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Happiness

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In philosophy, happiness translates the Greek concept of eudaimonia, and refers to the good life, or flourishing, rather than simply an emotion.

In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.[1] Happy mental states may reflect judgements by a person about their overall well-being.[2]

Since the 1960s, happiness research has been conducted in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including gerontology, social psychology, clinical and medical research and happiness economics.

The United Nations declared 20 March the International Day of Happiness to recognise the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals.

Definition

Happiness is a fuzzy concept. Related concepts are well-being, quality of life, flourishing, and contentment.[3]

In philosophy and (western) religion, happiness may be defined 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. There has been a transition over time from emphasis on the happiness of virtue to the virtue of happiness.[4]

In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.[5] Since the turn of the millennium, the human flourishing approach has attracted increasing interest in psychological, especially prominent in the work of Martin Seligman, Ed Diener and Ruut Veenhoven, and international development and medical research in the work of Paul Anand.[citation needed]

Philosophy

The Love Letter by Federico Andreotti

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.[6] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Friedrich Nietzsche savagely critiqued the English Utilitarians' focus on attaining the greatest happiness, stating "Man does not strive for happiness, only the Englishman does." Nietzsche meant that the making happiness one's ultimate goal, the aim of one's existence, "makes one contemptible;" Nietzsche instead yearned for a culture that would set higher, more difficult goals than "mere happiness." Thus Nietzsche introduces the quasi-dystopic figure of the "last man" as a kind of thought experiment against the utilitarians and happiness-seekers; these small, "last men" who seek after only their own pleasure and health, avoiding all danger, exertion, difficulty, challenge, struggle are meant to seem contemptible to Nietzsche's reader. Nietzsche instead wants us to consider the value of what is difficult, what can only be earned through struggle, difficulty, pain and thus to come to see the affirmative value suffering and unhappiness truly play in creating everything of great worth in life, including all the highest achievements of human culture, not least of all philosophy.[7][8]

Religion

Eastern religions

Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhist monk

Happiness forms a central theme of Buddhist teachings.[9] 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.[10][11][unreliable source?]

Hinduism

Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, wrote quite exhaustively on the psychological and ontological roots of bliss.[12]

Confucianism

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.[13]

Abrahamic religions

Judaism

Happiness or simcha (Hebrew: שמחה‎‎) in Judaism is considered an important element in the service of God.[14] The biblical verse "worship The Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs," (Psalm 100:2) stresses joy in the service of God.[citation needed] 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.[15]

Christianity

Roman 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.[16]

According to St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, man's last end is happiness: "all men agree in desiring the last end, which is happiness."[17] 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.[18] 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.[citation needed]

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."[19]

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.[20]

Islam

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.[citation needed]

Psychology

Happiness in its broad sense is the label for a family of pleasant emotional states, such as joy, amusement, satisfaction, gratification, euphoria, and triumph.[21] For example, happiness comes from "encountering unexpected positive events",[22] "seeing a significant other",[23] and "basking in the acceptance and praise of others".[24] More narrowly, it refers to experiential and evaluative well-being. Experiential well-being, or "objective happiness", is happiness measured in the moment via questions such as "How good or bad is your experience now?". In contrast, evaluative well-being asks questions such as "How good was your vacation?" and measures one's subjective thoughts and feelings about happiness in the past. Experiential well-being is less prone to errors in reconstructive memory, but the majority of literature on happiness refers to evaluative well-being. The two measures of happiness can be related by heuristics such as the peak-end rule.[25]

Happiness is not solely derived from external, momentary pleasures.[26] Indeed, despite the popular conception that happiness is fleeting, studies suggest that happiness is actually rather stable over time.[27][28]

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.[29]

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

Theories

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow's 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.[citation needed]

Self-determination theory

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

Positive psychology

During the past two decades, the field of positive psychology has expanded drastically in terms of scientific publications, and has produced many different views on causes of happiness, and on factors that correlate with happiness.[30] Numerous short-term self-help interventions have been developed and demonstrated to improve well-being.[31]

Seligmann's acronym PERMA summarizes five factors correlated with well-being:[32]

  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).

Measurement of happiness

Several scales have been developed 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.[33][34]
  • 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).[35][36] A longer version with additional affect scales is available in a manual.[37]
  • The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is a global cognitive assessment of life satisfaction developed by Ed Diener. 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.[38][39]

The UK began to measure national well being in 2012,[40] following Bhutan, which already measured gross national happiness.[citation needed]

The 2012 World Happiness Report stated that in subjective well-being measures, the primary distinction is between cognitive life evaluations and emotional reports.[41] 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.[citation needed]

Economic and political 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.

