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Curse of comparison

Why are so many people unhappy, when we live in a period of unprecedented affluence? An obsessive preoccupation with comparing ourselves to others is to blame. We have unrealistic expectations, which leave us permanently dissatisfied, prone to depression and aggression

By Oliver James   October 1997

There is little doubt that, compared with 1950, Britons are unhappier. This is broadly true of people throughout the developed world, despite a period of unprecedented growth in incomes. Most politicians presume that economic growth will increase the wellbeing of citizens, but rates of depression, violent aggression and compulsion (eating disorders, alcoholism, gambling and drug use) have rocketed since 1950. There is no correlation between the wealth of a country and the likelihood that its citizens say they are happy with their lives. The wealthiest (the US) are by no means the happiest, and some of the poorest (Ireland) are…

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