Sunday, October 22, 2006

Listen to your unhappiness

We need to listen to our unhappiness, rather than to ease it with shopping or chocolate. This is because unhappiness is an early-warning system and ultimately a spur to change. Perhaps this is why politicians have become so keen on happiness: a happy electorate is not going to ask difficult questions or rock the boat.

Ultimately, nobody can deliver us happiness, not Tony Blair, not David Cameron and not our partner — that remains in our own hands (see box). Certainly the science of positive psychology has some guidelines to happiness but nothing revolutionary. When we ask today “What will make us happy”, it is basically the same question posed by Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago: “What makes life meaningful?” Maybe politicians should use this as benchmark for future legislation; it would certainly work better than economic prosperity.

From this essay by Andrew G. Marshall.