Freedom is the key to happiness

Freedom is the key to happiness

A recent article in the Financial Times begins…

Freedom, not high income, is the key to happiness

By Roberto Foa

Published: August 19 2008

In recent years, a small army of happiness gurus has lined up to proclaim the ills of modern society and its failure to make us feel better. We have more money, say some, but family life has eroded. Some have even blamed affluence itself, arguing that the dizzying range of lifestyle options that we now confront frustrates the pursuit of happiness.

Yet, contrary to the assertions of pessimists, newly released data, recently published in an article with colleagues from Jacobs University Bremen and the University of Michigan, shows that today’s world is a happier one. From 1981 to now, more than 350,000 people from 90 countries were asked about their happiness and satisfaction with life. Among the 52 countries for which at least a decade of data is available, well-being rose in 40 cases and fell in only 12. The average percentage of people who said they were “very happy” increased by almost seven points.

How is it that the world is getting happier? In the words of Thucydides, the secret of happiness is freedom. In each survey respondents were also asked to rate their sense of free choice in life. In all but three countries where perceived freedom rose, subjective well-being rose also. A chart, produced by the authors, shows how these increases in free choice and subjective well-being are strikingly related.

…this is, as many of you would well be aware, entirely consistent with The Happiness Institute’s “CHOOSE Philosophy” which you can access in our free resources section.

But if you’d like to read the rest of The Financial Times’ happiness story – click here