Thanks for everyone who posted comments to my entry Helping by Hiring. There are 38 very high quality comments in the discussion about the social welfare system in China. I am very happy that my article draws some attention to Ayi who badly needs help. I will continue to monitor and see if there is opportunity I can help. I am working on a website to help people to hire an Ayi so to create more opportunities for them.
At the same time, I am thinking about the question: “Are we happier than them?” We refers to the circle I am in – my colleagues and my friends who have university degrees and earn well. Them means people who have very low income, like Ayi.
The answer is obvious. But sometimes, it may not be the only answer. My question can be paraphrased as “Will money and education bring happiness after the basic living is covered?”
Shanghai is the Second Unhappiest City in China
As the report figured out, people in Shanghai generally are not happy. It is very true.
Over-time working is common in IT and Media (advertisement) industry, and not rare in other industry as well. Get up early, go to work, go back home after 11:00 PM or even 1:00 AM, sleep, and go to work… The most interesting part is that, when we gather, people like to show off of how late they work. It is a symbol of exciting life and a sense of achievement.
To survive in Shanghai is not easy. Wait a minute. A sentence painted on the wall of the transition hub of the World Trade Center site in New York just jump out of my head: Man who can survive in New York can survive anywhere in the world. Didn’t we sense more pride instead of sadness in this sentence? It is the same in Shanghai.
Compeition and Education
Students on campus are preparing for TOFEL, GRE, TOIEC.
My friends in a team are working hard to pass MCSE, MCSD and all kinds of certificates.
People who already worked for some years study to pass PMP, ITLE. People get one certificate after the other and still keep asking: “Is there any other hot certificate I can pass?”
For senior managers, they have started their MBA or EMBA courses. It is hot in Shanghai. The 290,000 RMB annual tuition for Fudan EMBA does not stop people joining the program.
No one in this city can escape from the competition. Taxi drivers, for example, are learning English on the day off – remember that they have worked 24 hours continuously and still need to spend several hour to learn English on the 24 hours of break.
Well. Certificate is something you can “shine in the eyes of strangers” (as Wordsworth put it). Strangers certainly include future employers.
I feel very happy and relaxed after Wendy and I just get back from badminton court. We drove 15 minutes to Lujiazui for it. It reminded me that when we lived in Puxi, the badminton court, the swimming pool and all kinds of sport facility were just on the other side of the road – I can even see people playing tennis from my window, we didn’t went there during our two years for sports – I was in the circle to work harder and get more certificate at that time.
In large city like Shanghai, friends are far away. I miss the time in smaller city – my friends live next building with me. There are many friends in the same area. Even the whole city is not far. Now, when I want to visit a friend, he is on the other side of the city and it costs at least 1 hour’s drive. I am not happy about it.
A Family of Life-destroying Emotions in City
Alain de Botton commented about the city life in his the Art of Travel:
It is admirably to the point. We change mobile everyday, we buy many goods that poor people cannot buy, but it has nothing to do with our happiness. As de Botton or Wordsworth put it, our happiness did not depend on those fancy stuff.
Everyone is seeking for something he/she doesn’t actually need to be happy. To rank higher in the hierarchy may not bring more happiness than a shine afternoon tea with friends.