There’s a reason why Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin argued for the pursuit of ‘happiness’ as opposed to ‘property’ when enumerating our unalienable human rights. Turns out, modern psychological data backs them up. The New York Times offers and interesting discussion of the complex relationship between things and our most coveted human emotion.

In addition to the old wisdom that money can’t buy happiness, there’s also an implicit plug for urbanism and more diverse communities and land uses here. If humans are more satisfied by encountering many small pleasures than one big, expensive one, then doesn’t it also follow that a tiny studio in a walkable neighborhood might be more life-enhancing than a 4-bedroom tract house? Read on to see what I mean.

But Will It Make You Happy?
By Stephanie Rosenbloom, The New York Times, August 7, 2010

Scholars have discovered that one way consumers combat hedonic adaptation is to buy many small pleasures instead of one big one…

In fact, scholars have found that anticipation increases happiness. Considering buying an iPad? You might want to think about it as long as possible before taking one home. Likewise about a Caribbean escape: you’ll get more pleasure if you book a flight in advance than if you book it at the last minute…

…“the one single trait that’s common among every single person who is happy is strong relationships.”

Happy – A Documentary Trailer from Wadi Rum Productions on Vimeo.