Perceptions of Beauty and Happiness from Various Cultures

We all want to be happy. This is achieved differently for each and every person, as only you yourself can know what truly makes you happy. Different cultures often have opposing ideas of what can make you happy. For some it’s having a family. For others it’s all about having a successful career. Many feel wealth is the true route to happiness, whilst others claim its finding a soul mate to share your life with.

None of these are right or wrong per se, as again, we all have differing ideas on what can truly make us happy in life. One common theme surrounding happiness and self-worth is how you perceive yourself.

Some cultures have led to a strong emphasis on what is beautiful on the outside. While it’s nice to think some care more so of inner beauty, even the most contrasting cultures place an emphasis on some type of physical attractiveness.

Weight for example, is an aspect of beauty that is different in certain cultures. Many African countries feel that being overly skinny is incredibly unattractive, while curvy women are absolutely irresistible.

This is quite different in western cultures, where impressively thin supermodels are deemed the most attractive by the vast majority. The concept that thin is the only beautiful form is an almost unanimously-accepted truth.

If women go out of their way to be as thin as possible, men in western cultures may feel pressured into having a more muscular physique. This is yet another concept that can differ from one culture to another. In the US, a broad, muscular upper body is seen as the best possible form for men, whereas South African males are deemed more attractive with a slimmer, more athletic build.

Another defining aspect regarding men is their masculinity. In exotic cultures, such as those found in Latin countries, a man is thought of as more desirable if he is “macho”, which entails an extroverted masculinity. On the other hand, in Eastern cultures, such as in the Philippines, masculinity is less about testosterone-induces outbursts and more about supporting a family.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there, for males or females. Cultures perceive beauty very differently, and there are various elements that make this difference, from the way our teeth look to the number of tattoos we have. The exact same things can be said about happiness throughout cultural diversity.

Most cultures are driven by money and the fact that almost everyone needs some form of income to live. And nowadays, in the era of capitalism, acquiring wealth has become more of a focus in people’s lives in almost every culture. It’s a debate that’s been raging for years though – can money buy you happiness?

Well, it seems that people are more than willing to find out for themselves, as playing the lottery is still immensely popular because it gives people hope. Yes, fighting tooth and nail to afford things isn’t the nicest way to live your life, and those living in poverty can certainly enjoy an easier life with more spare cash to help ease their worries.

But to think that simply having less money to spend on material objects will impair your fulfilment in life is crazy. Family, friends, and partners are all people in our lives that bring far more happiness than any massive paycheque could. This is another aspect that most cultures agree on.

We can easily find happiness helping others around us. This could be a friend, a neighbour or a complete stranger – offering a helping hand is always regarded as a way to feel truly happy with who you are and what you are doing.

Just take Asian cultures for example, where family is one of the most important things in life. You can achieve happiness by caring and providing for them when they get older, make them proud through your achievements in life – money clearly isn’t needed for this goal as family love is unconditional, not based on how much you have earned.

So, while we may think life can be much better if we look beautiful and have all the wealth imaginable, the chances of getting on just fine without either are higher than we may think. Not everyone is rich and beautiful, yet there are plenty of happy faces out there in the world in spite of this.