A Formula for Happiness

Happiness has traditionally been considered an elusive and evanescent thing. To some, even trying to achieve it is an exercise in futility. It has been said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

Social scientists have caught the butterfly. After 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values. …

Psychologists and economists have studied happiness for decades. They begin simply enough — by asking people how happy they are. The richest data available to social scientists is the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, a survey of Americans conducted since 1972. … The numbers on happiness from the survey are surprisingly consistent. CONT.

Arthur C. Brooks (AEI), New York Times