Thursday, 1 October 2009

Nature vs Nurture

I sometimes wonder – more so since the National Student Leadership Forum – whether (my) optimism is a luxury I can afford because my life is good. Everything does work out in the end, more or less, for better or worse. Would I still feel the same if I were an orphan, if I were starving, if I were homeless?




Blue~Flame said...

I had a big answer in mind, but I deleted it coz it occurred to me, 'Is my answer so-and-so because I can afford to think so optimistic'?

Arielle said...

No, you wouldn't. This whole 'everything will be fine' mentality is a very middle-class (and I mean that in the global sense, so even some people in lower class in Western countries are still middle class in terms of just how poor people can be) attitude. Life usually fucks people over and when you start out with more, it's just less likely to fuck you quite as badly.

jacques du'loque said...

You know, my knee-jerk reaction was to agree. Numerous studies, however, have proven that one's happiness is not connected at all to one's wealth.

In addition, surveys of the world's most optimistic countries put India, Philippines, and China in the top three--countries not known for high GDP per capita--and the United States way at the bottom. Australia's actually up there, but Japan's even lower then the US.

Happiness and outlook has nothing to do with your socioeconomic status--though, let's be honest, being rich and miserable is a lot better than being poor and miserable and also your village is on fire and you're starving.

Sharanya said...

I think it depends on the kind of optimism. Really, coz everyone tends to be optimistic - it's a human instinct. Things affect you and make you think otherwise.

For instance, I know I can open my eyes in the morning and roll back into bed, deciding that I don't want to go to college today. The muslim girl in my class (and I'm not stereotyping, it's true) who is of my age, and married has a much more basic thing to worry about -- will my in-laws allow me to go to college today?

She's richer than I am. Her husband owns a resto. But I still get the feeling that I'm happier than she is.

And it's no exaggeration, but when I walk on the streets and see homeless slum kids squealing and playing on bare concrete, it GMH. They live a life ten times poorer than me, then why do they seem happier?

That said, I guess we ought to consider Maslowe's table to see the flip side of this: if I haven;t eaten in a week coz I can't afford a meal, I'll probably be too busy dying to think about slightly more irrelevant issues such as contentment and Happiness.

Thought-provoking, JaG. Feels good to think about this when I'm stressing about the Aristotle-Plato debate.