The social historian Peter Stearns has an essay on the history of happiness at the Harvard Business Review website. It's a great read. The U.S., of course, is Happiness Central.
- We enshrined the pursuit of happiness in our Declaration of Independence in 1776
- The song "Happy Birthday" was composed by an American in 1926, and is now sung all around the world.
- The smiley face was designed by the American Harvey Ball in 1963. It has proven endlessly adaptable. I like the stoner one.
- McDonald's introduced the Happy Meal in 1977.
- The laugh track is an American invention.
- Bobby McFerrin had a huge hit with "Don't Worry, Be Happy" in 1988.
- And then Pharrell Williams hit big a couple years ago with "Happy," which posits that "happiness is the truth." Getting metaphysical about it.