Happiest Nations: Mexico is in the top 10 …

June 3, 2013
While trolling the internet expat webboards around Mexico to see just what is occupying gringo’s minds, an interesting thread on Chapala.com popped up.

For those who don’t know: Chapala, Axixic, etc are in a beautiful location, with great weather, and are likely the largest gringo-haven in all of Mexico. This area has the what have been the 2 most active Mexican-gringo forums, with insidelakeside.com being the slightly more rough-and-tumble version (including “The Octagon” for cage fighting) and Chapala.com being more staid and very heavily moderated. Both forums have their old-hand reliable posters, like Spencer “Intercasa”, who consistently give advice that fits both the legal aspects of working with Aduana and INM while consistently staying well grounded in the realities of how things actually work, and their share of   insightful posters, plus the usual mix of   the grumpy,   the funny,    the right-wingers,    the left-wingers,    back-benchers,    folks frustrated that we-sold-everything-and-moved-to-Mexico-and-now-we’re-not-getting-what-we-were-promised, personal-feuders,    the bored-with-the-rest-of-life-so-I-spend-a-lot-of-time-on-the-internet,    trouble-makers,    Cliff Clavin know-it-alls, and     a few very insightful commentators who lay-in-the-weeds waiting for some tasty bit to float by.

Chapala.com’s latest hot topic is “mexico 10th happiest country in the world” at http://www.chapala.com/wwwboard/webboard.html. (Referencing the USA Today article: “USA not one of 10 happiest countries in world.)

The first 2 pages of posts contain the standard: ” Mexicans are…
where gringos openly muse about their own personal (aka narrow) versions of who Mexicans are and why. Their replies include the old standards: Mexicans are very family oriented, etc. plus a some revealing answers that expose what many gringos actually think:
I’m as happy as I want to be.happy old man

I could be happier, so send lots of money and we will test the theory and report back on the results.    😀

“… maybe it’s the sex on the tv that is keeping them both in the top 14!    :blink:

…maybe lack of education plays a part (in making Mexicans happy), as it doesn’t take a lot to please a 5th or 6th grader. Hard to find much on Mexican TV that is intellectual and thought provoking and not geared toward sex. 😀

Think back, waaay back to when we were teenagers, adolescent young and full of “stuff” & vinegar, weren’t we happy? – of course we were, we had, or took, little responsibility, life was a party, let’s get wild and crazy – remember all that? Well friends and neighbors, look around you, you are living in the middle of a country whose culture is completely adolescent – in short, we’re living in a country full of adolescent teenagers, run by teenagers. They don’t think things through, they take little, if any, responsibility and they’re not trying to set the world on fire, just a little hot spot under a globas.

Huh….? grumpy retiree

Maybe this poster is being sarcastic?

Reading a bit further down, (after other gringos chimed in to support the Mexicans are just irresponsible teenagers masquerading as adults theory):

“Well, I’m slow at times and it must have taken me two years and a fair amount of cerveza to finally realize what was happening, once I did it changed the way I look at almost everything here in MX. It didn’t “fix” any problems, and some days I’m still at wits end, but then I just calm down and put it in perspective, but it really does answer a lot of questions doesn’t it?

followed by these replies:
Oh my Gawd Giltner 68. that explains everything! Never thought of it like that, you must be a psychiatrist ?

Exactly. I was about to contribute the same, but you beat me to it. Thanks. ” and

He’s just ticked over the car issue but so are most of us.

… Is this really what gringos believe in the privacy of their minds and repeat at gringo gatherings?

(No wonder that Americans are so welcomed around the world…)ni modo

Since I tend not to hang out with gringos, I really don’t know, so I continued to read-on.

The next bits that jumped out…
After reading all the comments, I am left wondering how many of the nay-sayers and critics are married to Mexicans?

How many have Mexican families, to know how Mexicans live, think, and love, up close, without the filtering that goes on between strangers and acquaintances ?

If we don’t live with people 24/7 for a decade or so, can we really know who they are and what makes them tick?

If the posters live in neighborhoods with enough other gringos that they socialize with gringos, can they really know what makes Mexicans happy or unhappy?

How many of the posters are modestly fluent in Spanish?

If you can’t speak well enough to understand the local humor, can you really imagine how Mexicans really think and what makes them happy? When was the last time the you made the Mexicans in the room break out in laughter over something insightful you said? Just how adept are you at understanding, and using doble sentidos ?

This is like the zoo animals speculating on what us makes humans happy, as the humans parade past them speaking a language that neither the lions, elephants, donkeys, or apes understand.

If one only peers out from inside an enclave, without really knowing the language, or the culture, or the history, then can the viewer really know what makes the Mexicans tick?

