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Article on Happiness in Greater Good Magazine

This Greater Good Magazine article on “How Much Control Do You Have Over Your Own Happiness?” by Jeremy Adam Smith, is a valuable analysis of the research on the factors that contribute to personal happiness. His point is that we often over emphasize the role of individual effort plays in happiness. Yes, positive thinking, mindfulness, and mediation play a role in improving happiness and well-being. While this position emphasizes personal agency in achieving happiness, it deemphasizes the role of social and institutional factors. Research reviewed by Smith shows that social factors such as racism, poverty, and gender bias affect happiness and amplify the impact of natural harm, such as pandemics and other disasters, on unhappiness.

We at Design a Better World ascribe to both these positions: knowledge and agency can contribute to increased happiness and well-being, as can well-designed programs, policies, and laws that advance equality, address injustice, and build compassionate, supportive relationships. It is important not only to know the factors that contribute to happiness but to use this knowledge to increase it. Designs built on these foundational principles and values are likely to reduce harm, increase happiness, and make the world a better place.

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