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                 幸福的公式很簡單基因 事件和價值
                上一條: 人在旅途家何方 何處是旅行人的家 下一條: 美好的生活一定要從學會感激開始

                HAPPINESS has traditionally been considered an elusive and evanescent thing. To some, even trying to achieve it is an exercise in futility. It has been said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

                Social scientists have caught the butterfly. After 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values. Armed with this knowledge and a few simple rules, we can improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We can even construct a system that fulfills our founders’ promises and empowers all Americans to pursue happiness.

                Psychologists and economists have studied happiness for decades. They begin simply enough — by asking people how happy they are.

                The richest data available to social scientists is the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, a survey of Americans conducted since 1972. This widely used resource is considered the scholarly gold standard for understanding social phenomena. The numbers on happiness from the survey are surprisingly consistent. Every other year for four decades, roughly a third of Americans have said they’re “very happy,” and about half report being “pretty happy.” Only about 10 to 15 percent typically say they’re “not too happy.” Psychologists have used sophisticated techniques to verify these responses, and such survey results have proved accurate.

                Beneath these averages are some demographic differences. For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed. Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.

                But even demographically identical people vary in their happiness. What explains this?

                The first answer involves our genes. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have tracked identical twins who were separated as infants and raised by separate families. As genetic carbon copies brought up in different environments, these twins are a social scientist’s dream, helping us disentangle nature from nurture. These researchers found that we inherit a surprising proportion of our happiness at any given moment — around 48 percent. (Since I discovered this, I’ve been blaming my parents for my bad moods.)

                If about half of our happiness is hard-wired in our genes, what about the other half? It’s tempting to assume that one-time events — like getting a dream job or an Ivy League acceptance letter — will permanently bring the happiness we seek. And studies suggest that isolated events do control a big fraction of our happiness — up to 40 percent at any given time.

                But while one-off events do govern a fair amount of our happiness, each event’s impact proves remarkably short-lived. People assume that major changes like moving to California or getting a big raise will make them permanently better off. They won’t. Huge goals may take years of hard work to meet, and the striving itself may be worthwhile, but the happiness they create dissipates after just a few months.

                So don’t bet your well-being on big one-off events. The big brass ring is not the secret to lasting happiness.

                To review: About half of happiness is genetically determined. Up to an additional 40 percent comes from the things that have occurred in our recent past — but that won’t last very long.

                That leaves just about 12 percent. That might not sound like much, but the good news is that we can bring that 12 percent under our control. It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness, given that a certain percentage is genetic and not under our control in any way.

                The first three are fairly uncontroversial. Empirical evidence that faith, family and friendships increase happiness and meaning is hardly shocking. Few dying patients regret overinvesting in rich family lives, community ties and spiritual journeys.

                Work, though, seems less intuitive. Popular culture insists our jobs are drudgery, and one survey recently made headlines by reporting that fewer than a third of American workers felt engaged; that is praised, encouraged, cared for and several other gauges seemingly aimed at measuring how transcendently fulfilled one is at work.

                Those criteria are too high for most marriages, let alone jobs. What if we ask something simpler: “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your job?” This simpler approach is more revealing because respondents apply their own standards. This is what the General Social Survey asks, and the results may surprise. More than 50 percent of Americans say they are “completely satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their work. This rises to over 80 percent when we include “fairly satisfied.” This finding generally holds across income and education levels.

                This shouldn’t shock us. Vocation is central to the American ideal, the root of the aphorism that we “live to work” while others “work to live.” Throughout our history, America’s flexible labor markets and dynamic society have given its citizens a unique say over our work — and made our work uniquely relevant to our happiness. When Frederick Douglass rhapsodized about “patient, enduring, honest, unremitting and indefatigable work, into which the whole heart is put,” he struck the bedrock of our culture and character.

                I’m a living example of the happiness vocation can bring in a flexible labor market. I was a musician from the time I was a young child. That I would do it for a living was a foregone conclusion. When I was 19, I skipped college and went on the road playing the French horn. I played classical music across the world and landed in the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra.

