Have you noticed the happiness craze? Last year alone 4,000 books were published on happiness, thanks in large part to the positive psychology movement. There are those who see in the happiness brigade a glib Pollyanna gloss. So it’s not surprising that the happiness movement has unleashed a counterforce.
Both the happiness and anti-happiness forces actually agree on something important – that we Americans tend to grab superficial quick fixes such as extravagant purchases and fatty foods to subdue any negative feelings that overcome us. Such measures seem to hinge on a belief that constant happiness is somehow our birthright. Indeed, a body of research shows instant indulgences do calm us down – for a few moments. But they leave us poorer, physically unhealthy, and generally more miserable in the long run – and lacking in the real skills to get us our of our rut.