Come On, Get Happy With Time’s New Issue

Are we happy? Not really, according to this week’s Time Magazine cover story—”The Pursuit of Happiness”—by Jeffrey Kluger and Jon Meacham.

They cover what’s uniquely American about the pursuit of happiness (mostly, that we’re free to try and actually pursue being happy) and explain just how stupid we are for usually looking for it in the wrong places. But, there’s a catch. Even when we do look in the right places, it’s harder than ever to achieve happiness, they say, because the world has become just too fast-paced and frenetic.

That last point is debatable, but the story is worth a look for anyone who could use a little more joy in their life. And that’s all of us.

Time also did a poll, asking just how happy we are. Some highlights:

  • Since 2004, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves a optimists has dropped from 79 percent to 50 percent
  • 60 percent said that they do not feel better about themselves after spending time on social media
  • 76 percent believe other people make themselves look happier than they actually are on their Facebook page
Also in this issue, Jon Meacham explains what the founders really meant when they put “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, and Katie Steinmetz breaks down what science says helps us or hurts us in that pursuit in a clever infographic by Heather Jones.
The issue is available online now and hits newsstands Friday.

Some other stories that caught our eye…

Big Data, Meet Big Brother

The Promise: Time Columnist and CNN host Fareed Zakaria wonders aloud about the the coming collision between big data and big brother. Should government have total access to our digital fingerprints?

What It Delivers: He starts out well, with a quote even: “‘One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly and with a willingness to accept the penalty.’ That was Martin Luther King Jr.’s definition of civil disobedience. It does not appear to be Edward Snowden’s. He has tried by every method possible to escape any judgment or punishment for his actions.” Apparently, in Zakaria’s world the only punishment acceptable is jail time or prosecution (forget persecution). For a news columnist, he might want to broaden his perspective.

The Verdict: Read it, but ignore what he says about Snowden.


The 4 A.M. Army

The Promise: America has a growing army of temp workers suffering unseen and exploited by the big companies that employ them.

What It Delivers: Written by ProPublica’s Michael Grabell, the story starts out by painting a miserable picture of the daily routine temp workers endure, one, as the story notes, you could mistake for happening anywhere but in the United States. It moves on with convincing evidence that when temp workers suffer (and they almost all do), it’s the social safety net—and by extension, the American taxpayer—who ends up stepping in to take care of them. The U.S. now has more temp workers than ever before, around 2.7 million, and they work for some of the biggest companies around like Wal Mart and Nike. “This system insulates companies from workers’-­compensation claims, unemployment taxes, union drives and the duty to ensure that their workers are legal immigrants,” Grabell says.

The Verdict: Read it.