Regarding planning, around the world, are gardeners, cleaning ladies, store clerks, and gas station attendants known for planning their lives? If the gringo commentators do not personally hang out with Mexican business owners, architects, teachers, doctors, lawyers, chemists, biologists, engineers, and a host of other Mexicans who do not live on week-to-week finances, then you likely don’t know how hilarious it is to read that “Mexicans are like irresponsible adolescent teenagers who do not plan.”

Instead think about: keeping Mom happy, striving to please key others, avoiding conflict, enjoying what they find truly important like time with their children, a good laugh, black black humor, and enough ni modo attitudes to let troubles roll off your back as good starting points to describe the roots of Mexican happiness. Baby Boy Haas001

Mexicans rightfully see   slightly-plump to heavy women   as   beautiful and desireable.    Mexicans rightfully see elders as beautiful and valued.    Mexicans highly value having good relations with their adult children.     Mexicans dote on children and indulge children.     Mexican parents do   not   eagerly look forward to kicking their kids out of the house at age 18.    Mexican kids are generally welcome to stay with mom and dad until age 27 or 30.    Mexicans value life-long friends differently from US citizens,   as my wife goes out monthly with her friends from grade school – friends from middle school – and friends from high school.

These are things that are pretty unusual in the USA.

US citizens rally around causes, spending $100’s of billions of dollars every year to try to control what happens in other countries. US citizens gratefully and willingly support a military that has bases and installations in 75% of the world’s countries. Americans love to speculate about how to control things at home, at work, and around the world, which drives the never-ending news cycles and the hunger for more power and control at home and at work.    Mexicans generally don’t worry about all the things in far off places in the world, and   not even so much things at their work place.    They care about their families, their friends, their co-workers, and their neighbors.    Americans worry about Syria, and Israel, and Iran, and Afghanistan  and Wall Street,  and the next promotion,  and North Korea, and   on   and on   and on.

If the posters have not lived the things and ways that Mexicans value, then how can they understand why these things are so important – and they can’t really understand why Mexicans would self describe themselves as happy – even though they have lower levels of education and less stuff than Americans.

Maybe having a roof over your head that you own  (no mortgage payment worries),

maybe having a car that you own  (no car payment worries),

maybe having enough to eat, where Mexico’s food poverty rates are lower than the US, where 1 in 5 US children literally do not know where their next meal is coming from,  (no big food worries)

maybe having a job that starts at 8:00 and ends at 4:00,  (no worrying about climbing the ladder)

maybe having more things in life that you value more than   your car,   your house,   and your toys,

maybe having a national health treatment safety network to protect you and your family,

maybe sharing good close relationships with your parents, sibs, and your adult children and grandchildren,

maybe looking forward to a nice party this weekend

all add up to create national happiness?
~    ~    ~    ~

Ahhh, there’s the rub.yogi

We’ve published “snowco’s” stuff before, and he seems to enjoy watching the circus, and weighing-in only after the dust has settled.

    snowyco continues immediately with another post on the heels of the first, shifting to different themes:

    ~    ~    ~    ~

    If you want to understand the keys to national and personal happiness,   don’t just focus on Mexico.

    Open the list and take a look at the whole list of happy countries, and figure out what common factors they all share.

    All of these countries   – studiously    and    historically –  avoid trying to control other countries.

    All of these countries currently and historically value personal freedom as expressed through allowing other people to live free, and be free to do what the others find important and fullfilling.

    Canadians,   Finns,   Danes,   Dutchmen,   Freisians,   Norwegians,   Icelanders,   Swedes,   Swiss, Austrians,   and Mexicans are notoriously   un-interested   in dominating discussions,   un-interested in dominating the world stage,   un-interested   in controlling their neighbors, and   uninterested   in attacking, invading, or militarily protecting others.

    These   happy societies   are known for caring for others in their own cultures.

    These   happy societies   are known for putting social safety nets in place to help every one of their citizens in need.

    These   happy societies   are known for deeply caring for family members.

    Ironically, all of these   happy societies   are focused on making things good inside their own countries,

    and they spend little or no energy meddling in or trying to control the lives of other nations.

    Ironically, all of these countries highly value treating others with respect .

    These   happy societies   highly value   doing the    altruistic things    that   help   others,
    rather than trying to force some    ideology    or    code of behavior    onto others.

    These happy societies put heavy focus on the welfare and well being of their countrymen.

