As if the "war on Christmas" was not enough to darken the season, psychologists have just released data that should really make you want to spike your eggnog. A new study on happiness seems to point to the conclusion that life is inherently unfair.
The study turns conventional wisdom on its head by concluding that success, rather than being the means to our happiness, is rather the result of it. That is, the happier you are, the more likely you will be successful in your work and in your relationships.
Moreover, according to James Maddox of George Mason University, the research concludes "that between 50 to 70 percent of the variation in people as to their level of happiness over time is genetically determined."
The lead researcher of this work, Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside, cautions that this doesn't mean happiness and success are exclusively genetically determined. However, according to the professor, genes make it easier.
In other words, we now find out, several hundred years after Thomas Jefferson wrote that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are among the unalienable rights with which we are endowed by our creator, that the dice are loaded. Our creator may have endowed us all with the right to pursue happiness, but the happy genes were distributed unequally, so the pursuit by some is a more formidable task than for others.
To think that we blacks thought that once the race thing was straightened out, the playing field would be leveled.
Even before the arrival of this sobering news about genetically predetermined happiness, questions were arising about the rigor of the American dream of pursuing happiness.
In a book published last year, "The Progress Paradox," New Republic columnist Greg Easterbrook reported that despite notable material progress on every front _ economic well being, health, and environment _ surveys indicate that Americans are no happier today than 50 years ago. Indeed, according to Easterbrook's data, the percentage of Americans reporting that they are "very happy" actually declined slightly over the last half century.
A series of unrelated articles that appeared in the Wall Street Journal over the last week seems to verify the state of affairs described by Easterbrook.