Happiness

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Several terms redirect here. For other uses, see Happiness (disambiguation), Happy (disambiguation), and Jolly (disambiguation).
"Happily" redirects here. For the One Direction song, see Happily (song).
The smiley face is a well-known symbol of happiness

Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.[1] A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources. Various research groups, including positive psychology, endeavor to apply the scientific method to answer questions about what "happiness" is, and how it might be attained.

It is of such fundamental importance to the human condition that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" were deemed to be unalienable rights by the United States Declaration of Independence.

The United Nations declared 20 March the International Day of Happiness to recognise the relevance of happiness and wellbeing as universal goals. In 2014, Happy became the anthem and inspired clips from around the world.

Definition

Philosophers and religious thinkers often define happiness in terms of living a good life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an emotion. Happiness in this sense was used to translate the Greek Eudaimonia, and is still used in virtue ethics.

Happiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean many different things to many people. Part of the challenge of a science of happiness is to identify different concepts of happiness, and where applicable, split them into their components. Related concepts are well-being, quality of life and flourishing. At least one author defines happiness as contentment.[2] Some commentators focus on the difference between the hedonistic tradition of seeking pleasant and avoiding unpleasant experiences, and the eudaimonic tradition of living life in a full and deeply satisfying way.[3]

The 2012 World Happiness Report stated that in subjective well-being measures, the primary distinction is between cognitive life evaluations and emotional reports.[4] Happiness is used in both life evaluation, as in “How happy are you with your life as a whole?”, and in emotional reports, as in “How happy are you now?,” and people seem able to use happiness as appropriate in these verbal contexts. Using these measures, the World Happiness Report identifies the countries with the highest levels of happiness.

Research results

Research has produced many different views on causes of happiness, and on factors that correlate with happiness,[5] but no validated method has been found to substantially improve long-term happiness in a meaningful way for most people.

Sonja Lyubomirsky concludes in her book The How of Happiness that 50 percent of a given human's happiness level is genetically determined (based on twin studies), 10 percent is affected by life circumstances and situation, and a remaining 40 percent of happiness is subject to self-control.

The results of the 75 year Grant study of Harvard undergraduates show a high correlation of loving relationship, especially with parents, with later life wellbeing.[6]

In the 2nd Edition of the Handbook of Emotions (2000), evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby say that happiness comes from "encountering unexpected positive events". In the 3rd Edition of the Handbook of Emotions (2008), Michael Lewis says "happiness can be elicited by seeing a significant other". According to Mark Leary, as reported in a November 1995 issue of Psychology Today, "we are happiest when basking in the acceptance and praise of others". Sara Algoe and Jonathan Haidt say that "happiness" may be the label for a family of related emotional states, such as joy, amusement, satisfaction, gratification, euphoria, and triumph.[7]

It has been argued that money cannot effectively "buy" much happiness unless it is used in certain ways.[8][full citation needed] "Beyond the point at which people have enough to comfortably feed, clothe, and house themselves, having more money - even a lot more money - makes them only a little bit happier."[according to whom?] A Harvard Business School study found that "spending money on others actually makes us happier than spending it on ourselves".[9]

Meditation has been found to lead to high activity in the brain's left prefrontal cortex, which in turn has been found to correlate with happiness.[10]

A smiling 95-year-old man from Pichilemu, Chile.

Psychologist Martin Seligman asserts that happiness is not solely derived from external, momentary pleasures,[11] and provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology's correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they have

  1. Pleasure (tasty food, warm baths, etc.),
  2. Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity),
  3. Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness),
  4. Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
  5. Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).

There have also been some studies of how religion relates to happiness. Causal relationships remain unclear, but more religion is seen in happier people. This correlation may be the result of community membership and not necessarily belief in religion itself. Another component may have to do with ritual.[12][full citation needed]

Abraham Harold Maslow, an American professor of psychology, founded humanistic psychology in the 1930s. A visual aid he created to explain his theory, which he called the hierarchy of needs, is a pyramid depicting the levels of human needs, psychological, and physical. When a human being ascends the steps of the pyramid, he reaches self-actualization. Beyond the routine of needs fulfillment, Maslow envisioned moments of extraordinary experience, known as peak experiences, profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture, during which a person feels more whole, alive, self-sufficient, and yet a part of the world. This is similar to the flow concept of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.

Self-determination theory relates intrinsic motivation to three needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness.

