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"The question is not whether Republicans are happier than Democrats, or conservatives are happier than liberals," says Arthur Brooks, the incoming president of the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America -- and How We Can Get More of It." "That's unambiguously true. The question is, why?"
Brooks says a lot hinges on the answer to this question: Do you believe that hard work and perseverance can overcome disadvantages? Conservatives are more likely to say yes.
Pew found that Democrats are more likely to say that success in life is mostly determined by outside forces. Republicans lean toward thinking that success is determined by one's own efforts.
The hypothesis: Those who think they can control their destinies are happier.
Also: Extremists are happier than moderates, Brooks has concluded. Hard-core liberals are the happiest liberals and hard-core conservatives are the happiest people on Earth. Self-certainty is like a happy pill. The bumper sticker may declare, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" -- but the guy behind the wheel is overjoyed.