"Happiness: The True Measure of a Successful Society" | Talks at Google

thanks everybody for coming my name is Andrew Rubin I work for NYU Langone health I'm the vice president of clinical affairs for the Health System basically that means I run their outpatient clinical operations I also host a weekly radio show on Sirius XM called healthcare connect I'm really excited to be here today I was asked by a good friend of mine from the Danish consulate in New York to host moderate panel on happiness which i think is a topic that everybody in this room wants to hear more about and I think that the the team at the consulate put together probably one of the best panels you could ever find probably in the world to talk about it so I'm gonna I'm gonna introduce people and I'm gonna start with Jeff Sachs who personally I've never actually met but it's a privilege to get to meet today because he's pretty much at the forefront of many things and sustainable development economic policy he's the director for sustainable development at the earth Institute at Columbia University he is a university professor at Columbia University and for people who work for academia that's pretty much the highest rank you can have as a professor in the world certainly certainly at Columbia as well and he's a special adviser at the United Nations and he's known as a world leader in economic and sustainable development am i right here this guy's pretty cool what can I do Mike he has a very interesting background he's the founder and CEO of the happiness right so who gets to spend all their day running a foundation where you're talking about being happy this guy does and to prove it he is a New York Times bestselling author who wrote I had to practice this actually I did have to practice this wrote a book it's called The Little Book of hygge and if you're Danish you can make it sound much better than I just did but it hygge is essentially a form of happiness I'm going to let him explain it to you and I'm excited to tell you I'm getting autographed copy on the way out there's some books on the table on the way out so I encourage you all to pick it up it's printed in 30 languages around the world million copies it's a it's it's a it's a pretty cool book and then I know this is Google but I still use no cards I'm sorry they offered me an iPad they just don't they don't work in this form last is Catalina Seneca she is a project director for the health and happiness studies at the Leo Innovation Lab we have a lot of guests again on my left from the Leo Innovation Lab it's a part of an organization which is part of the Leo Foundation which is a very large philanthropic organization based in Denmark they fund a lot of research in healthcare they are independent of Leo Pharmaceuticals which is a huge derma to logic form a suitable company in Denmark around the world and they their mission I'm gonna I'm gonna let Catalina talk a little bit more about that but let's just get started and I'm gonna start with you Mike because I think this is a question it's not as obvious to everybody as it sounds but you know what is happiness how do we define happiness and who better than you to answer that question so I think one useful definition of happiness is the experience of joy contentment satisfaction with life combined with the sense that our life is good worthwhile and meaningful now as of course a very wide definition and complex so usually what we do when we work with happiness is we break it down and look at the different components that happiness consists of and it's also what we do with other complex phenomenons if we talk about how is the US economy doing we also break that down and look at different components we talk about GDP we talk about growth we talk about inflation unemployment rates and that gives us a language to talk about how is the US economy doing so that's also what we need to do with happiness so when we look at happiness we look at sort of overall life satisfaction to step back looking at your life considering the worst possible life you could live the best possible life you could live and where you feel you stand right now another dimension is what kind of emotions do people experience on a daily basis both positive and negative ones and thirdly there is a dimension that sort of covers what Aristotle believed the good life was and he believed the good life was the meaningful life so that that gives us the ability to to sort of dissect happiness and and all of those things are of course very subjective and I think that's not a challenge that's a good thing we study other phenomenons that are subjective we study depressing depression we study stress we study loneliness all of those things about how we as individuals experience the world so the same way with happiness and I don't think it's more difficult to study positive emotions compared to negative emotions and also I mean to me the only person here that can tells us whether Catalina is happy or not is Catalina so it is a metric that is person centric or patient centric that allows Catalina's view on her life to be the core of what we're trying to understand so Jeff why are we talking about this now I mean it's it's I know the UN has you which are a co-author on puts out a world report on happiness for many years Denmark was was number one on the list I think you slipped in number two this year still a very good ranking considering the the US continually Falls towards the bottom why are we talking about this and and how are we even measuring something like this well we've been talking about happiness for at least two thousand three hundred years since Aristotle wrote Nicomachean ethics where he said demonio or happiness is is the highest goal of individuals and he wrote another book very good book called the politics where he said abdomen he is the highest goal of our community life also that's what politics should be about let me ask you as politics making you happy these days or is it making