The Happiness Lie

The Happiness Lie

Every year around this time we have to be lied to and told how awful America is when it comes to one of our nation’s mantras, the pursuit of happiness.

The annual study on worldwide happiness was released last week and, what a surprise, yet another tiny, Scandinavian country (this time Norway) was named the happiest place on Earth, pushing Denmark to second. The United States, meanwhile, fell to 14th. Yes, there are, apparently, 13 happier places on Earth than America. Sigh.

Of course, this is complete garbage and needs more perspective than I can provide in this space but I will try.

For starters, the entire study is based on self-reporting. Each year the survey-takers rely on subjects in 193 countries to properly report their own happiness. How scientific. People lie, people’s perspectives and expectations and motivations are different, and most notably, people are more inclined to report a sense of peace and tranquility when coming from a peaceful, tranquil place.

But what of the infamous “60 Minutes” feature 5 years ago on Denmark in which Morley Safer interviewed countless Denmark residents and many of them said the same thing, to paraphrase: Perhaps we’re happy because we don’t ever strive for anything, thus we never fail.

You see Denmark, and all of Scandinavia are of like design; tiny populations living under Socialist utopias in which everyone is basically guaranteed the exact same quality of life, cradle to grave, whether they work or not. Those who do work know that striving for more is a fruitless endeavor for once you achieve, it is taken from you to take care of those choosing not to participate at your level. Such a system actually works in tiny places with lots of oil like, for example, Norway, where this year they saw a boon to their production of crude and an enormous increase, distributed evenly amongst all of its’ citizens, in revenue. Sounds great doesn’t it? Not if you like to earn what you keep. Not if you believe that hard work should be rewarded greater than that of no work.

But of course, being a competitive society like America’s comes with its price; perhaps we do, on a whole, compete too much, if there is such a thing. But which would you choose? And if America were to stop striving what would fill the vacuum worldwide? Other than chaos?

Perhaps Americans report only the 14th level of happiness because we demand more of ourselves, each other, and our country? Perhaps we aren’t yet ready to see everyone smoking pot on the streets, heading to the free needle usage clinic, or just hanging out in the public square waiting for checks to arrive as is a daily occurrence in Scandinavia.

Or perhaps, a level of “misery,” is the price you pay for being part of the greatest system on Earth. As the subjects in the 60 Minutes piece made clear, if you never strive for anything, you cannot be rejected. If you don’t try, you cannot fail, and where there is no incentive to try, why do so? Especially when raised in a culture that doesn’t encourage it?

And yes, before you say it, of course there’s more to happiness than material gain, but that’s an irrelevancy for these studies and reports, and it also proves one of the fallacies of self-reporting. Everyone defines what makes them happy in different ways, so how can we possibly place a blanket definition on everyone? Grow up

Of course the truth is always hidden in these “studies,” and the truth is this; This study, and the reporting on it, is part of the ongoing push towards Socialism by echoing the few places where people have been so beaten into submission and their populations are so small they can sustain it, and charging that they are, in fact, the happiest people on Earth. If happiness is found by not working to better yourself, by not striving to be the best at what you do knowing that the rewards will be beyond self-satisfaction, then count me out. I’ll happily remain miserably unhappy in the eyes of the world.

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