Thursday, March 21, 2013

$ = :-(

Because most of us buy into the values in the United States, we seek success and materialism through hard work and personal achievement sometimes even alone as individuals.  We assume that happiness will be a part of this equation but notice it is not.  Sadly, we often isolate ourselves from others in our quest for success and this makes us less happy.  So, today's lesson is to carefully select the values we want to hold dear to us.  Be mindful that your culture is always tugging at you to follow it, but that doesn't mean it will lead you where you want to go.  A growing field of research has been exploring happiness and why it is so elusive. What could be more important than real happiness - true happiness, contentment with our lives? This research reveals that although we are vastly wealthier than a few decades ago we are less happy as a nation. Sociology, psychology and economics all have been exploring happiness and I think it relates to our culture and how we live our lives.
A 2008 sociology study found that happiness is more difficult for parents :-( me! But our culture thinks that it is taboo to talk about how difficult raising children is. Other sociologists have written about how we as Americans try to consume happiness through our spending power. Sociologist Karen Sternheimer writes
You are no doubt familiar with the clichĂ© that “money can’t buy happiness.” Yet so many of us presume that if we just had a little more money (according to Easterlin’s research, 20% more) we would be happier. Maybe we could buy more, pay off some bills, and feel less stressed about money.
But Easterlin found that this just isn’t the case. In fact, he says many of us buy into the “money illusion”, which guides how we spend our time as we focus on trying to get more money. Of course, this is a very American pursuit: our capitalist economy is based on the constant striving for more.

On the psychology of happiness, Tal Ben-Shahar teaches the most popular class at Harvard, The Psychology of Happiness. His book, Happier, is a psychological understanding of how to live a happier life. He also maintains this website with articles and tips on being happier. You can also see Shahar on John Stewart's Daily Show.
Economists have been discussing happiness at great lengths lately. The most interesting to me so far is Richard Layard who wrote Happiness. Here is an excerpt from Layard's book:

There is a paradox at the heart of our lives. We all want more money, but as societies become richer, they do not become happier. This is not speculation: It's the story told by countless pieces of scientific research. We now have sophisticated ways of measuring how happy people are, and all the evidence shows that on average people have grown no happier in the last fifty years, even as average incomes have more than doubled.

The central question the great economist Richard Layard asks in Happiness is this: If we really wanted to be happier, what would we do differently? First we'd have to see clearly what conditions generate happiness and then bend all our efforts toward producing them. That is what this book is about-the causes of happiness and the means we have to effect it.

Until recently there was too little evidence to give a good answer to this essential question, but, Layard shows us, thanks to the integrated insights of psychology, sociology, applied economics, and other fields, we can now reach some firm conclusions, conclusions that will surprise you. Happiness is an illuminating road map, grounded in hard research, to a better, happier life for us all.


  1. when i hear that kanye and estelle song i always think of your blog.
    and also, why are you always so happy?
    and i cant wait until you're old so me and alex can bring you tounge.

  2. my sister sent me this and i thought it was really interesting

  3. Personally, I think that money does buy happiness. People like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and even sports and movie stars still work and live great lives. You can argue that after time money doesn't have the same effect on you than it did in the beginning, but that's true in any case. When someone retires from a job, after a while they wish that they were at work again because they have nothing to do at home. What money does do tho, is that once you reach that amount where you stop keeping track, you begin to wonder what to do with it, and many of the rich donate it to others who need it. By doing this they are making themselves and others happy. So in the end, I would argue that money does buy happiness.