A Formula for Happiness

Arthur C. Brooks, New York Times, December 15, 2013

Happiness has traditionally been considered an elusive and evanescent thing. {snip}

{snip} After 40 years of research, [social scientists] attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values. Armed with this knowledge and a few simple rules, we can improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We can even construct a system that fulfills our founders’ promises and empowers all Americans to pursue happiness.

{snip}

The richest data available to social scientists is the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, a survey of Americans conducted since 1972. This widely used resource is considered the scholarly gold standard for understanding social phenomena. The numbers on happiness from the survey are surprisingly consistent. Every other year for four decades, roughly a third of Americans have said they’re “very happy,” and about half report being “pretty happy.” Only about 10 to 15 percent typically say they’re “not too happy.” Psychologists have used sophisticated techniques to verify these responses, and such survey results have proved accurate.

Beneath these averages are some demographic differences. For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed. Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.

But even demographically identical people vary in their happiness. What explains this?

The first answer involves our genes. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have tracked identical twins who were separated as infants and raised by separate families. As genetic carbon copies brought up in different environments, these twins are a social scientist’s dream, helping us disentangle nature from nurture. These researchers found that we inherit a surprising proportion of our happiness at any given moment–around 48 percent. {snip}

If about half of our happiness is hard-wired in our genes, what about the other half? It’s tempting to assume that one-time events–like getting a dream job or an Ivy League acceptance letter–will permanently bring the happiness we seek. And studies suggest that isolated events do control a big fraction of our happiness–up to 40 percent at any given time.

But while one-off events do govern a fair amount of our happiness, each event’s impact proves remarkably short-lived. People assume that major changes like moving to California or getting a big raise will make them permanently better off. They won’t. Huge goals may take years of hard work to meet, and the striving itself may be worthwhile, but the happiness they create dissipates after just a few months.

{snip}

That leaves just about 12 percent. That might not sound like much, but the good news is that we can bring that 12 percent under our control. It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness, given that a certain percentage is genetic and not under our control in any way.

{snip}

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  • dd121

    Of course liberals are unhappy. They’re constantly smirking at people who disagree with them.

    • sbuffalonative

      I think they’re endlessly frustrated that reality keeps intruding on their vision of Utopia. Conservatives tick them off the most because they KNOW they could create paradise on earth if only conservatives didn’t poo-poo their plans.

      • freddy_hills

        Exactly. Liberals are the most angry, bitter and vengeful people around. Now, I get angry and have a fierce temper. But I don’t stay angry. I usually laugh at the insanity and go about my business.

        • GOD

          Most liberals simply don’t fit in with the “normal” people of the world. They’re usually quite wimpy and often looked down on/picked on by their own kind since elementary school. Their instinct is to hate their own and side with those who hate their own the most; at least that’s my experience and perception. Bottom line is, they know they’re weak little men and bitter little women and no matter what they do, they’re never truly happy with themselves or the world around them. Thus, they spend they rest of their lives trying to fix a “broken” world.

    • JohnEngelman

      That tendency is more characteristic of ideological thinking than liberalism.

      • WR_the_realist

        A great deal of “liberal” thinking is ideology.

        • c684570

          Enjoy your thumbs up, WR_the_realist.

          • Strike_Team

            Ah, the trolls and college kids have the answers to everything, don’t they?

          • Max Krakah

            J E is not a college “KID”, he is a phd wannabe spending his whole life trying to get a thesis written. He talked about listening to a lecture at harvard that took place in the seventies or eighties.

          • freddy_hills

            I’ve listened to lectures that took place in the 1930’s. Of course, I listened to them over the internet.

          • Strike_Team

            That’s hilarious info. I guess the sophomoric writing style he displays is something he’s stuck with. Or they’re stuck with, if he’s nothing but a combo of trolls.

        • JohnEngelman

          Ideological thinking happens when one allows one’s likes and dislikes to influence one’s perceptions of what is true and false. I do that too, but I try not to.

