“The Pursuit of Happyness” Essay
Introduction, lessons to be learned, peculiarities of the professional sales sphere, goal setting, positive attitude, discipline, determination, and visualization, works cited.
The significance of motivation, positive attitude, determination, and discipline cannot be overestimated in every working environment and professional sales in particular. All these factors are crucial for the efficient organizational performance and positive outcomes. A professional sale is an extremely competitive sphere, and it requires time and efforts to achieve success. In the following paper, the lessons of success from the movie The Pursuit of Happyness will be characterized and evaluated.
Numerous movies depict ways of becoming successful and accomplishing one’s goals. Although there are different methods of getting what one wants, the primary principles remain the same — one has to be eager to achieve something and never give up. The Pursuit of Happyness is one of the best films that presents a strong will, self-determination, motivation, and discipline as essential constituents of success. It is significant to have insight into the idea of the film for the further evaluation.
The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 biographical drama that describes the life of Chris Gardner. The main character is a salesperson who has to take care his five-year-old son. Gardner has nothing, and his aim is to receive necessary financial resources for the upbringing of his child (“The Pursuit of Happyness” par. 1). The story depicts the way Gardner fights for his dream.
It is a challenge to become successful in the sphere of professional sales. Here is a list of the most significant constituents of success according to the story:
- Goal setting;
- Positive attitude;
As it has been already mentioned, professional sales form an extremely competitive sphere. Sales comprise an integral part of everyday life of all people. The fact is that there are many participants in the field, but only a few of them are winners. Being a professional salesperson requires time and energy. One should always remember that being a salesperson and a sales professional is not the same thing (Jamail 5). According to Jamail, everyone who has a pleasant voice and a beautiful smile can become a salesperson. Nevertheless, the professional development in the domain presupposes constant learning and improvement of skills.
There is a variety of opinions concerning the nature of sales. Some people consider it to be the art of speaking and persuasion. Others believe that a salesmanship is based on the ability to build rapport with people. All these statements are too broad to be useful in practice. As Jamail writes, “Sales is about understanding who we are calling, what are we asking the customer, what energy we are giving, and, most importantly, establishing positions of influence with the prospective customer” (6).
A professional salesperson should possess broad knowledge and skills. Thus, one has to create a particular strategy for sales. Also, a successful salesman has to deal with a variety of external factors such as human emotions, behaviors, and unpredictable situations. Even more, a professional in the sphere should be able to read the body language of others and understand the way they think. The ability to control one’s body language and the effective verbal communication belong to other crucial features of the salesperson.
The apparent distinctive feature of this position is that one’s salary is dependent on sales. No one is going to pay a monthly salary for an employee who has not sold anything. It is what makes professional sales unique and challenging. There is a direct connection between one’s abilities, desire to work and earnings. However, there are cases when even doing one’s best does not help. In such cases, the salesperson has to stay motivated and keep trying.
The first significant aspect of professional sales is goal setting. Goals comprise a substantial ground for one’s motivation. Goals define the objectives that have to be achieved. Consequently, the person focuses on the particular goal and moves towards its accomplishment. This fact has been proved by numerous studies. A person who has exact aims is more likely to demonstrate better performance than the person whose goals are not clear.
However, the goal setting is not just about defining what has to be done. A salesperson should have specific objectives and accept them. Also, these goals have to be attainable (Lunenburg 1-3). The specification of targets directs employee’s performance and energy. In the movie under evaluation, the main character has a particular goal — to become a successful stockbroker. Second, goals have to be difficult, but achievable. Otherwise, the person will not receive an adequate level of satisfaction. Too challenging goals may also lead to negative consequences due to the potential demotivation. Chris Gardner’s goal is difficult because he has only one chance to get the position he wants. At the same time, he knows that he can do it, and this fact makes him improve his performance.
The acceptance of goals leads to the increasing self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is another important aspect of the successful performance. Chris sets a particular aim, and his self-efficacy enhances when he starts to work hard. His self-satisfaction increased, and he became more motivated as a result.
The ability to maintain a positive attitude towards the job is essential for a salesperson. Working with sales can be rather stressful. There are bad periods that do not bring many revenues. Also, workers continually meet different people, and their treatment can be various as well. Some clients are pleasant and polite while others are ready to shout that they do not need anything. Finally, the relationships with superiors require a positive attitude too.
A positive attitude is crucial if one wants to reduce stress and avoid burnouts. It comprises of several constituents including hope, optimism, resiliency, and confidence (Woods 2-5). Hope is the ability to wait for something better in stressful situations. Chris Gardner relies on hope in the movie. The situation in his life is terrible as far as he even does not have a place to live. Nevertheless, his faith is strong, and it leads him. Optimism is another part of a positive attitude. Thus, every salesperson should believe in optimistic results. The importance of optimism should not be underestimated. Metropolitan Life case study proves that fact.
Thus, in the 1980s, the company hired approximately five thousand salespeople and trained them. Organization’s CEO asked psychologists to evaluate the level of optimism in employees and its relation to sales. The psychologists found out that positive people were better sellers in comparison to others. As a result, the company began hiring employees only with high levels of optimism. It led to the substantial increasing of sales (“Optimism = Sales Success” par. 4-6).
Resiliency, being the third constituent of a positive attitude, deals with the ability to overcome stress and restore strengths. It also means the willingness to go on and try one more time even if it is difficult. Gardner’s resiliency can serve as an example to follow. He always remains devoted to his initial goals regardless of failures and problems. The last part of the positive attitude, confidence, relates to self-efficacy.
Motivation is crucial for the efficient working performance. Motivation is a power that makes people continue fighting for their dreams and accomplish set goals. Two types of motivation are distinguished: extrinsic and intrinsic. An intrinsic motivation refers to the individual interest and commitment to work while the extrinsic motivation concerns material rewards for the job. Depending on circumstances, one type of motivation may be preferred. In most cases, the combination of both kinds is employed. However, the balance between them may differ among different organizations (Frey and Osterloh 3).
Managers have to create effective strategies for the extrinsic motivation of employees. For instance, the manager of Panasonic, Tali Rose, developed a personalized sales incentive platform for the motivation of retail salespeople in New Zeeland. The company faced high competence in the country. The aim of the program was to motivate employees and enhance their working performance. A particular communication program was introduced. Thus, salespeople received personalized notifications of their accomplishments and rewards. As a result, they became highly motived, and the level of their engagement in work increased drastically (“Panasonic: Personalized Sales Incentive Platform Case Study” par. 1-8).
In the movie, Gardner’s motivation is rather different from the described. His intrinsic motivation refers to his desire to become a stockbroker and his belief that he would be happy to have that position. The extrinsic motivation of Chris concerns his son. He wants to earn money, receive rewards to provide his son with a better life and opportunities. It is also necessary to stay motivated in various circumstances. Chris has a dream, and he keeps moving towards it.
The words from the basketball scene serve as a perfect example of Gardner’s attitude towards life and motivation. He says, “Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, and you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” ( The Pursuit of Happyness ).
Many people do not believe in the power of discipline though the practice shows that it is vital for the efficient performance. Self-discipline allows people to monitor their achievements and do not give up. People tend to pity themselves and have breaks because of too many efforts. In many cases, individuals exaggerate their accomplishments. A self-discipline allows one to control achievements and improve efficacy (Rosso par. 1-3). Gardens’ self-discipline is another example to follow. He decides to call at least two hundred people a day. It is tough but it what makes him unique and gives him hope for the better future.
The determination is of particular importance for professional sales as well. Salespeople know that it is crucial to try one more time and never give up. The determination may be defined as “the act of deciding on the desired outcome and taking action to achieve it” (Lannarino par. 6). The determination is an internal power that makes person continue moving towards the particular goal. In sales, a determination is necessary for success. Salespeople often hear “no”. That is the determination that makes them try again. Persistence allows a seller to believe that there is always a chance of success.
Since the very beginning, Chris Gardner decides to succeed regardless of circumstances. During the story, he faces numerous problems but none of them distracts him from his primary intention. Another feature of Gardner’s determination is that he does not blame anything or anyone for his failures. This fact shows that the need to justify oneself should not be prevailing. It is also a sign of a weak will. Finally, Chris has a vision of what he wants. Visualization is useful technique not only in sales but everyday life too. People have to think about and visualize their dreams to achieve them. The power of visualization is immense, and it helps people to retain their determination.
An extreme competence characterizes the domain of professional sales. One has to possess a set of different skills and abilities to become a successful salesperson. Salespeople should be able to work under various circumstances. A setting of goals is the initial stage of success. Then, it is necessary to have a positive attitude towards the work. One should be optimistic and hope for the better. Nothing can be achieved without proper motivation. Motivation is crucial to the success in any sphere. Self-discipline and determination are of particular significance for sales. The success in this field depends on the ability to try one more time and never give up.
