Well, try having none.
"For all these thinkers, the apparent evidence of a deep crisis in our emotional health supports their various theses about the failures of modern liberal society. They extrapolate a notion that modernity has made us unhappy. More specifically, choice, wealth, enfranchisement — all the fruits of liberal democracy — are forbidden apples casting us from a mis-imagined Eden.
What surprises me about the "Are we happier?" debate is the capacity of apparently critical thinkers to accept the notion that we are in a crisis of happiness and wellbeing without examining what forces have been at work to re-label various aspects of human life as pathology. The same people who bemoan the dominance of marketing and commercial coercion in our lives have nonetheless themselves swallowed the propaganda of pill-peddlers and mania-merchants.
There are a few things to explore here that attack the notion that we are unhappy as a result of modernity or modern values. Firstly, it matters to understand that anxiety pre-dates the plough, the internal combustion engine and feminism. Secondly, most serious mental illnesses are rooted in our rearing and genetics. They are set before we gain an income, juggle the work-life conundrum or even face peer pressure at school. Thirdly, humans have been staring into the existential void for literally millenniums. A degree of anxiety is organic to our human nature. And finally, we need to understand who is telling us we are unhappy and why they are doing so.
I'm not out to convince you we all want to hold hands and sing Kumbayah. Just that a reasonable amount of stress, ennui and fear is an historically constant, normal human response to life.
Anxiety has been described as a worrying symptom of modernity for as long as we have been modern — which is starting to be a very long time. Discussing pessimism recently, Danish thinker Bjorn Lomborg cited the discovery of an Assyrian stone tablet inscribed, "Our Earth is degenerate in these later days, bribery and corruption are common, children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching."
Take five minutes, this is well worth reading ... an extract from Cassandra Wilkinson, author of Don't Panic! Nearly everything is better than you think.