Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals

Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals
By Dennis Prager

According to polls -- Pew Research Center, the National Science Foundation -- and studies such as Professor Arthur Brooks' Gross National Happiness, conservative Americans are happier than liberal Americans.

Liberals respond this way: "If we're unhappier, it's because we are more upset than conservatives over the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves."

But common sense and data suggest other explanations.

For one thing, conservatives on the same socioeconomic level as liberals give more charity and volunteer more time than do liberals. And as regards the suffering of non-Americans, for at least a half-century, conservatives have been far more willing to sacrifice American treasure and American blood (often their own) for other nations' liberty.

Both of these facts refute the liberals-are-more-concerned-about-others explanation for liberal unhappiness.

So, let's look at other explanations.

Perhaps we are posing the question backward when we ask why liberals are less happy than conservatives. The question implies that liberalism causes unhappiness. And while this is true, it may be equally correct to say that unhappy people are more likely to adopt leftist positions.

Take black Americans, for example. It makes perfect sense that a black American who is essentially happy is going to be less attracted to the left. Anyone who has interacted with black conservatives rarely encounters an angry, unhappy person.


Because the liberal view on race is that America is a racist society. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, a black American must abandon liberalism in order to be a happy individual. It is very hard, if not impossible, to be a happy person while believing that society is out to hurt you. So, the unhappy black will gravitate to liberalism, and liberalism will in turn make him unhappier by reinforcing his view that he is a victim.

The unhappy gravitate toward the left for a second reason. Life is hard for liberals, and life is hard for conservatives. But conservatives assume that life will always be hard. Liberals, on the other hand, have utopian dreams. At his brother Robert's funeral, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy recalled his brother saying: "Some men see things as they are and say 'why?' I dream things that never were and say 'why not?'"

Utopians will always be less happy than those who know that suffering is inherent to human existence. The utopian compares America to utopia and finds it terribly wanting. The conservative compares America to the every other civilization that has ever existed and walks around wondering how he got so lucky to be born or naturalized an American.

Third, imagine two Americans living in essentially identical socioeconomic conditions. Both earn $45,000 a year, both have the same amount of debt on their homes and both have the same number of dependents. One seeks governmental assistance wherever possible; the other eschews any governmental help. Which one is likely to be the liberal and which one is likely to be the happier individual?

This is not a question only an oracle can answer. The one who yearns for governmental help is the one who is likely to be both liberal and less happy. Conservatism, which demands self-reliance, makes one happier. The more one feels that he is captain of his or her ship (as poor as that ship may be), the happier he or she will be.

A fourth explanation for greater unhappiness among liberals is that the more people allow feelings to govern them, the less happy they will be. And the further left one goes, the more importance one attaches to feelings.

It is liberal educators and liberal parents who have clamored for protecting young people from the pain of losing games. The liberal world came up with the idea of giving trophies to kids who lose; they don't want their children feeling bad. Conservatives, on the other hand, teach their kids how to lose well. They are less worried about their children feeling bad.

A couple of years ago, I gave a speech on happiness to the students and faculty of a prestigious high school in the Los Angeles area. The subject was the need to act happy even when one isn't feeling happy -- because it is unfair to others to inflict our bad moods on them and because we will never be happy if we allow our feelings to dictate our happiness.

From what I experienced that day and learned later, liberal students and faculty generally loathed my speech; conservative students generally loved it (there was no conservative faculty to speak of). Why? Because conservatives are far more likely to be comfortable with the idea that feelings are not as important as behavior.

Those who know that feelings must not govern us, but that we must govern our feelings, are far more likely to be happy people.

The upshot of all this? There is an amazingly simple way to defeat the left: Raise children who are grateful to be American, who don't complain, who can handle losing and who are guided by values, not feelings. In other words, teach them how to be happy adults.

To read another article by Dennis Prager, click here.


Anonymous said...

In other words, teach them to be liars...to themselves and others. Can you really be "happier" if you're faking it?

Brett said...

Are you talking about yourself, Anonymous? I think you're talking about yourself - well, you ought to know. Every one knows Barack Obama is the biggest liar known to man, and his supporters must not care. So are they any better?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the typical response... Big surprise.

Brett said...

Thanks for stopping by and being useless.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I am a fine upstanding citizen voicing an opinion based on what I read and you are apparently an argumentative jerk that can't be reasoned with. Flying off the handle with comments that don't even relate to my original comment. I didn't state anything political, just posed a question. So, are conservatives happier because they ignore what's happening around them? That's what it sounded like to me. Just care about yourself and that is it. Debating isn't your strong suit, so I'll leave it at that.
Jessica Lange Arnold
Not so anonymous, in La Porte, IN

Brett said...

