The Progress Paradox

  • by Gregg Easterbrook
  • Narrated by Jonathan Marosz
  • 11 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say

"Easterbrook...writes nothing that is not brilliant." (Chicago Tribune)
"This is an important, timely, and well-reasoned book that is sure to have people talking." (Booklist)
"Easterbrook...is a serious author with serious points to make." (The New York Times)
"Easterbrook invests the timeless questions of life's meaning with distinctly contemporary pertinence." (George Will)
"Easterbrook is perhaps the finest general science writer in the country." (Forbes)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Don't let the extremists stop you.

Quite apart from the Fox News-poisoned minds of some reviewers above, I found this book to be generally quite important, with a few minor exceptions.

Easterbrook is no ranting liberal. He's a middling to conservative catholic writer with a fine head for synthesis. He brings together such wide-ranging topics as affective forecasting, behavioral economics, psychology, religion, sprituality, and statistics into a well-reasoned (but not perfect or comprehensive - no one would read such a book) sensible argument that boils down to this: we can be satisfied only if we choose to be.

The bottomless appetite we all experienced as children can be carried into adulthood if we are not mindful, resulting in a surprising inability to experience happiness in the face of plenty. Our lives can waste away in a cloud of pointless and insatiable material desires.

Great stuff. It will inspire gratitude in all but the most ideological stuf grabbers.
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- Eric

Strong arguments for optimism

Easterbrook has many compelling arguments that although the culture of complaint and pessimism are seductive, an optimistic and kind demeanor towards life and others is far wiser. He cites voluminous statistics concerning how things are improving and studies that demonstrate the benefits to those who follow a philosophy of optimism and compassion.

I have familiarity with some of the literature Easterbrook cites and as a whole his arguments and logic are stronger than those of the individual authors he discusses. After listening to the book, it is more difficult for me to think and act in a pessimistic fashion. This alone makes the book worthwhile
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- Mike Kircher

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-21-2003
  • Publisher: Books on Tape