Woman outside
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Current research into what makes people happy has uncovered some interesting facts that I discussed in my previous article. Certain goals like achieving wealth, getting rich or earning a promotion turn out not to make much difference in a person's level of happiness. In general, we aren't good predictors of what will make us happy in the future. The other findings tend to be just as gloomy and debunking. The new field of so-called "positive psychology" is better at erasing myths than at creating a new basis for happiness.

The need for a new kind of happiness grows every day. The world's supply of material goods grows slimmer; yet billions more people in China and India want them. As traditional society crumbles, the rise of materialism fills in the vacuum, making it more likely rampant consumerism will keep spreading. But consumerism, although it provides little fixes of pleasure, is one of the worse ways to achieve lasting happiness.

The other reason we need a new kind of happiness is the epidemic of depression and anxiety we see all around us, with record numbers of prescriptions being written for drugs to fight these conditions. Such drugs, although touted by big pharma, have been shown to be ineffective in around 50 percent of cases, and in some studies they were no more effective than a placebo.

What would a new kind of happiness look like?