Frey, Bruno and Margit Osterloh. Successful Management by Motivation . Boston, Massachusetts: Springer Science & Business Media, 2013. Print.
Jamail, Nathan. The Sales Professionals Playbook . Henderson, Nevada: Scooter Publishing, Inc., 2013. Print.
Lannarino, Anthony. Determination: The Ability to Preserve . 2010. Web.
Lunenburg, Fred. “Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation.” International Journal of Management, Business, and Administration 15.1 (2011): 1-6. Print.
Optimism = Sales Success . n.d. Web.
Panasonic: Personalized Sales Incentive Platform Case Study . n.d. Web.
The Pursuit of Happyness . Dir. Gabrielle Muccino. Sony Pictures, 2006. Film.
The Pursuit of Happyness . n.d. Web.
Woods, Gae-Lynn. Examples of Positive Attitude . 2014. Web.
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The Philosophy of Happiness in Life (+ Aristotle’s View)
We all hope to be happy and live a ‘good life’– whatever that means! Do you wonder, what does it actually mean?
The basic role of ‘philosophy’ is to ask questions, and think about the nature of human thought and the universe. Thus, a discussion of the philosophy of happiness in life can be seen as an examination of the very nature of happiness and what it means for the universe.
Philosophers have been inquiring about happiness since ancient times. Aristotle, when he asked ‘ what is the ultimate purpose of human existence ’ alluded to the fact that purpose was what he argued to be ‘happiness’. He termed this eudaimonia – “ activity expressing virtue ”. This will all be explained shortly.
The purpose of this article is to explore the philosophy of happiness in life, including taking a closer look at Aristotle’s philosophy and answering some of those “big” questions about happiness and living a ‘good life’. In this article, you will also find some practical tips that hopefully you can put in place in your own life. Enjoy!
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Happiness & Subjective Wellbeing Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients identify sources of authentic happiness and strategies to boost wellbeing.
This Article Contains:
A look at the philosophy of happiness, aristotle on happiness, what is real happiness, the value and importance of having true happiness in life, the biggest causes that bring true happiness in life, 15 ways to create happy moments in life, five reasons to be happy from a philosophical perspective, finding happiness in family life, a look at happiness and productivity, how does loneliness affect life satisfaction, 6 recommended books, a take-home message.
Happiness. It is a term that is taken for granted in this modern age. However, since the dawn of time, philosophers have been pursuing the inquiry of happiness… after all, the purpose of life is not just to live, but to live ‘well’.
Philosophers ask some key questions about happiness: can people be happy? If so, do they want to? If people have both a desire to be happy and the ability to be happy, does this mean that they should, therefore, pursue happiness for themselves and others? If they can, they want to, and they ought to be happy, but how do they achieve this goal?
To explore the philosophy of happiness in life, first, the history of happiness will be examined.
Democritus, a philosopher from Ancient Greece, was the first philosopher in the western world to examine the nature of happiness (Kesebir & Diener, 2008). He put forth a suggestion that, unlike it was previously thought, happiness does not result from ‘favorable fate’ (i.e. good luck) or other external circumstances (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Democritus contended that happiness was a ‘case of mind’, introducing a subjectivist view as to what happiness is (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
A more objective view of happiness was introduced by Socrates, and his student, Plato.
They put forth the notion that happiness was “ secure enjoyment of what is good and beautiful ” (Plato, 1999, p. 80). Plato developed the idea that the best life is one whereby a person is either pursuing pleasure of exercising intellectual virtues… an argument which, the next key figure in the development of the philosophy of happiness – Aristotle – disagreed with (Waterman, 1993).
The philosophy of Aristotle will be explored in depth in the next section of this article.
Hellenic history (i.e. ancient Greek times) was largely dominated by the prominent theory of hedonism (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Hedonism is, to put it simply, the pursuit of pleasure as the only intrinsic good (Waterman, 1993). This was the Cyrenaic view of happiness. It was thought that a good life was denoted by seeking pleasure, and satisfying physical, intellectual/social needs (Kashdan, Biswas-Diener & King, 2008).
Kraut (1979, p. 178) describes hedonic happiness as “ the belief that one is getting the important things one wants, as well as certain pleasant affects that normally go along with this belief ” (Waterman, 1993).
In ancient times, it was also thought that it is not possible to live a good life without living in accordance with reason and morality (Kesebir & Diener, 2008). Epicurus, whose work was dominated by hedonism, contended that in fact, virtue (living according to values) and pleasure are interdependent (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
In the middle ages, Christian philosophers said that whilst virtue is essential for a good life, that virtue alone is not sufficient for happiness (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
According to the Christian philosophers, happiness is in the hands of God. Even though the Christians believed that earthly happiness was imperfect, they embraced the idea that Heaven promised eternal happiness (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
A more secular explanation of happiness was introduced in the Age of Enlightenment.
At this time, in the western world pleasure was regarded as the path to, or even the same thing as, happiness (Kesebir & Diener, 2008). From the early nineteenth century, happiness was seen as a value which is derived from maximum pleasure.
Utilitarians, such as the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, suggested the following: “ maximum surplus of pleasure over pain as the cardinal goal of human striving ” (Kesebir & Diener, 2008). Utilitarians believe that morals and legislation should be based on whatever will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
In the modern era, happiness is something we take for granted. It is assumed that humans are entitled to pursue and attain happiness (Kesebir & Diener, 2008). This is evidenced by the fact that in the US declaration of independence, the pursuit of happiness is protected as a fundamental human right! (Conkle, 2008).
Go into any book store and large sections are dedicated to the wide range of ‘self-help’ books all promoting happiness.
What is This Thing Called Happiness?
It is incredibly challenging to define happiness . Modern psychology describes happiness as subjective wellbeing, or “ people’s evaluations of their lives and encompasses both cognitive judgments of satisfaction and affective appraisals of moods and emotions ” (Kesebir & Diener, 2008, p. 118).
The key components of subjective wellbeing are:
- Life satisfaction
- Satisfaction with important aspects of one’s life (for example work, relationships, health)
- The presence of positive affect
- Low levels of negative affect
These four components have featured in philosophical material on happiness since ancient times.
Subjective life satisfaction is a crucial aspect of happiness, which is consistent with the work of contemporary philosopher Wayne Sumner, who described happiness as ‘ a response by a subject to her life conditions as she sees them ’ (1999, p. 156).
Thus, if happiness is ‘a thing’ how is it measured?
Some contemporary philosophers and psychologists question self-report as an appropriate measure of happiness. However, many studies have found that self-report measures of ‘happiness’ (subjective wellbeing) are valid and reliable (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Two other accounts of happiness in modern psychology are firstly, the concept of psychological wellbeing (Ryff & Singer, 1996) and secondly, self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000).
Both of these theories are more consistent with the eudaemonist theories of ‘ flourishing ’ (including Aristotle’s ideas) because they describe the phenomenon of needs (such as autonomy, self-acceptance, and mastery) being met (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Eudaimonia will be explained in detail in the next section of the article (keep reading!) but for now, it suffices to say that eudaemonist theories of happiness define ‘happiness’ (eudaimonia) as a state in which an individual strives for the highest human good.
These days, most empirical psychological research puts forward the theory of subjective wellbeing rather than happiness as defined in a eudaimonic sense (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Although the terms eudaimonia and subjectivewellbeing are not necessarily interchangeable, Kesebir and Diener (2008) argue that subjective wellbeing can be used to describe wellbeing, even if it may not be an absolutely perfect definition!
Can People be Happy?
In order to adequately address this question, it is necessary to differentiate between ‘ideal’ happiness and ‘actual’ happiness.
‘Ideal’ happiness implies a way of being that is complete, lasting and altogether perfect… probably outside of anyone’s reach! (Kesebir & Diener, 2008). However, despite this, people can actually experience mostly positive emotions and report overall satisfaction with their lives and therefore be deemed ‘happy’.
In fact, most people are happy. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in the US (2006), 84% of Americans see themselves as either “very happy” or “pretty happy” (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Happiness also has an adaptive function. How is happiness adaptive? Well, positivity and wellbeing are also associated with people being confident enough to explore their environments and approach new goals, which increases the likelihood of them collecting resources.
The fact that most people report being happy, and happiness having an adaptive function, leads Kesebir and Diener (2008) to conclude that yes people can, in fact, be happy.
Do People Want to be Happy?
The overwhelming answer is yes! Research has shown that being happy is desirable. Whilst being happy is certainly not the only goal in life, nonetheless, it is necessary for a good life (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
A study by King and Napa (1998) showed that Americans view happiness as more relevant to the judgment of what constitutes a good life, rather than either wealth or ‘moral goodness’.
