As the The Pursuit of Happiness points out, simply being left alone to pursue happiness leads to contentment.
Letting people do that, it turns out, actually makes them content….
The survey, by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, involved asking people in 97 countries two simple questions: “Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy or not at all happy?” and “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?”
What the researchers found is that in the 52 countries where the poll has been done over the last couple of decades, the percentage of people giving upbeat answers rose in 40. Among the places where smiles have been spreading are such developing countries as China and India, which have grown freer as well as more prosperous.
The same has occurred in much of the advanced world as well, including the United States, France, Canada, Denmark, and Japan. Only four countries (Austria, Belgium, Britain, and Germany) have gotten less happy since the pre-1981 era. They are all free as well as rich, which suggests those two factors are necessary but not sufficient for people to count their blessings.