The Concept of Happiness

“For life to have personal meaning, there must be people who matter to us, and for whom we matter, unconditionally and non-substitutably. Ask someone what their greatest source of happiness is, and they are unlikely to mention their latest car, their last holiday, their new designer jeans. They are, or were, more likely to say: my marriage partner, my children, my reputation, my friends. Lose these and we lose the very concept of happiness, of a life well lived, of dedication to something larger than ourselves. Measurably, that is what has happened. In a single generation, despite economic progress and technological advance, the incidence of depressive illness, stress-related syndromes, suicide attempts and alcohol and drug abuse have all risen. These are not symptoms of wellbeing, and they remind us of what so much in today’s world seeks to make us forget: that we were not made to serve economic systems. They were made to serve us.”

The Dignity of Difference, p. 136