Poor People Are Happy

SWPL: “Money is the root of all evil. It doesn’t bring happiness.”

Roosh: “Please explain.”

SWPL: “I visited Bolivia recently and did a tour of the salt flats. On the way over we stopped at a village that was extremely poor. I felt bad at first, but then these little kids ran up to me with the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen in life. They were covered in dirt and grime, even on their faces, and were wearing tattered clothing, but I swear, they were the happiest human beings I’ve met.”

R: “Did the kids want anything from you?”

SWPL: “Yes, they stuck their hands out. I gave them some chocolate.”

R: “Did the chocolate satisfy them?”

SWPL: “Did it ever! They were so happy, ripping open the packaging and shoving it down their little mouths. It was amazing how such a simple item gave them so much pleasure. If I gave you chocolate you probably wouldn’t even be half as happy.”

R: “Is there anything else you could have given them that would have made them even happier?”

SWPL: “Um, I don’t know.”

R: “How about new pairs of pants?”

SWPL: “I guess. Their pants did seem old.”

R: “How about if you constructed a new house with air conditioning. Would that have made them happier than your chocolates?”

SWPL: “You’re just being silly now.”

R: “I’m asking you hypothetically. Of course I know you are not able to build a new house for them.”

SWPL: “Okay then, yes, I guess making them a house with air conditioning would make them happier than chocolates. It was mighty hot and they didn’t even have fans.”

R: “How about if you gave them $10,000. They could use that to build a new house, eat for a year, and buy as much chocolate as they want. Would that make them happy?”

SWPL: “Yes. I think $10,000 would make anyone happier.”

R: “But you said they don’t need money to be happy.”

SWPL: “Now you’re twisting my words. I said that without money they are capable of being more happy than people who are richer than them.”

R: “Are you richer than them?”

SWPL: “Yes.”

R: “Are those kids, and by extension, their families, happier than you?”

SWPL: “Yes, I believe so.”

R: “What is the reason that they are happier than you?”

SWPL: “Because they are better able to appreciate the little things in life that we, in our fast-paced capitalist lifestyle, fail to appreciate.”

R: “Do you want to be happier than you are now?”

SWPL: “Yes, of course.”

R: “So when do you plan on moving to the Bolivian dirt village?”

SWPL: “Don’t be stupid.”

R: “Why wouldn’t you move if it would make you happier?”

SWPL: “I can’t. I have my family and friends here. I have responsibilities.”

R: “What responsibilities?”

SWPL: “I have student loans.”

R: “The student loan companies will chase you to Bolivia?”

SWPL: “I can’t just move there!”

R: “So you don’t want to be happier than you are now?”

SWPL: “I want to, but the culture is different. I would have to learn Spanish.”

R: “Learning a language is a small price to pay for being happy. I’m sure with even your meager savings you can live a year in the dirt village without having to work.”

SWPL: “But… the village doesn’t have internet.”

R: “You need internet to be happy?”

SWPL: “I’ve gotten used to it. Look, if I was born in the dirt village I would have been happier, but since I was born in America, I can’t just go live there.”

R: “Are things like plumbing, air conditioning, supermarkets, and clean clothes important to you?”

SWPL: “Yes.”

R: “It is to me, too. I wouldn’t live in the dirt village. It would make me less happy.”

SWPL: “See that’s what you don’t understand. It makes them happier. They are used to the village and can appreciate living with less stuff.”

R: “If you gave them a choice between living in the dirt village and swapping lives with you in the suburbs, with its fast-paced capitalist lifestyle, which would they pick?”

SWPL: “They would want to live here, but it’s because they don’t know better. They would wind up being less happy than in the dirt village.”

R: “They wouldn’t be happier with plumbing, internet, and less dirt?”

SWPL: “Okay, well, maybe a little happier at first. Then they would get bored.”

R: “Being bored with something, or taking it for granted, reduces your happiness levels so that you long for poverty?”

SWPL: “I don’t know.”

R: “How much time did you spend with the dirt children?”

SWPL: “About ten minutes.”

R: “And during that time you were able to evaluate their needs, their desires, and then conclude that they enjoyed living in dirt housing with the most basic of sustenance?”

SWPL: “Their smiles were very real to me.”

R: “I have no doubt that they were, but if I saw a person of wealth 1000 times greater than that of myself, my smile would be genuine as well as I stuck my hand out. I’d hope that that person would pity me and give me just a tiny percentage of his wealth so that I could get a taste of his more comfortable and pleasurable lifestyle.”

SWPL: “They don’t need that lifestyle.”

R: “Do you? Do you need the iPhone that you keep staring at every couple of minutes?”

SWPL: “I mean…”

R: “Is it possible that you interpreted their smiles incorrectly, and that they are indeed living a life which, had you lived it, would be close to suffering?”

