Project Bliss

Takers, givers, matchers: science of happiness!

4/1/2017 2:15:29 AM
written By : Debashis Chatterjee Print

If you want a minute of happiness, let a spoonful of ice cream melt on your tongue. The ice cream may stay a short while on your lips but remain for a lifetime on your hips! If you truly wish for a lifetime of happiness, dissolve your ego in the service of another.

The business of happiness is not just a private affair. Happiness has become a state subject and a governmental concern. I was invited to visit Bhutan and Dubai in recent times and had the privilege of meeting some of the stalwarts involved with the business of happiness. Bhutan was creating a measure of growth by substituting GDP with GNH, or gross national happiness. The United Arab Emirates has appointed a new Minister of Happiness, Ms Ohood Al Roumi whose job description was to put the happiness of citizens at the forefront of the Government’s priorities. Thailand is working on its own national happiness index.

Happiness has become a sizzling subject of academic as well as corporate interest all over the world. Jeffrey Sachs, an eminent academic and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, says: “Measuring self-reported happiness and achieving well-being should be on every nation’s agenda as they begin to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals…”

Adam Grant, a Wharton Business School professor classified a large sample of people he researched in three categories: takers, givers and matchers. Here is how I would classify takers, givers and matchers. Think of a whole class of college guys going to celebrate graduation in a restaurant. The takers will expect someone else to pay for their food, the givers will be the first ones to offer to pay for everyone. The matchers will want to go Dutch so that everyone shares equally. Grant’s startling finding demonstrates this: givers sink to the bottom of the success ladder in academic as well as professional life. Across a wide range of important occupations, givers appear at a disadvantage: they make others better off but sacrifice their own success in the process. The takers seem to surge ahead of the givers because they concentrate on fulfilling their personal agenda ahead of others. The matchers are like whistle blowers, they keep a watch over takers so that they don’t exploit other people. So if givers are most likely to land at the bottom of the success ladder, who’s at the top—takers or matchers? Neither. 

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