"The newest update of the World Happiness Report was released (16 March) amid a three-day conference held at the Bank of Italy in Rome. These reports, published since 2012, review and rank happiness levels globally, but also promote the `science` of happiness and well-being as a viable guide for the behaviour of individuals and governments worldwide. While a seemingly laudable outlook, the unintended consequences of happiness promotion and the increased focus on people's internal emotional lives are becoming increasingly clear."
"World Happiness Reports are just one of many representations of the increased focus on `positive` emotions in recent years. There are now a number of specialist academic journals on happiness, university course offerings and graduate programmes in Positive Psychology. In the UK, `happiness classes` have been pioneered by top-ranking Wellington College and the UK Office for National Statistics has begun tracking well-being..."
"The UK has seen the introduction of various forms of emotional literacy education and evening classes for adults in emotional well-being..."
"The emphasis on positive emotions should not fool us that we're witnessing a simple celebration of the human condition's positive side. Scratch beneath the surface of yellow smiley faces and a far more dismal view of the human capacity for happiness and resilience emerges. For instance, it's common for happiness advocates to bemoan the traditional emphases on discovering and ameliorating social problems in research and policy." [Exactly. Why bother ameliorating social problems when you can concentrate on building resilience ?]
"Happiness advocates often describe people as bumbling fools when it comes to managing emotional life. Indeed, this disorientation toward emotion is often situated at the heart of social problems. Inculcation of `correct` ways to feel, think and behave, it is claimed, will not only solve social and environmental problems, but also breed myriad additional benefits."
"Promoting happiness is promoted as preventive against future illness and costly incapacity. The result will be resilient citizens, inoculated from emotional difficulties and a society more emotionally aware, peaceful and progressive."
"However, critics have long warned rising concern with emotion will likely produce the opposite effect: constructing emotionally fragile and vulnerable human subjects, constantly in need of therapeutic guidance and support...."
"University campuses are no longer spaces for free exchanges of ideas, but rather `safe spaces` for emotionally fragile young people, increasingly hostile to ideas that might be construed as threatening. Symbolic violence has been equated with physical violence and words imbued with capacity to damage those who hear them..."
"Nicholas Christakis, the academic shrieked at by students for failing to protect their `safe space` in a November viral video, elsewhere vigorously promotes that emotions and behaviours are contagious. For years, they and other members of the therapeutic professions have preached a gospel of emotional vulnerability. And yet they seem stupefied when the proverbial chickens have come home to roost..."