Dr. Arthur Brooks, Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, has just published an interesting book which examines the factors that influence happiness. In a recent interview with Marvin Olasky in World Magazine, Brooks noted:
There are three basic things that make people happy: meaning in their lives, control over their environment, and success in creating value in the world. And the way people get these things is not with money or power or fame—it is with their values. People who are serious about healthy values in their lives, families, and communities are much happier than others. The data say that these values come in eight categories: faith, family, personal liberty, private morality, non-materialism, opportunity, work, and service to others. Many journalists and academics dismiss these as just “cultural issues.” But what happy Americans know is that nothing is more important than these things for building true happiness.
Among the book’s interesting findings: Republicans are more likely than Democrats to rate their mental health as “excellent” (58% versus 35%), while 63% of Mexicans versus 35% of French would say they are either “very happy” or “completely happy.” Religious people are on average almost twice as likely to be happy. You might recall that Brooks is also the author of Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism (which I thought was very good).
Some of the blurbs:
“Arthur Brooks may be the most innovative and creative analyst of public policy in America today. His insights are in a different league and may lead to an entirely new approach to thinking through public policy. Gross National Happiness is a must read for every person who wants to understand what policies America needs.”
Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House
“Happiness is God, marriage, and work. A Republican campaign slogan? No: hard science, as collected by Arthur C. Brooks, emerging as one of the leading–and most original–social observers of his generation.”
David Frum, author of Dead Right and Comeback
“Happiness is an idea etched into our national creed. But what does it mean, exactly? With intriguing statistics and engaging examples, Arthur Brooks explores what makes us happy, which types of people are happiest, and what it means for our nation’s future. Gross National Happiness is a fresh look on one of America’s oldest tenets–how the pursuit of happiness makes America great.”
Carl J. Schramm, president and chief executive officer of the Kauffman Foundation and author of The Entrepreneurial Imperative