Happy? Now? What about how? And Now?


At the playground, the mantra of mellow parenting is “I don’t care, as long as he’s happy.” Whippman notices after a while that her reflexively sardonic British brain is suddenly looping around a new set of questions: Am I happy? Right at this moment? What about now? And now? Am I happy enough? As happy as everyone else? What about Meghan? Is she happier than me?

Tuning into this alien internal monologue reveals her grand thesis about America: The problem with our quest for happiness is that, apparently, it’s making us miserable. After some idle Googling, her suspicions are confirmed. Various clever studies by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, show that “paradoxically, the more people valued and were encouraged to value happiness as a separate life goal, the less happy they were.” When it comes to emotional temperament, America is the clumsy suitor of nations. We yearn and obsess and plot new elaborate strategies as the object of our desire shrinks ever farther away. It’s a little embarrassing.

~ Hanna Rosin, Why Are Americans So Anxious?, Book review of “America the Anxious. How Our Pursuit of Happiness Is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks” by Ruth Whippman.


  1. We’re all a little neurotic…it’s part of our charm.😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great blog post title…it says it all. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So much to unpack here. Social media has created a ‘gerbil wheel’ of rotating desires and frantic scrambling to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ You can’t log onto Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest without encountering something that makes you feel inadequate — your vacation wasn’t *quite* exotic enough, your tummy isn’t flat enough, your car isn’t sassy enough, your hair is too long/short/dark/light, NONE of your meals look like whatever the Galloping Gourmet is serving, and on and on and well, you get the idea.

    Add to that our dramatically shortened attention spans….”I want THAT, no wait, THIS is the newest thing, or maybe….”

    I’m inching closer and closer to a little grass shack or a cabin in the woods where my biggest decision is “Do I retreat with my book to the hammock or the rocker?” 😉

    Thanks for always nudging me to think, pal…. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. “America” has not, and will not, inject this poison into me. I won’t allow it.
    As for the topic of social media, it is what we make it to be. WE are in charge.
    Like my father said about 4 decades ago the day we got our first landline, he grabbed the body of the rotary dial telephone with one hand, and the handset with the other and summoned all of us by the door to our apartment, opened the door wide and said, ” THIS is to be treated like the door to this house. Be careful what goes out, more careful what comes in, and don’t open it to just anyone.”

    As a foreigner, I’ll say the rest of the world has been tough on America. This futile quest for happiness as a separate life goal is just as bad almost everywhere.
    Where ever we are, we are the sole gate-keepers, guards, of what comes in, what goes out, and what it does to us.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Can it be we’re too self-absorbed?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am grateful that I was born and raised and have spent many years in this country since the late 1920s. I have seen many changes, but never has our country been in more parlous times than now. Happiness? We are guaranteed “the Pursuit,” not the achievement. It is up to us be productive,kind, generous, open to new ideas, compassionate,and have a sense of humor in life to feel useful and happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sadly this doesn’t surprise me since happiness is often dependent on health, finances, weather and a million other variables. Contentment is my foundation for happiness. However, to say that can invite a tirade from those who consider contentment the same as apathy, resignation or negligence.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. America, depending upon the outcome of this election, must return to the order of things as written in the Declaration of Independence; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Without life, there is nothing to be liberated, without liberty there is no happiness. The founding fathers, were not all religious. Yet they knew if this new nation was to ever have a chance it had to be founded on absolute truth; that is only found in God. For man is fallible and therefore an argument can always be made against any creed he may put forth. But, a creed founded on the infallibility of God is hard to argue against. Order is the mind of God, but chaos is the mind of man.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I agree! And love the conversation.
    What is being added nowadays is the expectation to be SEEN to be happy and to share via social media.
    There’s more attention paid to the packaging than the gift inside. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, stated…Alan. Kindly, Christie


  11. Well I’m very happy!! 😀😀😀 Great comments. Wise beautiful women in this group 💚

    Liked by 1 person

  12. and ironically, when we are not thinking about it, we are quite often at our happiest.

    Liked by 2 people

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