SWPL: “I may have misinterpreted things.”

R: “You are not the first person to tell me that poor people are happy. Do you have an idea of why this is?”

SWPL: “I don’t.”

R: “It’s a self-defense mechanism.”

SWPL: “Explain.”

R: “It is inherently unfair that you have 1000 times more than another human being who, through the bad fortune of having been born in the wrong place at the wrong time, will never have a comfortable life that you take for granted, no matter how hard they work. If in your travels you were to see this and accept it for what it is, you would break down in tears at the horrible plight of many billions of people on this earth, but when you convince yourself—in fact delude yourself—into believing that poor people who live on $1 a day are happier than you, you are able to push away this realization so that your travels are uninterrupted by the cruelness of humanity, so that you can upload photos of dirt children on Facebook and receive the likes from your friends who comment on how happy the children seem to appear.”

SWPL: “I didn’t think of it that way.”

R: “If you were unable to trick yourself into thinking that hungry children are happier, how do you think that would change your travel plans?”

SWPL: “I would stop visiting poor countries, I guess.”

R: “Or you would just close your eyes to the poverty, as I have. Poverty is not your fault, but spreading the idea that poverty is happiness, or is somehow romantic, is an insult to those who are experiencing it.”

SWPL: “But I feel guilty that I have so much more than those kids.”

R: “Do you really?”

SWPL: “Yes. I wish they weren’t so poor.”

R: “How much money do you have saved up?”

SWPL: “Only $2,000. It’s my emergency fund.”

R: “Poor people live in perpetual emergency. Donate that money to a poor village. Let it go to their water and food. Do it now if you care about them!”

SWPL: “I can’t. I need it.”

R: “They need it, too.”

SWPL: “But I worked hard for it!”

R: “I thought you wished they weren’t so poor.”

SWPL: “Yeah but…”

R: “Do you still think poor people are happy?”

SWPL: “Not really.”

R: “Are you going to do anything about their plight?”

SWPL: “No.”

R: “And neither am I. Now go forth and continue your search for happiness. Work hard and pay off those student loans. Maybe soon you can afford another vacation.”

The above was inspired from the Bolivian chapter in my book A Dead Bat In Paraguay.

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7 years ago

that was awesome!

7 years ago

I laughed my ass off when you called them “the dirt children.”

I like it though – very Socratic. I’ve met a lot of people who think this way too.

7 years ago

poverty = require friends and family to survive

having money = don’t need anyone else to survive

happiness = having strong connection to friends and family

unhappiness = being alone, weak connections to family/friends

7 years ago

The fisherman story.

Prelude: A rich multinational is on holiday with his wife and sees a small boat on the shore with an old man sitting with his fishing lure made of wood.

Intrigued by the old man, he walks up to him and begins a dialogue:

Man: “Interesting boat you have here, i noticed you’re fishing with you’re rod. How’s it like living with your wife and kids on a boat while you’re fishing?

Old Man: “It’s great, i get to sit in the nice basking weather, fishing and looking after my family. I do pretty well and catch a lot of fish.

Man: “That’s great, you seem to have a lot of talent. I’m very successful back home and pretty good at seeing opportunities.

The man continues…

“What if you bought a large casting net so you could catch more fish?”

Old Man: “Ok, and then what?”

Man: “Then you could open a small shop and sell fish to the locals”

Old Man: “…Ok, and then what would i do?”

Man: “Then you could hire assistants to help sell your fish, start a chain of stops, and then one day, you could retire and sit back with your family and do what you want to do”

The Old man pauses and responds with a small grin…

“… But that’s what i’m doing now…”

The multinational, amazed by his response…

“Sir, i’m really happy to have met you…”

Moral to the story: Happiness isn’t found, it is experienced in the here and now!

7 years ago

What does SWPL stand for?

7 years ago

SWPL stands for:


A term used to describe a naieve, spoilt, upper class white person.

Southern Man
7 years ago

SWPL = stuff that uptight white urban liberals like.

7 years ago

Don’t ever write a screenplay. Not really your forte.

7 years ago

Of course, they are starting from a faulty premise. It is not money which is the root of all evil, but the love of money. If you’re into the whole Jesus thing, that is.

7 years ago

I was very happy reading this but I doubt a real SWPL would actually sit through that entire conversation especially once he started to realize his position might not be correct. I’ve had similar conversations. They’re a good way to weed out the losers in your social life.

7 years ago

this was an interesting post, it made me think.

Ninja man
Ninja man
7 years ago

Love the ‘fisherman story’ by Onder.
Having African heritage (I’m mixed race) and having been to Africa a number of times visiting family, i can only part agree with Roosh. Yes, poverty is a serious burden for many people in the world, but my cousins in Africa are way happier (and poorer) than my African cousins here in the U.K. Why? …. Where to begin!