In politics, happiness as a guiding ideal is expressed in the United States Declaration of Independence of 1776, written by Thomas Jefferson, as the universal right to "the pursuit of happiness."[42] This seems to suggest a subjective interpretation but one that nonetheless goes beyond emotions alone.[citation needed] In fact, this discussion is often based on the naive assumption that the word happiness meant the same thing in 1776 as it does today. In fact, happiness meant "prosperity, thriving, wellbeing" in the 18th century.[43]

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.[44][45] 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.[46][47][48][49] Increasingly, academic economists and international economic organisations are arguing for and developing multi-dimensional dashboards which combine subjective and objective indicators to provide a more direct and explicit assessment of human wellbeing. Work by Paul Anand and colleagues helps to highlight the fact that there many different contributors to adult wellbeing, that happiness judgement reflect, in part, the presence of salient constraints, and that fairness, autonomy, community and engagement are key aspects of happiness and wellbeing throughout the life course.

Libertarian think tank Cato Institute claims that economic freedom correlates strongly with happiness[50] 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.[51]

However, much empirical research in the field of happiness economics, such as that by Benjamin Radcliff, professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, supports the contention that (at least in democratic countries) life satisfaction is strongly and positively related to the social democratic model of a generous social safety net, pro-worker labor market regulations, and strong labor unions.[52] Similarly, there is evidence that public policies that reduce poverty and support a strong middle class, such as a higher minimum wage, strongly affects average levels of well-being.[53]

It has been argued that happiness measures could be used not as a replacement for more traditional measures, but as a supplement.[54] 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.[55]

Good mental health and good relationships contribute more than income to happiness and governments should take these into account.[56]