          Anyone with strong opinions is likely to succumb to ideological thinking, regardless of what the opinions are.

          • Fak_Zakaix

            You HATE White nationalists though…

          • JohnEngelman

            Hatred is not a lietmotif of my personality, my character, or my political thinking. I do not hate white nationalists any more than I hate mosquitoes. Nevertheless, I would be alarmed by a significant increase in the number of either.

            I view white nationalism as a potential rival to democratic socialism if the economy tanks. I do not expect the economy to tank. In the United States it is slowly improving.

            I see white nationalists as white men who are angry about their economic circumstances. For reasons of personal psychology they prefer to direct that anger at right wing hate targets, rather than left wing hate targets. They feel that if they direct their anger at the rich in general they will be seen as sore losers. By directing their anger at non whites, Jews, and liberals they pose as defenders of the white race and western civilization.

            White nationalists are among the people Eric Hoffer had in mind when he wrote in “The True Believer,” “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause…

            “Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.”

          • Fak_Zakaix

            What about INTELECTUAL White nationalists like us who can argue for their views. And whose views annoy you greatly. By the number of down votes your comments receive I estimate that 99% of commenters on this site are White nationalists. Why are you here?

          • JohnEngelman

            I agree with race realism.

            I admire Jared Taylor.

            I enjoy political arguments.

          • Fak_Zakaix

            What would you do if all White nationalist sites like this one banned you. Have you thought about it? Get a life Johnny. Ah, you are pensionist, I remember now. Ennui, great evil, isn’t it?

          • JohnEngelman

            Jared Taylor has denied that he is a white nationalist. He agrees with race realism. So do I.

            The only people who resent my presence here are those who are unable to debate with me in a civil manner with facts and logical reasoning. They want American Renaissance to be an echo chamber where they can reinforce their prejudices and and find new excuses for their hatreds.

            I do not believe that was Jared Taylor’s intention is starting this site.

          • Fak_Zakaix

            “Race realism” per se has no political colour.
            “Race realism” is a scientific conjecture, nothing more.
            A left-winger can use “race realist” reasonings to advocate for redistributive policies for Black on the ground that they are inherently less able to compete with the more intelligent races.
            After all, mentally handicapped people receive help from the state on humanitarian grounds. Ah, I remember now, you are a Social Darwinist “Christian”.
            All people here resent your presence because you do not belong here. You must be a pathological attention seeker and in order to elicit responses and to have a contradictory discussion that will fill your emptiness you access the sites of the people that you dislike and hate. I am convinced that you have a different account for accessing also Black supremacist sites, Republican sites, anti-Zionist sites, etc. A troll.

          • JohnEngelman

            You are motivated by hatred of Jews. I am not motivated by hatred at all, but by the love of political arguments.

            Because of one Jewish psychiatrist you hate all Jews. I hope he did not abuse you sexually. Nevertheless, when I was a teenage boy I would have fought back.

      • c684570

        Enjoy your thumbs down, JohnEngelman.

      • ben no

        Are you speaking on behalf of yourself here?

    • Katherine McChesney

      They work overtime to make everyone around them miserable.

      • Xerxes22

        It’s the old saying “misery loves company”.

    • c684570

      And forced to ignore the countless amount of data that refutes their views.

    • Terra Magnum Imperium

      White Liberals hate their own race, which to me explains a lot…

  • Whitetrashgang

    Well you most likely to be happy if your living your life the way you want to, a liberal male is completely un natural like being gay or a communist, so of course they are more likely to be unhappy.

