Along with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness is among the most fundamental ideals in American society. The men who founded the United States of America in the late 18th century listed these three values as “unalienable rights” for the citizens of the new nation they were forming. In a recent study looking at the pursuit of happiness, Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, and Schkade state, “If it is meaningful and important to pursue happiness, then it is crucial to find out how this can be accomplished” (2005, p. 126). In later work, Sheldon and Lyubomirsky (2006) observe that little research has been done to uncover the exact methods in which happiness increases. The views offered by the authors of these previous research projects are vital to the current investigation because there is evidence that even though happiness is pursued, happiness is not accomplished by the majority of Americans. A Harris Poll, recently published by Harris Interactive (2013), reveals that only 33% of Americans are very happy. This infers that over 200,000,000 Americans could be happier. Sin and Lyubomirsky (2009) report that people in individualist cultures (of which the United States is a clear example) benefit more from positive psychological interventions, such as acts of kindness and activities involving gratitude.
Previous work shows that performing both of these activities can positively affect well-being. Emmons and McCollough (2003) identify increases in positive affect and decreases
Lyubomirsky defines happiness as the “experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile” (184). She challenges the myths that people can find happiness by changing their circumstances and that people either are “born happy or unhappy” (186). Happiness is not something that can be found or something that not everyone can have. People make their own happiness, despite the difficulties they may face. Happiness comes by “choosing to change and manage your state of mind” (185). Lyubomirsky gives cases of people who are happy even though they suffer from losses and setbacks. These are the people whose circumstances should make them unhappy, but their intentional actions bring them joy. She also gives cases of people who have not suffered any major losses but are still unhappy because they may see events negatively and feel helpless before them. Lyubomirsky asserts that “changes in our circumstances, no matter how positive and stunning, actually have little bearing on our well-being” (186). Even though a person’s circumstances may be positive, those circumstances do not make them happy. Lyubomirsky uses a Subjective Happiness Scale to measure happiness, which takes the average of numerical answers to four questions. She argues that in order to become happier, “you need to determine your present personal happiness level, which will provide your first estimate of your happiness
Attention Materials: Many times I have wondered what is true happiness. Is there such thing as true happiness? Can it even be attained if there is such a thing? Is it more of fulfilling desires, or satisfying psychological needs? Every person attempts to realize happiness in its fullest essence. It seems like today people are too busy trying to get rich. Nowadays it is believed that happiness lies in that new mansion, or a nice Ferrari. People are mistakingly assuming that wealth will bring to them a personal significance in which they will achieve happiness.
In “Happiness 101,” Harvard professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar presents his ideas pertaining to the achievability of happiness. He begins by discussing how individuals must give themselves permission to be human, so that they can feel the negative feelings before they reach the positive feelings. If negative feelings are held back without release, then they only intensify eventually blocking out the positive feelings. Ben-Shahar continues his presentation to the topic of managing stress on the micro, mezza, and macro levels. These levels include the ideas of meditation, sleep, taking time off, vacations, and the “three deep breaths.” Simplifying agendas and practicing quality over quantity has a positive effect on stress levels as well. At the conclusion of his presentation, Ben-Shahar discusses the positive effect of practicing gratitude on health, happiness, and well-being. After listening to Tal Ben-Shahar’s presentation, I completely agree with every point that Ben-Shahar uses over the topics of giving permission to be human, stress management, and practicing gratitude covered throughout his presentation over happiness.
People travel through life with what seems like a single goal: to be happy. This may seem like a selfish way to live, however this lone objective is the motivation behind nearly all actions. Even seemingly selfless deeds make people feel better about themselves. That warm feeling experienced while doing charitable acts can be described as happiness. But what is authentic happiness? There is an endless possibility of answers to this question, and man seems to be always searching for the solution. Although one may reach his or her goals, there is always still something one strives for in order to be happy. In the book Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert takes the reader through
While taking the “Happiness Quiz,” I found the explanation for answer #2 regarding Denmark being the happiest country to live in quite interesting. From the sounds of it, Denmark has the makings of good attitudes and life balance. The fact that Denmark realizes the toll stress and imbalance takes on our lives and has incorporated things such as fathers also having the ability to take leave with new babies, seems promising. Another portion that peaked my interest was #4 explaining how happy people generally do not have higher incomes or superior intellect than others. The practice of gratitude was addressed in question #12; I came to realize in reading that section, the importance of the act of engaging in gratitude. It is one thing to verbalize
From the beginning of our lives, our parents, for the most part, want us to be happy. Pursuing that happiness becomes a goal that we strive for on an everyday basis. In America, it’s the American Dream. People come to this country in search of that elusive happiness. Ever since Thomas Jefferson wrote a very important sentence in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson), our goals have been the same; searching for that happiness no matter what. However, as Ray Bradbury writes, if we focus too much on those aspects that make us
However, some recent studies may have found a mystery: The pursuit of happiness is likely to make some Americans unhappy. Did the Founding Fathers set us up to fail in this pursuit?