Should People be Happy?
Another way of putting this, is happiness justifiable? Happiness is not just the result of positive outcomes, such as better health, improved work performance, more ethical behavior, and better social relationships (Kesebir & Diener, 2008). It actually precedes and causes these outcomes!
Happiness leads to better health. For example, research undertaken by Danner, Snowdon & Friesen in 2001 examined the content of handwritten autobiographies of Catholic sisters. They found that expression in the writing that was characterized by positive affect predicted longevity 60 years later!
Happiness is derived not from pursuing pleasure, but by working towards goals which are reflected in one’s values (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Happiness can be predicted not merely by pleasure but by having a sense of meaning , purpose, and fulfillment. Happiness is also associated with better performance in professional life/work.
Social relationships and prosocial behavior
Happiness brings out the best in people… people who are happier are more social, cooperative and ethical (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Happy individuals have also been shown to evaluate others more positively, show greater interest in interacting with others socially, and even be more likely to engage in self-disclosure (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Happy individuals are also more likely to behave ethically (for example, choosing not to buy something because it is known to be stolen) (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
How to be happy?
The conditions and sources of happiness will be explored later on, so do keep reading… briefly in the meantime, happiness is caused by wealth, friends and social relationships, religion, and personality. These factors predict happiness.
This section has provided a comprehensive summary of the philosophy of happiness. Following on from a brief historical overview, the possibility, desirability, and justifiability of happiness will be explored. Now, onto Aristotle…
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Chances are, you have heard of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. Are you aware that it was Aristotle who introduced the ‘science of happiness’? (Pursuit of Happiness, 2018).
Founder of Lyceum, the first scientific institute in Athens, Aristotle delivered a series of lectures termed Nicomachean Ethics to present his theory of happiness (Pursuit of Happiness, 2018).
Aristotle asked, “ what is the ultimate purpose of human existence? ”. He thought that a worthwhile goal should be to pursue “ that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else ” (Pursuit of Happiness, 2018).
However, Aristotle disagreed with the Cyrenaic view that the only intrinsic good is pleasure (Waterman, 1993).
In developing his theory of ‘happiness’, Aristotle drew upon his knowledge about nature. He contended that what separates man from animal is rational capacity – arguing that a human’s unique function is to reason. He went on to say that pleasure alone cannot result in happiness because animals are driven by the pursuit of pleasure and according to Aristotle man has greater capacities than animals (Pursuit of Happiness, 2018).
Instead, he put forward the term ‘ eudaimonia ’.
To explain simply, eudaimonia is defined as ‘ activity expressing virtue ’ or what Aristotle conceived as happiness. Aristotle’s theory of happiness was as follows:
‘the function of man is to live a certain kind of life, and this activity implies a rational principle, and the function of a good man is the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed it is performed in accord with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, then happiness turns out to be an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue’
A key component of Aristotle’s theory of happiness is the factor of virtue. He contended that in aiming for happiness, the most important factor is to have ‘complete virtue’ or – in other words – good moral character (Pursuit of Happiness, 2008).
Aristotle identified friendship as being one of the most important virtues in achieving the goal of eudaimonia (Pursuit of Happiness, 2008). In fact, he valued friendship very highly, and described a ‘virtuous’ friendship as the most enjoyable, combining both pleasure and virtue.
Aristotle went on to put forward his belief that happiness involves, through the course of an entire life, choosing the ‘greater good’ not necessarily that which brings immediate, short term pleasure (Pursuit of Happiness, 2008).
Thus, according to Aristotle, happiness can only be achieved at the life-end: it is a goal, not a temporary state of being (Pursuit of Happiness, 2008). Aristotle believed that happiness is not short-lived:
‘for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy’
Happiness (eudaimonia), to Aristotle, meant attaining the ‘daimon’ or perfect self (Waterman, 1990). Reaching the ‘ultimate perfection of our natures’, as Aristotle meant by happiness, includes rational reflection (Pursuit of Happiness, 2008).
He argued that education was the embodiment of character refinement (Pursuit of Happiness, 2008). Striving for the daimon (perfect self) gives life meaning and direction (Waterman, 1990). Having a meaningful, purposeful life is valuable.
Efforts that the individual puts in to strive for the daimon are termed ‘ personally expressive ’ (Waterman, 1990).
Personal expressiveness involves intense involvement in an activity, a sense of fulfillment when engaged in an activity, and having a sense of acting in accordance with one’s purpose (Waterman, 1990). It refers to putting in effort, feeling challenged and competent, having clear goals and concentrating (Waterman, 1993).
According to Aristotle, eudaimonia and hedonic enjoyment are separate and distinguishable (Waterman, 1993). However, in a study of university students, personal expressiveness (which is, after all a component of eudaimonia) was found to be positively correlated with hedonic enjoyment (Waterman, 1993).
Telfer (1980), on the other hand, claimed that eudaimonia is a sufficient but not a necessary condition for achieving hedonic enjoyment (Waterman, 1993). How are eudaimonia and hedonic enjoyment different?
Well, personal expressiveness (from striving for eudaimonia) is associated with successfully achieving self-realization, while hedonic enjoyment does not (Waterman, 1993).
Thus, Aristotle identified the best possible life goal and the achievement of the highest level of meeting one’s needs, self-realization many, many years before Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs!
Results from Waterman’s 1993 study provide empirical support for the association between ‘personal expressiveness’ and what was described by Csikszentimikalyi (1975) as “flow” (Waterman, 1993).
Flow , conceptualized as a cognitive-affective state, is an experience whereby the challenge a task presents to a person is aligned with the skills that individual has to deal with such challenges.
Understanding that flow is a distinctive cognitive-affective state combines hedonic enjoyment and personal expressiveness (Waterman, 1993).
Aristotle’s work Nicomachean Ethics contributed a great deal to the understanding of what happiness is. To summarise from Pursuit of Happiness (2018), according to Aristotle, the purpose and ultimate goal in life is to achieve eudaimonia (‘happiness’). He believed that eudaimonia was not simply virtue, nor pleasure, but rather it was the exercise of virtue.
According to Aristotle, eudaimonia is a lifelong goal and depends on rational reflection. To achieve a balance between excess and deficiency (‘temperance’) one displays virtues – for example, generosity, justice, friendship, and citizenship. Eudaimonia requires intellectual contemplation, in order to meet our rational capacities.
To answer Aristotle’s question of “ what is the ultimate purpose of human existence ” is not a simple task, but perhaps the best answer is that the ultimate goal for human beings is to strive for ‘eudaimonia’ (happiness).
Aristotle & virtue theory – CrashCourse
What does ‘true’ happiness look like? Is it landing the dream job? Having a child ? Graduating from university? Whilst happiness is certainly associated with these ‘external’ factors, true happiness is quite different.
To be truly happy, a person’s sense of contentment with their life needs to come from within (Puff, 2018). In other words, real happiness is internal.
There are a few features that characterize ‘true’ (or real) happiness. The first is acceptance . A truly happy individual accepts reality for what it is, and what’s more, they actually come to love ‘what is’ (Puff, 2018).
This acceptance allows a person to feel content. As well as accepting the true state of affairs, real happiness involves accepting the fact that change is inevitable (Puff, 2018). Being willing to accept change as part of life means that truly happy people are in a position to be adaptive.
A state of real happiness is also reflected by a person having an understanding of the transience of life (Puff, 2018). This is important because understanding that in life, both good and ‘bad’ are only short-lived means that truly happy individuals have an understanding that ‘this too shall pass’.
Finally, another aspect of real happiness is an appreciation of the people in an individual’s life. (Puff, 2018). Strong relationships characterize people who are truly ‘flourishing’.
Most people would say that, if they could, they would like to be happy. As well as being desirable, happiness is both important and valuable.
Happy people have better social and work relationships (Conkle, 2008).
In terms of career, happy individuals are more likely to complete college, secure employment, receive positive work evaluations from their superiors, earn higher incomes, and are less likely to lose their job – and, in case of being laid off, people who are happy are re-employed more quickly (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Positive emotions also precede and promote career success (Lyubomirsky, 2018). Happy workers are less likely to burn out, be absent from work and quit their job (Lyubomirsky, 2018). Further on in this article, the relationship between happiness and productivity will be explored more thoroughly.
It has also been found that people who are happy contribute more to society (Conkle, 2008). There is also an association between happiness and cooperation – those who are happy are more cooperative (Kesebir & Diener, 2008). They are also more likely to display ethical behavior (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Perhaps the most important reason to have true happiness in life is that it is linked to longevity. True happiness is a significant predictor of a longer, healthier life (Conkle, 2008).