7 years ago

SWPL= Single White Professional Lawyer chick

7 years ago

Great post, really nails the hollowness of the SWPL view on poverty.

I’m guessing this conversation was with a girl, because even though SWPL men do endorse bullshit like this it’s something I head way more often from girls.

7 years ago

Well, actually There is some truth to poor people being happier but it’s not the lack of money that makes them happy it’s the culture they live in. If your country has a nice culture and everyone you know has the same as you you will be happier than if you are rich and live in a place where everyone tries to fuck you over and everybody hates each other. The killer here is that a lot of money would probably ruin the cultures and make everyone more miserable than before. I worked in one country and had around thousand three hundred dollars after tax per month then I moved to another country and I earn three times more. I was much happier in the first country, but my income had nothing to do with it, it was just a better culture to live in.

7 years ago

Let me add that the price level in the two countries differed by around twenty percent.

7 years ago

It’s almost like a Carlos Castaneda piece.

7 years ago

Nailed it!

This vignette exposes the cognitive dissonance of most people here in the US who “have” when they look down on the rest of the world.

Now, I’ve very close to the reality of this situation in that my mother was born and raised in such a place in S. America. I’ve visited the little village and surrounding area with my own eyes and have interacted with those “dirt kids” myself. Yes, they appear very happy as you toss them coins or give them goodies that their impoverished families cannot provide themselves.

However, my mother had the fortune of marry a Gringo, my Dad, and escape that poverty. To this day, in the 40+ years I’ve been able to comprehend the English language and communicate with her, I can say she’s only regaled me the tales of her HAPPY CHILDHOOD fewer than 5 times.

She moved away from that great happiness to the bigger city in the same country, then even moved from there to Panama to live for a while in a time when American’s ruled the Canal Zone. And that’s where she had the good fortune (or perhaps planning and forethought) to land in a hot zone of available American bachelors.

Furthermore, to this day, she rarely travels back to her home country and has no desire to ever go back, despite how many family members still live there. On the flip side, more and more of here family end up traveling HERE and moving HERE to the US to enjoy, albeit for a short time, what she’s enjoyed and I’ve grown up with for over 40 years.

So, right on Roosh!

Sam Spade
Sam Spade
7 years ago

Great post Roosh. I don’t think poverty = happiness, but I can tell that in America wealth + isolation + self-delusion = unhappiness.

go banana
go banana
7 years ago

happy…such a slippery word.

poor people and the uneducated are undoubtedly better able to enjoy spontaneous happiness than your typical self conscious, status anxious westerner. if you’ve spent time around poor people there’s no denying that many of them carry a lighter heart and experience more joy with the little things in life.

however, as far as happiness with one’s security goes and one’s overall situation, no shit that poor people lose on that count.

Self PAid
Self PAid
7 years ago

Happynes hase nothing to do with having Money ore not there are alot of broke people who are happy and rich people who are misserable.

The same ase poor people who are misserable and rich people who are happy.

IT’S about how you view you’reself and the emotions that go with it.

So true wealth is about feeling good no matter the circumstances and doing what you can to create a better live fore you’reself that helps you allowing you’reself to feel even better mor easily.

That’s what the kids did asking fore choclate they took action instead of beeing ashamed of beeing poor.

That’s why some Wealthy People keep on Working because they enjoy it and want to create something even better. even though they allready look happy.

It’S allways an inside Job…at least that’s my opinion 🙂

7 years ago

Ouch! Right in the privilege.

7 years ago

@ Anonymous:

Nobody ever put it that way. Right on.

“Well, actually There is some truth to poor people being happier but it’s not the lack of money that makes them happy it’s the culture they live in. If your country has a nice culture and everyone you know has the same as you you will be happier than if you are rich and live in a place where everyone tries to fuck you over and everybody hates each other. The killer here is that a lot of money would probably ruin the cultures and make everyone more miserable than before. I worked in one country and had around thousand three hundred dollars after tax per month then I moved to another country and I earn three times more. I was much happier in the first country, but my income had nothing to do with it, it was just a better culture to live in.”

7 years ago

Rastafarians are poor as fuck and I’ve yet to meet one that seemed unhappy to me. Though listening to reggae and smoking ganja all day may have something to with that.

I don’t see much correlation between wealth and happiness. The real formula is Expectations – your reality = happiness. People who don’t have much but don’t expect much aren’t necessarily unhappy. People in the West expect a LOT out of life from a material standpoint. There’s also a cultural/religious component to this as well. I don’t think you can point to any nation and assume their general happiness level based on their material well-being.

I think a good indicator of the overall happiness level of a culture is its suicide rates. The top 10 countries are dominated by FSU and E. Asian countries: http://www.ibtimes.com/top-ten-most-suicidal-countries-photos-706235 . I’m sure America’s suicide rate far surpasses Bolivia’s.