Are We Too Pessimistic About Happiness?

I was diddling around with some stuff after reading that New Zealand will henceforth be prioritizing happiness—“well-being and life satisfaction”—over economic growth, and came across this scatterplot about perceived happiness vs. actual happiness:

In every single country, the average estimate of happiness is far lower than actual reported happiness. Every single country! In the US, 90% of people say they’re happy, but the average guess is that only 50 percent of people say they’re happy. Is this because:

  1. We are really lousy at estimating the happiness of others?
  2. We implicitly assume that poor people must be unhappy, and there are a lot of poor people?

         or

  1. People lie a lot (or delude themselves) about how happy they are when pollsters ask?

My guess is that it’s a lot of (a) and a little bit of (c).

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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