It is not only the effects of happiness that benefit individuals. Whole countries can flourish too – according to research, nations that are rated as happier also score more highly on generalized trust, volunteerism and democratic attitudes (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
However, as well as these objective reasons why happiness is important, happiness also brings with it some positive experiences and feelings. For example, true happiness is related to feelings of meaning and purpose (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
It is also associated with a sense of fulfillment, plus a feeling of achievement that is attained through actively striving for, and making progress towards, valuable goals (Kesebir & Diener, 2008).
Interestingly, objective life circumstances (demographic details) only account for 8% – 15% of the variance in happiness (Kesebir & Diener, 2008). So what causes true happiness? Kesebir and Diener (2008) identified five sources of happiness:
Wealth is the first cause of happiness. Studies have shown a significant positive correlation between wealth and happiness. It is the case that having enough (i.e. adequate) money is necessary for happiness but is not sufficient to cause happiness. Money gives people freedom, and having enough money enables individuals to meet their needs – e.g. housing, food, and health-care.
Satisfaction with income has been shown to be related to happiness (Diener, 1984). However, money is not the guarantee of happiness – consider lottery winners. Whilst it is necessary to have sufficient money this alone will not cause happiness. So, what else is a source of happiness?
Having friends and social relationships has been shown to be a leading cause of happiness. Humans are primarily social beings and have a need for social connection.
A sense of community is associated with life satisfaction (Diener, 1984). Making and keeping friends is positively correlated with wellbeing. Aristotle (2000) stated that “no one would choose to live without friends, even if he had all the other goods” (p. 143).
In fact, the association between friendship/social support and happiness has been supported by empirical research. Furthermore, being satisfied with family life and marriage is the key to subjective wellbeing (Diener, 1984).
Another source of happiness is religion . While not true universally, religion has been associated with greater happiness. Positive effects have been found with taking part in religious services.
Having a strong religious affiliation has also been shown to be of benefit. Engaging in prayer, and having a relationship with God is also related to greater happiness.
Finally, a large determinant of happiness is personality . Research supports the fact that individual differences in how a person responds both to events and also to other people have an impact on the levels of a person’s happiness.
Lykken & Tellegen (1996) found that stable temperamental tendencies (those that are inherited genetically) contribute up to 50% in the total variability in happiness. This research found that many personality factors – extraversion, neuroticism – as well as self-esteem , optimism , trust , agreeableness, repressive defensiveness, a desire for control, and hardiness all play a part in how happy a person is.
We can, to a certain extent, determine how happy we feel. Kane (2017) has come up with 15 ways in which happiness can be increased:
1. Find joy in the little things
Savoring ordinary moments in everyday life is a skill that can be learned (Tartarkovsky, 2016). For most of us, we spend so much time thinking about things we’re not currently even doing! This can make us unhappy.
Happiness can, in fact, be predicted by where our minds wander to when we’re not focused on the present. By appreciating the simple things in life, we foster positive emotions…from admiring a beautiful flower to enjoying a cup of tea, finding joy in the little things is associated with increased happiness.
2. Start each day with a smile
It sounds easy, but smiling is associated with feeling happy. Beginning the day on a positive note can vastly improve wellbeing.
3. Connect with others
As mentioned in the previous section, having friendship and social support is definitely a source of happiness. So, to create more happy moments in life, step away from the desk and initiate a conversation with a work colleague, or send an SMS to someone you have not seen for a while. Take opportunities to interact with other people as they arise.
4. Do what you’re most passionate about
Using your strengths and finding an activity to engage in which leads to ‘flow’ has been identified as an enduring pathway to happiness. Being completely engaged in an activity is termed ‘flow’. What constitutes an experience of flow?
To begin with, the task needs to require skill but not be too challenging (Tartarkovsky, 2016). It should have clear goals and allow you to completely immerse yourself in what you’re doing so your mind doesn’t wander (Tartarkovsky, 2016). It should completely absorb your attention and give a sense of being ‘in the zone’ (Tartarkovsky, 2016). Perhaps the easiest way to identify a flow experience is that you lose track of time.
By doing what you’re most passionate about, you are more likely to use your strengths and find a sense of flow .
5. Count your blessings and be thankful
Gratitude is known to increase happiness. Gratitude has been defined as having an appreciation for what you have, and being able to reflect on that (Tartarkovsky, 2016). Gratitude creates positive emotions, enhances relationships and is associated with better health (Tartarkovsky, 2016).
Examples of ways to engage in gratitude include writing a gratitude journal, or express appreciation – such as, send a ‘thank you’ card to someone.
6. Choose to be positive and see the best in every situation
Taking a ‘glass half full’ attitude to life can certainly enhance feelings of happiness. Finding the positives in even difficult situations helps to foster positive affect. As one psychologist from Harvard Medical School, Siegel, said “relatively small changes in our attitudes can yield relatively big changes in our sense of wellbeing” (Tartarkovsky, 2016).
7. Take steps to enrich your life
A great way to develop a happier life is to learn something new. By being mentally active and developing new skills, this can promote happiness. For example, learn a musical instrument, or a foreign language, the sky’s the limit!
8. Create goals and plans to achieve what you want most
Striving for things we really want can make us feel happy, provided the goals are realistic. Having goals gives life purpose and direction, and a sense of achievement.
9. Live in the moment
Though easier said than done, a helpful way to create happy moments in life is to live for the moment – not to ruminate about the past, or to focus on the future. Staying in the ‘here and now’ can help us feel happier.
10. Be good to yourself
Treat yourself as well as you would treat a person whom you love and care about. Showing self-compassion can lead to happy moments and improve overall wellbeing.
11. Ask for help when you need it
Seeking help may not immediately come to mind when considering how to create happy moments. However, reaching out for support is one way to achieve happiness. As the old adage says “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
Having someone help you is not a sign of weakness. Rather, by asking for help, you are reducing the burden of a problem on yourself.
12. Let go of sadness and disappointment
Negative emotions can compromise one’s sense of happiness, especially if a person ruminates about what ‘could have been’. Whilst everyone feels such emotions at times, holding onto feelings of sadness and disappointment can really weigh a person down and prevent them from feeling happy and content.
13. Practice mindfulness
The positive effects of practicing mindfulness are widespread and numerous, including increasing levels of happiness. There is lots of material on this blog about mindfulness and its’ positive effects. Mindfulness is a skill and, like any skill, it can be learned. Learning to be mindful can help a person become happier.
14. Walk in nature
Exercise is known to release endorphins, and as such engaging in physical activity is one way to lift mood and create happy moments. Even more beneficial than simply walking is to walk in nature, which has been shown to increase happiness.
15. Laugh, and make time to play
Laughter really is the best medicine! Having a laugh is associated with feeling better. Also, it is beneficial for the sense of wellbeing not to take life too seriously. Just as children find joy in simple pleasures, they also love to play. Engaging in ‘play’ – activities done purely for fun – is associated with increased happiness.
Philosophers believe that happiness is not by itself sufficient to achieve a state of wellbeing, but at the same time, they agree that it is one of the primary factors found in individuals who lead a ‘good life’ (Haybron, 2011).
What then, are reasons to be happy from a philosophical perspective… what contributes to a person living a ‘good life’? This can also be understood as a person having ‘psychosocial prosperity’ (Haybron, 2011).
- One reason why a person can feel a sense of happiness is if they have been treated with respect in the last day (Haybron, 2011). How we are treated by others contributes to our overall wellbeing. Being treated with respect helps us develop a sense of self-worth.
- Another reason to feel happy is if one has family and friends they can rely on and count on in times of need (Haybron, 2011). Having a strong social network is an important component of happiness.
- Perhaps a person has learned something new. They may take this for granted, however, learning something new actually contributes to our psychosocial prosperity (Haybron, 2011).
- From a philosophical perspective, a reason to be happy is a person having the opportunity to do what they do best (Haybron, 2011). Using strengths for the greater good is one key to a more meaningful life (Tartarkovsky, 2016). As an example, a musician can derive happiness by creating music and a sports-person can feel happy by training or participating in competitions. Meeting our potential also contributes to wellbeing.
- A final reason to be happy from a philosophical perspective is a person having the liberty to choose how they spend their time (Haybron, 2011). This is a freedom to be celebrated. Being autonomous can contribute to a person living their best life.
Many of us spend a lot of time with our families. However, as much we love our partners, children, siblings, and extended families, at times family relationships can be fraught with challenges and problems. Nonetheless, it is possible for us to find happiness in family life by doing some simple, yet effective things suggested by Mann (2007):
- Enjoy your family’s company
- Exchange stories – for example, about what your day was like in the evening
- Make your marriage, or relationship, the priority
- Take time to eat meals together as a family
- Enjoy simply having fun with one another
- Make sure that your family and its needs come before your friends
- Limit number of extra-curricular activities
- Develop family traditions and honor rituals
- Aim to make your home a calm place to spend time
- Don’t argue in front of children
- Don’t work excessively
- Encourage siblings to get along with one another
- Have family ‘in-jokes’
- Be adaptable
- Communicate, including active listening
Take time to appreciate your family, and focus on the little things you can do to find happiness in family life.
