In response to several surveys that attempt to quantify happiness, Ryan, Adam, and Aneil spend this episode of This Anthro Life exploring happiness through the lens of fetishism. They discuss Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness, the film Happy, and more! They seek to answer the following questions: What kinds of things make us happy? How does happiness inhere in objects and how do we use objects to display our happiness? They end on a positive note by concluding that we have control over our happiness and suggesting a happy community may be a key part of being happy.  

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In the episode we use the term fetish, made famous by Sigmund Freud, to mean something that points to something else. It masks what is there (I.e. a statue of a deity that seems to be what people are worshipping, but it is just a material thing that is pointing to the deity). It can be any material type of the thing that points towards an abstract idea.

3 Ways Our Imagination Fails to Guide Us to Happiness

  1. Our imagination tends to add and remove details people might not recognize that key details are fabricated or missing from their imagined scenarios.
  2. Imagined futures and pasts are more like the present than they actually will be. The future is not some far off thing. You are living the future.
  3. Imagination fails to realize that things will feel different once they actually happen. We adjust to things.


Check Out the Links We Mentioned During the Episode!

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert


Happy Movie Trailer

Hedonometer 2.0: Measuring happiness and using word shifts

Measuring Happiness on Twitter


The Happiest And Healthiest Cities In America [MAP]

The Happiest States In America

Food & Freedom: How the Slow Food Movement Is Changing the World Through Gastronomy


TED Radio Hour: Simply Happy

Eating Christmas in the Kalahari by Richard Borshay Lee