Streams

Come On, Get Happy

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A new study published in the journal Science has found that residents of New York State are the unhappiest in the country. Connecticut and New Jersey also ranked near the bottom. We'll speak to Professor Stephen Wu of Hamilton College, one of the co-authors of a study. He’s joined by Derek Bok, author of the forthcoming book The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being Call in to share what makes you happy or unhappy about living in New York, and what would improve your quality of life in the Empire State!

Guests:

Derek Bok, and Stephen Wu
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Comments [69]

wkgreen from Brooklyn

So Mississippi and Louisiana are on top in the happiness survey?

This is probably consistent with the South's penchant for voting against their (and our) best interests from global warming denial to obstruction of real healthcare reform to advocacy of abstinence only education to blocking a nominee for TSA director in Congress for espousing unionization of airport security workers.

I guess ignorance really IS bliss - as we all go skipping merrily into the rapture.

Dec. 30 2009 06:53 PM
Jerry from Manhattan

I listened to the program today and noticed that Mr.Lopate and all the callers responded as if the survey was of NY City, not the state. No one asked the people who conducted the survey whether there were different levels of unhappiness in the city than in the rest of the state, etc. People attempting to explain the survey by only talking about life in the city are shedding no insight whatsoever.

Dec. 30 2009 05:04 PM
Stephen Ruben from NYC

This last 15 minutes has been so banal.

BTW, if you don't think change happens faster now thqan it did during the Vietnam War...you really don't get it

Dec. 30 2009 01:43 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn, NY

While I know this study had to do with all of NY state, hence may not be a good indicator of the "happiness" level in NYC, seeing all the negative comments about living in NYC, I feel the need to stick up for it. I've lived here for 10 years now - and "hated" NYC for similar reasons as those cited BEFORE I moved here. But now that I live here, I am very much wholly content living here, and think it's a great place to live (I don't believe in the word "happy" except to describe smaller moments).

NYC is - in my experience - has been well worth the struggle. It's hard, as a transplant, to "make it" here, but if you put the time in, it pays off. I now have a job in my field that is 15 minutes away from where I live; I live in an economically and culturally diverse neighborhood where I've met and become friends with my neighbors; I get to talk to people from all over the world who moved here, and who are always open to talking about their lives and experiences; the food options here are amazing - I appreciate the fact I can go eat a Turkish meal in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and only hear Russian spoken by the restaurant's patrons; I can go see any band, movie, play, or performance and know that the talent is going to be top notch; and people here are actually friendly - you just have to be open and willing to get past people's protective outside demeanor. And there are plenty of places to go to escape the crowding and pace of the city - the Catskills are only a 2 to 3 hour car ride away, and the beaches to the southeast are beautiful.

I think people who poopoo NYC just aren't used to - or wanting to- go outside their comfort zones and adapt to how things work here. They have a very narrow ideas of what "happiness" or "success" means in NYC, and base that on TV shows, movies, and young adult, unrealistic, fantasies. If you take the time to struggle for a bit, you can find a rich life here that doesn't come from money.

Dec. 30 2009 01:19 PM
mo from midwest

so if eisenhower says sweden has the highest suicide rate because of socialism we should believe it? we should automatically also believe suicide results from depression? ridiculous. this was a stupid reference by lopate but i only caught the end of the discussion so sue me. the mistrust in our government is well earned but then americans are untrustworthy

Dec. 30 2009 01:16 PM
petiteProxy from Flatbush/Union Square

I think the guest Steven Wu hit an important factor in happiness, and that is *social relationships*, because although New York City seems to be the most diverse city in the world, I find that it is still very segregated and stratified.

I wonder if other New Yorkers sense this too? and what are the factors that are keeping people apart? Money, Class, Language, Race? All of the above? On the economical aspects, what is the Mayor's role in this case? This lack of social relationships might even lead to social alienation and thus the unhappiness. Do New Yorkers realize this?