The aim of any workplace is to have productive employees. This leads to the question – can happiness increase productivity? The results are unequivocal!
Researchers Boehm and Lyubomirsky define a ‘happy worker’ as one who frequently experiences positive emotions such as joy, satisfaction, contentment, enthusiasm, and interest (Oswald, Proto & Sgroi, 2009).
They conducted longitudinal as well as experimental studies, and their research clearly showed that people who could be classified as ‘happy’ were more likely to succeed in their careers. Amabile et al. (2005) also found that happiness results in greater creativity.
Why are happy workers more productive?
It has been suggested that the link between positive mood and work appears to be mediated by intrinsic motivation (that is, performing a task due to internal inspiration rather than external reasons) (Oswald et al., 2009). This makes sense because if one is feeling more joyful, the person is more likely to find their work meaningful and intrinsically rewarding.
It has been found by some experimental studies that happiness raises productivity. For example, research has shown that the experience of positive affect means that individuals change their allocation of time to completing more interesting tasks, but still manage to maintain their performance for the less interesting tasks (Oswald et al., 2009).
Other research has reported that positive affect influences memory recall and the likelihood of altruistic actions. However, much of this research has taken place in laboratory sessions where participation was unpaid. Which certainly leads to the obvious question… does happiness actually increase productivity in a true employment situation?
Oswald and colleagues (2009) did some research with very clear results on the relationship between happiness and productivity. They conducted two separate experiments.
The first experiment included 182 participants from the University of Warwick. The study involved some participants watching a short video clip designed to try and increase levels of happiness, and then completing a task which they were paid for in terms of both questions answered and accuracy. The participants who watched the video showed significantly greater productivity.
Most interestingly, however, 16 individuals did not display increased happiness after watching the movie clip, and these people did not show the same increase in productivity! Thus, this experiment certainly supported the notion that an increase in productivity can be linked to happiness.
Oswald and colleagues also conducted a second study which involved a further 179 participants who had not taken part in the first experiment. These individuals reported their level of happiness and were subsequently asked whether they had experienced a ‘bad life event’ (which was defined as bereavement or illness in the family) in the last two years.
A statistically significant effect was found… experiencing a bad life event, which was classified by the experts as ‘happiness shocks’ was related to lower levels of performance on the task.
Examining the evidence certainly makes one thing clear: happiness is certainly related to productivity both in unpaid and paid tasks. This has tremendous implications for the work-force and provides an impetus for working towards happier employees.
According to the Belonging Hypothesis put forth by psychologists Baumeister and Leary in 1995, human beings have an almost universal, fundamental human need to have a certain degree of interaction with others and to form relationships.
Indeed, people who are lonely have an unmet need to belong (Mellor, Stokes, Firth, Hayashi & Cummins, 2008). Loneliness has been found in a plethora of research to have a very negative effect on psychological wellbeing, and also health (Kim, 1997).
What about ‘happiness’? In other words, can loneliness also have an impact on life satisfaction?
There is evidence to suggest that loneliness does affect life satisfaction. Gray, Ventis, and Hayslip (1992) conducted a study of 60 elderly people living in the community. Their findings were clear: the aged person’s sense of isolation, and loneliness, explained the variation in life satisfaction (Gray et al., 1992).
Clearly, lonely older persons were less satisfied with their lives overall. In other research, Mellor and colleagues (2008) found that individuals who were less lonely had higher ratings of life satisfaction.
It may be assumed that only older people are prone to feeling isolated and lonely, however, an interesting study by Neto (1995) looked at satisfaction with life among second-generation migrants.
The researchers studied 519 Portuguese youth who was actually born in France. The study found that loneliness had a clear negative correlation with the satisfaction with life expressed by the young people (Neto, 1995). Indeed, along with the perceived state of health, loneliness was the strongest predictor of satisfaction with life (Neto, 1995).
Therefore, yes, loneliness affects life satisfaction. Loneliness is associated with feeling less satisfied with one’s life, and, presumably, less happy overall.
Perhaps you have a desire to understand this topic further… great! Here are some books that you can read to further your understanding:
- Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to brain science – S. Bok (2010) ( Amazon )
- Nicomachean ethics – Aristotle (2000). R Crisp, ed. ( Amazon )
- What is this thing called happiness? – F. Feldman (2010) ( Amazon )
- Authentic happiness: Using the new Positive Psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment – M. Seligman (2004) ( Amazon )
- Philosophy of happiness: A theoretical and practical examination – M. Janello (2014) ( Amazon )
- Happiness: A Philosopher’s guide – F. Lenoir (2015) ( Amazon )
I don’t know about you but, whilst exploring the philosophy of happiness is fascinating, it can be incredibly overwhelming too. I hope that I have managed to simplify some of the ideas about happiness so that you have a better understanding of the nature of happiness and what it means to live a ‘good life’.
Philosophy can be complex, but if you can take one message from this article it is that it is important and worthwhile for humans to strive for wellbeing and ‘true happiness’. Whilst Aristotle argued that ‘eudaimonia’ (happiness) cannot be achieved until the end of one’s life, tips in this article show that each of us has the capacity to create happy moments each and every day.
What can you do today to embrace the ‘good life’? What ideas do you have about happiness – what does real happiness look like for you? What are your opinions as to what the philosophy of happiness in life means?
This article can provide a helpful resource for understanding more about the nature of happiness, so feel free to look back at it down the track. I would love to hear your thoughts on this fascinating topic!
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Happiness Exercises for free .
- Amabile, T. M., Basade, S. G., Mueller, J. S., & Staw, B. M. (2005). Affect and creativity at work. Administrative Science Quarterly, 50 , 367-403.
- Aristotle (2000). Nicomachean Ethics . R. Crisp (ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
- Aristotle (2004). Nicomachean Ethics . Hugh Treddenick (ed.). London: Penguin.
- Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117 , 498 – 529.
- Conkle, A. (2008). Serious research on happiness. Association for Psychological Science . Retrieved from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observe/serious-research-on-happiness
- Danner, D., Snowdon, D., & Friesen, W. (2001). Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the nun study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80 , 804 – 813.
- Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95 , 542 – 575
- Gray, G. R., Ventis, D. G., & Hayslip, B. (1992). Socio-cognitive skills as a determinant of life satisfaction in aged persons. The International Journal of Aging & Human Development , 35, 205 – 218.
- Haybron, D. (2011). Happiness. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/happiness
- Kane, S. (2017). 15 ways to increase your happiness. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/15-ways-to-increase-your-happiness
- Kashdan, T. B., Biswas-Diener, R., & King, L. A. (2008). Reconsidering happiness: the costs of distinguishing between hedonics and eudaimonia. Journal of Positive Psychology, 3 , 219 – 233.
- Kesebir, P., & Diener, E. (2008). In pursuit of happiness: empirical answers to philosophical questions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3 , 117-125.
- Kim, O. S. (1997). Korean version of the revised UCLA loneliness scale: reliability and validity test. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing,? , 871 – 879.
- King, L. A., & Napa, C. K. (1998). What makes a life good? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75 , 156 – 165.
- Lykken, D., & Tellegan, A. (1996). Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon. Psychological Science, 7 , 186-189.
- Lyubomirsky, S. (2018). Is happiness a consequence or cause of career success? Psychology Today . Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/how-happiness/201808/is-happiness-consequence-or-cause-career-success
- Mann, D. (2007). 15 secrets of happy families. Web MD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/15-secrets-to-have-a-happy-family
- Mellor, D., Stokes, M., Firth, L., Hayashi, Y. & Cummins, R. (2008). Need for belonging, relationship satisfaction, loneliness and life satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 45 , 213 – 218.
- Neto, F. (1995). Predictors of satisfaction with life among second generation migrants. Social Indicators Research, 35 , 93-116.
- Oswald, A. J., Proto, E., & Sgroi, D. (2009). Happiness and productivity, IZA Discussion Papers, No. 4645, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10419/35451
- Plato (1999). The Symposium . Walter Hamilton (ed). London: Penguin Classics
- Puff, R. (2018). The pitfalls to pursuing happiness. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/meditation-modern-life/201809/the-pitfalls-pursuing-happiness
- Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development and wellbeing. American Psychologist, 55 , 68 – 78.
- Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (1996). Psychological wellbeing: meaning, measurement, and implications for psychotherapy research. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 65 , 14 – 23.