you incredibly depressed it's making me probably crazy at this point and that was one of the insights of Aristotle that your well-being depends on your social conditions not only your personal income and personal conditions but whether your president is a nut or whether the government is honest or corrupt or other things like that so talking about happiness is a quite natural thing but for a hundred years especially in this country we stop talking about happiness and we talked instead about gross domestic product we talked about money and the assumption was at various levels of sophistication from unbelievably crude to a little more sophisticated that your money was the measure of your happiness and that has been American culture as well then it was noted around 1984 by a very pioneering professor at Penn Richard Easterlin that when people were asked about their happiness compared to their per capita incomes the u.s. had been increasing per capita income for decades but didn't seem like happiness was rising and that basic idea is what motivates the kinds of studies that are underway that we have to get beyond money is the measure of all things and in the United States it's pretty clear we have declining happiness and rising income at the same time so there's a real puzzle and challenge in this country and more generally it's pretty clear what the inventor of gross domestic product said repeatedly was one of my teachers also Simon Kuznets Nobel laureate it's not a measure of well-being stop it stop using and it's a measure of economic output it's not a measure of well-being but we're obsessed in our country we'll GDP rise three point one percent or two point nine percent and so we've gone a little mad in the United States way overboard on this and we haven't asked about happiness well it turns out you can ask about happiness you ask are you happy and you do that with various levels of sophistication and you find out all sorts of interesting things so that's why was it when you find out and I'm sorry I was gonna hold I have a question for you but when you find out the answer to that question in this UN report that Americans are actually not happy and Danes are relatively speaking much happier what do you do about that I mean to me the data is great the reports extremely useful but what are we going to do with that I mean it can't be as simple as getting a new president well now I'm happy now we're talking I was topical I was a song ok Gallup has done a really wonderful job over the last dozen years or so of doing an annual survey and they asked a very specific question that Mike referred to it's called the Cantrell ladder so the question which each of you can now take in your minds is imagine that life is a ladder and the zero rung on the ladder is the worst life you can imagine for yourself and the top rung the tenth rung is the best life you can imagine for yourself where do you stand on that ladder of life so Gallup does that question asked that question to about a thousand people each in 150 countries so about 150 thousand people and we report that once a year and that's where Denmark's always at or near the top and the social democratic countries of northern Europe are always at the top the United States is by no means at the bottom we are 19th in the ranking out of 150 countries this year for the us these days hey that's pretty good we're still in the top 20 maybe not for long but we're still in the top 20 but we've been going down and clearly the mood is bad and we also found this year by the way that tabulating mood which is were you worried yesterday were you anxious yesterday were you angry yesterday that is soaring in the world right now over the last 10 years that's really about the most alarming finding of the report in my view of this year so each year we do an analysis what accounts for this ranking can we find the correlates can we find the variables that seem to explain the differences and that's where something can be done John Halliwell professor at university British Columbia leads that analysis each year does a wonderful job and very new speaking you know very succinctly I hope I the factors that count are your per capita income that definitely matters higher income better but with what we call a declining marginal utility of income more and more doesn't help that much after a certain point second is your health both mental and physical third is your social support you have friends by the way Aristotle chapter 8 Nicomachean ethics 2,300 years ago we said have friends to be happy smart man a good advice that makes a big big difference fourth do you feel you have your life in your hands that you have the freedom to make important life decisions on a fifth are you and is your society generous so various indicators of generosity sixth can you trust your government is it corrupt or is it honest one of the reasons why Denmark rate so high is that Danish people trust their government and I would say the government delivers and I was saying earlier that to my mind the metric of this if you've watched the wonderful television series Borgan which was the house of cards version for Denmark of Danish politics the worst thing that happens in Borgen is that the Prime Minister uses his office credit card for a personal expense he he ends up losing office whereas of course in house of cards the president among many other things pushes the young reporter in front of a train which as Donald Trump already said he could do in broad daylight someone on Fifth Avenue when his supporters no doubt would love him for it so that's the difference of politics we don't like our government very much it's pretty clear in the data where the Danes like the government and they're happy about it and I'm unhappy about it so that's that's so when you ask what can you do about it probably the main message of this study is that social democracy is really a good system it provides security it provides a measure of decency it keeps