4 Mar 2019

Happiness in the East and the West

Everybody has a definition of happiness. Some could be the same while some are not. Some Research suggested that cultural variations lead to differences in happiness, which means the meaning of happiness are generally different in the west and the east.

Western cultures emphasize on maximizing happiness and minimizing sadness. It is interesting that American are more likely to describe happiness as the “ultimate value”. In the west, happiness tends to be defined in terms of personal achievement and self-fulfillment. Since they have individualistic cultures, they mainly focus on the achievement or success of the individual, instead of collective interests. They have a strong belief in autonomy and independence.

Happiness in the East and the West

In Eastern cultures, happiness is less valued. Unlike the west, East Asians believe in collectivism. Their happiness tends to be defined in terms of achievement in collective goals.  They are more likely to put the success of the group above personal success. This shows why Asians value interpersonal relationships. Happiness in the East can be found in positive relationships and social harmony. Instead of putting themselves under a spotlight, they tend to adjust themselves to fit into apposite social relations. Sometimes, East Asians think expressing happiness is an inappropriate act in many social situations. There is also a belief that extreme happiness leads to negative consequences that outweigh the benefits of being happy.

According to a survey called the International Wellbeing Study, people who associate happiness with pleasure-seeking in individualist cultures tended to be happier than those in collectivist cultures. However, happiness is complex and varies from person to person. There is not a particular rule to measure or to conclude one’s happiness. Happiness can be defined by ourselves.



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