Gross National Happiness by Arthur C. Brooks
who is happy in America and what makes them happy.
Note:COSA VOGLIAMO SAPERE
The great divide between the happy and the unhappy in America is largely due to differences in social and cultural values.
Note:SPOILER: LA DIFFERENZA LA FANNO I VALORI
People can self report their own happiness, such as when they indicate their feelings on a scale of 1 to 7, as is typical of many surveys. And though personal rating systems may not mean exactly the same things for all people, experts have determined that when examined in large groups, “happy people on average will answer the same way, and so will unhappy people.”
Why is happiness important? Because people’s happiness affects us all. “Happy people treat others better than unhappy people do. They are more charitable than unhappy people, have better marriages, are better parents, act with greater integrity, and are better citizens. Happy people not only work harder than unhappy people, but volunteer more too – meaning that they increase our nation’s prosperity and strengthen our communities. In short, happy citizens are better citizens.”
Note:EFFETTI DELL’ESSERE FELICI
Liberal academics have articulated one model for understanding happiness based on political affiliation, which has propagated in varying degrees into public opinion. They claim that conservatives are strict, structured, “and cannot tolerate anything but black and white – and consequently the real world leaves them insecure and angry. Liberals, in contrast, are emotionally flexible, are able to understand nuance, and have less trouble adjusting to a changing storyline; they are thus happier and more comfortable in the modern world.” But real data overturns this theory completely.
Note:LA TEORIA STANDARD
Conservatives are in fact markedly happier than liberals and have been for a long time – for at least 35 years, according to the data. “In 2004, people who said they were conservative were nearly twice as likely to say that they were very happy as people who called themselves liberal or very liberal (44 percent versus 25 percent).”
Note:DATI: IL CONSERVATORE FELICE
Two very significant differences correlate with differences in politics and happiness – not money, as one might expect, but religion and marriage. Conservatives are more than twice as likely as liberals to attend a church or worship weekly and they are also nearly twice as likely to be married.
Note:COSA PESA: RELIGIONE E MATRIMONIO
even when differences in marriage and faith are corrected for, if conservatives and liberals were otherwise equal, conservatives would still be 10% more likely to say they were very happy.
Note:MA PESA ANCHE L‘IDEOLOGIA
“Conservatives look at society and see a collection of individuals.” Therefore, conservatives tend to believe that personal, individual action is powerful and is where we should focus our efforts…. “The conservative reliance on oneself – as opposed to others or the government – makes happiness …a project rather than an entitlement.”…
Note:IDEOLOGIA CHE RENDE FELICI
Happiness is a Gift From Above
Religion has a great effect on people’s happiness. “In 2004, 43% of religious folks said they were ‘very happy’ with their lives, versus 23 percent of secularists.”
Note:IL PESO DELLA FEDE
The only case where religion is not shown to increase happiness is among those who have strong beliefs in a wrathful, vengeful god.
It is hard to say whether religion causes happiness or merely correlates with it, for it is possible that people who are naturally happy may tend to practice their faith more. But the community environment that typically accompanies religion is almost certainly a factor in its correlation with happiness.
Furthermore, religion also correlates with improved financial happiness, for people who live in religious communities do better than those who don’t
Note:RELIGIONE E BENESSERE ECONOMICO
the more your neighbors go to church, the more prosperous you will tend to be.”
Note:LA RELIGIOSITÀ DEGLI ALTRI FA BENE ANCHE A NOI
Is Happiness A Family Value?
The 60’s counter-cultural messages about free love non-withstanding, marriage has been shown to make people happier. For example, “In 2004, 42% of married Americans said they were very happy. Only 23 percent of never-married people said this.” Increased happiness holds true even when corrected for the fact that people who are married tend to have more money and education – if two people are statistically identical except for marriage, the married person is 18% more likely to report that they are happy.
Note:IL MATRIMONIO RENDE FELICI
Having children, on the other hand, has been shown to actually lower happiness – all other things being equal, by approximately 7%. So why do we have them? Is it only because we are wired to reproduce?
Note:I BAMBINI RENDONO INFELICI. PERCHÈ LI FACCIAMO ALLORA?
having children gives life meaning and creates opportunities for unconditional love. Furthermore, having children is bundled with the things that do typically correlate with happiness, namely marriage and religion.
We do not want to become like contemporary Europe, marked by secularism as well as unhappiness, where birthrates are sharply declining
Note:IL TRISTE DESTINO DELL’EUROPA
Does Money Buy Happiness?
Although U.S. incomes have risen significantly over the past several decades, happiness levels have not.
Note:SOLDI E FELICITÀ
Money can certainly be important to well-being, for the poorest countries in the world, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, are also the unhappiest. But overall, money is not an accurate measure of happiness
IL DENARO È IMPORTANTE SOPRATTUTTO PER I POVERI
“Once countries get past the prosperity level that solves large scale health and nutrition problems, income differences pale in comparison with differences in more important factors – like culture and faith –
Note:OLTRE UNA VERTA SOGLIA È LA CULTURA CHE CONTA
For example, Mexico and France differ greatly in terms of citizens’ “purchasing power” – a better measure of relative wealth since the two countries differ significantly in their cost-of living. Mexican adults say they are happy at a rate of 63%, whereas only 35% of the French reported happiness.
