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  • Happiness Happiness is a mental or emotional state of

  • well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense

  • joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have

  • striven to define happiness and identify its sources. Various research groups, including

  • positive psychology, endeavor to apply the scientific method to answer questions about

  • what "happiness" is, and how it might be attained. It is of such fundamental importance to the

  • human condition that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" were deemed to be unalienable

  • rights by the United States Declaration of Independence.

  • Philosophers and religious thinkers often define happiness in terms of living a good

  • life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an emotion. Happiness in this sense was used

  • to translate the Greek Eudaimonia, and is still used in virtue ethics.

  • Definition Happiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean

  • many different things to many people. Part of the challenge of a science of happiness

  • is to identify different concepts of happiness, and where applicable, split them into their

  • components. Related concepts are well-being, quality of life and flourishing. Some commentators

  • focus on the difference between the hedonistic tradition of seeking pleasant and avoiding

  • unpleasant experiences, and the eudaimonic tradition of living life in a full and deeply

  • satisfying way. The 2012 World Happiness Report stated that

  • in subjective well-being measures, the primary distinction is between cognitive life evaluations

  • and emotional reports. Emotional reports can be distinguished as of positive or negative

  • affect. Many but not all commentators regard positive and negative affect as carrying different

  • information, and needing to be separately measured and analyzed. Happiness is used in

  • both life evaluation, as inHow happy are you with your life as a whole?”, and in

  • emotional reports, as inHow happy are you now?,” and people seem able to use happiness

  • as appropriate in these verbal contexts. Research results

  • Research has produced many different views on causes of happiness, and on factors that

  • correlate with happiness, but no validated method has been found to substantially improve

  • long-term happiness in a meaningful way for most people.

  • Sonja Lyubomirsky concludes in her book The How of Happiness that 50 percent of a given

  • human's happiness level is genetically determined (based on twin studies), 10 percent is affected

  • by life circumstances and situation, and a remaining 40 percent of happiness is subject

  • to self-control. The results of the 75 year Grant study of

  • Harvard undergraduates show a high correlation of loving relationship, especially with parents,

  • with later life wellbeing. In the 2nd Edition of the Handbook of Emotions

  • (2000), evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby say that happiness comes from

  • "encountering unexpected positive events". In the 3rd Edition of the Handbook of Emotions

  • (2008), Michael Lewis says "happiness can be elicited by seeing a significant other".

  • According to Mark Leary, as reported in a November 1995 issue of Psychology Today, "we

  • are happiest when basking in the acceptance and praise of others". Sara Algoe and Jonathan

  • Haidt say that "happiness" may be the label for a family of related emotional states,

  • such as joy, amusement, satisfaction, gratification, euphoria, and triumph.

  • It has been argued that money cannot effectively "buy" much happiness unless it is used in

  • certain ways. "Beyond the point at which people have enough to comfortably feed, clothe, and

  • house themselves, having more money - even a lot more money - makes them only a little

  • bit happier." A Harvard Business School study found that "spending money on others actually

  • makes us happier than spending it on ourselves". Meditation has been found to lead to high

  • activity in the brain's left prefrontal cortex, which in turn has been found to correlate

  • with happiness. Psychologist Martin Seligman asserts that

  • happiness is not solely derived from external, momentary pleasures, and provides the acronym

  • PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology's correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they have

  • Pleasure (tasty food, warm baths, etc.), Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an

  • enjoyed yet challenging activity), Relationships (social ties have turned out

  • to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness), Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to

  • something bigger), and Accomplishments (having realized tangible

  • goals). There have also been some studies of how religion

  • relates to happiness. Causal relationships remain unclear, but more religion is seen

  • in happier people. This correlation may be the result of community membership and not

  • necessarily belief in religion itself. Another component may have to do with ritual.

  • Abraham Harold Maslow, an American professor of psychology, founded humanistic psychology

  • in the 1930s. A visual aid he created to explain his theory, which he called the hierarchy

  • of needs, is a pyramid depicting the levels of human needs, psychological, and physical.

  • When a human being ascends the steps of the pyramid, he reaches self-actualization. Beyond

  • the routine of needs fulfillment, Maslow envisioned moments of extraordinary experience, known

  • as peak experiences, profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture, during

  • which a person feels more whole, alive, self-sufficient, and yet a part of the world. This is similar

  • to the flow concept of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Self-determination theory relates intrinsic

  • motivation to three needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness.

  • Religious perspectives Buddhism

  • Happiness forms a central theme of Buddhist teachings. For ultimate freedom from suffering,

  • the Noble Eightfold Path leads its practitioner to Nirvana, a state of everlasting peace.

  • Ultimate happiness is only achieved by overcoming craving in all forms. More mundane forms of

  • happiness, such as acquiring wealth and maintaining good friendships, are also recognized as worthy

  • goals for lay people (see sukha). Buddhism also encourages the generation of loving kindness

  • and compassion, the desire for the happiness and welfare of all beings.

  • Catholicism The primary meaning of "happiness" in various

  • European languages involves good fortune, chance or happening. The meaning in Greek

  • philosophy, however, refers primarily to ethics. In Catholicism, the ultimate end of human

  • existence consists in felicity, Latin equivalent to the Greek eudaimonia, or "blessed happiness",

  • described by the 13th-century philosopher-theologian Thomas Aquinas as a Beatific Vision of God's

  • essence in the next life. Human complexities, like reason and cognition, can produce well-being

  • or happiness, but such form is limited and transitory. In temporal life, the contemplation

  • of God, the infinitely Beautiful, is the supreme delight of the will. Beatitudo, or perfect

  • happiness, as complete well-being, is to be attained not in this life, but the next.

