TRANSCEND with Cylvia Hayes
TRANSCEND with Cylvia Hayes Podcast
Make America Happy Again

Paid episode

The full episode is only available to paid subscribers of TRANSCEND with Cylvia Hayes

Make America Happy Again

Or, At-Last
Me and Poppy the hippo. She was happy with the watermelon I fed her and I was so happy to meet her. She lives at the Oregon Zoo and has the best life there that a hippo in captivity could have.

America is in the throes of an upsurge of the vocal minority MAGA movement. I’ve asked a few MAGA-leaning people to define what the term means to them. None have been able to do so with any specificity. It’s interesting that the term is Make America Great Again, which implies it was great at some point but no longer is. My sense is the sentiment is largely tied to a belief that in a previous era it was easier for people, at least white people, to make it into the economic middle class and support a family and America could accurately claim to be the world superpower. Both of those things likely left a lot of Americans feeling safer, less stressed, and more in control.

Although I abhor most of the far-right agenda, including ramping up environmental destruction, letting Big Oil run amok, stripping women of reproductive rights, and protecting systemic racism, I share the frustration with the economic system and our stressful and stressed-out culture.

Sadly, I believe the MAGA folks have been duped. The solution to their angst isn’t to be found in electing an unhinged, autocratic felon or sealing up the nation’s borders, if the latter were even possible. Humanity is in the midst of a massive demographic shift toward larger populations of people of color. Violence and instability in many neighboring countries will continue to cause people to flee to the U.S. and other places. China has become a superpower and India is moving in that direction. We will not see America in the position of sole policing global superpower again.

So, I have a radical idea. What if instead of a fictional “greatness” we pursued a Make America Happy Again (MAHA) vision? Oh, I know, lots of folks will read that and think, “Oh geez, there goes Pollyannish Lefty, Cylvia,” but hold on a second. “Pursuit of happiness” is actually in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, right up there with life and liberty.

Setting happiness as a collective, cultural goal is not a frivolous act. I’ve worked in the area of societal metrics for several decades now. Part of that work involved the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, which I visited some years ago and have stayed engaged with. In 1972 Bhutan’s king declared that it was more important that the people be happy than just productive and Bhutan started on the journey of creating the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index as an alternative to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Over the next few decades Bhutan transitioned from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy.

The Gross National Happiness Index is a robust set of metrics that assess economic conditions as well as the health of the populace, educational levels, environmental health, and cultural cohesion. Government policies and investments are evaluated through that comprehensive lens. The United States has nothing comparable.

Each year, a World Happiness Report (WHR) is published through a partnership of Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the WHR’s Editorial Board. Northern European countries always dominate the top happiness rankings due in large part to strong social support systems and high standards of living. Bhutan wasn’t included this year on a technicality because Gallup hadn’t polled there, but they were given a top-ten honorable mention based on previous assessments. The United States ranked 23rd.

One of the interesting things about researching happiness is that it’s actually a complicated subject. How do you define it? How do you achieve it? What does it feel like?

Listen to this episode with a 7-day free trial

Subscribe to TRANSCEND with Cylvia Hayes to listen to this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.

TRANSCEND with Cylvia Hayes
TRANSCEND with Cylvia Hayes Podcast
For people who want raised consciousness, economic system change, and a world that works better for all beings. Are you a spiritual being having a human experience? Do you deeply care about Nature? Then TRANSCEND is for you! Welcome!