Happy but not happy enough

In: Uncategorized

18 Mar 2008

The New York Review of Books (3 April) has an article by Sue Halpern, a scholar in residence at Middlebury College, reviewing books on happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar, Daniel Gilbert, Jerome Kagan, Sonja Lyubomirsky and Eric Wilson. There is too much to summarise in a short note but points worth noting include the fact that most people around the world are happy:

“When happiness researcher Ed Diener, the past president of the International Society of Quality of Life Studies, synthesized 916 surveys of over a million people in forty-five countries, he found that, on average, people placed themselves at seven on the zero-to-ten scale.”

However, despite the fact that we are generally happy we are apparently obsessed with becoming happier still:

“Still, since nearly all of us say we’re happy (especially if we live in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, and Switzerland, which are among the happiest of happy places), it is somewhat disconcerting to observe the burgeoning library of “get happy” books.”

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