I came across this article in the New Yorker about the findings of a happiness research conducted on Americans. I thought it was a rather interesting read.
The findings suggest that happiness and income levels are not directly proportional. Rising incomes do not translate directly into higher levels of happiness, ie, a rich man might not be happier than a poor peasant, albeit having a higher standard of living.
Well, this might just be the justification for us to stop working hard.
This part of the article raised my eyebrows somewhat. The Afghans are “a cheerful lot”? Really?
As in the United States, she notes, the rich in any given country tend to be happier than the less affluent. But, once again, the relationship between money and well-being turns out to be a lot less straightforward than is generally assumed.
Take the case of Nigeria. The country’s per-capita G.D.P. last year was about fourteen hundred dollars. (In real terms, this is significantly lower than it was when the nation declared its independence, in 1960.) Yet the proportion of Nigerians who rate themselves happy is as high as the proportion of Japanese, whose per-capita G.D.P. is almost twenty-five times as great. The percentage of Bangladeshis who report themselves satisfied is twice as high as the percentage of Russians, though Russians are more than four times as rich, and the proportion of happy Panamanians is twice as high as that of happy Argentines, though the Argentines have double the income. Research that Graham has done in Afghanistan shows that, despite three decades of war and widespread destitution, Afghans are, on average, a pretty cheerful lot. (The most cheerful areas of the country tend to be those in which the Taliban’s influence is stronger.) Graham’s research in Latin America shows that the very poor are often remarkably upbeat.
We’re going to the Land of Happiness soon – maybe we will gain some new insights into the elusive “being happy”.