fact

People

Why can’t everybody be rich?

I went to a mall today for grocery shopping and dinner with a friend. Unlike the usual, I spent “only” IDR 65,000 (around USD 6) for an okay meal and a glass of chocolate milk [for your information, I’m a typical middle class Jakartan who never cease to try having good food without being robbed by restaurant business. I’m not poor and I live relatively well — despite the obsession of living humbly and economically]. I need to mention that because what I’m about to say is quite subjective and presumable.

It began with an incident of bumping into one garbage boy on my way out. We looked at each other for a couple of seconds. All of a sudden a flash of images spattered, his story’s flowing through my mind…

He was a high school graduate, just recently worked in that mall for less than 60 days. Being a garbage boy was not his ultimate idea but that’s all he could get for now. He came from a small village in Demak where his parents live. He was single with no potential girlfriend. And he was tired. He was tired of working until late even on Sunday and most of his paycheck was spent for renting a simple 3×2 m2 room, three meals, and fuel for his late 80s scooter. He never smoke unless someone gave him. He was sad he couldn’t spare some money for his parents. He was unhappy and he was envious seeing me with a big shopping bag of a week supplies.

I felt a slight anger in me: why can’t everybody be well-off? I’m not an economist who would answer this question thoughtfully and wisely. In fact, I don’t necessarily demand an answer either. It was just a protest to the universe. And by the way, are there any poor economists?

So I went home with this troubled feeling. I relaxed on my couch reading some news. Guess what the first one I read: a old homeless guy, who’s picking up garbage for a living, found dead in one traditional market after 20 years of loneliness (or solitude?).

This is a mad world.

Finding Happiness

Suddenly I don’t feel guilty of being lazy. But damn, genetic contributes 50% to our happiness?

bhutan chronicles

“Stop running. Happiness has been chasing you all this time…”

Moving to Bhutan does funny things for one’s happiness. Increasingly famous for developing the concept of Gross National Happiness, Bhutan is the first country many people think of when asked to name the happiest place on earth. This has even led the Tourism Council of Bhutan to adopt the slogan, “Happiness is a Place”. Happiness is much more than a place, but indeed, Bhutan has been a great place for me to learn about my own happiness.

People often ask me if I am happier here, and whether those around me are truly the happiest people in the world. The answers to such questions are at first complicated, and eventually simple. People here are not in a race to be happier or happiest. I was amazed to learn recently that the happiness of an individual is 50% genetic, 40% attitude…

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