- Tartarkovsky, M. (2016). Five pathways to happiness. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/five-pathways-to-happiness
- The Pursuit of Happiness (2018). Aristotle. Retrieved from https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/aristotle
- Waterman, A. S. (1990). The relevance of Aristotle’s conception of eudaimonia for the psychological study of happiness. Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 10 , 39 – 44
- Waterman, A. S. (1993). Two conceptions of happiness: Contrasts of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64 , 678 – 691.
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Happiness Essay for Students and Children
500+ Words Essay on Happiness
Happiness is something which we can’t describe in words it can only be felt from someone’s expression of a smile. Likewise, happiness is a signal or identification of good and prosperous life. Happiness is very simple to feel and difficult to describe. Moreover, happiness comes from within and no one can steal your happiness.
Can Money Buy You Happiness?
Every day we see and meet people who look happy from the outside but deep down they are broken and are sad from the inside. For many people, money is the main cause of happiness or grief. But this is not right. Money can buy you food, luxurious house, healthy lifestyle servants, and many more facilities but money can’t buy you happiness.
And if money can buy happiness then the rich would be the happiest person on the earth. But, we see a contrary image of the rich as they are sad, fearful, anxious, stressed, and suffering from various problems.
In addition, they have money still they lack in social life with their family especially their wives and this is the main cause of divorce among them.
Also, due to money, they feel insecurity that everyone is after their money so to safeguard their money and them they hire security. While the condition of the poor is just the opposite. They do not have money but they are happy with and stress-free from these problems.
In addition, they take care of their wife and children and their divorce rate is also very low.
Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas
Happiness Comes from Within
As we now know that we can’t buy happiness with money and there is no other shortcut to happiness. It is something that you feel from within.
In addition, true happiness comes from within yourself. Happiness is basically a state of mind.
Moreover, it can only be achieved by being positive and avoiding any negative thought in mind. And if we look at the bright side of ourselves only then we can be happy.
Happiness in a Relationship
People nowadays are not satisfied with their relationship because of their differences and much other reason. But for being happy in a relationship we have to understand that there are some rules or mutual understanding that keeps a relationship healthy and happy.
Firstly, take care of yourself then your partner because if you yourself are not happy then how can you make your partner happy.
Secondly, for a happy and healthy relationship give you partner some time and space. In addition, try to understand their feeling and comfort level because if you don’t understand these things then you won’t be able to properly understand your partner.
Most importantly, take initiative and plan to go out with your partner and family. Besides, if they have plans then go with them.
To conclude, we can say that happiness can only be achieved by having positive thinking and enjoying life. Also, for being happy and keeping the people around us happy we have to develop a healthy relationship with them. Additionally, we also have to give them the proper time.
FAQs about Happiness
Q.1 What is True Happiness? A.1 True happiness means the satisfaction that you find worthy. The long-lasting true happiness comes from life experience, a feeling of purpose, and a positive relationship.
Q.2 Who is happier the rich or the poor and who is more wealthy rich or poor? A.2 The poor are happier then the rich but if we talk about wealth the rich are more wealthy then the poor. Besides, wealth brings insecurity, anxiety and many other problems.
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What Is Happiness?
Defining Happiness, and How to Become Happier
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.
Verywell/ Jiaqi Zhou
How to Cultivate Happiness
How to be a happier person.
Happiness is something that people seek to find, yet what defines happiness can vary from one person to the next. Typically, happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. While happiness has many different definitions, it is often described as involving positive emotions and life satisfaction.
When most people talk about the true meaning of happiness, they might be talking about how they feel in the present moment or referring to a more general sense of how they feel about life overall.
Because happiness tends to be such a broadly defined term, psychologists and other social scientists typically use the term ' subjective well-being ' when they talk about this emotional state. Just as it sounds, subjective well-being tends to focus on an individual's overall personal feelings about their life in the present.
Two key components of happiness (or subjective well-being) are:
- The balance of emotions: Everyone experiences both positive and negative emotions, feelings, and moods. Happiness is generally linked to experiencing more positive feelings than negative ones.
- Life satisfaction: This relates to how satisfied you feel with different areas of your life including your relationships, work, achievements, and other things that you consider important.
Another definition of happiness comes from the ancient philosopher Aristotle, who suggested that happiness is the one human desire, and all other human desires exist as a way to obtain happiness. He believed that there were four levels of happiness: happiness from immediate gratification, from comparison and achievement, from making positive contributions, and from achieving fulfillment.
Happiness, Aristotle suggested, could be achieved through the golden mean, which involves finding a balance between deficiency and excess.
Signs of Happiness
While perceptions of happiness may be different from one person to the next, there are some key signs that psychologists look for when measuring and assessing happiness.
Some key signs of happiness include:
- Feeling like you are living the life you wanted
- Going with the flow and a willingness to take life as it comes
- Feeling that the conditions of your life are good
- Enjoying positive, healthy relationships with other people
- Feeling that you have accomplished (or will accomplish) what you want in life
- Feeling satisfied with your life
- Feeling positive more than negative
- Being open to new ideas and experiences
- Practicing self-care and treating yourself with kindness and compassion
- Experiencing gratitude
- Feeling that you are living life with a sense of meaning and purpose
- Wanting to share your happiness and joy with others
One important thing to remember is that happiness isn't a state of constant euphoria . Instead, happiness is an overall sense of experiencing more positive emotions than negative ones.
Happy people still feel the whole range of human emotions—anger, frustrastion, boredom, loneliness, and even sadness—from time to time. But even when faced with discomfort, they have an underlying sense of optimism that things will get better, that they can deal with what is happening, and that they will be able to feel happy again.
Types of Happiness
There are many different ways of thinking about happiness. For example, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle made a distinction between two different kinds of happiness: hedonia and eudaimonia.
- Hedonia: Hedonic happiness is derived from pleasure. It is most often associated with doing what feels good, self-care, fulfilling desires, experiencing enjoyment, and feeling a sense of satisfaction.
- Eudaimonia: This type of happiness is derived from seeking virtue and meaning. Important components of eudaimonic well-being including feeling that your life has meaning, value, and purpose. It is associated more with fulfilling responsibilities, investing in long-term goals, concern for the welfare of other people, and living up to personal ideals.
Hedonia and eudemonia are more commonly known today in psychology as pleasure and meaning, respectively. More recently, psychologists have suggested the addition of the third component that relates to engagement . These are feelings of commitment and participation in different areas of life.
Research suggests that happy people tend to rank pretty high on eudaimonic life satisfaction and better than average on their hedonic life satisfaction.
All of these can play an important role in the overall experience of happiness, although the relative value of each can be highly subjective. Some activities may be both pleasurable and meaningful, while others might skew more one way or the other.
For example, volunteering for a cause you believe in might be more meaningful than pleasurable. Watching your favorite tv show, on the other hand, might rank lower in meaning and higher on pleasure.
Some types of happiness that may fall under these three main categories include:
- Joy: A often relatively brief feeling that is felt in the present moment
- Excitement: A happy feeling that involves looking forward to something with positive anticipation
- Gratitude: A positive emotion that involves being thankful and appreciative
- Pride: A feeling of satisfaction in something that you have accomplished
- Optimism: This is a way of looking at life with a positive, upbeat outlook
- Contentment: This type of happiness involves a sense of satisfaction
While some people just tend to be naturally happier, there are things that you can do to cultivate your sense of happiness.
Pursue Intrinsic Goals
Achieving goals that you are intrinsically motivated to pursue, particularly ones that are focused on personal growth and community, can help boost happiness. Research suggests that pursuing these types of intrinsically-motivated goals can increase happiness more than pursuing extrinsic goals like gaining money or status.
Enjoy the Moment
Studies have found that people tend to over earn—they become so focused on accumulating things that they lose track of actually enjoying what they are doing.
So, rather than falling into the trap of mindlessly accumulating to the detriment of your own happiness, focus on practicing gratitude for the things you have and enjoying the process as you go.
Reframe Negative Thoughts
When you find yourself stuck in a pessimistic outlook or experiencing negativity, look for ways that you can reframe your thoughts in a more positive way.
People have a natural negativity bias , or a tendency to pay more attention to bad things than to good things. This can have an impact on everything from how you make decisions to how you form impressions of other people. Discounting the positive—a cognitive distortion where people focus on the negative and ignore the positive—can also contribute to negative thoughts.
Reframing these negative perceptions isn't about ignoring the bad. Instead, it means trying to take a more balanced, realistic look at events. It allows you to notice patterns in your thinking and then challenge negative thoughts.
Impact of Happiness
Why is happiness so important? Happiness has been shown to predict positive outcomes in many different areas of life including mental well-being, physical health, and overall longevity.
- Positive emotions increase satisfaction with life.
- Happiness helps people build stronger coping skills and emotional resources.
- Positive emotions are linked to better health and longevity. One study found that people who experienced more positive emotions than negative ones were more likely to have survived over a 13 year period.
