How Much Control Do You Have Over Your Own Happiness? - Deepstash

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Social Conditions and Inequality Affect Well-Being

Social Conditions and Inequality Affect Well-Being

  • Recent studies have shown that events and forces at work today are making happiness less likely for many people, and widening "happiness gaps" between the most privileged and everyone else.
  • People who study happiness and promote ways to get more of it keep emphasizing the same cluster of individual-level tips and tools.
  • There's something dishonest in minimizing the role of social forces-and that this dishonestly can be rooted in discounting the experiences of people who are hurt or marginalized by those forces.

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Structures And Our Feelings

Structures And Our Feelings

  • Structural forces affect happiness.
  • Slavery was a structural force, setting a pattern of social, cultural, economic, and interpersonal relationships between Black and white Americans that persists to this day.
  • The family is a force structured by laws about marriage, divorce, taxes, reproductive health, and the power men historically had over those laws.
  • Your social network is a structure shaped by interactions with other structures.

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Reckoning with Positivity

Reckoning with Positivity

Positive psychology was once revolutionary for the way it turned away from studying and treating dysfunction in individuals toward examining the practices and traits that helped people to flourish

Unfortunately, this focus on the individual led many researchers and teachers to consciously reject structural explanations for individual misfortune and unhappiness

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Happiness And Socio-Economic Conditions

Happiness And Socio-Economic Conditions

  • The evidence for how social forces can undermine or enhance happiness goes well beyond America's determination to marginalize and oppress racial minorities, revealing that any inequality hurts well-being.
  • Groups (and often countries) with less power, income, or wealth just aren't as happy as those who have more.
  • Only people in the lower half of the income range felt less happy; people who made more money seemed fine as inequality rose.
  • A 2011 study found that Americans became less happy as income inequality grew-but not all Americans.

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Happiness And The Pandemic

Happiness And The Pandemic

  • Happiness inequality was already rising alongside income and wealth inequality in the years before COVID-19.
  • During the pandemic, it appears that well-being became even more difficult for some than others.
  • We have created institutions and policies to mitigate the impact of disease.
  • The more stringent a country’s policies in restricting citizens’ movements and behavior, the worse they felt.
  • These policies were situational, meaning that the circumstances made happiness seemingly impossible for the majority of people.

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The Limits of Individual Solutions

The Limits of Individual Solutions

Many organizations continue to emphasize "easy steps" and "quick fixes" that will make you as an individual happier.

These companies discount or underestimate the power of social forces in shaping our happiness and life satisfaction.

We need to look beyond tips and tools for individual improvement, toward the ways we can create a social tide that will lift as many boats as possible.

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