Happiness, usually interpreted as subjective well being / emotional well being or alternatively life satisfaction/ life evaluation, is an elaborate subject with many aspects, a long history and is the subject of much research and publications (see below). A lot of the researchers are organized in the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies. The long standing debate about the influence of wealth on happiness seems to depend on the definition: according to a recent study relative wealth affects life evaluation, but has little effect on emotional well being. Aggregate happiness can probably rise in proportion to the number of people and the time they live (probably not linearly), while the relative status in the society would scale much less so. Status, however, would be expected to be selected for in competitive reproduction while happiness in excess might be selected against, as it could reduce motivation to secure conditions on life, which makes us likely to have an inherent motivation to seek status and less easily to feel happy.
Existence of individuals who can experience is a necessary precondition for happiness.
Creating conditions for as many individuals as possible to exist on earth therefore goes a long way towards maximizing happiness. That does not yet require to make assumptions on how each individual achieves happiness. It would seem to be a motive shared across different cultures and beliefs.
Happiness has value. My own and others' happiness. Let us value happiness and try to create the most of it. The amount of happiness increases as long as there are self-aware beings alive. Let us help to find ways for civilizations to continue. The better these civilizations are at helping the individuals be happy and the less distress they cause, the better of course. To determine that, however, requires assumptions on how such civilizations function or how they should be organized, which even in the present is a rather contested subject with many aspects. No matter how civilizations function, to contribute to creating the most happiness, they must allow life to continue. Therefore the focus of milliongenerations.org is on the ability of continuation, by looking what follows from the assumption that there is at least one civilization on planet earth in a billion years that evolved from currently existing human civilization(s).
- Ed Diener: Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth (2008) and International Differences in Well-Being (2010)
- Daniel Gilbert: Stumbling on Happiness
- François Lelord: Le voyage d'Hector ou la recherche du bonheur
- Martin Seligman: Positive Psychology