- Positive feelings increase resilience. Resilience helps people better manage stress and bounce back better when faced with setbacks. For example, one study found that happier people tend to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and that these benefits tend to persist over time.
- People who report having a positive state of well-being are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors such as eating fruits and vegetables and engaging in regular physical exercise.
- Being happy may make help you get sick less often. Happier mental states are linked to increased immunity.
Some people seem to have a naturally higher baseline for happiness—one large-scale study of more than 2,000 twins suggested that around 50% of overall life satisfaction was due to genetics, 10% to external events, and 40% to individual activities.
So while you might not be able to control what your “base level” of happiness is, there are things that you can do to make your life happier and more fulfilling. Even the happiest of individuals can feel down from time to time and happiness is something that all people need to consciously pursue.
Cultivate Strong Relationships
Social support is an essential part of well-being. Research has found that good social relationships are the strongest predictor of happiness. Having positive and supportive connections with people you care about can provide a buffer against stress, improve your health, and help you become a happier person.
In the Harvard Study of Adult Development, a longitudinal study that looked at participants over 80 years, researchers found that relationships and how happy people are in those relationships strongly impacted overall health.
So if you are trying to improve your happiness, cultivating solid social connections is a great place to start. Consider deepening your existing relationships and explore ways to make new friends.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is good for both your body and mind. Physical activity is linked to a range of physical and psychological benefits including improved mood. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise may play a role in warding off symptoms of depression, but evidence also suggests that it may also help make people happier, too.
In one analysis of past research on the connection between physical activity and happiness, researchers found a consistent positive link.
Even a little bit of exercise produces a happiness boost—people who were physically active for as little as 10 minutes a day or who worked out only once a week had higher levels of happiness than people who never exercised.
In one study, participants were asked to engage in a writing exercise for 10 to 20 minutes each night before bed. Some were instructed to write about daily hassles, some about neutral events, and some about things they were grateful for. The results found that people who had written about gratitude had increase positive emotions, increased subjective happiness, and improve life satisfaction.
As the authors of the study suggest, keeping a gratitude list is a relatively easy, affordable, simple, and pleasant way to boost your mood. Try setting aside a few minutes each night to write down or think about things in your life that you are grateful for.
Find a Sense of Purpose
Research has found that people who feel like they have a purpose have better well-being and feel more fulfilled. A sense of purpose involves seeing your life as having goals, direction, and meaning. It may help improve happiness by promoting healthier behaviors.
Some things you can do to help find a sense of purpose include:
- Explore your interests and passions
- Engage in prosocial and altruistic causes
- Work to address injustices
- Look for new things you might want to learn more about
This sense of purpose is influenced by a variety of factors, but it is also something that you can cultivate. It involves finding a goal that you care deeply about that will lead you to engage in productive, positive actions in order to work toward that goal.
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Challenges of Finding Happiness
While seeking happiness is important, there are times when the pursuit of life satisfaction falls short. Some challenges to watch for include:
Valuing the Wrong Things
Money may not be able to buy happiness, but there is research that spending money on things like experiences can make you happier than spending it on material possessions.
One study, for example, found that spending money on things that buy time—such as spending money on time-saving services—can increase happiness and life satisfaction.
Rather than overvaluing things such as money, status, or material possessions, pursuing goals that result in more free time or enjoyable experiences may have a higher happiness reward.
Not Seeking Social Support
Social support means having friends and loved ones that you can turn to for support. Research has found that perceived social support plays an important role in subjective well-being. For example, one study found that perceptions of social support were responsible for 43% of a person's level of happiness.
It is important to remember that when it comes to social support, quality is more important than quantity. Having just a few very close and trusted friends will have a greater impact on your overall happiness than having many casual acquaintances.
Thinking of Happiness as an Endpoint
Happiness isn’t a goal that you can simply reach and be done with. It is a constant pursuit that requires continual nurturing and sustenance.
One study found that people who tend to value happiness most also tended to feel the least satisfied with their lives. Essentially, happiness becomes such a lofty goal that it becomes virtually unattainable.
“Valuing happiness could be self-defeating because the more people value happiness, the more likely they will feel disappointed,” suggest the authors of the study.
Perhaps the lesson is to not make something as broadly defined as “happiness” your goal. Instead, focus on building and cultivating the sort of life and relationships that bring fulfillment and satisfaction to your life.
It is also important to consider how you personally define happiness. Happiness is a broad term that means different things to different people. Rather than looking at happiness as an endpoint, it can be more helpful to think about what happiness really means to you and then work on small things that will help you become happier. This can make achieving these goals more manageable and less overwhelming.
History of Happiness
Happiness has long been recognized as a critical part of health and well-being. The "pursuit of happiness" is even given as an inalienable right in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Our understanding of what will bring happiness, however, has shifted over time.
Psychologists have also proposed a number of different theories to explain how people experience and pursue happiness. These theories include:
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
The hierarchy of needs suggests that people are motivated to pursue increasingly complex needs. Once more basic needs are fulfilled, people are then motivated by more psychological and emotional needs.
At the peak of the hierarchy is the need for self-actualization, or the need to achieve one's full potential. The theory also stresses the importance of peak experiences or transcendent moments in which a person feels deep understanding, happiness, and joy.
The pursuit of happiness is central to the field of positive psychology . Psychologists who study positive psychology are interested in learning ways to increase positivity and helping people live happier, more satisfying lives.
Rather than focusing on mental pathologies, the field instead strives to find ways to help people, communities, and societies improve positive emotions and achieve greater happiness.
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By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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Essays on In Pursuit of Happiness
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The Role of Independence and Security in The Pursuit of Happyness
Analysis of the pursuit of happyness through a sociological lens, the pursuit of happyness: a man’s struggle to achieve success, rhetorical analysis of will smith’s speech from the movie pursuit of happyness, let us write you an essay from scratch.
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Life Challenges and Lessons in The Movie 'The Pursuit of Happyness'
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A Study of Family Issues in Pursuit of Happiness by Gabriele Muccino
Comparsion of the films pursuit of happyness and hidden figures, social stratification and inequality in 'the pursuit of happyness', the pursuit of happyness': the pursuit is possible, not just probable, relevant topics.
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Success And Happiness (Essay Sample)
Table of Contents
Is it at all possible to achieve happiness and success in life? Can we get the best of both worlds, or are we destined to only experience either one of these things? Can you be happy and unsuccessful, or successful and unhappy?
Read these sample papers and think with us. What would people’s lives look like if their pursuit of happiness and success in life proves triumphant? If you want to write those thoughts down too, get in touch with us so we can match you with a writer who can help you out with that essay.
Which Can Create Happiness?
Joyfulness is perceived to be the key to success. Several research studies confirm that cheerful people are likely to challenge themselves more. At the same time, these people develop the positive emotions and drive needed to succeed.
Happiness: More Than a Positive Attitude
While the concepts of happiness and success seem to be related, they are completely different. Joyfulness represents how we feel. One does not need to be successful to be happy because he can still be happy without his accomplishments and without comparison to others. Success is the way we benchmark ourselves against other people and our own standards.
To feel happy comes from personal accomplishments. It is just not a feel-good luxury. This emotion is essential to our overall well-being. Happiness is something that anyone can experience at any point in life. An entire population group could generally be labeled as happy when citizens practice a democratic attitude and are keen on helping others.
Joyfulness is not just about setting goals and achieving them; it is, first and foremost, cultivating a perspective that causes us to be content and appreciative of things that help us achieve our purpose in life. We can create joy in all circumstances. We have read stories of people who undergo hardship but still find joy. Similarly, we know of people who seem to have successful careers and families, yet are not happy.
True Happiness Paves the Way to Success
The truth is that victory does not necessarily result in joy, but joy can lead you to victory.
Think about people who are successful. These are people with positive attitudes and are contented with and passionate about their personal goals. One of the common assumptions people make is that accomplishments will give you all the joy you need. When your achievement is associated with your core values, this then defines your purpose. You then learn to embrace each moment of the journey, and as you cultivate that happiness, it will put you on the path to success.
The secret of being happy is to find joy in the simple things in life that give us satisfaction. Joyfulness helps us cultivate behavior that reinforces success-friendly perspectives. If I feel grateful about my health or my family, it makes a difference in my life because the emotion gives me the drive to do everything I can to be successful for their sake.
It is clear that both happiness and success go hand in hand, but it does not necessarily mean that the two concepts are each others’ equivalent. You might not like something you do, but you can still be happy and feel content by the fact that you have a great family to go home to every evening.
On the other hand, one might have a successful career that gives him a lot of income and respect among his peers, but the same person might not have anything to look forward to outside work. This does not mean that you are not successful, but it certainly does not equate to happiness. When a sense of joy is missing in our lives, everything tends to lose its meaning.
