It sure does. If a society is oppressive, or if there is a big discrepancy between incomes, the occupants might well, on average, be less happy than those living in an open, relaxed and equitable society.
It’s not just society; the following can also affect a person’s core happiness:
A person’s genes.
A person’s personality traits.
A person’s upbringing.
A person’s life events. (Good fortune and misfortune play a big part.)
‘You ignore those things in your book, Mr Bashful.’
The most favourable environmental conditions conducive for happiness are not the interest of this book. I leave that to the academics who study society, statistics, genetics and neuroscience. This book is about how we, as individuals, can increase our core happiness irrespective of our circumstances.
That just means: if you live in an unjust society, have inherited glumness, and were locked in a closet for most of your childhood, then there is a good chance you will find it hard to be happy. However, if you apply the umpteen keys to core happiness you will be better off. Your core happiness won’t be as low as it might otherwise be.
Q. ‘So, Mr B, you are not promising to make us happy, then? You are saying that if we apply the keys we might simply be less miserable than we were before?’
Gosh, that sounds bleak. I’m saying that if someone has not already been applying the keys to core happiness, and begins to do so, they will become happier. If that person is particularly glum to begin with, that person might not become a bundle of joy, but their life will still improve significantly. That’s my claim, anyway.
However, someone suffering depression might not benefit. Depression is an illness, and outside this philosophy’s ‘jurisdiction’.