Finally, there is also a type of capitalistic alienation that occurs on the neighborhood level, which wasn't discussed. Do you as a New Yorker feel capitalistically alienation? Especially since this city is fast becoming big money every second. (That means you don't really know the owner of the local coffee shop anymore, and vice-versa)

Dec. 30 2009 01:15 PM
Ryan Kovac from Montclair, NJ

I think there is a relativism about one's perception of personal fulfillment when living in the greater NY region. I think of my many friends that live in medium sized cities around the country and what they can afford and the goals and aspirations that may come to be realities in the years to come...and then I think about the limitations that I accept by choosing to live here...naturalism vs. density and it's effects on my commute...the cost of owning a house in greater NY...the cost of day care. Hmmmm....I love New York (sometimes).

Dec. 30 2009 12:49 PM
the truth! from BKNY

Thought I ws the only one who noticed all the Black and Blue attire!! I didnt pack anything but Black tops and Blue Jeans this past visit...SAD, very sad...I have lived many places and NEVER missed living in NY! I do love all the attitude though...intriguing.

Dec. 30 2009 12:46 PM
Miriam from Westchester County

Regarding my comment on the air that rising inequality between the highest earners and everyone else, particularly in New York City:

Recently (Monday November 20), Brian Lehrer had a segment on "food insecurity" in New York City. The government has eliminated the word "hunger" from it's policy considerations. I was absolutely shocked to hear that almost half of New York City residents are experiencing "food insecurity," which is roughly defined as not knowing where your next meal is coming from. That this condition exists in a city that has some of the highest earners in the world is a fundamentally moral problem. It has become acceptable to display extremely ostentatious levels of material success without giving consideration to one's neighbors. I would say that this makes a lot of people, me being one of them, very unhappy.

Dec. 30 2009 12:43 PM
Linda Pleven from Manhattan

Yes, New York may be the toughest place to live in terms of crowding, noise, terrible public transportation, and the high cost of living. But I wouldn't live anywhere else in the world. In spite of it, I wake up every day feeling as though I'm in a candy store. I can't fit it all in: the opera, the ballet, The Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall, the wonderful theatre, the wonderful museums offering one great exhibit after another, the best restaurants, and pretty great health care. And the savvy among us have figured out how to do lots of things free. Almost all museums, for instance, offer free admission once a week. You can buy an opera seat for very little if you do the research and be willing to jump when the opportunity is presented. You can find free music in many churches in the city.

I believe if you give most people the opportunity to complain, you're leading the witness.

Get over the glitches, try to fix what's wrong. Be happy.

Linda Pleven

Dec. 30 2009 12:43 PM
reuven from cincinnati

i grew up between Boston and Cincinnati and always came back to Cincinnati kicking and screaming. After having lived briefly in Paris and Cologne I've descovered that I prefer Europe to America however, I am still here in Cincinnati and Not happy about it. I love NYC by the way.

Dec. 30 2009 12:42 PM
ebun from fort greene

how do we explain why African countries rank high in happiness?

Dec. 30 2009 12:42 PM
Nina from Village

Again, no one is distinguishing NYC from NY State (and perhaps LA or San Fran. from California.) I'd be twice as miserable in Buffalo or Rochester than I am here in my tiny East Villag hovel. The economy is a disaster up there. People are leaving in droves. And it's frigid.

Dec. 30 2009 12:41 PM
lily from brooklyn

the author mentioned that people mis-judge what will make them happy. for those who are happier than others, what are the top happiness factors for them? maybe we can learn from them???

Dec. 30 2009 12:41 PM
the truth! from BKNY

High cost of living, 8 million people crowded on top of each other, dirty, dreary weather, small apartments, best transit system on the planet though!

Dec. 30 2009 12:40 PM
Sonia Jaffe Robbins from Manhattan

Most of the comments here are about people living in New York City, but the book said it was people in New York STATE who are unhappiest -- and the residents of New York City are about 40% of the entire state.

