Perhaps somewhere inside of us, we secretly know this information: the bad economy, while trying and stressful, provides hidden opportunities that make us (shhh…) happy. We expand different sides of ourselves, we re-explore old dreams, we get in contact with what really matters.
Here’s more on this positive news:
Questions about the economy have consumed the world media of the past few years. We ask, “what is wrong with the economy?” and “How can it be fixed?” But few people have asked the question we should be asking . .. “What’s the economy for, anyway?”
This is the question that authors John De Graaf and David K. Batker ask in their new book (aptly titled,) “What’s the Economy For Anyway? Why it’s Time to Stop Chasing Growth and Start Pursuing Happiness.” Throughout the book they question governments’ reliance on economic growth (GDP) as a sole measure of success in spite of the fact that GDP growth is correlated to a variety of negative societal outcomes including crime and prisons, less leisure time and lower quality of life, and overconsumption of natural resources.
Economists and positive psychologists often talk about the “progress paradox” in the U.S. showing that as we have risen in wealth over recent decades we haven’t seemed to be able to convert that wealth into greater happiness for our citizens. We attribute this paradox to a variety of factors including the relative nature of happiness (we are only happier if we are doing better by comparison, not when everyone is doing better,) the paradox of choice (wealth brings more choices, which leads to greater stress and more regret from all the options we pass up,) and the “hedonic treadmill” (the fact that we quickly adapt to positive changes in our environment and so happiness is elusive and seems to always be just out of reach.)
But there is one seemingly uncontroversial area where economic growth is better for people, and that is our health. Economic progress has brought with it medical knowledge, technology and innovation that keeps us healthier and living longer. And yet, the most shocking finding of De Graaf and Batker’s book is that American health has gone up during the recession of recent years, not down. They cite a report from economist Christopher Ruhm showing that a 1% rise in unemployment during a recession corresponds with a .5% drop in mortality.
Source: The Psychology of Well-Being