Based on what I’ve seen, I personally think that Americans are not as happy now as they were a decade ago. All you have to do is turn on the news and you’ll see that the biggest topic anyone is talking about is the gun violence and mental health epidemic in America, which comes from this place of deep individualism. Yes, it’s in our country’s founding documents that we have the right to guns, but does that really make us happy, or is it just the idea of being allowed to do whatever we want and think we have the right to? There is a downside to the individualistic lifestyle that our society has been so focused on in recent history, and I think it correlates to how happy (or unhappy) we are.
Happiness is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately, and I think interests most people; we all want to be happy after all, right? But really, what is happiness? Let’s look at the evolution of happiness, if you will, and also how we experience happiness at different points in our lives. We are happiest as children, surrounded by our friends and families. This basic concept of happiness has been with us since we were more chimp than human. Back then, when primates were in the wild, parents took care of their children by teaching them how to survive, which of course meant hunting. However, when chimps get old enough, they leave their parents to go figure out how to live on their own, and start learning about how important community is. They learn very quickly that they will be much happier and more successful if they form alliances or friendships.
If you know a little bit about the theory of evolution, it might make sense to you that we have been this way since walking out of the jungle. We went from groups of chimps to tribes of people because we realized that we would be happier and safer with a tribe than all alone. We quickly discovered that when we are with a group, we have a better chance of survival; not just for hunting, but also for planning, for figuring things out, and eventually for starting families. This way of life lasted all the way up until the 17th century, specifically in Scotland. The Irish and the Scottish (who mostly came over from Ireland) lived this way for a long time. This is how Europe and the rest of the world was formed; by tribes deciding to stay in one place and grow together, until tribes died out and we began forming towns and cities and focusing more on family life. In my personal experience, and in my research on genealogy, I have learned that happiness comes from family and connection, whether it’s your nuclear family or chosen.
All that being said… if anyone knew anything about happiness, it was the one and only Bob Marley who said “Don’t worry, be happy.”
Well said Quinn!
Yea and that’s why he’s was in a habitually state of being stoned. Only getting high made Marley happy. Come on do better!