December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Will Wilkinson has posted a brilliant article on happiness in his blog. He writes:
Since most people in rich societies are already pretty happy, people who care about happiness ought to worry less about marginal policy changes in the US and Europe and worry more about people who do not already live in rich societies. The best thing we can do for them is free trade, more hospitable immigration policies, and fiscal policies that maximize world GDP growth.
I second Will. I wish people enjoy more freedom to trade, move and create wealth next year. Be happy!

1 comment:

  1. That was a great article. Coincidentally, I had just written a piece on happiness minutes before checking your blog! Here it is, and happy new year to you and yours:

    I think evolutionary biologists have the best shot at understanding what we are. Being happy is having the right chemical balance in the brain (that makes you happy). We have little choice in the matter, we all have to do what makes us happy. Mother Nature leads us about by our noses with chemical rewards for doing things that statistically speaking has led to reproductive success over the long periods of time. Like the satiety following a meal, happiness can only be obtained for short periods before we begin to get hungry again. Evolution does not necessarily lead to happiness, but tends instead to foster a chronic itch, or search for happiness. How successful you are in scratching that itch determines how often and how strongly you feel happy. Being free to scratch an itch is a good thing.

    But, environments change and, therefore, so does the direction of evolution. What used to lead to reproductive success in the past may not work in the future. The traits that have allowed so many unrelated humans to live together peacefully evolved. However, they are the same traits that continue to send us to war against other groups. We may not consciously realize it, but we live together peacefully so that we can, as a group, successfully compete against other groups of people, which often times leads to warfare. We are genetically locked into competition, like it or not.