Seeking Harmony versus the Search for Happiness

The Search for Happiness in bold white print was splashed across the cover of my November 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine.  In the United States, it has been my perception that the search for happiness sends many people to places like Disneyland or out to eat something that is horrible for their long term health. Maybe buying that type of happiness explains why more than 70-percent of Americans are fat or obese. In other words, when feeling depressed, spend money and while out shopping, walk around texting your friends nonstop until you run into a tree or bounce off other pedestrians because you weren’t paying attention to what was going on around you.

I think this type of thinking is one reason why the U.S. child prodigy Grace VanderWaal wrote and sang “So Much More Than This”.

Like Grace VanderWaal says in her song, “Close your phone and breathe in the air. You’ll soon realize that there’s something that is so much more than this …”

Money will buy fleeting happiness but unless you have an endless supply of money to keep buying that happiness, it will not last long. That’s why I think buying happiness is the same as being addicted to cocaine and heroin. The withdrawal symptoms when the money dries up are agonizing.

What does harmony mean to many in China and can harmony lead to a more stable form of happiness?


In China, harmony plays an important role in everyday life. Cultural etiquette among Chinese revolves around harmony as Confucius taught. Confucianism still plays an important role in Chinese society. It is a system of ethics and conduct, the obligations of people toward each other based on their relationships.

Even the way the government in China does business is governed by the same principals. As much as most Americans and Europeans seem incapable of understanding China, the Chinese often see foreigners as barbaric when they do not behave properly according to Chinese standards.

Understanding cultural differences is a two-way street.

For instance, several years ago, after dinner with guests one night, I got up to wash dishes at the sink while Anchee and our daughter were still eating. Anchee later explained that when we have Chinese guests it is impolite to do that since it signals to the guests that it is time to leave. Her advice, “Soak the dishes and leave them until the guests go.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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4 Responses to Seeking Harmony versus the Search for Happiness

  1. Debbie says:

    Cultural differences are all in the little things aren’t they?
    Confucius has a lot to teach us all!

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