Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy 'Most Depressing Day of the Year'

Today is apparently the most depressing day of the year. Like you didn't know already ...

But don't worry, the Samaritans already have a website dedicated to supporting those suffering from Blue Monday syndrome. It is, of course, pure junk science - just the latest manifestation of the happiness industry that seems, if anything, to be making us miserable.

For a more interesting, and certainly more considered assessment of what get's us down, you need look no further than the excellent essay on The Pursuit of Unhappiness by Daniel Haybron. He argues that evolution has left us lacking the aptitude to navigate the choices and risks created by a modern, liberal capitalist society. I feel it is something of a straw man argument myself (he ignores the role of luck, longevity and lifestage, for example), but well worth the read for those of you into the happiness/unhappiness agenda.

But if economics and psychology don't do it for you, there's always religion. Better still, new research shows that people are more motivated by the thought of going to heaven than by the fear of going to hell. Though the more agnostic among you may still be wondering if "there's life before death" on the day that's in it ...

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