Several weeks ago, a beautiful event took place – the King of Bhutan wed his young and beautiful queen, and they even visited Singapore on a private visit!

It brought to focus Bhutan’s use of a Happiness index instead of the more commonly used Gross Domestic Product (GDP) index.

Of course each index serves its own purposes. I wonder how many people who argued for the use of the Happiness index in Singapore would apply it on themselves and in their own households…

1)     No need to compare salaries between peers and neighbours. Happy got job can already! If you happy, you wouldn’t care if ministers or MPs earn more or earn less than you, right?

2)     And especially on the education of their children. No need to ask or pressure your kids on what grades they’ve got. Just as long they pass can already. And not need to fight for the “brand” name schools. Focus on their children’s happiness instead? Hmm…

I can imagine what a Singapore Happiness index would look like. 

Instead of a simple yes or no answer to the survey question: “Are you happy?”

Our index would probably ask about external material stuffs like: what home we live in, have car or not, have air-con, have big screen TV (min 37 inches and above), have smart phone or not, etc…

Hey! Isn’t that similar to GDP measurement?

If you have not already discovered, happiness is an emotion or state of mind. How to measure a feeling? Do I have to prove I am happy to the Happiness survey? How to measure something internal in me?

My take is that at least the GDP measurement is more “honest”. It just shows what it’s meant to measure: the wealth or material growth of a nation. Nothing more; nothing less.

But a Happiness Index? Its name by itself is an oxymoron. With lots of humility and my limited knowledge of Buddhism, if I wanted to know whether Bhutan or Singapore is a happy nation or not, I just need to tour round the country and mingle with the people. Be on the ground, not in air-con offices.

It’s my: Why look at a statistics when you can look at goldfish directly principle.

Ah! That brings me to the question of Financial Freedom or Independence. 

I prefer the word Freedom. Independence sound a bit “negative” as it gives me the impression I want to “separate” myself from society or others.

If Financial Freedom is a goal by itself, then it’s quite easy to measure to know when you have “arrived”. It’s usually a big $ amount target or if $X (passive income) is more than $Y (living expenses).

But if Financial Freedom is a means to an end, ah! It’s a whole different story!

A remark by a forum member in comes to mind: “Then what?”

This “simple” remark is the question men have tried to answer since the days of Socrates and Confucius – then what? 

If you have already got the answer to the question: “Then what?” I envy you!

You could be the 18 years old who is “free” to choose his field of study as that makes you happy – you are not “chained” to the desire to study a particular field just because shows it’s the best paying profession when you graduate. 

You could also be the under 30 executive who discovered you are actually “financially free”!? Take home $3,000 and living expenses $1,500 per month. Can afford whatever you want and desire and can’t wait to go to work every morning – what’s wrong with “active” income anyway? Doing something we love means we never have to worry about statutory age limits ever! 

By the way, you already have a head-start on those who hate what they do everyday and their only ticket out is to be financially free at 40, 45, 50, etc; so that they have the courage to quit and do what they really want!?

Are these the same people who shouts the loudest for the adoption of the Happiness Index!? I hope they are not more concerned about proving their “unhappiness” than seeking happiness for themselves…

For the younger readers, you may want to pause and think about the “then what” question before you rush madly towards your journey towards Financial Freedom. Decide for yourself whether it’s the goal or the means to your “then what?” 

My epiphany, paradigm shift, Zen enlightenment, and “ah ha” moment came around Christmas last year at 43 years young. I have just stepped across the door’s threshold; still feeling my way around. So don’t believe whatever I say!

Listen to your heart.

Singapore Man of Leisure (welcome to my blog; just google it!)
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