Contributing factors and research outcomes

Research on positive psychology, well-being, eudaimonia and happiness, and the theories of Diener, Ryff, Keyes and Seligmann covers a broad range of levels and topics, including "the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life."[57]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Anand, P (2016). Happiness Explained. Oxford University Press. [page needed]
  3. ^ Graham, Michael C. (2014). Facts of Life: ten issues of contentment. Outskirts Press. pp. 6–10. ISBN 978-1-4787-2259-5. 
  4. ^ McMahon, Darrin M. (2004). "From the happiness of virtue to the virtue of happiness: 400 B.C. – A.D. 1780". Daedalus. 133 (2): 5–17. JSTOR 20027908. doi:10.1162/001152604323049343. 
  5. ^ "happiness". Wolfram Alpha. 
  6. ^ 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).
  7. ^ "Nietzsche's Moral and Political Philosophy". stanford.edu. 
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  17. ^ "SUMMA THEOLOGICA: Man's last end (Prima Secundae Partis, Q. 1)". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  18. ^ "SUMMA THEOLOGICA: Secunda Secundae Partis". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  19. ^ "Summa Theologica: What is happiness (Prima Secundae Partis, Q. 3)". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  20. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: Happiness". newadvent.org. 
  21. ^ Algoe, Sara B.; Haidt, Jonathan (2009). "Witnessing excellence in action: the 'other-praising' emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration". The Journal of Positive Psychology. 4 (2): 105–27. PMC 2689844Freely accessible. PMID 19495425. doi:10.1080/17439760802650519. 
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  25. ^ Kahneman, Daniel; Riis, Jason (2005). "Living, and thinking about it: two perspectives on life" (PDF). In Huppert, Felicia A; Baylis,, Nick; Keverne, Barry. The science of well-being. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198567523. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567523.003.0011. Retrieved 1 April 2017. 
  26. ^ Seligman, Martin E. P. (2004). "Can happiness be taught?". Daedalus. 133 (2): 80–87. JSTOR 20027916. doi:10.1162/001152604323049424. 
  27. ^ Baumeister, Roy F.; Vohs, Kathleen D.; Aaker, Jennifer L.; Garbinsky, Emily N. (November 2013). "Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life". The Journal of Positive Psychology. 8 (6): 505–516. doi:10.1080/17439760.2013.830764. 
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  29. ^ Deci, Edward L.; Ryan, Richard M. (2006). "Hedonia, eudaimonia, and well-being: an introduction". Journal of Happiness Studies. 9 (1): 1–11. doi:10.1007/s10902-006-9018-1. 
  30. ^ Wallis, Claudia (2005-01-09). "Science of Happiness: New Research on Mood, Satisfaction". TIME. Archived from the original on November 15, 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  31. ^ Bolier, Linda; Haverman, Merel; Westerhof, Gerben J; Riper, Heleen; Smit, Filip; Bohlmeijer, Ernst (8 February 2013). "Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies". BMC Public Health. 13 (1). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-119. 
  32. ^ Seligman, Martin E. P. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. Simon and Schuster. p. 16. ISBN 9781439190760. Retrieved 1 April 2017. 
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  37. ^ Watson, David; Clark, Lee Anna (1994). The PANAS-X: Manual for the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule – Expanded Form. The University of Iowa. [page needed]
  38. ^ "SWLS Rating Form". tbims.org. 
  39. ^ Diener, Ed; Emmons, Robert A.; Larsen, Randy J.; Griffin, Sharon (1985). "The Satisfaction With Life Scale". Journal of Personality Assessment. 49 (1): 71–75. PMID 16367493. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13. 
  40. ^ "Measuring National Well-being: Life in the UK, 2012". Ons.gov.uk. 2012-11-20. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  41. ^ Helliwell, John; Layard, Richard; Sachs, Jeffrey, eds. (2012). World Happiness Report 2012. ISBN 978-0-9968513-0-5. [page needed]
  42. ^ Schlesinger, Arthur M. (1964). "The Lost Meaning of "The Pursuit of Happiness"". The William and Mary Quarterly. 21 (3): 325–27. JSTOR 1918449. doi:10.2307/1918449. 
  43. ^ Fountain, Ben (17 September 2016). "Two American Dreams: how a dumbed-down nation lost sight of a great idea". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-01-19. 
  44. ^ Frey, Bruno S.; Alois Stutzer (December 2001). Happiness and Economics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-06998-0. 
  45. ^ "In Pursuit of Happiness Research. Is It Reliable? What Does It Imply for Policy?". The Cato institute. 2007-04-11. 
  46. ^ "Wealth and happiness revisited Growing wealth of nations does go with greater happiness" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  47. ^ Leonhardt, David (2008-04-16). "Maybe Money Does Buy Happiness After All". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
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  51. ^ The Scientist's Pursuit of Happiness Archived February 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., Policy, Spring 2005.
  52. ^ Radcliff, Benjamin (2013) The Political Economy of Human Happiness (New York: Cambridge University Press).[page needed] See also this collection of full-text peer reviewed scholarly articles on this subject by Radcliff and colleagues (from "Social Forces," "The Journal of Politics," and "Perspectives on Politics," among others) [1][improper synthesis?]
  53. ^ Michael Krassa (14 May 2014). "Does a higher minimum wage make people happier?". Washington Post. 
  54. ^ Weiner, Eric J. (2007-11-13). "Four months of boom, bust, and fleeing foreign credit". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 22, 2007. 
  55. ^ Coercive regulation and the balance of freedom, Edward Glaeser, Cato Unbound 11.5.2007
  56. ^ Mental health and relationships 'key to happiness' BBC
  57. ^ Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi 2000.

Further reading

Books
  • Van der Merwe, Paul, Lucky Go Happy : Make Happiness Happen!, Reach Publishers, 2016. ISBN 9781496941640
  • Anand Paul "Happiness Explained: What Human Flourishing Is and What We Can Do to Promote It", Oxford, Oxford University Press 2016. ISBN 0198735456
  • Michael Argyle "The psychology of happiness", 1987
  • Boehm, J K.; Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). "Does Happiness Promote Career Success?". Journal of Career Assessment. 16 (1): 101–16. doi:10.1177/1069072707308140. 
  • Norman M. Bradburn "The structure of psychological well-being", 1969
  • C. Robert Cloninger, Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being, Oxford, 2004.
  • 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 (7): 1073–82. doi:10.1016/s0191-8869(01)00213-6. 
  • 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
  • James Mackaye "Economy of happiness", 1906
  • 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
  • Benjamin Radcliff The Political Economy of Human Happiness (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  • 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
  • Joachim Weimann, Andreas Knabe, and Ronnie Schob, eds. Measuring Happiness: The Economics of Well-Being (MIT Press; 2015) 206 pages
  • Eric G. Wilson "Against Happiness", 2008
Articles and videos

External links