The warm gun, mama.

I’ll be auditing an on-line course called ‘the psychology of happiness’ at Berkeley in the fall. Happiness relates to consciousness in this country because we have something of a cultural mandate to ‘pursue’ it. It’s one of those ideas, like ‘consciousness’ itself, I find most people don’t like to look at quite directly.

Scientists, of course, look at it quite directly – measuring multiple dimensions of ‘subjective well-being’ and objective comfort. I’ll bet they come up with a number. Who knows? My happiness is a 6.2. Yours is a 7.9.

Somebody used some such numbers to color a map of the U. S. the other day. Oddly, blue states were happy states, red states unhappy. It was a remarkable map because the colored regions seemed well-aligned with the famous red-blue maps of political party representation. Politically red states (Louisiana, Mississippi) are the happiest. Politically blue states (New York, California) are bummed out. Maybe San Franciscans are down because their opposition is so content with itself. Of course, these are self-reported surveys. It’s likely everybody’s lying.

Wondering if everyone is lying, I quickly searched for color-coded happiness maps from other sources and, behold! There are plenty of maps on which the colors are reversed. Which reminded me of global warming, because even though politicians announce ’97 percent of scientists agree’ on the phenomenon – for some reason, if I search for ‘global surface temperature’ all the top responses claim it’s either flat or going down.

Furthermore, I read an optimistic piece by some NGO the other day, predicting global absolute poverty can be eliminated by 2030. If everyone is fed and put in a house, the whole unhappiness thing starts sounding like sour grapes.

 

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