A New York Times Editorial Observer column by Eduardo Porter (11/12/07) highlights how important happiness is (one of the three prime virtues elaborated in the Declaration of Independence) but notes how poor Americans have been at increasing happiness.
Porter trumps something that we at Saguaro have been urging for some time — the import of social capital as a happiness-enhancing strategy. Porter writes: “While the extra happiness derived from a raise or a winning lottery ticket might be fleeting, studies have found that the happiness people derive from free time or social interaction is less susceptible to comparisons with other people around them. Nonmonetary rewards like more vacations, or more time with friends or family are likely to produce more lasting changes in satisfaction. … [I]f the object of public policy is to maximize society’s well-being, more attention should be placed on fostering social interactions and less on accumulating wealth.”