Can happiness be measured? | Lifetime review

We all want to be happy, the problem is how to achieve it. How do we recognize emotion, is it subjective and can it be measured? The Happiness Company has followed this surge in interest, with companies offering games and nap rooms to keep employees happy, as well as books and courses that aim to give you a better understanding of the science of happiness.

Will Davies, professor of political economy at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of “The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being”, says that “it is no coincidence that all the awareness of depression has emerged at the same speed as concern for happiness, human flourishing, and the science of what a good life is.

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Jonathan Bastian speaks with Davies about the growing cultural interest in valuing happiness as a boon to business, especially in Silicon Valley where wearable technology and AI are designed to recognize our moods. But Davies says there’s also a long history of measuring happiness, dating back to late 18th century England and the famous philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bantham. Today’s progress in the 21st century, says Davies, has its roots in Batham’s ambitions to “scientifically monitor, quantify and objectify internal subjective states between the fields of economics, marketing, psychology, [and] psychiatry.”

Will Davis. Photo courtesy of EXP-Editions

Cover of the book “The Happiness Industry; How government and big business sold us well-being »

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