1) How much is enough to lead a good life? According to the authors, it is about SGD 80,606 per annum. The book seeks to address how capitalism has affected society and the drive for more wealth. Despite all the technological advances, why are still working so hard? Society keeps pushing us to work harder and to earn more. Keynes predicted shorter working hours in future. Why hasn’t this materialised? Needs are finite while wants are infinite. Work can provide a good place to socialize and the type of work can also provide job satisfaction too. Peer pressure and materialism can have a huge influence on others. People are generally lazy. Adam Smith perceived people to follow self-interest. However, in the past, there were schools of thought that did not condone avarice. Karl Marx thought socialism would prevail over capitalism. He was wrong. Capitalism also has its fair share of criticism. Money could cause corrupt and it was often insatiable. Values are also very important. The state should focus on justice, equality, freedom of speech etc. It is good that we are given so much choice in life. Happiness should not be the goal of every government. Know about the hedonic treadmill. Happiness and absolute income are not correlated strongly. At low levels, absolute income will improve happiness. Happiness economics is controversial because of both measurement and ethical issues. Cultural differences are important as well. Pleasure and joy is also defined differently from happiness. Growth might cause pollution and other negative externalities. Do not hurt the biodiversity in the ecosystem. What are the elements of the good life? They are health, security, respect, personality, harmony with nature, friendship and leisure. It may not necessarily be good to keep striving for economic growth? Governments should push for income equality, work friendly practices, minimum wage, less materialism, more volunteerism, free trade etc.
2) Health – A full functioning body without pain. Blessed with vitality and energy
3) Security – Ability to stay in a stable environment free from conflict, war, violence, crime and natural disasters
4) Respect – Ability to show that the viewpoints of others are worthy of consideration and not simply ignore them. Having civil rights and personal achievement. To live in a dignified manner
5) Personality – Ability to execute one’s plans according to one’s tastes and desires. Having a temperament of the good life. Able to live life with autonomy, spontaneity, individuality and spirit. Having financial independence
6) Harmony with Nature – Living in an environment without much urban overcrowding, and have access to parks and places of nature. Ability to build kinship with animals and nature
7) Friendship – Having a group of strong and supportive friends. Ability to give without expecting anything in return. To have a fair mix of both utility and pleasure friendships
8) Leisure – Ability to relax/rest and pursue hobbies or special activities in the absence of external compulsion. To attain higher thought and culture. To apply one’s time wisely and cultivate a personal taste