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Of spoilage memes and happiness

Comments re-enabled (they were turned off by accident)

In the revised spoilage meme, or "fortunate life" meme, that I originally saw in kightp's journal and posted about here, there were three questions labeled "Mental Sanity":
( ) Are you generally happy?
( ) Do you “enjoy” your job?
( ) Do you have time for hobbies?

It seemed to me that every single person who filled out the meme (at least the ones I saw) took a point for each of these. (This pleased me—I thought it was the most accurate measure of satisfaction in the survey.)

Also, many people who scored "low" on the meme's "fortunate" scale said they were quite satisfied with their lives and thought they were very fortunate, thank you.

hmms_sio sent me an article, "Happiness and Public Policy" by Richard Layard, published in The Economic Journal 116 (March 2006). It has a soft science tendency of making equations out of everything, which I find annoying (it reminded me why I didn't go into sociology after all) but I thought these bits were interesting:
...despite massive increases in purchasing power, people in the West are no happier than they were fifty years ago.
[a couple pages later]
In the US...there has been no increase in happiness since the 1950s - nor any significant decrease in unhappiness. Similar findings apply in Japan and the UK and in most European countries.
There is...cross-sectional evidence across countries - among industrialised countries with incomes over $20,000 per head there is no relation between average income and average happiness.
These facts and the responses to the meme seem to back each other up — income and "stuff" seems to be less relevant to most people's happiness than other factors such as enjoying one's work and having free time.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 18th, 2006 07:14 am (UTC)
(At first I couldn't leave a comment, now I can. Glitch probably. I'll comment with what I already send in mail)

I made some notes in the lecture Layard gave in the office (roughly the same as the article, including the same examples).

Happiness leans very heavy on family, work and community interaction. Unemployment is the biggest 'unhappy factor' in nearly every research.

Trust 'your neighbours'.
The question: 'do you think most people are trustworthy?' was answered with 'yes' in the US and the UK in the sixties by some 65%. Now that is down to 35%. In Europe that changed less dramatically, in Italy it even went up.

Individualism plays a huge part and is spreading over the world from the US. He says: A society based on individualism and personal gain is doomed to fail.

Apr. 18th, 2006 08:04 am (UTC)
I discovered comments had been turned off - I didn't intend that, so I turned 'em back on. Thanks for your comment, and for the original article!
Apr. 18th, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC)
I'm taking two hits right now out of those three questions (well 1.5 because I do enjoy my job..or at least parts of it) and it's one of the reasons why I'm thinking that I'm starting the downward slide of wanting to get out of being a consultant - my level of happiness and ability to have a life outside of work is on the decline. What I would give to take a course (in person) or join a choir or something of that ilk.

While the income is nice, the happiness level is dwindling.
Apr. 18th, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC)
I do know what you're talking about. I hope you can find work that gives you more free time and more ability to plan for things.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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