                I was probably “somewhat satisfied” with my work. But in my late 20s the novelty wore off, and I began plotting a different future. I called my father back in Seattle: “Dad, I’ve got big news. I’m quitting music to go back to school!”

                “You can’t just drop everything,” he objected. “It’s very irresponsible.”

                “But I’m not happy,” I told him.

                There was a long pause, and finally he asked, “What makes you so special?!”

                But I’m really not special. I was lucky — lucky to be able to change roads to one that made me truly happy. After going back to school, I spent a blissful decade as a university professor and wound up running a Washington think tank.

                Along the way, I learned that rewarding work is unbelievably important, and this is emphatically not about money. That’s what research suggests as well. Economists find that money makes truly poor people happier insofar as it relieves pressure from everyday life — getting enough to eat, having a place to live, taking your kid to the doctor. But scholars like the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman have found that once people reach a little beyond the average middle-class income level, even big financial gains don’t yield much, if any, increases in happiness.

                So relieving poverty brings big happiness, but income, per se, does not. Even after accounting for government transfers that support personal finances, unemployment proves catastrophic for happiness. Abstracted from money, joblessness seems to increase the rates of divorce and suicide, and the severity of disease.

                And according to the General Social Survey, nearly three-quarters of Americans wouldn’t quit their jobs even if a financial windfall enabled them to live in luxury for the rest of their lives. Those with the least education, the lowest incomes and the least prestigious jobs were actually most likely to say they would keep working, while elites were more likely to say they would take the money and run. We would do well to remember this before scoffing at “dead-end jobs.”

                Assemble these clues and your brain will conclude what your heart already knew: Work can bring happiness by marrying our passions to our skills, empowering us to create value in our lives and in the lives of others. Franklin D. Roosevelt had it right: “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

                In other words, the secret to happiness through work is earned success.

                This is not conjecture; it is driven by the data. Americans who feel they are successful at work are twice as likely to say they are very happy overall as people who don’t feel that way. And these differences persist after controlling for income and other demographics.

                You can measure your earned success in any currency you choose. You can count it in dollars, sure — or in kids taught to read, habitats protected or souls saved. When I taught graduate students, I noticed that social entrepreneurs who pursued nonprofit careers were some of my happiest graduates. They made less money than many of their classmates, but were no less certain that they were earning their success. They defined that success in nonmonetary terms and delighted in it.

                If you can discern your own project and discover the true currency you value, you’ll be earning your success. You will have found the secret to happiness through your work.

                There’s nothing new about earned success. It’s simply another way of explaining what America’s founders meant when they proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that humans’ inalienable rights include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

                This moral covenant links the founders to each of us today. The right to define our happiness, work to attain it and support ourselves in the process — to earn our success — is our birthright. And it is our duty to pass this opportunity on to our children and grandchildren.

                But today that opportunity is in peril. Evidence is mounting that people at the bottom are increasingly stuck without skills or pathways to rise. Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston shows that in the 1980s, 21 percent of Americans in the bottom income quintile would rise to the middle quintile or higher over a 10-year period. By 2005, that percentage had fallen by nearly a third, to 15 percent. And a 2007 Pew analysis showed that mobility is more than twice as high in Canada and most of Scandinavia than it is in the United States.

                This is a major problem, and advocates of free enterprise have been too slow to recognize it. It is not enough to assume that our system blesses each of us with equal opportunities. We need to fight for the policies and culture that will reverse troubling mobility trends. We need schools that serve children’s civil rights instead of adults’ job security. We need to encourage job creation for the most marginalized and declare war on barriers to entrepreneurship at all levels, from hedge funds to hedge trimming. And we need to revive our moral appreciation for the cultural elements of success.