Religious perspectives

Tibetan Buddhist Monk

Buddhism

Happiness forms a central theme of Buddhist teachings.[dubious ] For ultimate freedom from suffering, the Noble Eightfold Path leads its practitioner to Nirvana, a state of everlasting peace. Ultimate happiness is only achieved by overcoming craving in all forms. More mundane forms of happiness, such as acquiring wealth and maintaining good friendships, are also recognized as worthy goals for lay people (see sukha). Buddhism also encourages the generation of loving kindness and compassion, the desire for the happiness and welfare of all beings.[13][14][unreliable source?]

Judaism

Main article: Happiness in Judaism

Happiness or simcha (Hebrew: שמחה‎) in Judaism is considered an important element in the service of God.[15] The biblical verse "worship The Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs,"[16] stresses joy in the service of God. A popular teaching by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a 19th-century Chassidic Rabbi, is "Mitzvah Gedolah Le'hiyot Besimcha Tamid," it is a great mitzvah (commandment) to always be in a state of happiness. When a person is happy they are much more capable of serving God and going about their daily activities than when depressed or upset.[17]

Catholicism

The primary meaning of "happiness" in various European languages involves good fortune, chance or happening. The meaning in Greek philosophy, however, refers primarily to ethics. In Catholicism, the ultimate end of human existence consists in felicity, Latin equivalent to the Greek eudaimonia, or "blessed happiness", described by the 13th-century philosopher-theologian Thomas Aquinas as a Beatific Vision of God's essence in the next life.[18] Human complexities, like reason and cognition, can produce well-being or happiness, but such form is limited and transitory. In temporal life, the contemplation of God, the infinitely Beautiful, is the supreme delight of the will. Beatitudo, or perfect happiness, as complete well-being, is to be attained not in this life, but the next.[19]

Philosophical views

The Love Letter

The Chinese Confucian thinker Mencius, who 2300 years ago sought to give advice to the ruthless political leaders of the warring states period, was convinced that the mind played a mediating role between the "lesser self" (the physiological self) and the "greater self" (the moral self) and that getting the priorities right between these two would lead to sage-hood. He argued that if we did not feel satisfaction or pleasure in nourishing one's "vital force" with "righteous deeds", that force would shrivel up (Mencius,6A:15 2A:2). More specifically, he mentions the experience of intoxicating joy if one celebrates the practice of the great virtues, especially through music.[20]

Al-Ghazali (1058–1111) the Muslim Sufi thinker wrote the Alchemy of Happiness, a manual of spiritual instruction throughout the Muslim world and widely practiced today.

The Hindu thinker Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, wrote quite exhaustively on the psychological and ontological roots of bliss.[21]

In the Nicomachean Ethics, written in 350 BCE, Aristotle stated that happiness (also being well and doing well) is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake, unlike riches, honor, health or friendship. He observed that men sought riches, or honor, or health not only for their own sake but also in order to be happy. Note that eudaimonia, the term we translate as "happiness", is for Aristotle an activity rather than an emotion or a state.[22] Thus understood, the happy life is the good life, that is, a life in which a person fulfills human nature in an excellent way. Specifically, Aristotle argues that the good life is the life of excellent rational activity. He arrives at this claim with the Function Argument. Basically, if it's right, every living thing has a function, that which it uniquely does. For humans, Aristotle contends, our function is to reason, since it is that alone that we uniquely do. And performing one's function well, or excellently, is one's good. Thus, the life of excellent rational activity is the happy life. Aristotle does not leave it that, however. For he argues that there is a second best life for those incapable of excellent rational activity. This second best life is the life of moral virtue.

Many ethicists make arguments for how humans should behave, either individually or collectively, based on the resulting happiness of such behavior. Utilitarians, such as John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, advocated the greatest happiness principle as a guide for ethical behavior.

Also according to St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, man's last end is happiness: "all men agree in desiring the last end, which is happiness."[23] However, where utilitarians focused on reasoning about consequences as the primary tool for reaching happiness, Aquinas agreed with Aristotle that happiness cannot be reached solely through reasoning about consequences of acts, but also requires a pursuit of good causes for acts, such as habits according to virtue.[24] In turn, which habits and acts that normally lead to happiness is according to Aquinas caused by laws: natural law and divine law. These laws, in turn, were according to Aquinas caused by a first cause, or God.

