The Progress Paradox by Gregg Easterbrook
How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse

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In The Progress Paradox, Gregg Easterbrook draws upon three decades of wide-ranging research and thinking to make the persuasive assertion that almost all aspects of Western life have vastly improved in the past century--and yet today, most men and women feel less happy than in previous generations. Why this is so and what we should do about it is the subject of this book.

Between contemporary emphasis on grievances and the fears engendered by 9/11, today it is common to hear it said that life has started downhill, or that our parents had it better. But objectively, almost everyone in today’s United States or European Union lives better than his or her parents did.

Still, studies show that the percentage of the population that is happy has not increased in fifty years, while depression and stress have become ever more prevalent. The Progress Paradox explores why ever-higher living standards don’t seem to make us any happier. Detailing the emerging science of “positive psychology,” which seeks to understand what causes a person’s sense of well-being, Easterbrook offers an alternative to our culture of crisis and complaint. He makes a Compelling case that optimism, gratitude, and acts of forgiveness not only make modern life more fulfilling but are actually in our self-interest.

Seemingly insoluble problems of the past, such as crime in New York City and smog in Los Angeles, have proved more tractable than they were thought to be. Likewise, today’s “impossible” problems, such as global warming and Islamic terrorism, can be tackled too.

Like The Tipping Point, this book offers an affirming and constructive way of seeing the world anew. The Progress Paradox will change the way you think about your place in the world, and about our collective ability to make it better.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Gregg Easterbrook

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GREGG EASTERBROOK is the author of a number of books, including The Progress Paradox, Tuesday Morning Quarterback, The Here and Now, and Sonic Boom. He is a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic and The Washington Monthly, and a columnist for He has been a distinguished fellow of the Fulbright Foundation, a visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution, a bartender, a bus driver and a used-car salesman.
Published November 25, 2003 by Random House. 400 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Easterbrook sees a widespread case of cognitive dissonance in the West: according to Easterbrook, though the typical American's real income has doubled in the past 50 years, the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as "happy" remains where it was half a century ago (oddly, Easterbrook ...

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BC Books

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He tends to de-emphasize the impact that daily events (loss of job, birth of child, filing of restraining order) have on a person’s outlook on life in favor of broader and impersonal categories.Easterbrook’s book ends with ideas of how people can possibly increase happiness in their lives through...

Feb 13 2008 | Read Full Review of The Progress Paradox: How Lif...


Polls show that most Americans think they're worse off than their parents, but consider: According to Easterbrook, we enjoy on average twice the buying power of our forebears of 1960, there are more deer than when the Mayflower arrived, cars emit 2 percent of the pollution they did in 1970, and l...

Jan 26 2004 | Read Full Review of The Progress Paradox: How Lif...

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