The Happiness Craze

Why we aren't happy and how Buddhism can help.

Joan Duncan Oliver

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Everyone wants to be happy. “The very purpose of our life is to seek happiness,” the Dalai Lama states in The Art of Happiness. © Mary HeilmannResearch suggests that our seeking is, on the whole, successful: most people report they’re happy most of the time. But if we’re so happy, how come there’s so much strife in the world? How do we explain escalating poverty, social disintegration, and environmental degradation—or $76 billion a year in antidepressant sales? If our lives are so content, how do we account for a happiness industry that has gone into overdrive, with psychologists, neuroscientists, economists, sociologists, self-help mavens, spiritual teachers, and pundits of every stripe proffering insights, observations, and advice? Once, philosophers and religious leaders were the arbiters of human well-being.

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