According to Aquinas, happiness consists in an "operation of the speculative intellect": "Consequently happiness consists principally in such an operation, viz. in the contemplation of Divine things." And, "the last end cannot consist in the active life, which pertains to the practical intellect." So: "Therefore the last and perfect happiness, which we await in the life to come, consists entirely in contemplation. But imperfect happiness, such as can be had here, consists first and principally in contemplation, but secondarily, in an operation of the practical intellect directing human actions and passions."[25]

Economic views

Newly commissioned officers celebrate their new positions by throwing their midshipmen covers into the air as part of the U.S. Naval Academy class of 2011 graduation and commissioning ceremony.
Main article: Happiness economics

Common market health measures such as GDP and GNP have been used as a measure of successful policy. On average richer nations tend to be happier than poorer nations, but this effect seems to diminish with wealth.[26][27] This has been explained by the fact that the dependency is not linear but logarithmic, i.e., the same percentual increase in the GNP produces the same increase in happiness for wealthy countries as for poor countries.[28][29][30][31]

Libertarian think tank Cato Institute claims that economic freedom correlates strongly with happiness[32] preferably within the context of a western mixed economy, with free press and a democracy. According to certain standards, East European countries (ruled by Communist parties) were less happy than Western ones, even less happy than other equally poor countries.[33]

It has been argued that happiness measures could be used not as a replacement for more traditional measures, but as a supplement.[34] According to professor Edward Glaeser, people constantly make choices that decrease their happiness, because they have also more important aims. Therefore, the government should not decrease the alternatives available for the citizen by patronizing them but let the citizen keep a maximal freedom of choice.[35]

It has been argued that happiness at work is one of the driving forces behind positive outcomes at work, rather than just being a resultant product.[36]

Measures

Several scales have been used to measure happiness:

  • The Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) is a four-item scale, measuring global subjective happiness. The scale requires participants to use absolute ratings to characterize themselves as happy or unhappy individuals, as well as it asks to what extent they identify themselves with descriptions of happy and unhappy individuals.[37][38]
  • The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) is used to detect the relation between personality traits and positive or negative affects at this moment, today, the past few days, the past week, the past few weeks, the past year, and generally (on average). PANAS is a 20-item questionnaire, which uses a five-point Likert scale (1 = very slightly or not at all, 5 = extremely).[39][40] A longer version with additional affect scales is available in a manual.[41]
  • The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is a global cognitive assessment of life satisfaction. The SWLS requires a person to use a seven-item scale to state their agreement or disagreement (1 = strongly disagree, 4 = neither agree nor disagree, 7 = strongly agree) with five statements about their life.[42][43]

The UK began to measure national well being in 2012,[44] following Bhutan which already measured gross national happiness.[citation needed]

Health

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Boston

Richard Davidson's 2012 bestseller The Emotional Life of Your Brain argues that positive emotion and happiness benefit your long-term health. From a study conducted in 2005 by Andrew Steptow and Michael Marmot, findings have found that happiness is clearly related to biological markers that play an important role in health.

At University College London, Steptow and Marmot collected health and well-being data from 116 men and 100 women. All 216 participants were middle-aged, British civil servants between the ages of 45 and 59. The researchers aimed to analyze whether there was any association between well-being and three biological markers: heart rate, cortisol levels, and plasma fibrinogen levels. Interestingly, the participants who rated themselves the least happy had cortisol levels that were 48% higher than those who rated themselves as the most happy. The least happy subjects also had a large plasma fibrinogen response to two stress-inducing tasks: the Stroop test, and tracing a star seen in a mirror image.

In Happy People Live Longer,[45] Frey reports that happy people live 14% longer, increasing longevity 7.5 to 10 years.

Steptow and Marmot furthered their studies by using their participants three years later to repeat the physiological measurements. They found that participants who scored high in positive emotion continued to have lower levels of cortisol and fibrinogen, as well as a lower heart rate.

