Technological progress has moved without exception in a forward direction, and along with it, our gross domestic product has increased steadily. But are we happier as a result?

The relatively recent practice of modern agriculture, for example, tied communities to a plot of Earth and forced them to grind wheat and carry heavy buckets of water from the river. They suffered indigestion for the first time, as well as a host of diseases that resulted from domesticating livestock.

Yes, modern medicine has cured many of the resulting ills, as well as generally extending longevity, but its gains have depended on an unprecedented cruelty to animals, says Yuval Noah Harari, whose recent book "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" tackles the subject of human happiness as a historical phenomenon.

Fast forward to post-modern culture where greater wealth has allowed for greater independence and greater comfort. What is lost, says Harari, are the intimate relationships gained through weathering hardships together and overcoming loss as a community. And given the existential threats the planet already faces as a result of our high economic output, the jury is still out as to whether this level of "happiness" is sustainable.

As John Cacioppo explains in his Big Think interview, living a life connected intimately to other people is essential to leading a meaningful, happy life:

Read more at the Guardian

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