Thursday, November 16, 2006

Progress or Happiness?

This morning I was blog-surfing and came across this post, so well-stated that I am reluctant to add to it in any way.

In case you don't have the chance to go there and read the original, I'll summarize. Basically, she is saying that she became very aware of how there is an over-emphasis on achievement and under-emphasis on character. As a parent, she discusses how she is turning this around with her own child. (No, I have not done the post justice. Please read it if you can.)

This is something I've noticed during my lifetime as well, although for some reason never fell into the trap. I have never defined myself or others by accomplishment. I define myself and others by character, compassion and commitment to something larger than self. I want to know what someone stands for, what would she die for, what does he believe is the meaning of our earth time. All the rest fritters away into ash and dust.

Honestly, I've never given a flying fig about achievement as a determinant of value. And it is not that I am a total slacker, although perhaps by this culture's standards I am. The truth is that I can and do bust my ass for the things I believe in, something that truly matters to me. In fact, I am rather tireless in those circumstances. Making money and struggling for a higher social position won't even get me out of bed.

Interestingly, a recent article in the Bangkok Post polled random Thais on on whether they considered progress or happiness more important. Nearly all said happiness came first. (If anyone wants the reference, I'll dig it up.) This has also been my belief all along. And it seems to be inherent, not learned.

So what do you think is more important? Progress or happiness?

Peace to all ~



Susan as herself said...

Hmmm. I have always thought that progress wasn't truly progress if it didn't lead to being happier. I mean, isn't that the whole point?

And something doesn't have to be cutting-edge, technological, or even "progressive" in order to initiate progress. In my mind, planting a seed and seeing the flower bloom a few weeks later is progress, and that makes me happy. However, I also appreciate the dedicated labors of scientists and inventors who have made it their mission to discover new things that can make our world a better place in which to live---and thus be happier in it.

I truly believe that we all have within us some small contribution to the world that is uniquely ours---and that nobody else can give. And I think discovering that and acting upon it generates happiness---and ultimately progress for us all. But maybe I am just nuts!

daufiero said...

Double wow! For the topic and link, Chani, and Susan for your comments. I'm so thankful I have this encouragement to read! I've been feeling very insignificant and as if I don't have a contribution to make. Going to the other post now!

Deezee said...

I am honored...thank you for linking to my post.

I will be back here reading away...

Thailand Gal said...

Daufiero, I don't typically make comments this early, responding to anyone, but yours grabbed me by the throat. It bothers me that you believe you are becoming insignificant as a stay-at-home mom. Good ghods! You are doing the singularly most important "job" that exists. You are shaping the human beings who will be running the planet after we're gone. People who raise children of integrity and honor, compassion and commitment, are shaping the future. Please, please, please! Don't ever diminish that! I tip my hat to you, more than you know.

Peace to you,


Pam said...

I say happiness, but as Susan said, progress brings happiness. To me it means being comfortable with who I am, appreciation of dear friends and coping with the chaos that is our world. I equate happiness with inner peace.

As for my dear companion, Hattie the cat, she has made coping with ALS easier and I wish us both a long and continued relationship.

Meg said...

I think the two aren't always inseperable -- some people truly enjoy working very hard to make significant advances in their fields (CB, my partner aka husband, comes to mind). He does it *because* it makes him happy, so I think the Catch-22 is: are you interested in progress for the sake of self-development and discovery, or because everyone else tells you that you should be? I've struggled a lot with the sensation that there's some ideal I should be living up to, which must be a self-inflicted injury because my parents were amazing and supportive, no matter what I chose to do. It's a tough balancing act.

caro said...

Every time I read your blog, I am somehow given the belief that it is possible to function in this culture without adhering to the principles by wich a lot of it is defined.

Lucia said...

Definitely happiness...from wherever it comes.

You are so wonderfully reflective!

jen said...

i think you know me well enough by now to know my answer.

deezee is one of my favorite writers, hands down.

daufiero - i rarely comment about other peoples comments, so know sister, i mean it when i say you have a whole heck of a lot to contribute.

and to chani...i stand by your previous brave post, and I for one, fell for you a little bit more because of it.

so there.

Thailand Gal said...

Susan, you make a good point. Progress should lead to happiness. I've noticed a trend toward progress for its own sake, and some of it even being destructive. And there are many types of progress. I was addressing only one which, of course, I didn't make clear at all. :)

Deezee, you are a fabulous writer ~ and your topic inspired me. I am the one who is honored. :)

Pam, I agree. Personal progress is a positive thing. I'm so glad you have Miss Hattie. She's beautiful!

Meg, maybe it is human nature for all of us to be driven somehow, something that matters to us more than anything else. I have an obvious prejudice about commerce, which is something I have been unable to overcome. That is why I tend to make the two things mutually exclusive. It's interesting to think about and explore.

Caro, see tomorrow's entry. It is for you.

Lucia, thanks. I agree with you. Progress in the commercial sense rarely brings happiness. I guess that is why I chose a third world country as home. :)

Jen, I love Deezee's writing! I will be reading it every day from now on. Thanks for the support. The stats were a bit of a blow.. but I'm over it. :)

Peace to all! And gratitude!


Patricia said...

Chani, I'm going to respond not to your question regarding progress or happiness, but to your reporting of the "stats" on the readership of your blog.

I've had a web journal and/or blog since February 2000 and originally had a web counter to see how many folks stopped by to read my musings. But I removed it after a couple of years.

Why, you might ask? Because I found myself getting too attached to the numbers. Like you, I began to see connections between a particular post and the subsequent numbers of readers on the following day. And even if I told myself it didn't matter, the truth was, it did.

Now I just write what I write, put up what photos I want to put up, link to whatever articles speak to me. Sometimes I rant, other times I moan. Sometimes I celebrate, other times I simply report. I go from being philosophical to being in-your-face without missing a beat.

All this to say that what I love about keeping a blog is the freedom it gives me to be totally and completely myself. If readers don't like what I have to say, there are so many other places for them to find what they're after. I love that.

What I personally like about your blog--what keeps me coming back day after day--is that I never know where you're going to go. I like that. I also appreciate your honesty. And you are a highly reflective individual. That, to me, is most important of all.

So, I say, keep doing what you're doing and let the "stats" go their merry way. Even if you only have one reader and that reader "gets it," that's enough. I know you agree.

Thailand Gal said...

Patricia, I know you are right. I really should get rid of the stats.. and I will do just that. Thanks for the kick in the butt. I needed it. :)

Peace to you ~


Anvilcloud said...

I really doubt that you have lost many readers. It's not long since Tuesday, so give it a few more days at least. I can't see why a post saying that you suffer(ed) from depression would offend anyone, but maybe you're right.

QT said...

Susan as herself said it best. I try and put my own positive spin on my job or I would be an empty shell of a human being. Sometimes it means I don't make anything, but so be it - I am lucky I have the freedom to do that.

Gobody said...

I would choose happiness, happiness, and happiness. Happiness brings success and progress and I believe that joy is the essence of life and creativity.