At work

Main article: Happiness at work

Despite a large body of positive psychological research into the relationship between happiness and productivity,[46][47][48] happiness at work has traditionally been seen as a potential by-product of positive outcomes at work, rather than a pathway to success in business. However a growing number of scholars, including Boehm and Lyubomirsky, argue that it should be viewed as one of the major sources of positive outcomes in the workplace.[49][50]

See also

References

  1. ^ Wordnet 3.0 (accessed 2011-Feb-24 via Wolfram Alpha)
  2. ^ Graham, Michael C. (2014). Facts of Life: ten issues of contentment. Outskirts Press. pp. 6–10. ISBN 978-1-4787-2259-5. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ http://www.earth.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/Sachs%20Writing/2012/World%20Happiness%20Report.pdf
  5. ^ Wallis, Claudia (2005-01-09). "Science of Happiness: New Research on Mood, Satisfaction". TIME. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  6. ^ Scott Stossel. "What Makes Us Happy, Revisited - Scott Stossel". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  7. ^ The Journal of Positive Psychology, March 2009
  8. ^ Boston.com, August 23, 2009
  9. ^ Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319, 1687-1688..
  10. ^ Claire Bates (2012-10-31). "Is this the world's happiest man? Brain scans reveal French monk found to have 'abnormally large capacity' for joy, and it could be down to meditation | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  11. ^ Seligman, M.E.P. (2004). Can Happiness be Taught?. Daedalus journal, Spring 2004.
  12. ^ 2009 article in Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience
  13. ^ "Buddhist studies for primary and secondary students, Unit Six: The Four Immeasurables". Buddhanet.net. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  14. ^ Bhikkhu, Thanissaro (1999). "A Guided Meditation". 
  15. ^ Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Judaism's value of happiness living with gratitude and idealism." Bloggish. The Jewish Journal. March 9, 2012.
  16. ^ Psalms, 100:2.
  17. ^ Breslov.org. Accessed November 11, 2014.
  18. ^ Aquinas, Thomas. "Question 3. What is happiness". Summa Theologiae. 
  19. ^ [New Advent|http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07131b.htm]
  20. ^ Chan, Wing-tsit (1963). A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton, NJ, US: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01964-9. 
  21. ^ Levine, Marvin (2000). The Positive Psychology of Buddhism and Yoga : Paths to a Mature Happiness. Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN 0-8058-3833-3. 
  22. ^ Eudaimonia (Greek: εὐδαιμονία) is a classical Greek word commonly translated as 'happiness' or, better yet, 'flourishing'. Etymologically, it consists of the word "eu" ("good" or "well being") and "daimōn" ("spirit" or "minor deity", used by extension to mean one's lot or fortune).
  23. ^ "SUMMA THEOLOGICA: Man's last end (Prima Secundae Partis, Q. 1)". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  24. ^ "SUMMA THEOLOGICA: Secunda Secundae Partis". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  25. ^ "SUMMA THEOLOGICA: What is happiness (Prima Secundae Partis, Q. 3)". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  26. ^ Frey, Bruno S.; Alois Stutzer (December 2001). Happiness and Economics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-06998-0. 
  27. ^ "In Pursuit of Happiness Research. Is It Reliable? What Does It Imply for Policy?". The Cato institute. 2007-04-11. 
  28. ^ "Wealth and happiness revisited Growing wealth of nations does go with greater happiness" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  29. ^ Leonhardt, David (2008-04-16). "Maybe Money Does Buy Happiness After All". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  30. ^ Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox
  31. ^ "Boston.com". Boston.com. 2008-11-23. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  32. ^ In Pursuit of Happiness Research. Is It Reliable? What Does It Imply for Policy? The Cato institute. April 11, 2007
  33. ^ The Scientist's Pursuit of Happiness, Policy, Spring 2005.
  34. ^ Weiner, Eric J. (2007-11-13). "Four months of boom, bust, and fleeing foreign credit". Los Angeles Times. 
  35. ^ Coercive regulation and the balance of freedom, Edward Glaeser, Cato Unbound 11.5.2007
  36. ^ Boehm, J K.; S Lyubomirsky (February 2008). "Journal of Career Assessment". Sage. 
  37. ^ http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/subjectivehappinessscale.pdf
  38. ^ Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. (1999). A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social Indicators Research, 46, 137-155.
  39. ^ http://www.camden.rutgers.edu/~bwhitlow/Courses/Experimental/SURVEY04/sld010.htm
  40. ^ Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063-1070.
  41. ^ http://www.psychology.uiowa.edu/faculty/clark/panas-x.pdf
  42. ^ http://www.tbims.org/combi/swls/swlsrat.html
  43. ^ Diener, E., Emmons, R., Larsen, J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction With Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71-75.
  44. ^ "Measuring National Well-being: Life in the UK, 2012". Ons.gov.uk. 2012-11-20. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  45. ^ Happy People Live Longer, Bruno S. Frey, Science 4 February 2011: 542-543
  46. ^ Carr, A.: "Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Human Strengths" Hove, Brunner-Routledge 2004
  47. ^ Isen, A.; Positive Affect and Decision-making. In M. Lewis and J. Haviland Jones (eds), "Handbook of Emotions" (2nd edition), pp. 417-436. New York, Guilford Press 2000
  48. ^ Buss, D. The Evolution of Happiness, "American Psychologist" Vol. 55 (2000) pp. 15-23
  49. ^ Boehm, J K. & S. Lyubomirsky, Journal of Career Assessment. Vol 16(1), Feb 2008, 101-116
  50. ^ http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/bul-1316803.pdf

