Understanding and addressing the root cause
influencing human happiness

     A 2020 Gallup report on emotions reported on the global rise of unhappiness. In his introduction to the report Gallup’s CEO John Clifton made the following statement.

    As you’ll read in this report, in 2021, negative emotions — the aggregate of the stress, sadness, anger, worry and physical pain that people feel every day — reached a new record in the history of Gallup’s tracking.

Here is a link to the Gallup report.


     We are all called to understand the root cause of this unhappiness and together address it. Understanding and addressing the symptoms such as lack of food and shelter, inequality, lack of access to health care and homelessness to name a few, helps. However, my view is that it is essential to understand the root cause and identify and implement ways to alleviate it.

    I believe that Riane Eisler, in her research documented in her book The Chalice and The Blade, has clearly identified our domineering culture as the root cause. She advocates the development of a partnership culture. I have attached a link to a one-hour video in which she explains her thinking.


     I agree with Riane Eisler that in order to establish and sustain a happy, healthy and just culture the root cause that needs to be addressed is the top-down domineering culture that prevails in our society. It stifles the human spirit and inhibits cultural change from the predominantly domineering culture to a partnership culture. W Edwards Deming asserted that it is necessary to have a theory for how to achieve a significant change. We are challenged to identify and implement a theory on how to realize change to a partnership culture as so many powerful people have a vested interest in the existing domineering paradigm. To realize a change toward the partnership paradigm, we need to concurrently enable prosperity as well as cultural change.

    In June 2020, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data that suggests that 1 in 4 adults, aged 18 to 24, have considered suicide and according to the recently released Harvard youth poll of 2,513 Americans ages 18 to 29, 51% of young Americans said that in the previous 2 weeks they had felt down, depressed or hopeless. The following is a link to the CDC report.


     John Cleese, known as the manager on the TV show Fawlty Towers, has suggested that 90% of business organizations manage predominantly by fear, i.e. there are consequences that threaten a person’s security and well-being if they do not act consistent with the organization’s expectations and culture. I concur with his view that the majority of organizations are managed by fear. The domineering management practice that dominates many workplaces has been successful in achieving material goals and blatantly unsuccessful in creating a quality of life in the workplace, an opportunity for people to work with joy, and a high level of employee engagement.

    W. Edwards Deming stresses that the underlying objective of his philosophy outlined by his fourteen points is to provide an opportunity for people to work with joy. The inference is that this is not the case. A parallel exists in the educational system. Our children are not learning with joy or, in many cases, teachers instructing with joy. Rather, we have adopted a structured and uncreative approach in which we teach our children to memorize facts rather than facilitate their ability to explore, discover and learn, an approach that prepares them to serve in a traditionally authoritarian and dominated organization but not in an agile, creative, partnership organization.

    The development of partnership organizations offers the chance to address another significant change being faced by our society. It is essential to improve the productivity of those in the workplace. In 1980, there were 5 people in the workplace for every retiree, today, there are only 2.8. Today’s workforce competes in an increasingly competitive international marketplace and has the challenge of generating sufficient wealth to support an aging population.

    After considering the various reports identified in this document and drawing on my lifelong personal insights, I conclude that the root cause of the depression faced by many people, and particularly young adults, is that they are being forced to meet the expectations of an unhealthy educational system and work in organizations in which the domineering culture stifles their creativity and ability to learn. This struggle is far more difficult for the student whose underlying personality is one that wishes to foster creativity, exploration, discovery and learning. It can be understood that students with this inclination are not as successful within the current educational system as those who are willing to follow the rules to be successful in a mechanistic educational system and become inculcated in the domineering management style and rise to become organizational leaders. Our society is suffering the pain from having chosen a mechanistic and materialistic route to survival. We urgently need leaders within our community who can help us find the pathway to a successful and meaningful lifestyle which also yields sufficient material success to satisfy the needs of all.

    It is clear that many people, and particularly young adults are unhappy and thus less engaged in pursuing their professional careers. I see this as a critical challenge to the health of our society. I believe it is also clear that developing a partnership culture and fostering learning and creativity is a pathway not only to prosperity but also to happiness and a high-quality working life. I also believe that many of our leaders are unable to see the critical need for change as they have become attuned to a way of life which is characterized by the pursuit of material well-being; a way of life which has benefited the few who have the financial and positional power to guide our future but not the majority who rely on the wages for survival and, as documented in these notes, are challenged to cope with a culture and way of life detrimental to the happiness and spiritual life of society as a whole.

    Fortunately, our society is open to dialogue, and I believe it is now time to challenge the ways of the past and work together to build a healthy and meaningful future for ourselves and for our children.

Back to Bob Insights