Happy Conservatives

At Freakonomics, Arthur Brooks on why conservatives seem happier:

In my last post I showed the large happiness differences between religious Americans and secularists, and argued that this is a big part of the reason conservatives are so much happier than liberals. But I also noted that religion and other lifestyle distinctions still only explain about half the gap. …

In my book I argue that conservatives are more optimistic about the future than liberals are, and believe in each individual’s ability to get ahead on the basis of achievement. Liberals are more likely to see themselves and others as victims of circumstance and oppression, and doubt whether individuals can climb without governmental help.

I wonder:

  • Would you or I be happier if we let ourselves think more conservatively, such as by attending church more and believing we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps?
  • Would society be happier if we encouraged more conservative thoughts?
  • If so, who wants such outcomes?  (Or, are they good outcomes?)

Me, I want to believe whatever is true even if that makes me unhappy.  And with that attitude, I doubt attending church would make me happier.

Added 13May: Tyler suggests "Robin could play up the relatively conservative thoughts he already believes in."  But playing up particular beliefs will give them more weight in my mind, and move me more to similar beliefs. 

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