David Brooks, NY Times columnist, took a bit of detour this week with a piece about career success, income and happiness. He points to the recent headlines about Sandra Bullock’s marriage as example.
Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.
Spot on. Then he equates this to national well-being:
…the relationship between happiness and income is complicated, and after a point, tenuous. It is true that poor nations become happier as they become middle-class nations. But once the basic necessities have been achieved, future income is lightly connected to well-being… The United States is much richer than it was 50 years ago, but this has produced no measurable increase in overall happiness. On the other hand, it has become a much more unequal country, but this inequality doesn’t seem to have reduced national happiness.
The whole thing is worth a read, it’s one of the more honest columns I’ve read in a long time.