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In The Progress Paradox, Gregg Easterbrook draws upon three decades of wide-ranging research and thinking to make the persuasive assertion that almost all aspects of Western life have vastly improved in the past century--yet today, according to research and anecdotal evidence, most men and women feel less 'happy' than in previous generations. The reasons behind this paradox, and a useful method for resolving it, are explored in this book.
Between contemporary emphasis on grievances and the fears engendered by 9/11, today it is common to hear it said that life has started downhill, or that one's parents had it better. Objectively, and according to leading indicators for standard of living, almost everyone in today’s United States or European Union lives better than his or her parents did. Still, studies show that the percentage of the population that is happy has not increased in fifty years, while depression and stress have become ever more prevalent.
The Progress Paradox explores why ever-higher living standards do not necessarily make people happier. Detailing the emerging science of “positive psychology,” which seeks to understand what causes a person’s sense of well-being, Easterbrook offers an alternative to the culture of crisis and complaint. He makes a compelling case that optimism, gratitude, and acts of forgiveness not only make modern life more fulfilling but are actually in everyone's self-interest.
Like The Tipping Point, this book offers an affirming and constructive way of seeing the world anew. The Progress Paradox will frame the discussion over what constitutes the qualitiative nature of progress, and how a rethinking of this concept is necessary in today's age.
"So it comes as a relief to read journalist and social commentator Gregg Easterbrook's lively The Progress Paradox....Easterbrook, a senior editor at The New Republic, draws upon both liberal and conservative sources and combines a vast amount of scholarly research and reporting to generate a thoughtful, sustained argument."
"In this superb, challenging, yet very readable book, Easterbrook sets out to catalog and explain the paradox (or set of paradoxes) of human progress and complaining.... This should be required reading for all public policy beureaucrats, politicians, and TV producers. Highly recommended."
—Choice (American Library Association)