A few days ago, I wrote that freedom is a key ingredient to happiness. It looks like Arthur Brooks agrees:
The recipe for happiness is a combination of individual liberty, personal decency, and moderation. And government protects our freedom best when it forgoes infringements on our moral choices but vigorously defends our right to restrict these choices ourselves.Not only is freedom important, but morality matters too. Looking at where Mexico and Brazil lie in the graph above, it looks like a few siestas don't hurt either...
If the importance of liberty to happiness sounds obvious to you—as obvious as the importance of life to liberty—it’s probably because you’re an American. In many countries, you would find yourself fined, imprisoned, or worse for asserting your right to vote, worship, or even open a business as you wished. America is an oasis of happiness-producing freedom in a world that generally doesn’t believe that citizens can handle freedom and doesn’t trust them to try.
As Americans, we understand that people can be entrusted with freedom, which is why we guard it so jealously. But happiness requires that we also use freedom responsibly—which means, both as individuals and as a nation, balancing abundant private liberty with healthy personal morality.