    • Max Krakah

      I remember a story a few years back about some guy living on the upper west side of Manhattan, who for no apparent reason jumped out of a window from some height like the 30th floor, I can’t remember, but it was fatal. He did this right in front of his wife and daughter. They said everyone thought he was an extremely nice guy. He was a “people pleaser” like all liberal men, and they are always focused on pleasing the women in their lives above all else. They are little boys still trying to please mommy, they never put their foot down, they never speak up, they live in a self imposed prison and live in fear. They also live in anger and hatred towards themselves for being so weak.A real man never let’s his wife run the house. The wife of a real man will never gush about what a “nice” guy he is. There will be many rough times where the guy just has to be firm and take the anger and remain a rock. Liberal men have been spoon fed the idea that they have to be nice, gentle, kind, loving, like bunny rabbits and rainbows and cute kittens, be their wives and daughters best friends, never criticize etc. The picture from the sixties where there is a stand off between the national guard troops and the anti-war students makes the “new male” character exceptionally clear. A male college student is seen placing a flower in the barrel of a gun held by a member of the national guard. No doubt he is motivated more by the fat that women who see him do this will put out for him than any real desire. But that is what did American men in, they became too weak for women and too corrupted by their desires.

  • MekongDelta69

    Leftists aren’t just ‘unhappy.’ They’re mentally deranged. (and I’m not embellishing.)

    • KingKenton

      They’re mentally deranged

      Yes, absolutely. Liberal ideology forces a person to deny objective truth. To deny that which is obvious and natural. It creates conflict in the mind and forces the individual to adopt views resulting in a mental state at odds with reality.

  • Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.

    I bet that’s very much a function of the frequency and quality of sex.

    • KingKenton

      I bet that’s very much a function of the frequency and quality of sex.

      Some number of years ago they did a study and found that Christian women reported being happiest with their sex lives. Make of it what you will…

  • Luca

    Liberal men probably hate themselves for selling out when they know all the things they profess to agree with are the product of shallow utopian propaganda.

    They are going along with a repulsive program just to feel like they belong to an important clique.

    • DaveMed

      Judging by what I’ve seen of liberal men, they are also likely to be plagued by feelings of inadequacy.

  • Mahound

    Doesn’t surprise me. Conservatives deal with the facts and ups and downs of life as they come, whereas liberals always have to try to amend reality to fit their twisted ideology.

  • DaveMed

    Liberals derive their very sense of meaning from unhappiness. What would they do without endless causes about which to whine and scold?

  • Fair Dinkum

    Of course liberal men are the unhappiest. They have to live with liberal women.

    • Katherine McChesney

      And they have to wade through an ocean of lesbians to find a heterosexual one.

    • jane johnson

      Or other men.

    • Spartacus

      Like this one :

      • 48224

        What does the “CIS” stand for on his/her shoulder?

        • Spartacus

          Not entirely sure if it’s what that thing’s thinking, but I think it stands for “Citizenship and Immigration Services” . People who deport illegals…

        • Max Krakah

          c*** in suspenders

        • WR_the_realist

          “cisgender”. That’s the fancy progressive term for a normal person — someone born as a boy who grows up identifying himself as a man, or born as a girl who grows up identifying herself as a woman. So that sorry excuse for a human being wants all normal people to die.

          I’m a short nerd who sits on his butt programming computers and even I could easily defeat that creature with the baseball bat.

      • Max Krakah

        what is it?

        • Spartacus

          It’s an anti-fascist… Thing from Germany .

      • Bossman

        Yeah, I gotta agree with you this time. These days being liberal means you gotta look like this creature.

  • Lewis33

    “The unhappiest of all are liberal men; ”

    Don’t we all have a picture of this guy in our minds eye? He probably lives in a big city, makes good money and perhaps is even married…but somethings missing, isn’t it?

    • IstvanIN

      My first thought was no kids.

      • Lewis33

        They probably look a lot like Arthur C. Brooks, who penned this article for the New York Times.

        • Max Krakah

          Why do I see nothing but a juicy knock out game target

        • GOD

          I’m reading his thoughts via his facial expression and posture. It’s saying things like… “sensitivity training works wonders” ; “Oh my!” ; “I get sexually aroused by thoughts of diversity” ; “I hate White people”…etc.

    • robinbishop34

      Carrying around a PBS totebag and yoga mat.

  • ….also the best looking are conservative women.

    • Alexandra1973

      We’re also probably less shrill than liberal women.

      • ms_anthro

        And we’d rather raise children than raise cats.

