Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America - and How We Can Get More of It
Recorded on May 19, 2008
Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium
Who are the happiest Americans? Surveys show that
religious people think they are happier than secularists, and
secularists think they are happier than religious people.
Liberals believe they are happier than conservatives, and
conservatives disagree. In fact, almost every group thinks it
is happier than everyone else.
In his new book, Gross National Happiness, Arthur C.
Brooks examines the myths about happiness in America. As he
did previously in Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About
Compassionate Conservatism, he examines vast amounts of
evidence and empirical research to uncover the truth about who is
happy in America, who is not, and - most importantly - why.
He finds that there is a real "happiness gap" in America today, and
it lies disconcertingly close to America's cultural and political
According to Brooks' analysis, the great divide between the
happy and the unhappy in America is largely due to differences in
social and cultural values. The values that bring happiness
are faith, charity, hard work, optimism, and individual
liberty. Secularism, excessive reliance on the state to solve
problems, and an addiction to security all promote
unhappiness. What can be done to maximize America's
happiness? Gross National Happiness offers
surprising and illuminating conclusions about how our government
can best facilitate Americans in their pursuit of happiness.