Commenting on work by Hannes Schwandt
, Peter Levine writes
: "Many young adults feel that they are not yet getting what they want from life but expect to get it in five years. In middle age, people are disappointed not to have seen their expectations met and rate themselves dissatisfied. They also expect life to get worse–it won’t offer important new satisfactions or successes, but their health will decline as their years run out. Instead, life does offer new rewards in the later decades, and so people are pleasantly surprised. Mean self-reported satisfaction is the same at age 70 as it was at age 30 (and much higher than it was at 50). What could we do to avoid the dreaded U-curve of satisfaction?" [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea
on Nov 25, 2013 -
The Quality of Life: As Macaulay once noted: “If men are to wait for liberty till they become good and wise in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.”
posted by Gyan
on Aug 2, 2013 -
Home Sweet Home
"'I told him I did live my life forward, but sometimes I couldn’t help thinking about the past, and it was rewarding,' he says. 'Nostalgia made me feel that my life had roots and continuity. It made me feel good about myself and my relationships. It provided a texture to my life and gave me strength to move forward.' The colleague remained skeptical, but ultimately Dr. Sedikides prevailed. That lunch in 1999 inspired him to pioneer a field that today includes dozens of researchers around the world using tools developed at his social-psychology laboratory, including a questionnaire called the Southampton Nostalgia Scale
. After a decade of study, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be — it’s looking a lot better."
posted by bookman117
on Jul 9, 2013 -
Oliver Burkeman on happiness through negative thinking
: "I think many of the techniques that claim to enable us to achieve happiness don’t work. They are too focused on strenuously stamping out any trace of negativity, rather than cultivating the conditions of real happiness... We are all to some extent in its grip, whenever we think that the way to achieve whatever we’re trying to achieve is to go after it vigorously, and that if we believe it will all work out fine then it will." A "five books" interview with the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
. [more inside]
posted by flex
on Nov 4, 2012 -
, from the excellent resource the wirecutter
, drops some knowledge about what it's like to live a bit more meaningfully
. "I owe my livelihood to technology and I love the raw capability it offers us as a tool, but I fear it a bit more than most people do. It's a tool, but it's not quite a hammer, because a hammer doesn't seduce you into sitting around lonely in your underwear for 6 hours at a stretch clicking on youtube videos and refreshing Twitter.
posted by pwally
on Feb 2, 2012 -
Back in October,
NYT columnist David Brooks asked his older readers (aged 70+) to send him "life reports." He wanted them to appraise their lives, in an effort to glean some life lessons for all of us to learn by. After receiving thousands of replies, he published his assessment of them a couple weeks ago, in two columns (Part 1: Nov 24, 2011
; Part 2: Nov 28, 2011
). He's also selected specific ones and published them on his blog
. [more inside]
posted by crunchland
on Dec 6, 2011 -
The Harvard Study of Adult Development is the longest prospective study of mental and physical well-being ever conducted. For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been following 824 individuals through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Designer Laura Javier
took ten of those cases and visualized them in the Elements of Happiness
. [via flowingdata]
posted by anifinder
on Jun 27, 2011 -
Denmark is the happiest place on Earth! At least according to 24/7 Wall Street
, which has released their list of the 10 "Happiest" Countries in the World
. Determined using "11 measurements of quality of life including housing, income, jobs, community, education, the environment, health, work-life balance, and life satisfaction," the United States did not make the cut. The US, however, made it to #1 on the list of the 10 Countries with the Most Millionaires. [more inside]
posted by eunoia
on Jun 6, 2011 -
Recent research on children. (1) Brothers and sisters who argue a lot can improve their language, social skills and outcomes: Guardian article
; paper on part of the research
(pdf). (2) First findings from Understanding Society
. Conclusions include: the unhappiness of children’s mothers with their partners affect children’s happiness, but this is not the case if children’s fathers are unhappy in their relationships; having older brothers or sisters doesn’t appear to affect children’s happiness, but having younger brothers or sisters is associated with less happiness; not living with both natural parents has a greater negative impact on a young person’s life satisfaction than their material situation. (3) A longitudinal study on people now in their forties has found that for these people reading is linked to career success, though not necessarily to better pay, whilst playing computer games and doing no other activities was associated with less likelihood of going to university. In particular, those who owned a ZX Spectrum or Commodore C64 were less likely to go to university. thinq interview with researcher
. Guardian article
. Telegraph article
. (4) Poll about children’s attitudes to losing in sport. Press release
. Data from children’s survey
. Data from parents’ survey
. (All three are PDFs.)
posted by paduasoy
on Apr 9, 2011 -
"Affluence breeds impatience, and impatience undermines well-being."