      • Ella

        Liberal women with children whine about their 1-2 kids and loath the work involved in raising family.

        • Terra Magnum Imperium

          Agreed, after they complain how useless men are too.

    • GOD

      Of course. Most liberal women have cropped hair cuts, masculine, unappealing clothing, and walk like they have a stick up their tight, boring a**es.

  • puffdaddy

    Who are these people they asked? For instance, HIspanic women might describe themselves as “conservative” but they are out for every government subsidy they can get their hands on, likewise a lot of African American women. I’d like to know who they asked because these sorts of studies always seem bogus to me. Although I can attest to the fact that self-described white progressives are a particularly angry, unhappy group – and their politics is a way of taking it out on the rest of us.

    • Bossman

      These days conservative women are just straight women who don’t mind raising children.

  • Nathanwartooth

    I have to remember to stop reading comments on the linked articles.

    At this point I just don’t care about living in an echo chamber for some subjects. Reading those comments just makes my brain hurt. The lengths that they will go to try to dismiss the article just because it says something bad about “liberals” is mind boggling.

    If we had this article but it was reversed, I have a feeling that most people at AmRen would be trying to figure out the reasons for it instead of trying to discredit the study. Honestly it would make sense if conservatives weren’t as happy since they are constantly being beat down in the MSM.

    I think I’m going to go insane if I read “correlation does not mean causation!!!” one more time. While true, to an extent it really just means that the person doesn’t agree with the study. If there was a study where it was found that intelligence was correlated with being a liberal the person would probably have forgotten all about his statement about correlation.

    • NorthernWind

      You can’t take liberals or leftists seriously. Just laugh at them. I still visit comment sections to leave comments, but I never check up on the replies because that would be a waste of my time.

      • ms_anthro

        Same. I stirred the pot at The Atlantic today and then strolled on out. It’s amusing to get them riled up over relatively bland statements that are totally verboten in the mainstream narrative but unremarkable in oases of sanity like Amren and Takimag.

    • sbuffalonative

      Liberals are unhappy simply because they refuse to accept basic, universals truths about the world. They have to actively work every waking minute to rationalize why nature is wrong with increasingly absurd ‘social justice theories’. They literally drive themselves insane with self-induced cognitive dissonance.

      Which is why I have long held the belief that iberalism is a mental disorder characterized by an inability to accept reality.

      • Bossman

        “Cognitive dissonance” is something that belongs with the Republican Right. That is why they are losing control of the government.

    • NM156

      All causes are correlated.

  • NorthernWind

    This is why I have began promoting order and hierarchy, a big change from my libertarian days. People who have a clear role to play, and can find dignity and fulfillment in that role, will be happier than those who are thrown into the modern world which offers no direction, no ideals, and no sense of greater purpose. We’re all atomized individuals with nothing to live for but becoming debt slaves.

    Liberal men are self-castrating. They obviously cannot be happy because they suppress their nature. On the other hand, conservative women embrace femininity and are happier.

    • hkq999

      I think people should feel free to pursue what they want; I’m not sure why there has to be a, “hierarchy”.

  • So CAL Snowman

    Of course liberal men are unhappy, their whole life is a lie punctuated with an obnoxious “hip-hop” sound track that promotes chaos and destruction of everything good and White.

    • Who Me?

      It’s very hard to live a total lie and try and convince yourself that you really, really, really do believe it, despite what your senses and intellect tell you every waking minute. The strain is sure to make liberal men the least happy of all Americans.

  • Hunter Morrow

    Liberal men are whiny twats and their women stole all their masculine traits, ahahaha.

    What jokes.

  • WR_the_realist

    It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness.

    And who is more likely to do those things, a liberal man or a conservative woman?

    Now you know why conservative women are happier.

    • Bossman

      These days, any woman who is not a crazy lesbian who wants to abort babies, is considered “conservative.”

  • MBlanc46

    I agree with Kant that happiness is an “indeterminate concept”. I’d bet that very few, if any, of those who gave an answer to that question could tell you what they meant by it. This is just more social scientific fluff.