                We must also clear up misconceptions. Free enterprise does not mean shredding the social safety net, but championing policies that truly help vulnerable people and build an economy that can sustain these commitments. It doesn’t mean reflexively cheering big business, but leveling the playing field so competition trumps cronyism. It doesn’t entail “anything goes” libertinism, but self-government and self-control. And it certainly doesn’t imply that unfettered greed is laudable or even acceptable.

                Free enterprise gives the most people the best shot at earning their success and finding enduring happiness in their work. It creates more paths than any other system to use one’s abilities in creative and meaningful ways, from entrepreneurship to teaching to ministry to playing the French horn. This is hardly mere materialism, and it is much more than an economic alternative. Free enterprise is a moral imperative.

                To pursue the happiness within our reach, we do best to pour ourselves into faith, family, community and meaningful work. To share happiness, we need to fight for free enterprise and strive to make its blessings accessible to all.

                (Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C.)

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                人們習慣認為幸福難以捉摸、稍縱即逝。對于一些人來說,獲得幸福甚至是徒勞無功的。有人說“幸福就像是一只蝴蝶,當你追逐時,往往抓不住,但是如果你愿意靜靜地坐下來,它可能飛落在你身上!

                社會科學家已經捕捉到了蝴蝶。經過40年的研究,他們把幸福歸因于三種主要來源:基因、事件和價值。具備這樣的知識和幾條簡單的規則,我們就可以改善自己以及周邊人的生活。我們甚至可以建設一個實現我們建國者承諾的體系,讓所有美國人追求幸福。

                心理學家和經濟學家已經研究幸福這個話題幾十年了。他們開始只是很簡單——問人們他們有多幸福。

                現有對社會科學家最豐富的數據來自芝加哥大學的綜合社會調查,這是自1972年就開始展開的對美國人的調查。這些廣泛應用的資源被認為是理解社會現象的黃金學術標準。從調查得出關于幸福的數據出奇的一致。四十年中的每兩年,大致三分之一的美國人說他們“非常幸!,一半說“挺幸福的”。只有典型的百分之十至十五說他們“不太幸!。心理學家通過復雜的方法來檢驗這些回答,事實證明,此類調查結果是精確的。

                在這些平均數值之下是一些人口統計方面的差異。很多年以來,研究者發現女性比男性更幸福,盡管近代調查爭論說此差距已經縮小或者調查結果甚至可能已經相反了。政治狂熱者可能有興趣知道保守的女性特別容易幸福:大約40%的人說她們非常幸福。她們比保守的男性稍微幸福,比自由的女性幸福得多。最不幸福的是自由的男性;只有五分之一說自己非常幸福。

                但即使是人口統計上一致的人的幸福指數也不同,這說明了什么?

                第一個回答是與我們的基因有關。明尼蘇達大學的研究者跟蹤調查了從小被分開在不同家庭中養育的同卵雙胞胎。因為基因副本在不同的環境中長大,幫助我們把先天和后天的養育分開,這些雙胞胎是社會科學家的夢。研究者發現無論什么時候,我們繼承幸福的比例出乎意料——約48%。(發現這個之后,我就把我的壞脾氣歸咎于我的父母。)

                如果我們大約一半的幸福是與基因硬性連接的,那另一半呢?這讓人想到那些一次性的事件——例如得到一份理想工作或者常青藤大學的錄取函——會永久地給我們帶來所追求的幸福。研究表明,單獨事件會控制我們很大一部分的幸!谌魏翁囟〞r間高達40%。

                但是盡管一次性事件確實控制我們大部分的幸福,每個事件的影響卻證明是非常短暫的。人們以為像搬家去加州或者大幅加薪這樣的大變化會讓他們永遠地幸福。其實不會。偉大的目標也許需要長年累月的辛苦勞作才達到,奮斗本身也可能值得,但是這帶來的幸福感會在短短幾個月后消失。