I grew up in cities, country, and suburbs, have lived in Manhattan for almost 45 years and wouldn't live anywhere else. I love the diversity of people here; I love that I can read on my commute to work and have never owned a car; I love all the cultural things available (movies, museums, plays, music, etc.); and I love being able to visit friends and relatives in the country to get my quota of nature -- plus I live near Riverside Park, so can get doses of nature whenever I want. I'm pretty happy.

Dec. 30 2009 12:40 PM
Katherine Jackson from lower manhattan

New York is so INTERESTING! Doesn't this study privilege comfort over interesting-ness?????

Dec. 30 2009 12:40 PM
Julie from Jersey Shore

Not sure of the relevance of such a study...how can you lump people from upstate new york (dying manufacturing towns), versus commuters from rockland and westchester and people in nyc...and even there what is the relative happiness of someone who lives in Manhattan and can walk to work versus someone who lives in outermost queens and takes a bus and two subways....

States are essentially artificial dividers...It would be more interesting to look at what makes people happy, wherever they may live (is it living in a city? or a suburb with a long commute? or a small town with close social ties, but not much diversity?)

Dec. 30 2009 12:39 PM
Joachim from across from macys

There is a huge difference between NY and NYC. People keep saying things about NYC and this has to do with happiness at the state level. Maybe all the people in Albany Rochester and Syracuse are unhappy.

Dec. 30 2009 12:39 PM
Pat Logan from Westchester/New York City worker

First, EB White was wrong. That myth is driving the hoi polloi to misery! It's not luck at all, its connections. Everything in NYC is based on who you know, not your outlook on luck. In fact I blame White for all of our 'wonderlust' that doesn't pay out.
You may be very talented but it's a powerful/connected person's kid who is going to get the breaks all the way through from apartments leads to entry jobs, promotions and entry to the right private schools and on and on. (Look where his own kid ended up!) Once you realize this is the real system at work, it's hard to be happy about it.

Dec. 30 2009 12:38 PM
vanessa from nyc

I'm a happy New Yorker (for 14 years)... I think it's a lot of the small things that make me happy. For instance, walking my dog this morning I exchanged "good mornings" with another woman walking her dog - I don't know her, but we see each other in the morning, walking our dogs and say hello or smile. My deli guy knows me; the super from a nearby building pets the dog and we chat about the weather; I walk to work - it's the little things that make me happy. I think it's easy no matter where you live to get caught up in the big ugly things but for me, NYC is the best place to live for convenience, social networking, diversity and culture. I heart NYC!

Dec. 30 2009 12:38 PM
Nicole -Organizer Music Appreciation Meetup from NY/NJ

I arrived in NYC after backpacking through Europe and living abroad for 2 years. When I got here I kept wondering why the "City of the World" was such a cold, unfriendly and uncelebratory place. Not to mention the black, navy blue and gray clad packs of bodies that blanketed the streets.

Living in Ireland any night I went out, the entire dance floor or small bar would have met before the evening was out. Every night was like a party and celebration because people were open to meeting, talking and sharing life.

As much as New York is full of energy, activity, adventure and life, I don't find these characteristics applied as well at the individual level. I would love to see a greater sense of community, people investing more time in one another, and recognition that while independence is fantastic that there is still a need for relationships and one another.

New York would be my number one place to live if it had more of this, which is why I continue to try and build here. I can't see myself living anywhere else.

Dec. 30 2009 12:38 PM
Tom from Upper West Side

I gave up on "happiness" years ago, as the minute it is achieved, one starts to wonder if it will last - and it doesn't. Now, I embrace the concept of "contentment," which encompasses the dips and disappointments that are natural to Life.

Dec. 30 2009 12:38 PM
Bill D from NYC

REAL ESTATE.
NYC is one of the few places in the USA where a person working full time earning $70,000/year cannot even afford a modest house in one of the five burroughs.
$500,000 for a medium sized house in Staten Island is not normal.

Dec. 30 2009 12:37 PM
hazy from brooklyn

Transplants vs natives? I'll bet transplants are less happy in NY because they don't have their families rooted here. Natives have family that are employed here, that know the ways, that really 'get it'. So they know how to use it more. For transplants, it's exciting, but intimidating, overwhelming, lonely, harsh.

