In The Progress Paradox,
Gregg Easterbrook draws upon three decades of wide-ranging research to make the
persuasive assertion that almost all aspects of Western life have vastly
improved in the past century, and yet, most men and women today feel less happy
than in previous generations.
Between contemporary emphasis on
grievances and the fears engendered by 9/11, today it is common to hear it said
that life has started downhill, or that our parents had it better. But
objectively, almost everyone in today’s United States or European Union lives
better than his or her parents did.
Still, studies show the
percentage of the population that is happy has not increased in fifty years,
while depression and stress have become ever more prevalent. The Progress
Paradox explores why ever-higher living standards don’t seem to make us any
happier. Detailing the emerging science of “positive psychology,” which seeks
to understand what causes a person’s sense of well-being, Easterbrook offers an
alternative to our culture of crisis and complaint. He makes a compelling case
that optimism, gratitude, and acts of forgiveness not only make modern life more
fulfilling but are actually in our self-interest.
Seemingly insoluble problems of
the past, such as crime in New York City and smog in Los Angeles, have proved
more tractable than they were thought to be. Likewise, today’s “impossible”
problems, such as global warming and Islamic terrorism, can be tackled, too.
Like The Tipping Point,
this book offers an affirming and constructive way of seeing the world anew. The
Progress Paradox will change the way you think about your place in the
world and about our collective ability to make it better.
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