                所以不要把大的一次性事件當做你幸福的賭注。中頭獎可不是幸福長久的秘訣。

                回顧一下:約一半的幸福是由基因決定的。大約40%來自近來發生的事情——但這種幸福感不會維持很久。

                那就只剩下12%了?赡芸瓷先ゲ欢,但好消息是我們可以完全控制這12%。鑒于某部分幸福感是遺傳的,無論怎樣都不由我們控制,那么選擇追求四種基本的價值觀——信仰、家庭、社區和工作則是通往幸福最可靠的道路。

                前三個是毫無爭議的。實驗性證明信仰、家庭和友情會提高幸福感,而其非凡意義也毫不令人驚訝。很少有臨終病人后悔過度投資在豐富的家庭生活、群體聯系和精神之旅上。

                然而,工作貌似沒那么直觀。大眾文化都在強調我們的工作是苦差事,最近有一個上了頭條的調查,據報道,少于三分之一的美國員工對工作投入,也就是被稱贊、鼓勵、關心,還有幾個其他測量貌似是針對評估一個人在工作時有多么滿足的。

                那些標準對于大多數婚姻來說都太高了,別說工作。如果我們問更簡單的問題會怎樣呢:“從整體來看,你有多滿意你的工作?”這個更簡單的方法更有啟迪作用,因為調查對象都有自己的標準。這也是美國社會調查問的問題,結果驚人。超過50%的美國人說他們“完全滿意”或者“很滿意”他們的工作。如果加上回答“挺滿意的”的人,將超過80%。這樣的調查結果適用于不同的收入階層和教育程度。

                這應該不會讓我們感到震驚。職業對于美國理想來說非常重要,是那句格言:我們“活著是為了工作”,其他人“工作是為了活著”的根源?v觀我們的歷史,美國靈活的勞工市場和動態社會讓其市民對工作有一種獨特的看法——并讓我們的工作與幸福有獨特的聯系。當弗雷德里克·道格拉斯把“全心全意地投入耐心、持久、誠實、不懈和不屈不撓的工作”寫入狂想曲時,他塑造了我們的文化和性格的基石。

                我就是一個在靈活的勞工市場中,職業帶來幸福的活生生的例子。我從小就是一個音樂家,以此謀生也在預料之中。19歲時,我放棄讀大學,走到街上吹起了法國圓號。我在世界各地彈奏古典樂,最后加入了巴塞羅那交響樂團。

                我也許對自己的工作“有點滿意”。但在我二十八九歲時,那種新鮮感消失了,我開始策劃一個不同的未來。我打電話給在西雅圖的父親:“爸,我有個重大消息要宣布,我要放棄音樂事業回去上學了!”

                “你不可以就這樣放棄一切”,他反對道!斑@樣很不負責任!

                “但是我不開心,”我告訴他。

                停頓了很長時間,終于他問,:“你怎么會這么特殊?!”

                但是我真的不特殊。我很幸運——能夠轉換到一條讓我真正感到幸福的道路上是幸運的;氐綄W校后,我愉快地度過了作為教授的十年,而且興奮地運行了一個華盛頓智囊團。

                一路走來,我認識到一份有收獲的工作真是難以置信的重要,這斷然與金錢無關。研究表明也是如此。經濟學家發現金錢會讓真正貧困的人更幸福,它緩解了日常生活的壓力——有足夠吃的,有地方住,帶你的小孩去看醫生。但是像諾貝爾獲獎者丹尼爾·卡爾曼這樣的學者發現一旦人們的收入超出一般中產階級收入水平一點,即使是豐厚的經濟收獲也對幸福感的提升沒有多大效果。

                所以緩解貧困會帶來很大的幸福感,但是收入本身不會。即使政府的轉移性支出可以支持個人財務,但失業仍會毀滅幸福。除了金錢,失業似乎會增加離婚率、自殺率和疾病的嚴重性。

                根據社會調查,將近四分之三的美國人即使有意外之財讓他們享受下半生,他們也不會放棄工作。那些受教育程度最低、收入最少、工作最低等的人更傾向于繼續工作,那些精英階層更可能會拿錢走人。在嘲笑“無前途的工作”之前,我們要好好反省一下。

                結合以上線索,你的大腦會得出一個你的內心已經知道的結論:工作會把我們的熱情和技能結合,讓我們為自己和他人的生活創造價值,從而獲得幸福。富蘭克林羅斯福說得對:“幸福并不僅僅在于擁有金錢,而在于成就感帶來的愉悅和創造性努力帶來的興奮!

