Sunday, October 28, 2007

what really make us happy

i wish everyone had the time to read bill mckibben's new book, "deep economy."  geoff read it about a month ago and insisted that i read it next.  now i understand why.  in the beginning, it's quite depressing because it has to be as it describes what is about our current situation - economically and environmentally.  but then things begin to look up and it is a book full of hope about our capacity to live within limits, locally with a healthy and balanced economy and rhythm of life.  here's an reflection on revealing measures of happiness:

" In general, researchers report that money consistently buys happiness right up to about $10,000 per capita income, and after that point the correlation disappears.  That's a useful number to keep in the back of your head - it's like the freezing point of water, one of those random numbers that just happens to define a crucial phenomenon on our planet.  'As poor countries like India, Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, and South Korea have experienced economic growth, there is some evidence that their average happiness has risen,' Richard Layard reports.  But past the $10,000 point, there's a complete scattering: when the Irish were making a third as much as Americans they were reporting higher levels of satisfaction, as were the Swedes, the Danes, the Dutch....A sampling of Forbes  magazine's 'richest American' has happiness scores identical with those of the Pennsylvania Amish.

On the list of important mistakes we've made as a species, this one seems pretty high up.  A single-minded focus on increasing wealth has driven the planet's ecological systems to the brink of failure, without making us happier.  How did we screw up?"

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