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Opinion: Don’t worry, be happy

At the beginning of this century, Earl Babbie, then Professor of Sociology at Chapman University and an expert on opinion research, wrote a “Foreword” to a textbook (California’s Social Problems) that Chuck Hohm and I published with Sage Publications in Berkeley. He wrote, “Bigger than life, California is often seen as a leading indicator for the nation, whether concerning surfers or unmarried mothers.”

This year, we scored another “first.” California Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D, Los Angeles) created the Select Committee on Happiness and Public Policy Outcomes. At its first meeting in mid-March, the members considered ways in which legislators can help to make their constituents happy. No other state has a committee dedicated specifically to this purpose.

What Is happiness?

Writing for the newsletter, Science of People, Vanessa Mae Rameer states that happiness is a harmonious state of being that involves four conditions: feeling content or satisfied, being an agent of some other person’s happiness, experiencing inner enrichment over and above material consideration, and maintaining a positive outlook on the future. This definition seems to be supported by certain perceptions from more than two centuries ago.


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