Despite his occasionally grating takes on, well, everything, every now and then David Brooks says something pretty insightful. Stick to sociology, not politics, David:
[Society] is structured to distract people from the decisions that have a huge impact on happiness in order to focus attention on the decisions that have a marginal impact on happiness.
The most important decision any of us make is who we marry. Yet there are no courses on how to choose a spouse. There’s no graduate department in spouse selection studies. Institutions of higher learning devote more resources to semiotics than love.
The most important talent any person can possess is the ability to make and keep friends. And yet here too there is no curriculum for this.
The most important skill a person can possess is the ability to control one’s impulses. Here too, we’re pretty much on our own.
These are all things with a provable relationship to human happiness. Instead, society is busy preparing us for all the decisions that have a marginal effect on human happiness.