Note:MESSICO E FRANCIA
Why doesn’t money make us happier? Even those who receive large amounts of money quickly revert to their previous happiness levels. The answer is because humans are very good at adapting to changes.
Note:PERCHÈ REDOSTRIBUIRE NON TOCCA LA FELICITÀ. ADATTAMENTO EDONICO
What we don’t adapt well to are small, chronic conditions like low-grade pain, a tense marriage, ambient noise, an incompetent coworker, or a frustrating commute to work.
Note:A COSA NN CI ADATTIAMO
Take the American pattern of the great job in the city and a beautiful house in the country. These things may make us initially happy, but the job and home wear off, and the hour-long commute becomes a consistent source of misery –
Note:CASA, LAVORO: CI SI ADATTA. PENDOLARISMO: NON CI SI ADATTA
What does make us happy is feeling successful. To cite a well-known example, a majority of people would choose to make $50,000 when their colleagues made $25,000, rather than make $100,000 while their colleagues made $200,000. Relative wealth is important,
many Americans forget that money is only a measure of success and confuse it with happiness itself.
Note:IL DENARO MISURA IL SUCCESSO NON LO DÀ. PER QUESTO BILL GATES CONTINUA A LAVORARE
Government spending does not create more happiness – in fact, it typically creates more unhappiness. As taxes go up, so do feelings of less freedom and also feelings of dependency.
Note:REDISTRIBUIRE CREA INFELICITÀ
“Capitalism is the best system to allow people to succeed on their merits in the economy – and we know that it is success that truly does bring happiness.
Note:IL CAPITALISMO CREA OCCASIONI DI SUCCESSO
Inequality and (Un)Happiness in America
Is inequality the primary source of our unhappiness? America is steadily getting richer, across all segments of the population, but the already-rich are getting richer faster.
Note:LA DISEGUAGLIANZA AVANZA. È FONTE DI INFELICITÀ?
The data shows that average happiness in America has not fallen even as income disparities have risen.
Note:EVIDENZA IN AMERICA
Data shows that it is not income inequality that leads to unhappiness, but rather beliefs about income mobility.
Note:FONDAMENTALE IL CREDO SULLA SULLO MOBILITÀ SOCIALE
redistribution does not increase net happiness. First off, there are the costs and inefficiencies involved with redistribution. And perhaps more importantly, being given a handout does not best encourage happiness, for “I might gain far less happiness from getting your money than I would from earning money myself.”
Note:PERCHÈ REDISTRIBUIRE NON SERVE
“If leaders focus on getting rid of income inequality, the underlying problem – lack of income mobility – will not improve… [D]isengaging money from earned success”
Note:SUSSIDIARE DIMINUISCE IL VALORE CREATO DALL’ INDIVIDUO
Left and liberals are much more pessimistic about the chances for disenfranchised groups to achieve income mobility, and instead consign them to the state of victim-hood. Happiness, however, comes from feeling successful and having control over one’s life.
Note:LA CONDIZIONE DEI MANTENUTI
productive work is a very strong cause of happiness. Americans, to a great degree, love their work. For example, only 1 in 10 workers describe themselves as unhappy. And Americans work far more than less-happy Europeans.
Note:LA FELICITÀ VIENE DAL LAVORO PRODUTTIVO
The Secret to Buying Happiness
“Survey data from 2000 show us that people who give money to charity are 43% more likely than non-givers to say that they are very happy. Volunteers are 42% more likely to be very happy than non-volunteers.”
Note:DONARE RENDE FELICI
Psychologists have shown that giving affects our brains in pleasurable and beneficial ways. Researchers have explained the happiness that results from giving as the “Helper’s High,” similar to the effects of endorphins,
Note:PSICOLOGIA DEL DONO
Charity also helps our social positions in the world, for data shows that “we are held in higher esteem and rewarded when people see us behaving generously.”
Note:DONO E POSIZIONE SOCIALE
These findings contradict theories that humans are naturally selfish. “[O]ur brains, minds, and bodies experience equilibrium and pleasure when we give. We are actually unnaturally selfish: we are wired to serve.”
Note:NON SIAMO SOLO EGOISTI… EVIDENTEMENTE
We must preserve the role of charitable giving and providing in our country and keep it separate from government intervention.
Note:FAVORIRE UN WELFARE FONDATO SUL DONO
people give less when they think that government should redistribute income between rich and poor. In 1996, people who disagreed that ‘the government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality’ gave four times more money to charity than those who agreed with this statement.”
DIAMO POCO SE PENSIAMO CHE DEBBA ESSERE IL GOVERNO A REDISTRIBUIRE
evidence shows that charitable giving benefits both those who give and those who receive.
Note:DONARE BENEFICIA TUTTI
“The lesson in every chapter of this book is that our gross national happiness depends on the way we teach and live our values. These values are faith, family, freedom, non-materialism, opportunity, hard work, and charity. These values make up the ecosystem of happiness in America. They were also the vision of our nation’s founders, who took happiness very seriously.”
Note:CONCLUSIONE. CONTANO I VALORI NON I SOLDI
Right or left, political extremism is bad for our nation’s happiness. America must defend its tradition of religious faith. Family life must be protected. We should be quick to defend freedom, but slow to abridge it. For happiness, our national priority must be success, not just economic growth. We must look for ways to promote opportunity, not economic equality. We should celebrate our work, not impose greater leisure. A happy America must continue to be a giving nation.