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.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.
[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.