The Most Powerful Source of Happiness

The Enlightenment's focus on the individual has left us feeling all alone.
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Topic: The Most Powerful Source of Happiness

Jonathan Haidt: The most powerful driver of happiness, as everybody knows and everybody writes about, is relationships. The story is complicated regarding marriage, because a good marriage is the best thing you can have. A bad marriage is the worst thing you can have, but in general, being embedded in relationships.

This gets to what I think is possibly one of the biggest ideas of the next 10 years, is the idea that we humans, we’re shaped in part, I think, by a process of group level selection. That is, we are, to some extent, like bees in a hive that only really find meaning when we are acting as part of the hive.

We kind of busted out of the hive, beginning in the 17th and 18th centuries. We now live as individuals. There’s a lot to be said for that, but there’s a lot that comes back to bite us, a lot that we don’t understand, and a lot that makes it hard for us to find happiness.

Recorded on May 9, 2008.