inequalities low and America's winner-take-all money's everything society is really going overboard catallena you have done a lot of research on patients living with chronic conditions so based on you know what you've just heard from from Jeff and Mike how do you think how would you define happiness how would the people you study define their happiness knowing that they're facing potentially huge obstacles in their life and I think the data that you're going to talk about shows some some pretty interesting results I think there are two layers to to this answer because from individual perspective health is a massive driver of happiness so if you have to live with a chronic condition and in our case we started with Dermatology conditions like psoriasis or eczema your happiness is defined by how you manage your condition and the impact that condition has on your everyday living so we see that stress loneliness are really impacted by living with with a skin condition and it is definitely having a big impact on your mental health but I think what is interesting in our work is that like you said I work for for an Innovation Lab within a pharma company and healthcare systems don't like subjective you know they don't care if Catalina is unhappy I will say your blood pressure is fine go away so we like objective stuff what we do we want to actually challenge that and say get inspired by the work of our own happiness and say what if we apply in health care what are we going to learn and to give you an example and think about how you would answer this question a clinically driven quality of life survey for people living with but a skin condition will ask the question has your skin impacted your leisure or social activities in the last four weeks or if you look at overall well-being methodologies you will ask have you felt alone or are you lacking companionship which actually breaks down the this kind of focus on has your skin or your diabetes or other chronic condition has an impact on your on your life or just trying to understand people's lives and then analyze the data and see what is income and what is living with a chronic condition or the power of your of your community and that that will in that way we actually challenge the way we look at classic health related measures and we want to bring happiness related measures into healthcare you know being in in a u.s. audience you can imagine a lot of people might be confused why a pharmaceutical company as you described would be because it's not its litleo Innovation Lab is actually separate from the pharmaceutical company but why are why are why is the foundation doing this kind of work what's what's the goal of this of this group and is this something that you're going to be trying to apply it other conditions in us a big problem mental health addiction areas where our population here in the United States is struggling is is there a role for this and and and what is the foundation actually trying to do I think it would be great if you know we will start looking at health care policies the same way were subtly looking at other policies and actually bring these well-being measures to influence our decisions our our work so it's kind of like you said you know I am part of the Innovation Lab and because we are owned by a pharma company who is under Leo Foundation like mentioned we are quite lucky because we really have a patient centric approach and we can look for the long term investment not the immediate investment so that's one factor the other factor is that my boss is here so I have to be careful with this answer it is that funny enough our project started as a small internal exercise because we focused in your innovation up in what you would call developing digital therapeutics so we're looking for measures of how we can measure the impact of our specific digital projects on the well-being of people living with chronic conditions and that's how we ended up developing this this project but as I said because we are very much focused on doing what's right for the patient's we saw the potential of the project and we just say okay let's see if we can publish our own world happiness report for people living with psoriasis and then start from there and what we're trying to do now is actually set up an independent foundation that is going to take this work further and we advocate for looking at the health of people in a different way and bringing well-being you know the scariest objective stuff into how we manage health or you can say Mike one of the reasons one I'm excited about the the studies also that we're starting to use happiness metrics within healthcare yeah and I think one of the issues we have in a lot of countries is that we've been using the wrong metrics that leaves two wrong decisions and wrong priorities and I think that's why we see in a lot of countries that we have gotten richer without getting happier and I think the core question now not just for the US but also for countries like Denmark is how do we convert wealth into well-being how do we invest into quality of life and I think we get some answers where we start to map inequalities in well-being so the world happiness report usually focuses on the average national averages and usually Denmark and the unloader countries come out on top when we look at a national average but the 2016 report I was really happy with because for the first time there was a global ranking looking at the distribution in well-being the inequality in well-being and I think that's where we need to address challenges in the coming years to bridge the happiness gap we've seen a lot of countries because obviously if you have a disease you are less happy than the average citizen in that given country but why do we see so large variations in that happiness gap when we look at a specific certain disease I think that's where the study is really exciting what would what would it looked like in this country to you and I'm setting you up because