The Pursuit of Happiness

“When the ‘I’ predominates over the ‘We’, the market mindset spreads to other aspects of life where it does not belong. The most striking example is the pursuit of happiness. It begins to lose its connection with morality and starts to be associated with the products, services and experiences that we can buy. In both the Greek and Judeo-Christian traditions, happiness was intrinsically related to virtue. It was seen as the result of a life lived in accord with ethical ideals. Since the 1960s, however, it has increasingly reshaped itself to fit the contours of a consumer society driven by self-gratification. The result is that we have become less happy, or at least not more so. As Richard Layard argues in Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, incomes have doubled in the past century in Britain and America, but people are no more happy now than they were then. We are, I suggest, searching for happiness in the wrong places. We may even be searching for the wrong thing entirely.”

Morality, Chapter 7, p. 102