Should happiness be a right and if so, should we be happier?

Should happiness be a right and if so, should we be happier?

by Steve Denning for Forbes

Two hundred and thirty six years ago today, the Second Continental Congress adopted Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence and declared “the pursuit of Happiness” to be “an inalienable Right” of the people.

The traffic on my article, The Ten Happiest Jobs, with nearly half a million pageviews since September 2011 and still counting, suggests that Thomas Jefferson’s Happiness project is still alive, even if its accomplishment has become increasingly problematic.

The pursuit of happiness has stalled

The World Happiness Report, produced by the Earth Institute of Columbia University in April 2012—the first comprehensive international survey of happiness—concludes that progress in the pursuit of Happiness in the USA has stalled.

The United States has achieved striking economic and technological progress over the past half century without gains in the self-reported happiness of the citizenry. Instead, uncertainties and anxieties are high, social and economic inequalities have widened considerably, social trust is in decline, and confidence in government is at an all-time low. Perhaps for these reasons, life satisfaction has remained nearly constant during decades of rising Gross National Product (GNP) per capita.

This finding is consistent with the surveys noted in The Ten Happiest Jobs, which suggest that pursuing Happiness by climbing up some managerial ladder is a bad strategy. It may earn more money but it doesn’t lead to happiness: the high-status jobs that people often aspire to—positions like the director of information technology, sales and marketing or product managers—are the most hated, while the happiest activities are relatively low status ones, like the clergy, authors and artists. The relatively rich managers are miserable while those who see meaning in their work are happy even if impoverished. The managers seem to hate their jobs even more than the workers that they are making miserable.

What’s interesting is that the Happiness plateau on which we are currently stuck is not, as you might think, a result of the deep economic recession in which we are now mired. We have been on the Happiness plateau for half a century. Happiness didn’t advance even during those decades when it appeared that incomes of most of the population were rising. Of course, since the economy has stalled, the future looks increasingly grim.

What is the role of the workplace in happiness?

Can anyone reasonably expect to be happy at work? Once upon a time, people looked for happiness in the family, in the community, in religion or in social activities…

…keep reading the full and original article HERE