I saw an interview that you had done where you said someone asked you what would America look like if as compared with Denmark some of these concepts and you give an interesting answer I'm gonna see if you get I'm going to tell you which I'm not sure which which answered was but maybe I said something like what you said was imagine Bernie Sanders right yeah as your president that's what that's what some of the concepts you're describing would look like in distribution of income distribution of healthcare services and things of that nature so maybe was a good point by the way could I jump in just wrong because I think maybe what I said and this might have to be edited out but I think I said Denmark is is Bernie Sanders wet dream yeah and in Denmark it's interesting to see because here Bernie Sanders is progressive he's a socialist in a o'seas a socialist in Denmark their common sense they're not progressives they are talking sense and also in a probably in the same interview at least a lot of merit American journalists will ask me you know how can you be so happy in the Nordic countries you pay so high taxes and say maybe we are happy because we're paying a lot in tax because nine out of ten Danes will say we're happy to pay our taxes because we see them as investments in quality of life we see them as investments in health care in mental health care in great infrastructure in education that brings happiness to citizens and I think it's interesting to look at the average relationship there is as Jeff described before between GDP per capita and happiness and there is those diminishing marginal returns but there is also countries that are above the line countries that are relatively good at converting the wealth into well-being Denmark has a lower GDP per capita than the US but higher happiness levels because there is investment in healthcare in mental health care in infrastructure in education so that I mean I get it Bernie Sanders is more than welcome yeah Jeff what were you gonna say it's exactly right every word you said our discussion in the United States is really messed up in part because we have really nasty people leading it like the president I'll leave him aside but Rupert Murdoch and the business press so The Wall Street Journal is a really deranged newspaper and today you'd brand another story Bernie Sanders create socialism what a socialism mean Venezuela this is this is the meme of this election cycle it shows how we're living in a kindergarten world by the way these people are idiots I'm sorry to say their their level of knowledge is infantile but Bernie Sanders represents basically mainstream social democratic ideas so you put Bernie Sanders in Denmark like you said it's completely the mainstream is it Venezuela no it's not Venezuela by the way the United States is trying to destroy Venezuela probably as a campaign prop so it's not just that Venezuela is collapsing the United States has put every sanction possible closing grabbing reserves and so forth I know I'm taking us away from this just a little bit but but the real but but the reason is we're in a mind game in this country where the richest nastiest people are trying to tell the American people you will not be happy do not be fooled having guaranteed health care that would make you unhappy do not be fooled having access to quality education that would not make you happy do not be fooled that's the route to disaster and what Bernie Sanders is these are one politician in this country that just speaks mainstream social democracy which is the mainstream of Scandinavia which is the mainstream of why Scandinavian countries are so happy because life is not insecure everyday because people aren't at the edge of falling off the cliff because if you've had an experience like I did when I had an eyelash stuck I had to go into duck into a clinic in Sweden a couple of years ago when they plucked out whatever they had to do and and I said where do I sign my insurance no no no it's free go go don't worry it's a different kind of life it's not anxiety that you're just rubbish or you're disposable or your anxieties are your own problem don't bother us I'm mr. Trump don't bother us don't bother me I'm in it to make money for my family this is how our politics are so terribly distorted right now and why this is a very relevant discussion because unhappiness is coming from high inequality from a lot of anxiety from poor people not being taken care of at all in fact toll literally go away we don't want you there's no room and of course it's making everyone really very high anxiety and we have many many symptoms of it rising suicide rates rising depressive disorder rising addiction rates it's actually not just a footnote right now it's a serious matter but what bothers me is how the truth is so Infant highly distorted now by the uber-rich mega rich nasty right wing in this country and that's where we're really falling down and where we really have a big crisis anyway Bernie's the only one that gets it really right but it's completely mainstream so the under appeal will talk to the Google team on the way out yeah well you know we'll debate Bernie's health care platform and it different oh I've had I'm ready to debate it right now if you want medicare-for-all exactly right so just in case anyone has any questions about that and so am i but we're not going to do that all right because it'll take away from the happiness I think it would raise it no certainly certainly we would we would both fully agree and I know you've studied this having read a lot about you that finding middle ground is how consensus building and finding a middle ground Obama care other things like that or how you actually move an agenda forward one comment because I think health inequality is a very important subject no matter the country oh great I live in London you know we have NHS it's free for everybody but we still see that you know patients or people living with chronic conditions are not