Rod Dreher

You’d be better off being Lorna, a struggling, overweight, unhealthy, unattractive black church lady and granny than Richard, a wealthy, white, handsome, single man who has lots of interesting aesthetic experiences. From Nick Kristof’s column today:

Men are no happier than women, and people in sunny areas no happier than people in chillier climates. The evidence on health is complex, but even chronic health problems (like those requiring dialysis) may have surprisingly little long-term effect on happiness, because we adjust to them. Beautiful people aren’t happier than ugly people, although cosmetic surgery does seem to leave patients feeling brighter. Whites are happier than blacks, but only very slightly. And young people are actually a bit less happy than older folks, at least up to age 65.
Lorna has a few advantages over Richard. She has less stress and is respected by her peers — factors that make us feel good. Happiness is tied to volunteering and to giving blood, and people with religious faith tend to be happier than those without. A solid marriage is linked to happiness, as is participation in social networks. And one study found that people who focus on achieving wealth and career advancement are less happy than those who focus on good works, religion or spirituality, or friends and family.
“Human beings are in some ways like bees,” Professor Haidt said. “We evolved to live in intensely social groups, and we don’t do as well when freed from hives.”

Well, that’s them. Me, I bought a Megamillions lottery ticket today, because I know that if I win, I’ll be a lot happier with all the things I can buy. Heh.
(No, seriously: even though I know all the research shows that after you get past the point of having enough money to take care of your basic needs, the correlation between money and happiness is simply not there, I still will buy a lottery ticket occasionally and think about all the great things I’d do to improve our lives with that money. Are there any examples you can think of involving lottery winners whose lives were greatly improved by their winnings — this, as opposed to those cases we often hear about in which winning the lottery ruined the lives of the instant millionaires?)

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus