Happiness, life satisfaction, trust and optimism: how do the French stand on all of this? It turns out that there is a particularly French outlook on well-being, and this book illuminates a number of interesting paradoxes in this regard.

The French say that they are less happy and more pessimistic than most citizens in other European countries. This malaise concerns, above all, economic issues, and it is in France that the relationship between happiness and money is the strongest. This is no doubt related to a general distrust in institutions: since they can no longer rely on them to organize their collective destiny and protect them against the main risks in life, the French must rely on themselves. The collective misfortune then opposes private happiness.

Malaise and distrust are reflected in a process of political polarization, particularly as regards the rise of the extreme right. In the last presidential elections, the vote in favor of Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen marked the split between optimists and pessimists. Whatever the results, the jolt of optimism in June 2017 shows that, even if the French state of mind is so antiquated that it can easily be confused for a cultural attitude, it is not in fact irreversibly so.

You can read the book here.