Year after year, new technological advancements are being made that promise to make our lives easier and more organised. Every minute problem has some entrepreneur peddling his product as the “life-changing solution”. In the western world we are seeing the greatest age of prolonged peace since the Pax Romana almost two millennia ago. We are healthier, longer-lived and under more stable and secure governments that ever before. But if all this is the case, why are we still so unhappy?
Alongside all these advancements comes equal and opposite regression. With the development of mobile phones and e-mails, office workers are expected to be contactable 24/7. As business’s push to increase profit, its employees are increasingly expected to sacrifice their free time to help their company achieve success. Our materialistic world view motivated by capitalism has allowed for amazing advances in material things, but other aspects of life such as the development of ourselves, have been neglected as a result.
Does happiness originate in the material world? Or is it a product of our internal state of mind? If the former, why has our material obsessions not found it yet? If the latter, could it be that our world so obsessed with appearance and products has forgotten how to look within? Could it be that happiness is hiding there, within us, all along?
The question of what is happiness is one that could keep Socrates and Plato up arguing all night. I’m not going to try and tackle that question. Instead, let’s look at some factors commonly thought to be the greatest influences to a happy state of mind: family, wealth, stress levels, and self worth.