necessarily happy and we have to understand and from now our data you know living in Denmark if you have psoriasis is not going to make you happy actually and we have a modest start we have 21 countries in our own happiness report and actually Denmark and Norway are mid-table UK is next to the bottom you know it's really hard to live with a chronic condition like psoriasis or eczema in in the UK and we have to ask the question why you know actually people living in Mexico could you substitute any illness do you think from the data from that or you think it's unique it has to run it has to run you know specific research for specific chronic conditions we do know that it creates inequality regardless the chronic condition will event is that what we call happiness gaps that are that are different but it's definitely a very good question to ask I know and actually challenge the systems why is it that you know if you live with a chronic condition in in Denmark or rather happy country otherwise you feel isolated it's almost like you know the long tail that it gets very long and we kind of like lose people in the society to their to their illness you also see a difference between men and within those countries as we massive which is which is very interesting because we actually learn and this is kind of like going to closer from the government to the health institutions like what what actually you know trying to do to understand well-being we talk a lot about preventative medicine these days but we're kind of and when we talk about well-being we're all thinking of gym and diet and that's it you know and cool gadgets but we're not thinking about you know well-being as a holistic definition of your life what you do with your with your health and with your social health and all the aspects so it's it's very important to say okay so let's start looking at it and ask the questions and the same way the world happiness report ask questions and say why why are women much less unhappy than men when they live with a chronic condition is it because the you know the classic pressures you have to look pretty you have to look good all the time is it because we actually react differently we were talking about but at the beginning about you know the the positive and the negative effects that you have in research of well-being and we see that women are much more responsive to the negatives but our you know 99% of media talks about how you should be positive and how you should focus on the three steps to whatever achieve happiness while the data actually shows that for women living with a chronic condition will be probably more effective to acknowledge that you will feel down and stressed and your self-esteem is going to be affected this is how you can manage it better and by the way it is true from all the dial is that men are most affected by pain that's what I know yeah yeah you know all the emotional stuff if it's pain it's really bad I thought another interesting pattern in in the data was one explanation for four for happiness gaps so when when patients are severely less happy than the average citizen we could see if patients felt their doctor didn't fully understand the mental impact psoriasis have on their well-being there was a happiness gap of 21% yet if the doctor understands the mental impact then the happiness gap was only 3% and I think this is one of the reasons why I really like happiness metrics is that it I think honors the definition of health that the World Health Organization is using so health is not just the absence of disease but health is good physical mental and social well-being and I think we address that and we capture that with happiness metrics and also coming back to what you said earlier across different diseases I think that's the real strength of happiness metrics like the Cantrell ladder that we can use it as a common currency to look across different diseases and see how do we address the different happiness gaps that we see one of the things we know also from the data is that people with mental illness problems do not get treatment period maybe only a quarter or a third in the US actually will find their way to professional treatment and worldwide it's absolutely a dismal dismal the low proportion and the way that healthcare is delivered here is it's delivered for specific symptoms for specific diseases for specific events not a holistic a holistic approach to life so if you're in a poor community in in this city you may have many many social challenges that will never be attended to you may find your way to an emergency room fairly frequently and have an acute episode addressed but the underlying human needs are not addressed and we don't have a health care system that actually builds out something more holistically by design it's very much an intervention based specific acute response system yeah that's my favorite insight from the from the report and you're absolutely right even you know in England they'll tell you you don't you feel a to be sad go have a tea come back in two weeks that's the pretty much treatment but it's presented you know but the insights from our health and happiness studies for a couple of years now and every time I talk about if people think that their doctor understands the impact a chronic condition has on their mental health they're going to be happier the reaction I get from the doctor is like but it's not my job to make them happy my job is to treat them so it is it is it is as I said a very big challenge to the system if we're are serious you know about getting more holistic and more wealth being led and not just disease leads that is that will require a massive change is not only about the health care you know the hospitals but it's also your community social services we have in Europe so we you know here in the United States we we had to take a pause for the past two years we you know the the previous government previous administration probably not in the most articulate way