Happiness is that intangible “something” that all human beings seem to long for from the time they are born. As Thomas Jefferson proclaimed in America’s Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” With the birth of a nation that was founded on the promise of a better life through individual achievement, regardless of social class, the pursuit of happiness has perhaps become synonymous with securing “the American Dream.” The pursuit of happiness and achieving “the American Dream” are entirely different from one person to another. The dream is what
The most universal goal every human has in common is the pursuit of happiness or “creation or construction of happiness” (Achor, 78). To be able to fulfill this wish of becoming happy, people often think the key to achieving happiness is success. In the book, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, he debunks this theory of success leading to happiness by illustrating the reverse theory of success. Through dozens of studies and experiments as forms of evidence, the author argues that an individual needs to achieve happiness in order to be truly successful. Achor 's argument is valid in that happiness should come before success because there is a clear advantage to being successful in an individual’s work life, personal sphere, and liveliness if they are happy first and foremost.
Happiness is one of the most significant dimensions of human experience. Many people can argue that happiness is a meaningful and desirable entity. Studies indicate that everyone pursues happiness in various aspects of their life. Our four fathers saw happiness as a need, so they made the pursuit of happiness as one of the three unalienable rights branded in the Declaration of Independence. There is a sense of complexity behind the meaning of happiness; its definition is not definite. Think of happiness as a rope; there are many thin fiber strands bonded together to become the strength of the rope. Like the analogy of the rope, there are numerous factors that can contribute to an individual’s overall happiness in life. This study is going to
In an unofficial poll of students at State University, I found that of the fifty-eight students and one professor, males and females of several ethnic backgrounds and age groups, that I asked the question "What is happiness to you?", all of them had very different physical, intellectual, or emotional motivator for their happiness. Only the
I started to question about happiness in America after I saw a pattern in high school that students are often confused or stressed. I started out with the question, “why is it hard to be happy when being happy shouldn’t be that hard?” To answer these questions, I found Sophie Chan’s 2011 study, “Hong Kong Chinese community leaders’ perspectives on family health, happiness and harmony: a qualitative study.” This study would help answer questions on my audience’s curiosity about other countries happiness compared to the United States. Then I started to think that there were also other issues that friction with happiness in America and
It is often said that, “Money can’t buy happiness.” In Cass R. Sunstein’s Yes, Money Can Make You Happy, Sunstein provides a summary and review of Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton’s Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending; he declares that money, when spent wisely and with the right attitude, can provide the most elusive of all human experiences: happiness. In a changing social climate with advances in technology offering unmatched convenience, and a culture in which diverse people with equally diverse sets of values come together, the study of what truly makes us happy is especially relevant now more than ever. While money can certainly be spent in a manner which will create happiness, what Sunstein neglects to address in his writing is that more money does not always equate to more happiness, regardless of how and when it is spent.
Psychologists have not located assured causes that lead people to well-being. David G. Myers in his article “The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People” published in the American Psychologist (2000) and Michael Wiederman in “Why It's So Hard to Be Happy” published in the Scientific American Mind (2007), discuss the reasons which lead people to be happy, and the factors which contribute to unhappiness.
We began this course with the question “What is happiness? and Can we all achieve authentic Happiness? In our life we are taught many things, but we are not taught how to achieve our own happiness. Over the last five weeks we truly learned what happiness is and I believe we all can achieve authentic happiness in our life. In Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman uses happiness and well being as the terms to describe the goals of Positive Psychology. The desired outcome of Positive Psychology is happiness and well being. We learned from this course how to embrace both our positive feelings and activities to achieve authentic Happiness.