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Long commutes can be tough on your social connections.
Sander: I think we as Americans get bombarded with images of the happy life and assume if we get the guest bedroom, or we get the two-car garage, or we get the you-name-it ... that suddenly we are going to be happier. And all of the research shows, if the cost of doing that is living a lot farther than where you are working, you are chasing an elusive dream. Studies show that people consistently overestimate the happiness they are going to get from a bigger house farther away.
But isn't that a fundamental change to the American dream and the notion of "keeping up with the Joneses?"
Sander: Are the Joneses as happy as we think they are? I think it takes a lot less creativity to simply chase the same dream other people are chasing. I think it's a lot more worthwhile to step back and decide if that's a dream worth chasing. If people are more stressed, aren't happy, aren't living as long a life, it might be smarter to step back and blaze a different trail.
Sander is the executive director of the Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
asap reporter Chelsea J. Carter is based in Los Angeles, commutes to work and is completely happy.