did launch attempt to launch a massive transformation of our health care system in the United States and it was starting to take hold with all the inherent inefficiencies of something so massive in the United States our health care systems twenty percent of the close to twenty percent of the economy so twenty cents of every dollar it's not spent on you know fuel or food it spent on health care that so that's a lot so you know Obama care electronic record transformation there's a lot of new things happening in this country and candidly we've lost the past two years of momentum and and we have two more years to get through hopefully until there'll be an opportunity to start this back up but everything jeff has said and your about you know what our doctors are actually able to do I mean we put so much pressure on them to you know see as many patients as they can through the day that we don't give them time you don't give that I'm the administrator I'm the bad guy I don't give them time to ask that question are you happy what can I do for you today other than treat this underlying diagnosis and then send you on your way because the next patients in the room and I got to go see them you know they're the promise of health care reform in this country was to change some of that and it stopped it's just you know all these pilot innovation projects the government sponsor is New York State some of the largest innovation projects in the country are in New York State in California and they're going they're literally going nowhere unfortunately so again a healthcare is we've lost the momentum and we're gonna have to see how this plays out over time we certainly have the infrastructure in place and I know many many Danes and and and people from London who still view our healthcare we certainly have some of the best technology in the world many European physicians you know come to the United States to do their research more healthcare research is done in the United States than any other place in the world combined so there are a lot of good things about our healthcare system but we we've lost our we've certainly lost our way I think you raised a very good point that's also worth worth discussing which is we've talked about happiness in the context of doctor and a patient there's happiness generally in work and some places are happy happy places to work I hope that's true where we are and some places are quite miserable places to work and since we spend a lot of time in in work per day that's a big deal so all of these metrics and this evidence is actually something for work organization as well my wife's a physician and at one point several years ago when the university practice she was in they put a kind of time in motion person to follow her around I don't do that to determine that it was eight minutes per patient and how many times to the restroom and to go to the lab and so she quit it was so unpleasant so deep deep professionalizing they were told these are not patients they're your clients now is really bizarre but it was as a more general point that when we look at happiness it's not only a direct indicator to Minister of Finance or something but it is how healthcare is organized it's what how our kids are in school what they learn what what the classroom is like it's actually specific mind training meditation or mindfulness or compassion training and so forth that can make a big difference how a workplace is organized how a city by the way is designed so that people can be together I know in New York were just the luckiest in the world to be able to be in a wonderful city where you walk you see outdoor cafes you have Central Park this is a fantastic part of our well-being in this city and some cities are so polluted dangerous to walk no sidewalks no green of course people are going to be incredibly unhappy and when you're in Copenhagen it's incredible how the city has been reclaimed has reclaimed itself from the automobile so now it's a walking it's walking everywhere and by the way the density of coffee shops in Copenhagen is like I've never seen before because every block is at least three or four coffee shops which to my mind is a definition of happiness almost almost tautologically but it does mean we should be thinking about this in all of these different aspects of our social organization we spend 20% of our GDP on coffee so a lot of things we've only been talking about that the one way of the relationship between health and happiness because you say why should the doctors care whether they're happy or not they should because we can see it also impacts longevity when we look at longitudinal studies where we follow people over time and there's a lot of studies on this we can see that people that are happier also have a lower mortality rate even when we control for health status and a lot of other factors from the beginning of the study and I completely agree with with with what Jeff is saying in terms of for example urban design I mean happiness metrics when we know what we know from happiness research the questions are how do we design our health care systems differently how do we design our policies differently how do we sign workplaces differently in our cities differently I have a very similar experience to what you do in terms of how urban planning impacts happiness and one of the cities that invests a lot in infrastructure but forget to invest in infrastructure for people but only for cars in my experience was Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia I was there a couple of years ago and I was staying 200 metres from the Botanical Garden and I wanted to go over there you couldn't and gave up halfway because there is no pavement and and so you invest to create cities for cars and not people and what you're essentially telling your citizens is that if you do not own a car you are a second-rate citizen now what I like about Copenhagen where the majority of people cycle to work majority of students cycle