Dec. 30 2009 12:37 PM
Terry from Sunnyside Queens

What makes me unhappy living here in NYC, is the way this conversation is going. It offers an idea of something real and personal, and what you end up getting is the "runaround", people keeping up their guards.

I moved here in 1995 for opportunity and the American Dream. I certainly am happier than had I stayed in Virginia, but NYC has now turned into what feels like a prison of what I had left. Everybody is the same, nobody seems to care, not much of a selection, etc, no room for growth, and rarely a smile to be seen.

It's a const and boxing match to get the simplest thing done. Museums are great, but that is not happiness. A better quality of life is happiness.

Dec. 30 2009 12:36 PM
the truth! from BKNY

Oh and the whole city is HELLA DIRTY!

Dec. 30 2009 12:36 PM
the truth! from BKNY

New Yorkers have plenty to be unhappy about, one of the highest cost of living zones in the Country!!

Dec. 30 2009 12:35 PM
the truth! from BKNY

Spot on! The weather plays a huge part..when we flew in from Atlanta, GA this Thxgiving, the closer we got to LGA airport the more dismal the day seemed, it got darker and darker and was an instant downer! FUnny I never noticed the constant dreary weather growing up not until I moved away!

Dec. 30 2009 12:34 PM
Deb Lucke from Cold Spring NY

Many people come to New York to follow a dream. So there are more people here who have to give up on their dreams. Especially since the cost of living is so high. Moderate success is not enough to pay the rent in New York.

Dec. 30 2009 12:33 PM
Jason from Brooklyn

Maybe becasue new yorkers are very informed about whats actually going in around the world in politics etc. may be leading to their unhappiness.

Dec. 30 2009 12:33 PM
Nina from Village

Remember, this study refers to New York State - not just NYC - and upstate New York is one of the most depressed areas in the nation - and it's freezing.

Dec. 30 2009 12:32 PM
Steph from Brooklyn

I have long believed that there are a few key reasons people live in New York: (1) they were born here and can't imagine living anywhere else, (2) there are professional opportunities here that can't easily be found elsewhere, (3) they are relatively wealthy, or (4) they are young and single, and don't mind living in a closet and/or with roommates in order to experience the adventure of this city.

I moved here from Philadelphia 23 years ago, and still don't refer to myself as a New Yorker. Rather, my standard line is that "I moved here temporarily 23 years ago". As much as I enjoy city living, NY is too negatively urban for me - too crowded, too expensive, and much too easy for people to be incredibly inconsiderate to each other. I have remained here because my ex-husband refuses to leave, and I want my son to have access to both of us. My plan has long been to leave NY (probably for Philadelphia) when my son goes to college (next year), though a new work opportunity (reason # 2) may postpone that for a couple of years...

Dec. 30 2009 12:32 PM
Sonya from Brooklyn

Happiness has more to do with your attitude toward life than anything else. It makes sense that people in places that are expensive and difficult would be unhappy. They are most likely there because they think that happiness can come from the material gains that can come from the investment of living somewhere like this, and unfortunately, they are sure to be disappointed. Happiness is a choice you make.

Dec. 30 2009 12:31 PM
Sheila from Brooklyn

NYC is a place we all come to to excel in our field.. and the background message is that you should always be doing better than you are at the moment. Hard to embrace any happiness you do experience along the way.. I have so say that I am aiming to buck that "trend."

Dec. 30 2009 12:31 PM
Jack Mehler from Yonkers

Does the study take into account that people who are unhappy where they grew up come to places like New York to find happiness? Not all can succeed finding happiness, so NY picks up other states' disaffected residents.

Dec. 30 2009 12:31 PM
Katherine Jackson from lower manhattan

Could the guests please describe what sorts of criteria they used to determine "happiness." It's such a complex matter. For example, many things during an average day in New York could scarcely make me "happy" -- from the unintelligible blaring announcements on the subway, for example, to, on a larger scale, the real estate challenges. BUT I love the city at the same time -- in all its magnificent diversity, and feel happy much of the time that I've found my way to such a vibrant, multi-faceted, mesmerizing place.

