What is the good life? Is it individually achieved affluence: a fancy car, a deluxe home, holidays abroad? No, says David G. Myers, American social psychologist and author of The Pursuit of Happiness. The good life springs less from one’s first million than from loving and being loved, from developing the traits that mark happy lives, and from ‘flow’ in work and recreation. He spoke to Pritam Sengupta. Excerpts:
Isn’t it odd, in the age of globalisation, to be wondering if money can buy happiness? Does such a line end up proving the limitations of capitalism, thus buttressing the old, socialist arguments?
When you ask whether money can buy happiness, few people would answer yes. But ask another question—would a little more money make you a little more happy?—and most will sheepishly nod.... Certainly, globalisation’s contribution to the alleviation of poverty in India and other countries must be appreciated. But we can also question western materialism. In an era when consumption has increased to ecologically unsustainable levels, it’s prudent to ask whether the quest for more and more things—to levels way beyond what’s needed to meet basic human needs—really contributes to quality of life.