Happiness is not a goal. Not everyone wants to be happy. Winning a lottery or having a child doesn’t mean happiness forever. These are the offbeat findings that have made University of Illinois psychologist Edward Diener the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of "subjective well-being". Diener believes happiness is rooted in culture, which is why individualistic westerners are happier than family-conscious Asians, who are more concerned with what others are thinking about how they live their lives. He spoke to Pritam Sengupta. Excerpts:
How important is money for happiness?
I would not be so simple as to say money does not buy happiness. What I say is this: At levels of dire poverty, money can certainly matter. Our work in the slums of Calcutta, and among the homeless in the US, plus international comparisons, show that at levels of real poverty, increases in income do matter for happiness. But above a certain point, there are only small increases in well-being due to increase in money.
Like those who have $100...