Slate’s William Saletan says “Happiness sucks”. Here’s how he puts it:
A study suggests extreme happiness may be bad for you
Findings:: 1) “The highest levels of income, education and political participation were reported not by the most satisfied individuals, but by moderately satisfied individuals.” 2) Extremely happy people “earned significantly less money” and earned lower school grades than moderately happy people. 3) They “may not live as long,” either. Theories: 1) Happiness makes you complacent and kills your drive. 2) It makes you slow to adapt. 3) It makes you too optimistic and insufficiently vigilant about your health. 4) It may overstimulate your cardiovascular system. Researchers’ conclusions: 1) “Happiness may need to be moderated for success.” 2) “Extremely high levels of happiness might not be a desirable goal.” Human Nature’s conclusions: 1) Success may need to be moderated for happiness. 2) Extremely high levels of success might not be a desirable goal.
I cliked on the link to the article and found otherwise.
Here we have a bunch of academics in Virginia, Michigan and Illinois looking at data from the World Values Survey, whatever that may be, and then analyzing “the behaviors and attitudes of 193 undergraduate students at Illinois”, and then jumping to conclussions as to how happy we all should be. Or, in their own words, “How happy is happy enough”.
Not surprisngly at all, they found that among 193 undergrads,
Those classified as very happy scored significantly higher on things like gregariousness, close friendships, self-confidence, energy and time spent dating.
No kidding, dude! Their findings confirm what most of us regard as obvious,
All in all, Diener said, the evidence indicates that happiness is a worthy goal for those who lack it, but the endless pursuit of even more happiness for the already happy may be counterproductive.
Or, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
How the guy from Slate jumped from that to saying “Extremely high levels of success might not be a desirable goal” is not clear. Maybe he should have first asked Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and 191 others from the Forbes 400 what they think before reaching that conclusion.