Article: How Happy Are You? A Census Wants to Know Summary/ Response: Natasha Armas

On April 30,2011 John Tierney published an article titled “How Happy Are You? A Census Wants to know”. The census in Somerville was different that year then the previous years. That year the census added a new question. The question asked from a scale of one to ten “How happy do you feel right now?” The officials in Somerville wanted to be the first city in the United States to track people’s happiness. Psychologists and economists have wanted to monitor the happiness of citizens, but didn’t know how to do it and whether it was even the right thing for politicians to be promoting.

The census was sent out and about 7,500 people mailed it back. With answers that I don’t think they were pleased with. The article states “some of them clearly not limiting their answers to municipal concerns.” I think they should have expected that. Municipal concerns are basic services that the city provides such as schools, fire departments, ambulance, police, and transportation. Which does help citizens to live better but doesn’t fulfill their happiness. For example, a man in the article was asked the question “How satisfied are you with your life in general?” His answer was “I would like to be three inches taller and speak Quechua fluently.” Just like there must be more people that aren’t pleased with the way they look. Making them unhappy. There are solutions that can be taken for instance talking to a professional to help boost up their self esteem. The government wouldn’t be able to help each and everyone to get help.

Although, some municipal changes can bring happiness to certain people. The article states “Somerville officials say they hope to see how parks and bike paths affect the happiness of people living nearby, or how people’s feelings change when mass transit services are improved.” The bike paths will lower the chances of bikers getting into accidents with cars. In result making bikers and people that have love ones that bike happy.

In my opinion, I don’t think happiness can be measured because what makes one person happy may not make the other person happy. Another reason happiness can’t be measured is because everyone experiences happiness in a different ways some people express their happiness by crying, laughing, or jumping up and down. I don’t think the government should even try to measure the happiness of people because it will be like an invasion of privacy and no one will appreciate that. For the well-being of the community there should be more safety and cleanliness in the streets. The things that are important to me for my well-being are to love, be loved, to have health, be the best I could be, and to appreciate what I have. There is a conflict between individual and community well-being because every individual has its personal likes and dislikes.

With this census it was proven that happiness can’t be measured. While one man answered the question in the census that he wanted to be three inches taller and speak Quechua fluently and rated his happiness a six out of ten. Vanessa Lagerman was pleased with the bike lanes that have been installed. Two different people that don’t share the same concept of happiness. Conor Brennan said “Of course, any survey like this is going to depend on the mood of the person at that moment.” I agree with Brennan because no one is perfect and can’t be happy all the time.