Beyond Politics: Why Are We So Miserable, And How We Can Be Happier?

Something is wrong in America, and we’ve gotten so used to it, we don’t really talk about about, or not enough anyway. We are in a major happiness recession, and we have been for a long time. The highest proportion of Americans ever (80%) say they are satisfied with their family’s financial situation, while an all-time low reports being “very happy” in their lives (14%). Over the last 40 years, a median of 66% of Americans have told Gallup they were “dissatisfied.” In the decade or so before the pandemic sent our despair into overdrive, major depression was rapidly rising, the suicide rate was up 35%, drug use and death were skyrocketing, birth rates were down 23%, and Americans told Pew researchers that they had become deeply pessimistic about the future.

Our guest today, Catherine Sanderson, has become a widely cited author for her contributions on positive thinking and achieving better parenting, happier aging, and more courage in our lives. Dr. Sanderson is the POLER Family Professor and Chair of Psychology at Amherst College. In 2012, she was named one of the country’s top 300 professors by the Princeton Review. Her talks have been featured in numerous mainstream media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, USA Today, The Atlantic, CNN, and CBS Sunday Morning.