    If these observations are correct, then the typical gringos who come from the USA likely have never experienced these sorts of lifestyles or life views ???miles davis

    Wonder what countries are on the list?
    10. Mexico
    9. Finland
    8. Canada
    7. Austria
    6. Netherlands
    5. Denmark (a previous #1 in past studies)
    4. Sweden
    3. Iceland
    2. Norway
    1. Switzerland

    Hmmmmm…. Maybe regular sunshine is a bad thing, if you want to be happy ?

    * * * *
    Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
    © Steven M. Fry

    Read on, MacDuff.

12 Responses to Happiest Nations: Mexico is in the top 10 …

  1. Pingback: Happiest Nations: Mexico is in the top 10… | Surviving Yucatan

  2. norm says:

    Nice post Steve.

  3. LOL…I read the original article and Husband and I had a discussion of why this is so (Mexicans being happy). I won’t bore you with our conclusion since it’s similar to yours but it never occurred to me that other people would feel so threatened as to make disparaging remarks. What I see are unhappy people lashing out. It’s the exile mentality, they didn’t immigrate willingly for the adventure and advantages, they were “forced” out of their home country by economics. They live here in Mexico but feel put out because they can’t have everything they want. Thought provoking post.


    • yucalandia says:

      Always good to hear from you and Jubby.

      For better or worse, it makes me glad to be in Yucatan, and even more happy to be in Merida. A former Q. Roo friend who has moved to the Chapala area says that these sorts of gringo attitudes are typical there – (Paradise Lost?) – making their expat community no where near as good or pleasant as what he experienced for a decade on the Costa Maya.
      All the best,

      I’m sending you an email at your gmail account….

    • yucalandia says:

      Post Script
      I left out the back and forth gringo posts about how low IQ (related to low education) contributes significantly to Mexican national happiness.
      Based on lots of their personal writings, Gringos may deserve their reputation. ???

  4. Although there could be a bit of that attitude in Yucatan, for the most part I’ve seen or met only good, grateful folks who appreciate the opportunity to be able to live in such a wonderful place. Yes, the bureaucracy can seem burdensome at times, but it’s a small price to pay for all the great experiences one can enjoy.

  5. Ronbo says:

    Great Post.

    I’ve been living here in Central Mexico for 7 years and for the most part…I love it. Hope to move to Yucatan this year. Although after years in a place where so very few gringos ever visit, let alone live, Merida and QR, almost feel a little too “civilized” for me. It reminds me of South Texas.

    Are there things here in Mex that I find frustrating? Of course, but so are there in the us. BFD. Are there times where I become vocal about a certain displeasure? Yes, but very few and far between.

    The number one thing that has helped me enjoy the ride is this: “You ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto!” I constantly remind myself that this IS NOT the us of a and that things things are different here… Mainly, Because It’s A Different Country! Yes, things Are different here, not necessarily wrong, or bass-ackwards as some gringos would like to believe… Just Different.

    The number two thing is Assimilation! I live as a local,in a local neighborhood. I eat as a local. Visit local Dr’s and use local services. Shop at local markets, Observe local customs, and have local friends. Being married to a Mexican helps a bit, too. I also took the time to learn Spanish, fluently… including most of the slang, and regional expressions. In short, I actually work at blending in, and becoming a part of the community, instead of trying to mold the community to fit my tastes. I am aware that I am a guest in a foreign land and try to behave as any good guest should.

    To the complainers, I say: If you expect life here to be Just Like Back Home, then really, you should consider going Back Home. Perhaps, consider the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. It has a distinctly Mexican Feel, and a very low cost of living, but you are still back in the land of oz where you feel warm and fuzzy and enjoy all of the stuff that you griped about missing while in Mexico.

    Thanks again for the excellent post.


    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Ronbo,
      Two words jump out at me while reading your post: “Guest” … and … “Respect” .

      I see that almost all the even slightly bitter, or harsh posts are from people who at very deep levels, do not respect Mexicans.

      Sure, they have their gardener or cleaning lady or construction workers that they treat more than fairly, but I suspect they really don’t see them as true equals.

      When our actions, perceptions, and understandings are deeply rooted in respect, all the other things flow… easily.

  6. Ronbo says:

    Well said! Respect is the foundation of all good relations.

  7. Don Cuevas says:

    Where are you, Steven? It’s been a month since the above post. I hope that you are well.

    Don Cuevas

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Don Cuevas,
      Thank you for your concerns.

      I have been on an extended trip of 20 hr travel and work days – much of it in areas with poor cell phone coverage and no internet access.

      I just got back, and I’ve been scurrying around getting caught-up on things – Telmex down – TV down – cooked up about 25 kilos of BBQ chicken for the US Independence Day/Canada Day celebration in Progreso yesterday – along with helping remodel a 3 apartment unit building – have left my plate overflowing.

      All the best,

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