Gratitude: The Secret to Happiness

Tyler Cowen of the Marginal Revolution blog discusses the politics of envy, stealing from some people to appease others:

Almost all redistributive rhetoric urges people to dwell on the negative – you or other people aren’t getting what is due. This in turn makes people want to “do something” about the problem. And you can rest assured that no matter how much redistribution there is, egalitarians will never say “OK, life’s fair now. We’re done complaining.” No, what they foster is literally a lifestyle of ingratitude – a recipe for unhappiness.

If we really want to make people happier, we would do almost the opposite. Tell people to be grateful for what the market gives them, and try to emulate more successful people instead of envying them. Children hear this all the time, and it is damn good advice. Adults should practice what they preach.

The USA is a fearful country full of insecurities so what do they lack? Food security, energy security, economic security, national security, border security; and Unitedstatesians will never phase out Social Security, lacking confidence that they can care for themselves, like a small fearful child meeting a stranger or a dog in a thunderous rain storm. The President is trying to sell middle class security. Can anyone escape insecurity? Why make yourself unhappy dwelling on things that can’t change? Instead, let’s celebrate the jackrabbit who darts around in a crooked pattern, living a better life than an animal that expects to stand still without being chased or eaten!

Politicians gather votes by exaggerating gun violence and drug use while both decline; psychologists win government grants by creating diseases and medical researchers lie about the prevalence of uncommon diseases. Citizens tolerate tyranny such as the massive growth of police with military weapons and the demonization of Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, heroes shining lights on pervasive government corruption. Americans are prisoners of fear:

We have warped a generation, producing manic children conditioned to fear everything — can’t walk to the bus stop alone because you’ll be kidnapped; can’t ride a bike because you’ll get hit by a car (despite a Kevlar helmet and 78 protective pads); can’t play sports because you might get injured; can’t play cops-and-robbers because you might become a mass murderer; can’t settle your own disputes on the playground, so parents must pick their children’s teams. Everything is so precisely planned and organized — what the hell is a “play date?” — by helicopter parents obsessively hovering over their children. The creativity and curiosity that comes with being a child has been erased, replaced with a structure so unnatural that social skills are nearly nonexistent.

But it doesn’t stop there. We have ingrained such an irrational fear of suffering “hurt feelings” that many teachers don’t grade tests (some would do better than others, so it’s best to make everything equal and tell everyone “good job”), we don’t keep score at sports games and league standings are often taken offline so as to not offend the last-place team. Everyone gets a trophy because we have mandated a homogenous society, and individual achievement is often frowned upon if not outright ridiculed.

Can you enjoy the pursuit of happiness while continuing to elect socialists? Try the alternative; boycott the next election! Be grateful for voters who waste their time while you enjoy a good party!

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