to university majority of all so the cost of bone but also the real-life politicians cycle Department the reason they do that is there is investment in infrastructure for pedestrians for cyclists that feel that makes you feel like you're king and queen of the road that's what it it needs to get done in terms to create a city with high mobility I'd be remiss if I didn't put this question out to all three of you with the few minutes that I have left technology were at Google right the center of the the technology universe the I believe it was a UN World Health Report happiness report but certainly mature as I've read has said that technology has had a negative impact on the happiness of children in this country thoughts on that we have a chapter in this year's report which is putting forward that as a as an important hypothesis I would say it's unsettled I've received a lot of responses to that it's not my article but in in the volume but definitely for this was looking at adolescence what we know in the United States is from around 2009 onward there is a real epidemic of depression and nobody knows exactly what this is coming from but one hypothesis is that that's when the iPhone came and what is clear in the data is of course our lives have been changed unbelievably in how we spend our day and the data from this sample of young people was something like eight hours a day of screen time on digital devices sleep collapsing time with friends collapsing and so having friends is doing this basically you're online with your friends perhaps but not really interacting with them face to face I don't know it's it's a very big deal because the digital revolution is the biggest change on our planet I don't think any of us has ever experienced anything like this you walk down the street you realize it is a completely fundamental change to how we live our lives every single person's carrying their phone or with headphones or somehow plugged in within 10 years so is this good is it really working are we creating addictions is this serving our humanity or not I don't know you guys are in the forefront of it you you need to really study this it's no good just to get faces on the screen to sell advertising this is a disaster we have to know whether this is really good potentially it ought to open up lots of things for us but is it really the way we're doing it I don't think we know where we're actually working right now on a report on digital well-being which will come out in the fall and also because we've been interesting and interested and concerned and I think what we'll find is probably also that how we use technology has different impacts if we use technology to become addicted to you know lose sleep if we use technology to become jealous of the wonderful lives that all my friends are living on Facebook then obviously that will have a negative impact on how I evaluate my life if we use technology to connect if we use technology to connect across geography across generations then there might be hope for technology and and well-being and also further down the line at one point we'll get to a a level where artificial intelligence and emotional intelligence maybe will help us produce early detection when it comes to suicide if my phone can pick up when I'm depressed or if FaceTime can pick up certain muscles in in my face that show signs of sadness or or suicidal thoughts combined with me googling suicide methods and so on I think that area is super interested in in mental health technology to to maybe not improve happiness but to reduce misery for for those that are struggling with life interesting debate I had so we're gonna open this up for to the audience if there are any questions so actually have a first of all great stuff and to be clear I'm a believer I think where you guys are doing is this is great but I have a bit of a challenge for you which is um I feel a little bit unsettled being here in the audience that this feels mildly self congratulatory in as much as most of the people in this audience certainly the Googlers you've got really good health insurance there's free food right out there that any of us could go and eat I wonder if you guys have thoughts of how to make this conversation more inclusive in the sense of people who actually work in the cafeteria and who are working at the security desk that they're not in this room and how to you know bring everybody into it and let everyone benefit from it actually because I'm an optimist of Technology I think technology will help bring everybody into this conversation to start with and I know it's a it's a system problem but I think it's also becoming aware of the differences we have in income or health status or all the biases that we can get from from technology usage and actually make sure that everybody's voice is hard for me technology actually helps us talk to people who suffer from different illnesses that normally wouldn't engage and actually social media is helping us reach people who wouldn't otherwise share their stories and we get to really learn and really again kind of challenged the status quo what we think is healthy or happy or what are your problems when you live with with a condition by trying to to bring everybody's voices to the table I think it is the essence of one approach to life that society should be inclusive for everybody that's not the libertarian idea that's not the the American idea right now but in Denmark or many other countries everybody has the guarantees that allow the inclusion at least in a material sense everybody has decent pay everybody has vacation time we don't have one day of guaranteed vacation time in the United States other than federal holidays but paid vacation is normal in Northern Europe and in the United States non-existent as a right and so I think this question that you're asking is really a very basic and important one which is what does it mean to be inclusive in the United States in theory inclusive means you're