Are We Too Pessimistic About Happiness?

I was diddling around with some stuff after reading that New Zealand will henceforth be prioritizing happiness—“well-being and life satisfaction”—over economic growth, and came across this scatterplot about perceived happiness vs. actual happiness:

In every single country, the average estimate of happiness is far lower than actual reported happiness. Every single country! In the US, 90% of people say they’re happy, but the average guess is that only 50 percent of people say they’re happy. Is this because:

  1. We are really lousy at estimating the happiness of others?
  2. We implicitly assume that poor people must be unhappy, and there are a lot of poor people?

         or

  1. People lie a lot (or delude themselves) about how happy they are when pollsters ask?

My guess is that it’s a lot of (a) and a little bit of (c).

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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