Satisfaction Not Guaranteed: Dilemmas of Progress in Modern by Peter N. Stearns

By Peter N. Stearns

Within the 20th and twenty-first centuries, smooth city, business, prosperous societies have made nice strides in the direction of solving many of the difficulties that plagued different societies for hundreds of years: nutrients shortages are approximately eradicated, little one and maternal mortality has fallen dramatically, contraception is either on hand and powerful, schooling degrees are better, and inner violence is considerably lowered. Modernity's advantages are many and bountiful—but has modernity relatively made us happy?

Satisfaction now not Guaranteed is a e-book in regards to the sleek situation, and why the earnings of residing in smooth city, business, prosperous societies haven't proved extra gratifying than they've got. It examines why actual effects that paralleled past anticipations of growth haven't generated the benefit and contentment that an identical forecasters assumed may follow to trendy lifestyles. applying his trademark inquiry of feelings in American heritage, Peter N. Stearns asks why, if sleek existence has been as a rule characterised through measurable subject matters of growth, abundance, and development, are humans now not happier or extra content material with their lot in existence? Why is there an elevated prevalence of mental melancholy, anxiousness, and the experience that not anyone has ever reached a top of happiness or contentment? It's no longer loads that modernity went fallacious, yet quite that it has now not long gone as swimmingly as was once expected. Satisfaction now not Guaranteed makes use of concrete examples from either historical past and the current, akin to happiness surveys, to debate how as a society we'd larger juggle the calls for of recent existence with the pursuit of happiness.

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Reports of depression began to push up in the middle of the 20th century. Some researchers continue to claim that there’s been no change, but the balance of evidence—though impossible to pin down too precisely— is against them. The same evidentiary balance suggests that while the The Gap 23 increase has affected many societies, both modern and less modern, it’s been particularly severe in the United States. Two phenomena have interacted. Many reports suggest that, from the generations born right before and during World War II onward (19351945), rates of depression began to mount—some claims go as high as doubling over a 50-60-year span.

It’s actually possible up to a point that they were, at least for those who were enjoying some improvements in living standards broadly construed. But the main point is not the degree of reality of the new valuation of cheerfulness but the new standards this valuation placed on people in social interactions and, sometimes, self-evaluations as well. And from this significant change, two other vital points emerge. First, the turn to cheerfulness, like the larger embrace of happiness, not only persisted but also strengthened in the 20th century, with the United States again in the forefront.

Good, Pleasure, ease content! ” Or John Byrom, in 1728: “It was the best thing one could do to be always cheerful . . and not suffer any sullenness . . ” Two changes actually combined in this new approach: first, the idea that people could and should exercise control over their emotions, and not assume that emotions were simply conditions that washed over the individual from outside forces; and second, obviously, the increasing sense that it was not just desirable, but really a positive obligation, to present oneself as happy.

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