Is there a conflict between happiness and material wealth?

Is there a conflict between happiness and material wealth?

Check out this interesting and thought provoking opinion piece from The Australian about happiness and wealth…

The paradox in the search for happiness – by Tim Soutphommasane

WE are reminded everyday that there are some things that can’t be bought.

Yet it seems almost perverse that the most recognisable reminder today takes the form of a certain ubiquitous MasterCard advertisement: “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.” Indeed. If we can’t buy happiness, we may as well buy everything else.

At the heart of such priceless logic is perhaps the root of malcontent. When all our needs are satisfied, life is bound to be disenchanting. This paradox of happiness was identified by, among others, Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha. His story will be familiar to many. As a prince in an ancient Indian kingdom, Siddhartha renounced all his worldly possessions to pursue enlightenment. Happiness, Siddartha believed, could be achieved only in a spiritual state of nirvana, when we are liberated from all desire.

We don’t live in the same world as the Buddha. The turning point arguably came with the birth of the American republic and its enshrinement of the modern secular trinity of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Ever since, contentment — a harmony of spiritual and material wellbeing — has been seen as a fundamental right of man. But the idea of happiness wasn’t always so central to the modern imagination.

We easily forget that before the Enlightenment, happiness in the Western mind was subordinate to Christian virtue. There was never a question of individuals having a claim to being happy. Happiness was something granted by God.

This changed…

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