  • Anon

    Happiness is caused by successfully fulfilling one’s biological function. For women, this means 1) being fertile, 2) being pregnant, 3) raising successful children and 4) watching those children succeed….all that in safety and loved by their husband, their children and the society those children become and important function of.

    For men this means 1) being powerful, 2) being wealthy, 3) killing anyone stupid enough to threaten our wives, children and families, 4) building unassailable empires either leading or belonging to groups of powerful others who respect us, 5) genociding alien, hostile populations, 6) training our sons to be even more powerful and watching them supplant us…or dying knowing that death contributed to our sons….winning.

    That is the simple truth. Ask Conan….what is best in life. What is best in life. To crush your enemies, see them driven before you… and to hear the lamentation of their women! That pretty much sums up what it is to be a man. A real man. A happy man.

    There is ALOT of denial going on. But that’s OK. The massive war that is obviously coming is going to fix all that.

    • IstvanIN

      Actually most men will find happiness in a good women who cares for him and he for her; children whom he can watch and raise into happy, healthy adults; and a good career, job or trade that allows him to provide adequately for his family and from which he derives some satisfaction. Most men are not Napoleons or Alexander the Greats out to conquer the world. Good thing, too, because we need farmers and mechanics. Life really is that simple for most of us.

      • Anon

        That only lasts the first time a malevolent black man looks your way.

        • IstvanIN

          Which is why we need to separate from them. I would rather live in Mayberry than Versailles if Versailles means urbane and diverse. Actually I prefer Mayberry over all.

    • M.

      I wouldn’t go that far. Most men would be quite happy just being polygamous pigs, and “spreading their seeds” (or the act thereof). Being well-off and “scoring” on a regular basis does bring satisfaction to most folk. There’s also good food, alcohol, and some form of testosterone and adrenaline (sports, or any other form of action).
      Rare are those who give a rat’s ass about building empires. And war seldom makes men happy.

      I think you’re confusing what’s makes the average Joe happy, and what you perceive as the biological mission on earth of the male average Joe.

      • IstvanIN

        Most men I know would not be happy being pigs. Most men are happy with one good woman and a family. I know plenty of them, happy for 20, 30, 40 or more years. The playboy life isn’t what makes most men happy. A few perhaps, but not most.

        • M.

          Well, maybe in a man’s prime years then. When he’s filled with testosterone. I’d say that being a family man is a “responsible” thing to do. Like not committing or crime, or keeping your job, etc.

      • WR_the_realist

        The biggest enthusiasts for war are those who never had to fight in one. Like Billy Kristol.

    • Bossman

      I can agree with most of that. Happiness for a real man is about power and freedom. However, trying to go about killing your inferiors is not the way to go about it. The times call for different strategies.

    • hkq999

      I’m pretty sure happiness means different things to different people. There are some people who would be perfectly happy being single for their entire lives, pursuing personal hobbies and intellectual pursuits.

  • sbuffalonative

    Feminist hate conservative women because conservative women are happy. Their grateful acceptance of ‘the natural order of things’ drives feminists mad with rage.

    Liberal men are clearly unhappy because they, like feminists, also refuse to accept ‘the natural order of things’. It’s like the story of the lion cub reared by lambs who lives his unhappy life eating grass until he meets and adult male lion who tells him, ‘You’re a lion. Act like one!’

    • Strike_Team

      Many liberal men come off as feminists because they are so feminine in their actions.

      Is it ok for me to make an observation like that? Or is it too accurate? heh

      • Biff_Maliboo

        The male lib’s lament:

        So many bumper stickers, so little car.

        • IstvanIN

          When I was a kid we had a neighbor with a 65 or 66 Plymouth Fury that had every square inch of body covered in political bumper stickers. Big car, goofy man. Bring back big cars so libs have more real estate to cover with stickers.

      • Alexandra1973

        If you ask me they’ve been emasculated.

