If you are not okay, then I am okay!

We all know from experience, as the article suggests, that for true happiness we should have - "experiences" over commodities, pastimes over knick-knacks, doing over having.

Economic prosperity and happiness are unrelated. The Economist writes:
"Happiness, as measured by national surveys, has hardly changed over 50 years. The rich are generally happier than the poor, but rich countries do not get happier as they get richer. The Japanese are much better off now than in 1950, but the proportion who say they are “very happy” has not budged. Americans too have remained much as Alexis de Tocqueville found them in the 19th century: “So many lucky men, restless in the midst of abundance.”

Lord Layard and Mr Frank both blame habit and rivalry for this stagnation of morale. People grow accustomed to what they have—however much of it there is. Moreover, having a lot of things is not enough if other people have more. A rising tide lifts all boats, but not all spirits.

For economists, this is radical stuff. They traditionally argue that people best serve themselves and the public by minding their own business."

As we well know, people do not mind their own business and there is a good reason for it. Quite sadistically, our own happiness is mostly relative; we are happier if we are better off than our peers. Your misery has a lot to do with my happiness. Economic growth is good but does nothing to ensure happiness. As the leader to the article (access required) points out - Capitalism ensures economic growth, but to ask of it to also ensure happiness is to ask too much of it.

Previous post on this topic.
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In the same edition the Economist also surveys the big questions of neuroscience:
"Modern neuroscience has taken many directions, and this survey will not attempt to look at all of them. Instead, it will concentrate on four areas that may shed light on individual identity: the study of the emotions; the nature of memory; the ways that brains interact with each other; and the vexed question of what, exactly, consciouness is."

1 comment:

Anand said...

Repeating myself.
Listened to a radio prog on the National Happiness Quotient in Bhutan and the way its citizens responded to its individual and collective pursuit. The narrator was hellbent on proving that it cannot exist without material wealth.
Have not "babbled" yet