The book is called Gross National Happiness. Read more about it in The Economist here. Some snippets:
Even if children are irksome now, they lend meaning to life in the long term. And the kind of people who are happy are also more likely to have children.
Not exactly a resounding endorsement, but I’ll take it. But the article actually makes the point that conservatives are happier than liberals:
…the data show that American conservatives have been consistently happier than liberals for at least 35 years. This is not because they are richer; they are not. Mr Brooks thinks three factors are important. Conservatives are twice as likely as liberals to be married and twice as likely to attend church every week. Married, religious people are more likely than secular singles to be happy. They are also more likely to have children, which makes Mr Brooks confident that the next generation will be at least as happy as the current one.
Church, marriage and children make you happy? I thought they make you embittered, tired and fanatical. I’ll have to get at his primary sources.
Tanya adds: Oh, you know what they say! Those conservatives need to put on a happy face, lie to themselves and everyone else, to make everyone believe they are happier. It’s the secret code. I’m playing devil’s advocate, obviously. But, lo and behold, that is what they say! Look at the very first comment about the article:
By emoting an air of real or put-on happiness, [conservatives] are more likely to keep themselves in, and even sell to others, a sense of stability as things are now thus promoting their cause.
Rebecca adds: It all depends how you define happiness. The definitions I like are the Aristotelian one, which can be boiled down to “happiness is living a life you can be proud of” or moral self-approval, and also John McCain’s:
I discovered that nothing is more liberating in life than to fight for a cause that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone. And that has made all the difference, my friends, all the difference in the world.
A life that includes building a family, and preparing your living arrows to go out and make the world a better place, of putting the well-being of your children, family and community ahead of your own transient wants and desires, provides for many of us moral self-approval and also a cause greater than ourselves. If this is what you want out of life, I think it’s a safe bet that children will increase your happiness.
By contrast, for many people today “happiness” is essentially a synonym for hedonism, and is pursued by avoiding anything that might bring even a moment’s discomfort or self-sacrifice. If you define happiness as “never feeling sad, tired, foregoing a pleasure or taking on a burden,” then parenthood might not be your cup of tea.