Why should I be happy? Why should we make EVERYBODY happy?

We are caught up in a world epidemic of wealth, consumerism and depression. As standards of living have risen since the second world war we have seen a corresponding increase in depression and a tailing off of any happiness which you might expect to result from our prosperity. Caught up in this, we look to get more and more in the hope of finally achieving success or getting the ultimate thing to make us happy.

We are also finding out that the end result of this excessive consumption is climate change, mass extinctions and desertification.

So, what is the answer? How do we get people to behave in a more environmentally responsible way? At the moment we ask people to be altruistic, but this is not really working, if I change my lifestyle at great personal cost - and you don't, then we both benefit from my effort. It's an anti-incentive.

We could try coercing people through taxes, but these hit the poor hardest and the rich will pay and not change their behaviour. We could try rationing but there are liberty implications and problems in implementation.

But, maybe happiness shows us the way forward. Psychological theory and evolutionary biology have come up with ways for us to make ourselves happy and they are invariably ecologically friendly. Health is important, so walk don't drive. Living and working in small communities is good - which means less commuting.

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