Yes, happiness comes at a cost. It has always been of my keen interest to know the reason behind some people's satisfaction with the least they possess in their life. Being a whiny (and slightly ungrateful) person as I am, I just want to know what's actually behind everything I've been doing all this while. I have a goal of having this and achieving that in my life, and anything less rosy or fulfilling will surely be considered as a symbol of abject failure, a reason for unhappiness. I have a high level of expectation for what's forthcoming; I want things to evolve the way I want it to be. Anything perceived as expensive, stylish, and flashy is worshiped.
This, I believe, does not just happen to me. It basically happens to everyone else who's unlucky enough to be exposed to all the perceived good things in their life; hence their high expectations. To make matters worse, perceptions are transient, thus the society will keep on being enslaved to their ideals of a 'good life'.
While I'm working really hard to increase my relevance in the modern society (working on a good uni degree, for example), it glares me that many of the so-called unfortunates can never dream of getting a good education, nor will they be able to be trained to survive in the modern world. Having surrendered to their 'fate' of mediocrity, they truly accept anything that comes by in the future, as long as their sustenance is kept. They have a simpler approach to their lives; living is about living the day you breathe presently, it's not about sacrificing life as it is now for the sake of a better prospect in the future.
As stagnant as monotonous their lives as we see them, there's one thing that's most interesting about them that I find difficult to fathom; they are happy and content with their lives.
How can they be so? Well, happiness has never been (and will never be) tangible, but it has been found that people who live in poorer countries with less opportunities for personal advancement tend to be happier than those who are blessed enough to be born in more prosperous countries. Countries like Bhutan, Guatemala and Jamaica have happier populations than the more industrialized United States and European Countries. Even pessimistic Malaysians are happier than Australians, in general.
Thus, we should never feel an automatic sense of superiority when we see some kampung kids running around half-naked around their village filled with small houses with gutted roofs, since they may even be happier than most of us. And there are always classic tales of people who seem to have everything (fame and fortune) but end up taking their own lives due to their unhappiness within.
Therefore, while material possessions are important, our general perception on monetary wealth as a sole force that brings happiness to an individual may need to be revamped to eventually include other factors as well.