on your own so good luck and if you make it that's great and if not that's tough but don't bother me I think what we are all saying is it's not really a way to make anybody happy to have such a an unequal high stress society that would have you ask a question a very valid question like that yeah but that is our society it's not an inclusive society thank you so much for coming here and speaking with us today a lot of the things themes you guys talked about today around happiness have to do with public policy politics urban planning health care as individuals what's one thing that we can do to increase happiness for ourselves and then what's one thing that we can do to increase happiness for others besides moving to Denmark Mike this is definitely your question I think Aristotle or Geoff said it earlier friends I mean I think one of the clearest most consistent patterns we see in the data is the importance of our relationships loved ones friends family and that's also what you can do for others you know be a good friend connect with people I think in the world happen to support one of the questions collected by Gallup is do you have somebody in your life you can rely on in times of need yes or no that's a very sort of very simple question you can also use the UCLA loneliness scale twenty different questions that tries to capture what loneliness is but I think connecting with other people creating strong communities creating social fabric caring about the ones that are at the low end of the cantrell ladder understanding that perhaps we should focus our efforts on where well-being is most scarce being somebody else this is the person you they can rely on in times of need I think that would be my my best universal advice what to do for yourself and what to do for the others is the same be nice give something giving something is actually proven to be enormous ly effective and raising your own feelings of well-being and doesn't hurt the receiver either so I think that it's really a powerful powerful antidote to the kind of aggressive and and individualistic social and cultural attitudes that are pernicious and that have gotten out of hand so we're gonna have to stop here I do I'm sure we could talk for hours and answer hundreds of questions but Jeff Catalina Mike thank you a really good discussion I'm Andrew Reuben thanks for joining us [Applause] you

  1. I recognize the moderator, he has a SiriusXM radio show on healthcare every week. https://twitter.com/RubinHealth

  2. As a wholistic health care professional, specializing in nutrition, happiness is key. Nutrition also referred to as nourishment, is a hub for social interaction and we have forfeited this behavior.Where is the place we interact directly with others? Happiness is evolving.

  3. Bang on about the Denmark benchmark all you want but the overlooked enabler for the Denmark miracle is a benevolent sovereign wealth fund set up generations ago that ultimately funds by comparison to other countries an extravagant social security system for a relatively small national land mass and population count. In any case, for similar reasons that eating disorders: Obesity/Bolemia/Anorexia have graduated to alarming incidence to eventually be deceitfully deemed as so called "diseases", the wash up being large chunks of lives unproductively are wasted by over analysing feelings and thus the epidemic "depression" but not least on such like topics are distinct for their predominant incurrence in the 1st world "secular material" godless nations so imilarly, the pursuit of "happiness" is just a subjective notion for which there can be no firm definition because what it takes to achieve the mental fortitude that is genuine "glass half full" and to that end perhaps able to turn a "prison into paradise" is not some magick trick that can simply be brought about by clicking the fingers so on and so forth therefore what's this discussion about, overcoming the "fake news" made by the "nasty right" and in broad strokes promoting a universal global wage, the cashless society vis a vis NWO global communist technocracy. So to evade the trap of falling for such feel good sophistry, the socialist lullabies covering for the socialist lies we need always be wary of the next big thing aka mass cult recruitment program being malevolently orchestrated by the nefarious deep pockets of the so called deep state & mindful that the quick fix gaslighting like that spouted by the undisclosed shills masquerading as independent on this video post will more likely always be a scam of sorts equal to snake oil salesmen or just a bunch of sharks advocating the next ponzi scheme such that in avoiding sucker punches aside……the gaining of Wisdom is a bi product of "living" life and there's no confidence like the confidence of "knowing" especially what it is that governs your own heart possibly being a gateway to the straightest path pursuit in "Life" mastery, which like any craft can be mastered perhaps by maximising "likes" and vice versa but not insignificantly impacted by limiting vices in times of excess or by resourcefully overcoming the black swan worst of times because Man has as many masters as he has vices thus Man, most noblest lives and most noblest dies is he who honours his own self made laws.

  4. Why Happiness is Overrated ? What About Pursing What is Meaningful regardless of Your Feelings ? Happiness is Impossible to Maintain. Morality and Truth are more Important Because they Give Meaning and Purpose..

  5. eudaimonia != happiness
    one can have eudaimonia while in extreme discomfort
    one cannot be 'happy' (according to how we commonly define happiness) under the same conditions

    it is eudaimonia that is one of the highest states one can aspire to reach; not happiness.

  6. Too bad everything is about delusionally extracting infinite profit from finite resources. Seeking happiness seems far more practical and useful to Humans.


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