When my book on happiness first came out in 1999, I was interviewed on dozens of talk shows. In almost every case, the interviewer asked me, "So you write that we have a moral obligation to be happy -- what do you mean?"
The notion that happiness (or at least acting happy) is a debt we owe to all those in our lives and even to society at large is foreign to the vast majority of people. Yet, the more time I have devoted to writing and lecturing on this issue, the more I have come to realize that this is indeed the case. Ask anyone who was raised by an unhappy parent; ask anyone married to a chronically unhappy person; ask any worker whose co-worker is moody what their life is like and you will readily understand the moral obligation to be as happy as one can be.
Polls consistently show Republicans and religiously active Jews and Christians to be happier than Democrats and secular Americans. In light of the above, what does the preceding tell us about the good each group is likely to achieve?
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