And Leonard, you make me happy -- with your reliable, dry, irreverent New York wit

Dec. 30 2009 12:31 PM
Daniel from Midtown

This study has gotten way too much press.
Their "apples to apples" idea ignores the regionally-driven likelyhood one might have a higher income, education level, etc.
Also and even more importantly, If I'm not mistaken, the surveys were taken BEFORE Katrina! What was going on here around then? Hmmm... I can't remember ...

Dec. 30 2009 12:31 PM
Matthew from Astoria

Isn't some of New York's rock-bottom happiness ranking simply the result of New Yorkers exercising our God-given right to kvetch?

While I'm being all essentialist here, maybe the nice healthy hedonistic streak the French element has contributed to Louisiana culture affects happiness levels there.

Dec. 30 2009 12:27 PM
Sarah from Brooklyn

Isn't it possible that your sample is self-selecting? Ambitious people move to NYC, and perhaps ambitious people by definition are never satisfied. Or, maybe being an ambitious little fish in the biggest pond in the country is discouraging?

How did the researchers control for personality factors such as ambition or relative optimism?

Dec. 30 2009 12:26 PM
Laura from Brooklyn

I believe that the single reason for unhappiness in NYC and in its neighboring states is status anxiety. When one sees that someone else can afford or have something that others cannot, resultant feelings of inadequacy and low self worth lead to unhappiness. Likewise, those with money might question their worthiness of wealth and/or worry about losing their status earned by their income.

Dec. 30 2009 12:25 PM
Lucy Tullo from Montville NJ

I grew up in Westchester, lived in NYC for 11 years then moved to NJ when I got married and have been here since 1990. However we moved to Tennessee for 3 years thinking that we would be happier with a lower cost of living and a slower pace of live. What a joke! I couldn't wait to get back. We moved back to NJ 3 1/2 years ago and couldn't be happier! We are struggling financially but we are all much happier. The lesson my kids learned was that money doesn't buy happiness.

Dec. 30 2009 12:23 PM
tyler

What about happiness as a function of expectations? A lot of people move to major centers like nyc with big dreams that are often never reached. Might some people in less urban areas may be happy with less because they expected less to start with?

Dec. 30 2009 12:22 PM
Charles from Brooklyn

We moved to Brooklyn from Canada and really like living here. Our worst fear is living in the boring suburbs, not knowing our neighbors, driving 20 minutes to buy milk, and wising that we had never moved.

Question: How can people make huge life decisions (like moving to the suburbs) if it is impossible to know if the move will make you happier or less happy?

Dec. 30 2009 12:22 PM
jade

I wonder if the City attracts people who are dissatisfied and ambitious people. Content people tend not to be ambitious.

Dec. 30 2009 12:21 PM
Ben from Brooklyn

Can they expand on the process of choosing a control to test the state by? Was there a control for each demographic?

Dec. 30 2009 12:21 PM
Rachel from Sunset Park, Brooklyn

I moved here from California in 1987, 22 years ago. I love it here, would never go back.

Question for your guests: Does happiness come from your peer group or those you compare yourself too?

There are so many people in NY who have a lot of money, it seems that people are constantly reminded about the things they don't have.

Dec. 30 2009 12:21 PM
CJ from NY

Sure there is a disparity between renters and homeowners. I have to beg to get things fixed or replaced by my landlord. It's the inconvenience of having the broken item AND the Frustration of having to rely on someone else to do the right thing.

Dec. 30 2009 12:21 PM
Neil from NYC

I moved from Tehran to Vancouver, BC, and finally to NYC. I found happiness in New York. I have had to move to Austin, TX to work on my PhD. Cannot wait to return to New York. I miss the subway, the Film Forum, Fairway, Zabar, Central Park, the Jewish neighbors, etc. OK, now I'm depressed.

