Happiness Scales and the Edge of Sadness
This chapter considers the assessments currently used for measuring happiness—and more broadly, for puzzling out the solution to the modernity–happiness gap. Happiness, of course, is notoriously hard to define and measure. Even within a single society, multiple definitions of happiness emerge. Most happiness research seeks to combine current emotional state (which can be quite volatile) with more cognitive assessments of longer-term satisfaction, but still a firm definition remains elusive. Furthermore, a discord is revealed within this gap, as the findings in the chapter illustrate: for most Westerners, Americans included, modern social changes and the ongoing happiness culture simply don't fully mesh; for an apparently growing minority, in their own eyes and those of a society intolerant of sadness, they clash outright, sometimes with tragic personal results.
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