Originally Posted by GQgeek
To quote The Matrix, ignorance is bliss. Someone that grows up without a lot of material possessions will be a lot happpier on a 30k salary than someone that grew-up being able to ski every weekend, take yearly vacations to Europe, go to nice restaurants, etc. It's the fact that you know what you're missing that negatively impacts your happiness.
As for your friends, they're in a different stage of life where they're expecting to be poor. Sure, you can live in montreal on 15k net a year, but someone that's lived better sure as hell wouldn't want to. One of the best things about Montreal, imo, is the dining and fresh food markets. There's a pretty strong culinary tradition here. I go to the market every weekend to get good quality stuff. I couldn't live off supermarket olive oil and cuts of meat. :P
I think it's just two completely different mindsets. Speaking for myself, I've always expected a good job and a good salary (which I would define as over 100k). Anything less and I will be unhappy with myself.
I disagree about the reason why people are happier than others. I don't think it has to do with ignorance.
Lots of people, like me, are happy that we've had the chance to do some marvelous things (week long expenditions and trips) and some expensive things thanks to our parents and know we haven't had a chance to do things. I'm catching up on the things I've missed out on, but I never was unhappy because I didn't experience. Furthermore, I was never unhappy I didn't get more opportunities to do things I had done that were special (travel Europe, attend a top school in Europe for a short period of time, etc).
I think happiness is more personal and relies on personality. I've grown up where material possession is all that matters (I mean, that's the HK mindset) but somehow (maybe those philosophy classes ?) I've never been unhappy that I've never had the opportunities to do things I wanted to. Maybe it's because I know (and I say this without entitlement; I'm willing to work hard to get there) I'll be able to afford what I want in the future.