Having everything we need also does not guarantee us true happiness. Ultimately, it’s the way we view life that determines our joy. Learning to find what makes us happy motivates us to undertake new challenges and pursue victory. When people are optimistic and grateful, they proactively and passionately move towards their life goals.
Different people value and define both of these terms differently. But personally, I believe that happiness plays an important role in our pursuit of success. Both are important, but cultivating joy is the starting point.
I don’t know your personal life, but I do hope you find whatever it is that elevates your happiness levels. Joyful people tend to thrive better in their relationships, career, and family life. They also attract success like a moth drawn to a flame.
If you are wondering how to achieve success at a young age, know that all roads begin with an optimistic outlook. Believe that you can get to where you want to be and that you have the resources you need.
Happiness Vs Success Essay
We often interchange the terms “happiness” and “success” in our conversations, believing them both to refer to the same experience. While there are indeed a lot of happy people who accomplish a lot of things, achieving goals does not always equate to feeling happy.
The most obvious narrative to break here is this: that you need to be successful to be truly happy in life. However, a game-changing reflection for this storyline is that happiness lies not in the things you do, but the way you see things. We often change our behaviors in an attempt to get a different result.
But what if the key is really our perspective? What would our life look like if we just switched lenses? If we always look at things from a place of feeling defeated, it will come as no surprise that we will see everything as inadequate or falling short of the perfect standards. But if we aim to come from a place of gratitude, then we will learn to focus on the lesson behind every experience, put the past behind us, and integrate the principles as we move forward.
What lenses are you viewing reality from?
Does Success Lead To Happiness?
It’s important to back up first and examine our understanding of being accomplished. What is it to begin with? If success is a place of thriving in our passion, purpose, and calling, then yes, it can lead to joyfulness. It must be said, however, that there is no such thing as 24/7 joyfulness. No person can feel happy at all times. But if he or she is coming from a place of contentment, then he or she can fight for joy no matter the season.
What Is More Important Success Or Happiness?
The world sells us the idea that to feel successful is true power that one must aspire to attain. However, many of us have seen, with our own eyes, people who seem to have it all and yet don’t appear to be joyful. Despite all the accolades they’ve received and the accomplishments they have under their belt, it never seems to be enough. They always seem to be in a constant race against time and themselves. They try to outdo themselves every day and when things don’t happen as planned, they crumble. Their life becomes a vicious cycle of climbing a ladder and never really finding the top. If your idea of accomplishment is robbing you of joy, then it is not true success to begin with. We need to evaluate what we have labeled as “extremely important” in this life and see if they line up with the true definition of joy.
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The Pursuit of Happiness (summary Essay)
The Pursuit of Happiness explains the life struggle of a single father named Chris Gardner. His wife had left him due to financial issues and him and his son were constantly fighting an uphill battle as they were kicked out of multiple apartments with no place to go. Chris eventually lands an internship at Dean Witter, a prestigious brokerage firm, but this position pays no money. Gardner continues to sell bone density scanners while taking on the unpaid internship, with slim chances for advancement to a paid position. He leaves the internship early each day in order to receive a position in a shelter, meaning he must work double what all of the other interns work in order to keep up. Chris works harder than any of the interns and despite all of his disadvantages he manages to receive the paid position at Dean Witter’s firm. He goes on to make millions and even started his own company.
This movie demonstrates many different aspects we have studied such as race, social class, marriage, jobs, and relationship trends. The movie begins with Chris and his wife, Linda and they are having financial issues and struggling with a process we know as the “Second Shift”, an article written by Arlie Hochschild . They are both trying to develop the right emotional balance between child, spouse, home finances and their outside jobs. Chris is determined to sell his scanners and Linda is working long shifts in order to pay for their home and child care, but along the way they forget to focus on the emotional balance between spouses resulting in them separating. This supports Kathryn Edin’s theory that low-income women don’t believe being married substantially improves their lives, Linda believes staying married to Chris was only causing negative effects and more stress in her life. It also reinforces the statistical results that African Americans are more likely than whites and Hispanics to have children that live in a single-parent home. Chris also falls under the category of the working and poor class, he is poorly educated despite his natural intelligence, and works a full-time job of attempting to sell the bone density scanners while being on the verge of poverty. He had chronic difficulty in making money to support his and his son’s basic needs while depending on public benefits, such as shelters, in order to survive. This demonstrates aspects of the conflict theory, Chris is constantly trying to provide for his son, meaning he even left his internship early in order to pick up Christopher and receive a spot in the shelter every night. Chris and his son also transition from relative poverty to absolute poverty throughout the movie, as they lose their home, and Chris no longer has any bone scanners to sell and is relying primarily on his internship.
In the beginning of the movie they are in relative poverty, Chris and his family have a much lower living standard than most families, they still have food, water, shelter, and basic necessities, but they are struggling to maintain them. After Chris’ wife leaves Chris and his son, they transition into absolute poverty as they cannot meet the minimal standards for food, shelter, clothing, or health care. At the bottom of the scale Chris experiences difficulties in the job market and endures periods of unemployment once his last scanner is sold. The job of selling scanners doesn’t make a good use of his skills, he is intelligent and determined but is forced to try to sell scanners to make a minimum living. However, the movie also shows an aspect of the upper-middle class compared to Chris during his encounter with Walter Ribbon, who is a member of the upper class. The movie shows a clear comparison through the use of the baseball game that Chris and his son were going to watch from “higher up seats” versus Walter who had his own private box. The difference was also made clear through Walter’s car and mansion and how he owned a dog, demonstrating a picture perfect family. Walter got support from investors but depended primarily on his salary, and showed basic characteristics of an upper-middle class citizen. Another aspect we studied demonstrated in the film is the concept of social mobility. Chris and his son were able experience social mobility because they lived in an open system society. Chris is given an ample opportunity to move from one class to another based on how he performs in his internship position. He is presented with the opportunity to move from below the poverty line to the working class as a stock broker and eventually make millions. Chris quit his job in order to sell the bone density scanners but he began to lose money because they didn’t sell as effectively as planned, demonstrating vertical social mobility as he moves from the working poor class, to absolute poverty. As Chris receives the internship at Dean Witter he experiences horizontal mobility, he stays in the same social group but he spends more time working, and changed occupation despite the fact he isn’t receiving any annual income.
This movie also demonstrated the sociological theory called the Weberian Theory. This was shown through Weber’s belief that an important element in social class has to do with prestige, the social honor granted to people because of their membership in a certain group. This is demonstrated through Chris’ relationship with Walter Ribbon. He is given the opportunity to meet other people in the upper class in order to promote Dean Witter’s retirement plan and get ahead of the other interns. Due to the fact Chris had met Walter Ribbon he had a variety of doors open up for him and that interconnected with Weber’s theory of wealth, power, and prestige being interrelated. Chris challenges the theory of symbolic interactionism. When Chris attended his meeting with Jay Twistle he was covered in paint and barely wearing a shirt and he didn’t have much going for him. He had no education after high school and no steady job with annual income. The council viewed Chris as an inferior individual at first glance, but Chris challenged the belief that we stick to our split-second judgements on appearance. Chris fought for his spot and proved he wasn’t going to stick to the status quo, he knows how to get a job done efficiently and is hard working and will do anything to provide for himself and his son. Overall the film accurately explains the concepts of socioeconomics and the different concepts of social class based on race and income.
This movie focuses on the substantive area of social class and the structure of social inequality. It demonstrates the aspects of social mobility, poverty, the lower class along with the upper class, prestige, and the different sociological theories. The film conveys an accurate depiction of an open system by allowing people in poverty such as Chris to be capable of moving from one social class to another. The film also demonstrated the difficulty of social mobility and how easy it is for someone to move down a social class, for example relative to absolute poverty, versus how difficult it is for someone to move up a social class. In the film there is an accurate depiction of what it is like to be in the working poor class and the underclass and how they face everyday challenges of providing basic necessities and often need public assistance to help support them along the way. When in correlation to the theories of social class the movie accurately depicted the conflict theory by showing the challenges of someone’s social standing. However the movie countered the Symbolic Interactionism theory by having Chris challenge the “first glance judgement” and fight for his spot in the internship.
Another aspect of social class the film focused on was family based off of a socioeconomic status. This was demonstrated in the film accurately through Chris and Linda’s relationships challenges with finances to the point where it wasn’t worth it to Linda and she abandoned her family leaving Chris as a single father. Although this is a stereotype for African Americans it is statistically proven that they are more likely to be single parents, as demonstrated in the film.
The film A Pursuit of Happiness, showed insight into social inequalities and struggles of social class and helped to tie all of these concepts together in a real life scenario.
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