Could it be that our biggest social problems todayâ€”failing public schools, skyrocketing health costs, widening wealth inequalities, collapsing infrastructureâ€”are related to the fact that, in the midst of plenty, so many Americans still feel they donâ€™t have enough? Could this explain, at least partially, why, as a nation, we have disinvested from so many public goods that donâ€™t yield short-term returns? Happy, trusting, optimistic people almost always want others to prosper, too, and they think about the future. It is only when we get stuck in a mindset of scarcity that we cling to what we have and wall ourselves off from others, especially the have-nots.
Now one of the top linked stories online is this Newsweek article, Why Money Doesnâ€™t Buy Happiness:
If money doesn’t buy happiness, what does? Grandma was right when she told you to value health and friends, not money and stuff. Or as Diener and Seligman put it, once your basic needs are met “differences in well-being are less frequently due to income, and are more frequently due to factors such as social relationships and enjoyment at work.” Other researchers add fulfillment, a sense that life has meaning, belonging to civic and other groups, and living in a democracy that respects individual rights and the rule of law. If a nation wants to increase its population’s sense of well-being, says Veenhoven, it should make “less investment in economic growth and more in policies that promote good governance, liberties, democracy, trust and public safety.”
Happiness is a good thing to dwell on every once and a while.