Dec. 30 2009 12:20 PM
Sarah Tuft from Manhattan and Long Beach

With regard to why people feel happier in Mississippi and Louisiana than in NY, perhaps Hemingway had the explanation:
Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. ~ Ernest Hemingway

Dec. 30 2009 12:19 PM
Larry from Queens

As a native of Louisiana who has lived in NYC for 15 years, I can tell you that I think it is about expectations. New Yorkers have extremely high expectations for perfect happiness... that they will get everything they want and that there's always a greener pasture, better job, better romantic partner, etc. Also, in NYC one is frequently confronted with wealth they can never hope to attain. I love living in NYC but it can be a challenge. In Louisiana, people are more realistic.

Dec. 30 2009 12:18 PM
Content

People move to New York from all over the world in search of dreams that won't make them happy. New York is a magnet for people who will be unhappy wherever they live.

Dec. 30 2009 12:18 PM
Mike from Manhattan

I was about to post the exact same point/question as David (12). How was the control performed?

Dec. 30 2009 12:18 PM
hjs from 11211

a few years back we were told americans are happier than europeans. now NYers are told we are the unhappiest americans.

thinking people are unhappy. stupid people are easy to keep happy!

Dec. 30 2009 12:17 PM
Ken from UWS

I've lived in NYC for 29 years. The irony is that while it's one of the only cities in the country where it's possible to live a full life without a car, the worst aspect of the city is its traffic -- what people really mean when they complain about "congestion" and "noise." The Bloomberg administration has been trying to reduce the number of cars and to open our streets to other users, but it's pretty tough when Albany has to sign off on pretty much any meaningful change.

Dec. 30 2009 12:16 PM
jodie from stockholm, sweden

native new yorker. living in stockholm, sweden for past 4 years. swedish public transportation will take one anywhere. in the greater stockholm area, to far suburbs, to the airport or connections with international trains. efficient, frequent, comfortable, safe, affordable, reliable regardless of weather (and there is a lot of ice and snow here).

this increases my happiness.

Dec. 30 2009 12:15 PM
Anon from Staten Island

If a study is done specific to NYC, it would be interesting to see if there is a difference between natives (or those who came here as children) and transplants (those who came as adults).

I am a transplant and was excited to move here. But after being here 10 years, I find I am disappointed and frequently unhappy. I am sure a lot of it stems from a long and stressful mass-transit commute. But a good bit can also be laid at the feet of the city's leaders. Too much of what has changed in the past decade is cosmetic and does nothing to improve underlying problems. Sure the new subway trains and stations LOOK good, but the service itself is degrading.

Recent years have seen a lot of improvement targeted at attracting tourism and business, but it comes at the expense of those who live here. Increasingly NYC is becoming a great place to visit or do business, but not so good to live in.

Dec. 30 2009 12:15 PM
David from Manhattan

If they "control" for income incorrectly, they will get an wrong result. For example, someone making $60,000 in Louisiana might have above-average income and live quite a nice life-style (and thus feel happy), whereas that same $60,000 income in Manhattan might be able to afford only a 700 square foot apartments and be pretty unhappy about that.

Dec. 30 2009 12:14 PM
nkbah from harlem

i've lived in nyc my whole life (25 years) and i think it's time to leave. new york smells like cigarettes and exhaust. If you're a woman it's likely you get sexually harassed everyday just walking down the street. new york is too expensive and too crowded. i'm going away to grad school and i may never come back.

Dec. 30 2009 12:14 PM
michael from new york

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know." Ernest Hemingway

Dec. 30 2009 12:12 PM
Chris from Long Island City

Couldn't the fact that New Yorkers are more likely to openly complain about their environment and the daily struggles of life be the real reason for these results?

If New Yorkers are so unhappy, why do so many individuals continue to come here?

Dec. 30 2009 12:10 PM
B. from NYC

When I first saw this story in the NY Times last week, my first reaction was that I would like to seem the study sample and responses broken down. For more detail.