        • Strike_Team

          You’re not kidding. I’m not kidding either. One can’t help notice the increase in effeminate men, always liberals, and how often these types are presented as the norm, the way a (white) man should be, right down to a manner of speaking that mimics what would have been considered “gay” a decade ago. A lot of these men look as if they need to have their testosterone levels checked, and they are in their 20’s. It’s no wonder they are targeted so often by blacks and browns in schools and on the streets. The media and the idiotic socialist brainwashed teachers and parents of these guys have allowed them to be molded into something between Rip Taylor and Sal Mineo from “Rebel Without a Cause”. And they’re not gay. They sure are cowardly though.

    • Alexandra1973

      There’s a passage in the Bible that tells why Cain killed Abel. Because Abel’s works were good and Cain’s were not.

      That’s why feminists hate conservative/Christian women, who’d much rather concentrate on family. They don’t want conviction, they just want to look out for “number one.”

      • Garrett Brown

        Wasnt Cain black while Abel was white?

  • pcmustgo

    Because liberal men are nebbish whiners.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    It must be incredibly depressing to build your whole worldview on the notion that “everyone is equal” and then to have that whole worldview come crashing down every single day in the face of reality.

  • Max Krakah

    Happiness should never be the goal. Doing what is right should always be the goal. Childish, immature people never mature to the stage where they see this. They will divorce a wife, then marry another one, then be miserable with that one. They will divorce a husband and remain a bitter woman for the rest of their lives, projecting their anger towards their husband on all men. What it all boils down to is that there come times in life when one has to put one’s own happiness behind other things, and get through the difficult times. Then one finds real PEACE. PEACE is the only thing we can really hope for. It is the only thing that will be of value when our time is up.

    • Garrett Brown

      Very well put. When “stuff” hits the fan, you have to step up and get through the hard times. When things get tough, do you really love that person? Did you mean it when you said you would do anything for him/her? That takes more maturity than I’d say the majority of events in life.

      To truly love someone unconditionally, that takes a lot of growing up to commit to. If you achieve that goal, you have accomplished something very important and admirable in life.

    • Alexandra1973

      There are a few people I know of who really, REALLY need to be told this!

  • Ella

    “Conservative women are particularly blissful.” Good women appreciate family and traditions and focus less on materialist pursuits. I laugh more with my children than I ever had during my earlier career years. Family gives depth, direction and complexity in life.

    • Garrett Brown

      I love conservative women. They make a man think and wonder. They keep secrets and surprises (positive ones) that keep a relationship exciting I think. They also make great conversation.

  • Caucasoid88

    I think liberals are less happy because they face the truth. They don’t ignore other people’s suffering. They don’t hold beliefs that reliable scientific discovery has shown to be false. They don’t think that their own personal happiness is more important than the happiness of others. This is why, for example, they are against cutting off food stamps. It’s why they want to lower the unemployment rate by having the federal government invest in infrastructure and education. It’s a cruel joke that the author, who is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, should point out that unemployment is a huge cause of unhappiness while the Republican Party is doing everything it can to push austerity and keep the economy moving slowly so long as President Obama is in office.

    Maybe liberals are unhappy because they don’t face the truth about things. So they feel a deep shame and self-loathing for themselves.

    • Bossman

      Not true at all. Liberal men, in the true sense of that word, are more educated and less naive; they are able to see better all the misery in the world. Conservative women might just be traditional straight women who are happy raising children.

      • Garrett Brown

        The true sense of the word? Which is what according to you? There is no true sense of liberalism, it has different meaning around the world. Are you talking about the American definition?

  • Garrett Brown

    Stop blocking my comments mods!

  • Garrett Brown

    STUPID NAZI MODS

  • I get a bit depressed when the nights get short in winter, but I keep busy with projects in the machine shop in my basement; I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. The busier I stay, the happier I feel. Libtards could cope this way as well if they were not too busy minding everyone else’s business.

  • ben no

    A formula for happiness would be a sense of relief and safety, and predictability.

  • hkq999

    Have you ever even met a liberal man?!