Debate? What Debate? Your first comment was nothing but an insult with a ? When you start a so-called debate with an insult, where do you go from there? I either just ignore them or turn it back on you. You set the tone. Since you say you are a fine upstanding citizen (who's overly sensitive) and no longer anonymous - I will answer your question, despite the fact that you completely ignored or dismissed the article. I thought the article answered the question very well. Go back and read it - I'll just wait here.

Brett said...

Btw - when did Jessica Lange get married to Tom Arnold?

Conservatives are happier because we know we are right. I was a Democrat for 34 years so I know where they are coming from and how they generally think. You are essentially perpetual Godless victims, which is why you are often miserable and lie to yourselves and others.

Have a nice day :)

Anonymous said...

Here's an actual insult for you... Thanks for being an so narrow minded and giving me a laugh:) Glad I came back to check this page! You make things up to suit your purpose. I am very happy seeing reality for what it is, instead of only seeing what will make ME happy. That's what I got out of your article. Republicans are happier because they ignore problems instead of facing them, i.e. "faking it". This is what my first comment was based on - "Raise children who are grateful to be American, who don't complain, who can handle losing and who are guided by values, not feelings. In other words, teach them how to be happy adults."

Sounds like faking it to me. That's what I would have to do. Lie to myself and others. Become a person with no opinion of my own and pretend that things are all okay. Ignore problems facing others and not caring about them. That would make me a bad person, in my view. Everything is fine in my world so I should just be grateful and not care about anyone or anything else? Have fun in your world of make believe. I am happy to be an American, but the battles that got us here wouldn't have happened if everyone had had an attitude like yours.

You are an insult. You lump people with liberal views into a group of beggars waiting for handouts? I consider myself to be a nice combination of liberal and conservative views, and I am a better person for it. Doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I donate time and as much money as I can, but money can’t fix everything, can it? It would be stupid to think that. There will always be suffering, so deal with it? Apparently, conservative thinking isn’t what has gotten this country anywhere. Slavery would probably still exist in this country if too many people had felt the way you do. “Life will always be rough…for some people, but I’m fine and dandy so I don’t care!” And then on top of that, you lump parenting styles into conservative vs. liberal. Absolutely ridiculous. “The Conservative’s Guide to Parenting: how to raise a child without a thought of their own or a true sense of reality.” Sounds fabulous. Such silly simplifications.

“The subject was the need to act happy even when one isn't feeling happy -- because it is unfair to others to inflict our bad moods on them and because we will never be happy if we allow our feelings to dictate our happiness.” Isn’t that “faking it” or being a “liar”? Caring about something is a BAD MOOD? Avoiding one’s feelings as not to let on that something is bothering them? That something is wrong? “Oh, I’m unhappy because my husband is an abusive jackass, but I can’t let anyone know.” Extreme interpretation, but where does it end? And at this function you had mentioned, “there was no conservative faculty to speak of”. The “it’s my way or the highway” mentality people like you have, doesn’t create a welcome environment for students to open their minds, learn and establish opinions of their own. Debate and explore. You can’t teach people how to think. Extreme conservatives like you apparently won’t see that there are many sides to a story, many opinions, many ways to interpret things. Well, I guess people like you aren’t “teaching” us anyway. Just posting blogs and running your mouths. I am grateful that I am not like you, I am better than you. I am capable of so much more than you ever will be. Thanks for that!

Brett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brett said...

My name is Brett. This article was written by Dennis Prager - see the difference? I think I see what your saying though. You think that anyone who pretends to feel better than they actually feel is a liar. The thing about most humans (those who try anyway) is that we can control our feelings and emotions. This is not a bad thing. Have you ever felt really lousy - in a bad mood, and just decided that you don't want to feel that way anymore - you're going to feel happy. It seems like you are faking it at first because you are, but slowly you start to feel more happy - just because that's what you decided to do - it's something you can control. People do not like grouches. If you have a service sector job where you interact with people and you often behave like a grouch, or poorly - you will be fired, and you should be fired because you can't do the job correctly.

As far as your last post being an actual insult - I can assure you that all of your posts are actual insults - that's the only thing you have proven to me that you do well is insult people.

Be happy - just try.

Anonymous said...

Pot callin' the kettle black there, pal...eh, Brett. I am happy and I am grateful I don't think the way you do. Sorry to assume you wrote this. It was only because you were so damn defensive right off the bat. I sure hope your heart is healthy, with such a temper it's dangerous. Well, I'm off to make believe land to hang out with some of my conservative friends. We’re throwing a party for Snow White and her seven emotional dwarves. Happy is the MC and Grumpy didn’t bother to RSVP. Should be a blast!
I prefer life as a bitch, considering reality is one. No sugar coating needed or desired. I get great satisfaction from caring.

Brett said...

Bye Bye. What a waste of time it is responding to you - glad that's over!

Anonymous said...

Feeling's mutual:)

Brett said...

Go away - hag!