Monday, November 20, 2006

Notes on Happiness in the Developed World

Studies suggest that young people in developed countries might be a lot less happy than their poorer counterparts in the developing world. Actually, the same generally proves true for adults as well. The poorest countries report the highest levels of satisfaction with life. Two possibilities on this:

1) There's an idea in sociology that societies with a dozen problems are often less troubled by them than societies that only have a few problems left. With subsistence and shelter taken care of, we have more time to worry about whatever problems we have left over. Woody Allen goes on about this idea in Stardust Memories.

2) Teenagers in the developed world are overworked, having been drafted to do the psychic work of their parents' generation. Adults live through their children and require them to take part in these exaggerated pleasure-cruises that are never as much fun as the parents expect. The kids are required to experience all of the enjoyment that their parents are denied. It's grueling, this overemphasis on 'happiness'. Being happy makes it impossible to enjoy life.

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