Avner Offer is the professor
of economic history at the University of Oxford, and he is interested in the well-being of people and families in liberal market societies. His latest work, The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950
, is an empirical socioeconomic history of the effects that liberal and neo-liberal economics has had on happiness, relationships, and social welfare. Specifically, he argues that Reaganism
catapulted forward the ability to produce new goods and services, and to create the desire for them, far ahead of society's ability to cope. Reagan and Thatcher "smashed the family to pieces;
" the result of market liberalism is societies of ever-more dissatisfied, atomized, unhappy communities of dual-worker consumerist
posted by r_nebblesworthII
on Nov 19, 2010 -
"We infer that beyond about $75,000/y, there is no improvement whatever in any of the three measures of emotional well-being."
Two social scientists at Princeton, Angus Deaton
and Nobelist Daniel Kahneman
, have a new paper in PNAS about money and the determinants of happiness. Increased income above $75,000 is not associated with higher subjective happiness, though it is associated with superior scores on measures of overall life satisfaction. Other tidbits: "Religion has a substantial influence on improving positive affect and reducing reports of stress, but no effect on reducing sadness or worry... The presence of children at home is associated with significant increases in stress, sadness, and worry."
posted by escabeche
on Sep 8, 2010 -
On money and happiness
Takeaway: buying stuff doesn't make you happier, although investing in experiences that strengthen social and familial bonds can.
Interestingness: savings increased to 6.5% this year and some experts think this is permanent; conspicuous consumption is shifting to calculated consumption; “There’s massive literature on income and happiness. It’s amazing how little there is on how to spend your money.” [more inside]
posted by erikvan
on Aug 9, 2010 -
I'm just not sure that "happiness" is supposed to be the stable human condition, and I think it's punishing that we're constantly being pushed to achieve it. Screw Happiness
, an essay on the folly of using happiness as a measure to define women's lives.
posted by desjardins
on May 10, 2010 -
Pandora, Prometheus, and Pessimism.
"Pessimism deserves serious consideration in today’s culture of Oprah-quick-fix happiness, Prozac induced euphoria, and unjustified optimism for our species. Unlike Oprah and Prozac, pessimism is not easy to swallow. It is time we consider this tradition in a culture steeped in farcical, puerile conceptions of happiness; an environment where every person who is able to grin on a book-cover can tell us how to achieve happiness now; where angels or god or some other fairy-tale character cares about our actions in this world. Life is not a grand, heroic narrative with a happy ending. It is not a place where we are overcoming obstacles in order to achieve a time in our lives of perfect serenity. In order to combat such serious obstructions to clear-thought, boundaries to reality and gateways to delusion, pessimism can help us shape our thoughts on matters which resonate with all us rational, bipedal apes."
posted by homunculus
on Apr 15, 2010 -
Everybody Have Fun.
In 1978, a trio of psychologists curious about happiness assembled two groups of subjects. In the first were winners of the Illinois state lottery. These men and women had received jackpots of between fifty thousand and a million dollars. In the second group were victims of devastating accidents. How happy had they been before these events? How about now? How about expectations for the future? These and other results have shown that hitting the jackpot fails to lift spirits along with a whole range of activities that people tend to think will make them happy (getting a raise, moving to California, or having kid). Is the United States a nation of joyless lottery winners? And are there implications for public policy decisions?
posted by bluesky43
on Mar 19, 2010 -
We think it’s normal to work all day every day at a dead-end job. It’s normal to fight with our spouses and our children. It’s normal to eat and drink and drug ourselves to escape, to veg out and stare at a screen for hours a day just to dull the pain. It’s normal to hate our lives and be miserable, it’s normal to be lonely, it’s normal to feel hollow. The Freak Revolution Manifesto
posted by fiercecupcake
on Oct 2, 2009 -
Children Full of Life
- grade 4 students in Kanazawa, Japan learn deep life lessons from their incredible teacher and from each other. I strongly recommend this as awesome, but one caveat: keep tissues handy. (5 parts, 40 minutes total, English)
posted by madamjujujive
on Jul 25, 2009 -
When Money Buys Happiness
. List the ten most expensive things (products, services or experiences) that you have ever paid for (including houses, cars, university degrees, marriage ceremonies, divorce settlements and taxes). Then, list the ten items that you have ever bought that gave you the most happiness. Count how many items appear on both lists. [more inside]
posted by zinfandel
on Jul 2, 2009 -
Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. What Makes Us Happy?
posted by allkindsoftime
on May 12, 2009 -