Letter to the Editor of The New Scientist, 2nd June, 1994.

Universal happiness

In the edition of May 28th you published a letter from Alison Brooks saying that there are people who believe that the general level of happiness can be raised by the improve­­­­ment of social conditions. Don’t such people realise that improvements of this sort can only make people happier until the novelty wears off and the new conditions become the norm?

The only way that the average level of happiness can be raised in the long term is by discovering the physical or chemical processes that underlie changes of mood and learning to control them. If ever this happens it will be, quite simply, the greatest discovery in the history of the world.