The responses here cry out for a breakdown. First thing I noticed was the dissatisfaction expressed by non-native NYers. Next was that bit about a simple black and white view. Yeah. If only. Trouble is that I could easily propose that the world is afflicted with simplistic views and these are the people that are making the rest of us miserable. Blowing up buildings and people, for instance.

Dec. 30 2009 12:08 PM
phyllis

People are overwhelmingly inconsiderate of others.

Dec. 30 2009 12:08 PM
Gabrielle from brooklyn

I live in Brooklyn, work in Manhattan, and grew up on Long Island.

I find that living right on top of people all the time makes me a bit cranky. The population count can be a bit much but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the US.

I go back to Long Island to visit my family and find suburbia too sprawling and isolating. Brooklyn offers a nice in-between with the wider streets and more of a neighborhood vibe but still, sharing the sidewalk with people who crowd it can be a bit taxing.

Dec. 30 2009 09:55 AM
yvette from New York

Originally from Europe, but having lived in NYC for 31 years, I have a dual sensibility about both environments. Though I could not live anywhere but New York, I often realize I may have lost a healthy sense of 'other' priorities in life. My daughter just came back to NY after a 7 year stint in Europe and is more astutely aware of the unhappiness in NYC, she's been noticing it since her return. Having grown up here in Greenwich Village, she constantly remarks how NYers seem more depressed and how so many people seem unhappy, compared to life prior to her departure. I see some of that through her eyes, and some of it through my own - experiencing both societies. We may have NY energy and focus about us, but it does not necessarily make for happiness.

Dec. 30 2009 09:39 AM
Jeffrey Slott from East Elmhurst

No surprise to me. I moved from Philadelphia to New York City almost 10 years ago. I absolutely despise it here. The only reason I continue to stay is because of my "marriage". If my girlfriend broke up with me, I'd be out of here like the proverbial bat-out-of-hell.
I sincerely believe that it is simply not mentally sound for most human beings to live in a place that is over-populated and too large. Our brains are -inherently- unable to properly deal with the constant stimuli, distances, social politics, etc, that these types of arrangements impose. Sure, there are exceptions; most people do not have the emotional wherewithal to dive out of an airplane but obviously there are a few who can.
There should be a limit on how big a city or town should be.

Dec. 30 2009 09:10 AM
desdemona finch from Brooklyn

Then again, I just read a story on this study, which ranks Louisiana, Florida and Tennessee at the top. I think I'd rather be "unhappy." I'd rather have New York weather than sweat to death in Louisiana and Florida. Besides, who wants to live under those political systems? Are they democratic? I wonder.

Dec. 30 2009 09:07 AM
desdemona finch from Brooklyn

Perhaps, it has something to do with the economy being devastated first by 9/11 and second by the fall of Wall Street. It's hell on earth economically. If you can get a job and relatively reasonably priced place to live, life is a lot better.

But over the past 10 years, even the basics have been difficult to cover. I hadn't seen the inside of an unemployment office until after I had arrived in NYC with a newly-minted graduate degree and had some fairly impressive work experience.

I labored under the delusion that life would get easier. A decade later, I'm no better off, unfortunately. Probably worse off. If 9/11 and the economic meltdown hadn't happened, i suspect that wouldn't be the case as much.

I've got friends elsewhere who don't understand. They expect to obtain employment and find affordable places to live fairly easily. NYC makes Washington, D.C., where I used to live, look like a walk in the park.

But the adversity does have an upside: it makes you more resilient and stronger. I can take solace in the thought that it can't get any worse. At least, I hope not. A cardboard box wouldn't suit me as an abode.

Dec. 30 2009 09:01 AM
Peter from Central New Jersey

Freakonomics had been following this topic in spring of 2008. Apparently seeing things in black and white , in otherwords being certain about everything is what makes you happy. I believe it is a less thoughtful person who sees things that way, shades of gray involve a bit of scrutiny. Just my opinion. BTW I work for government and see the political workings of right and left.

I am also contemplating a move to the sunbelt in the southwest. What will happen if others of my ilk move there and change the pool of people into those less certain of everything?

Dec. 30 2009 08:03 AM

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