Mo’ money, mo’ problems
Schwartz mentions another favorite study in his talk, from independent analysis done by David G. Myers of Hope College and Robert E. Lane of Yale University. In looking at market data, the two found that — even though the gross domestic product had doubled in the United States over a 30-year period — the proportion of the population describing themselves as “very happy” had declined by about 5 percent. This doesn’t sound like a huge shift, but the translation shows the significance: when given far more choice in life, 14 million Americans reported feeling less happy than their peers 30 years before.
Americans are flooded with consumer goods. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements that tell us: Buy this product or service and you will be happy! Ancient wisdom, however, tells us that happiness does not derive from material goods. Behavioral psychologists also tell us that when we are overwhelmed with choices we are ultimately less satisfied with whatever we purchase. Yet, our politicians insist that we should be proud of and protect the vast quantity of the goods and services we have access to. This is why Americans are so unhappy.