                換句話說,工作中獲得幸福的秘密在于獲得的成功。

                這不是憑空猜測,而是由數據證明的。在工作中感到成功的美國人比那些沒有這樣感覺的人更有可能說自己總體上很幸福。這樣的差異在除去收入和其他人口統計數據因素后仍存在。

                你可以選擇任何一種貨幣來衡量你獲取的成功。你可以用美金來計算,當然——也可以用你教會閱讀的孩子的數量,保護的棲息地或者拯救的靈魂。我以前教研究生時,發現那些追求非贏利事業的社會企業家就是我最開心的學生中的一部分。他們賺的錢比很多同學賺的少,但一樣很確信自己獲得了成功。他們用非貨幣的形式來定義那種成功并因此而快樂。

                如果你能領悟出自己的項目并發現你在乎的真正貨幣,你就能獲得成功。你就能通過工作發現幸福的秘密。

                對于獲得的成功沒有新的定義。只是用另一種方式來解讀美國建國者在宣布獨立宣言時的含義:人類不可剝奪的權利包括生命、自由和對幸福的追求。

                這個精神契約把建國者與我們今天的每個人連接起來。我們有權定義幸福,努力獲得幸福并在過程中激勵自己——獲取我們自己的成功——是我們與生俱來的權利。我們有責任把這樣的機會傳遞給孩子們和孫子們。

                但是今天這樣的機會岌岌可危。越來越多的證據證明底層人民因沒有技能或者上升途徑而被困住。波士頓聯邦儲備銀行的研究指出,在上世紀80年代,21%的底層收入美國人在10年間上升入中等或更高收入的階層。直到2005年,這個百分比下滑了近三分之一,下降至15%。一個2007年的皮尤分析指出加拿大和斯堪的納維亞半島大部分地區的遷移率是美國的兩倍多。

                這就是主要問題,自由企業的擁護者太晚意識到這點。僅僅認為我們的體系賜予每個人平等的機會是不夠的。我們要為那些能夠逆轉令人不安的移動趨勢的政策和文化。我們需要那些為孩子的公民權利服務的學校,而不是為了成人的工作保障。我們要鼓勵為最邊緣化的群體創造就業機會,對各個級別的創業障礙發起進攻,從對沖基金到修建樹枝。我們要復蘇對成功文化要素的精神領悟。

                我們也必須清除錯誤的想法。自由企業并不意味著破壞社會安全體系,而是擁護那些能真正幫助弱勢群體,建立能夠維持這些承諾的政策。它不代表反射性地為大企業歡呼,而是平衡游戲場地讓競爭勝過任人唯親。它不會導致“怎么都行”的自由主義,而是自制和自控。它當然也不表明無拘無束的貪婪值得贊賞或者甚至可以接受。

                自由企業給了最多人最好的機會來獲得他們的成功,并在他們的工作中找到持久的幸福。它比任何一個體系創造了更多的途徑讓人們用創新和有意義的方式來運用自己的能力,從創業精神到教導、政府部門、吹法國號。這幾乎不是簡單的唯物主義,遠遠超過一種經濟選擇。自由企業是精神上的必需品。

                要追求力所能及的幸福,我們盡最大的努力投入到信仰、家庭、社區和有意義的工作中。要分享快樂,我們就得為自由企業而奮斗,努力讓其利益惠及所有人。

                (阿瑟C·布魯克斯是華盛頓公共政策智囊團——美國企業研究院的院長。)

                    發表時間:[ 2014/3/10 ] 瀏覽次數: [ 3705 ]
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