Further reading

  • Sara Ahmed, "The Promise of Happiness", 2010
  • Michael Argyle "The psychology of happiness", 1987
  • Boehm, J K. & S. Lyubomirsky, Journal of Career Assessment. Vol 16(1), Feb 2008, 101–116.
  • Norman M. Bradburn "The structure of psychological well-being", 1969
  • C. Robert Cloninger, Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being, Oxford, 2004.
  • Jimmy DeMesa, M.D. "BeHappy!: Your Guide to the Happiest Possible Life", 2006
  • Gregg Easterbrook "The progress paradox – how life gets better while people feel worse", 2003
  • Michael W. Eysenck "Happiness – facts and myths", 1990
  • Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness, Knopf, 2006.
  • Carol Graham "Happiness Around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires", OUP Oxford, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-954905-4
  • W. Doyle Gentry "Happiness for dummies", 2008
  • James Hadley, Happiness: A New Perspective, 2013, ISBN 978-1493545261
  • Joop Hartog & Hessel Oosterbeek "Health, wealth and happiness", 1997
  • Hills P., Argyle M. (2002). "The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire: a compact scale for the measurement of psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Differences". Psychological Wellbeing 33: 1073–1082. 
  • Robert Holden "Happiness now!", 1998
  • Barbara Ann Kipfer, 14,000 Things to Be Happy About, Workman, 1990/2007, ISBN 978-0-7611-4721-3.
  • Neil Kaufman "Happiness is a choice", 1991
  • Stefan Klein, The Science of Happiness, Marlowe, 2006, ISBN 1-56924-328-X.
  • Koenig HG, McCullough M, & Larson DB. Handbook of religion and health: a century of research reviewed (see article). New York: Oxford University Press; 2001.
  • McMahon, Darrin M., Happiness: A History, Atlantic Monthly Press, November 28, 2005. ISBN 0-87113-886-7
  • McMahon, Darrin M., The History of Happiness: 400 B.C. – A.D. 1780, Daedalus journal, Spring 2004.
  • Richard Layard, Happiness: Lessons From A New Science, Penguin, 2005, ISBN 978-0-14-101690-0.
  • Luskin, Frederic, Kenneth R. Pelletier, Dr. Andrew Weil (Foreword). "Stress Free for Good: 10 Scientifically Proven Life Skills for Health and Happiness." 2005
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky "The how of happiness", 2007
  • James Mackaye "Economy of happiness", 1906
  • Lynne McFall "Happiness", 1989
  • Desmond Morris "The nature of happiness", 2004
  • David G. Myers, Ph. D., The Pursuit of Happiness: Who is Happy—and Why, William Morrow and Co., 1992, ISBN 0-688-10550-5.
  • Niek Persoon "Happiness doesn't just happen", 2006
  • Ben Renshaw "The secrets of happiness", 2003
  • Fiona Robards, "What makes you happy?" Exisle Publishing, 2014, ISBN 978-1-921966-31-6
  • Bertrand Russell "The conquest of happiness", orig. 1930 (many reprints)
  • Martin E.P. Seligman, Authentic Happiness, Free Press, 2002, ISBN 0-7432-2298-9.
  • Alexandra Stoddard "Choosing happiness – keys to a joyful life", 2002
  • Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Analysis of Happiness, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1976
  • Elizabeth Telfer "Happiness : an examination of a hedonistic and a eudaemonistic concept of happiness and of the relations between them...", 1980
  • Ruut Veenhoven "Bibliography of happiness – world database of happiness : 2472 studies on subjective appreciation of life", 1993
  • Ruut Veenhoven "Conditions of happiness", 1984
  • Eric G. Wilson "Against Happiness", 2008
  • Journal of happiness studies: an interdisciplinary forum on subjective well-being, International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS), quarterly since 2000, also online

External links