  • Philosophical views The Chinese Confucian thinker Mencius, who

  • 2300 years ago sought to give advice to the ruthless political leaders of the warring

  • states period, was convinced that the mind played a mediating role between the "lesser

  • self" (the physiological self) and the "greater self" (the moral self) and that getting the

  • priorities right between these two would lead to sage-hood. He argued that if we did not

  • feel satisfaction or pleasure in nourishing one's "vital force" with "righteous deeds",

  • that force would shrivel up (Mencius,6A:15 2A:2). More specifically, he mentions the

  • experience of intoxicating joy if one celebrates the practice of the great virtues, especially

  • through music. Al-Ghazali (1058–1111) the Muslim Sufi thinker

  • wrote the Alchemy of Happiness, a manual of spiritual instruction throughout the Muslim

  • world and widely practiced today. The Hindu thinker Patanjali, author of the

  • Yoga Sutras, wrote quite exhaustively on the psychological and ontological roots of bliss.

  • In the Nicomachean Ethics, written in 350 BCE, Aristotle stated that happiness (also

  • being well and doing well) is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake, unlike

  • riches, honor, health or friendship. He observed that men sought riches, or honor, or health

  • not only for their own sake but also in order to be happy. Note that eudaimonia, the term

  • we translate as "happiness", is for Aristotle an activity rather than an emotion or a state.

  • Thus understood, the happy life is the good life, that is, a life in which a person fulfills

  • human nature in an excellent way. Specifically, Aristotle argues that the good life is the

  • life of excellent rational activity. He arrives at this claim with the Function Argument.

  • Basically, if it's right, every living thing has a function, that which it uniquely does.

  • For humans, Aristotle contends, our function is to reason, since it is that alone that

  • we uniquely do. And performing one's function well, or excellently, is one's good. Thus,

  • the life of excellent rational activity is the happy life. Aristotle does not leave it

  • that, however. For he argues that there is a second best life for those incapable of

  • excellent rational activity. This second best life is the life of moral virtue.

  • Many ethicists make arguments for how humans should behave, either individually or collectively,

  • based on the resulting happiness of such behavior. Utilitarians, such as John Stuart Mill and

  • Jeremy Bentham, advocated the greatest happiness principle as a guide for ethical behavior.

  • Also according to St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, man's last end is happiness: "all

  • men agree in desiring the last end, which is happiness." However, where utilitarians

  • focused on reasoning about consequences as the primary tool for reaching happiness, Aquinas

  • agreed with Aristotle that happiness cannot be reached solely through reasoning about

  • consequences of acts, but also requires a pursuit of good causes for acts, such as habits

  • according to virtue. In turn, which habits and acts that normally lead to happiness is

  • according to Aquinas caused by laws: natural law and divine law. These laws, in turn, were

  • according to Aquinas caused by a first cause, or God.

  • According to Aquinas, happiness consists in an "operation of the speculative intellect":

  • "Consequently happiness consists principally in such an operation, viz. in the contemplation

  • of Divine things." And, "the last end cannot consist in the active life, which pertains

  • to the practical intellect." So: "Therefore the last and perfect happiness, which we await

  • in the life to come, consists entirely in contemplation. But imperfect happiness, such

  • as can be had here, consists first and principally in contemplation, but secondarily, in an operation

  • of the practical intellect directing human actions and passions."

  • Economic views Common market health measures such as GDP

  • and GNP have been used as a measure of successful policy. On average richer nations tend to

  • be happier than poorer nations, but this effect seems to diminish with wealth. This has been

  • explained by the fact that the dependency is not linear but logarithmic, i.e., the same

  • percentual increase in the GNP produces the same increase in happiness for wealthy countries

  • as for poor countries. Libertarian think tank Cato Institute claims

  • that economic freedom correlates strongly with happiness preferably within the context

  • of a western mixed economy, with free press and a democracy. According to certain standards,

  • East European countries (ruled by Communist parties) were less happy than Western ones,

  • even less happy than other equally poor countries. It has been argued that happiness measures

  • could be used not as a replacement for more traditional measures, but as a supplement.

  • According to professor Edward Glaeser, people constantly make choices that decrease their

  • happiness, because they have also more important aims. Therefore, the government should not

  • decrease the alternatives available for the citizen by patronizing them but let the citizen

  • keep a maximal freedom of choice. It has been argued that happiness at work

  • is one of the driving forces behind positive outcomes at work, rather than just being a

  • resultant product. Measures of happiness

  • Several scales have been used to measure happiness: The Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) is a

  • four-item scale, measuring global subjective happiness. The scale requires participants

  • to use absolute ratings to characterize themselves as happy or unhappy individuals, as well as

  • it asks to what extent they identify themselves with descriptions of happy and unhappy individuals.

  • The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) is used to detect the relation between

  • personality traits and positive or negative affects at this moment, today, the past few

  • days, the past week, the past few weeks, the past year, and generally (on average). PANAS

  • is a 20-item questionnaire, which uses a five-point Likert scale (1 = very slightly or not at

  • all, 5 = extremely). A longer version with additional affect scales is available in a

  • manual. The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is

  • a global cognitive assessment of life satisfaction. The SWLS requires a person to use a seven-item

  • scale to state their agreement or disagreement (1 = strongly disagree, 4 = neither agree

  • nor disagree, 7 = strongly agree) with five statements about their life.

  • The UK began to measure national well being in 2012, following Bhutan which already measured

  • gross national happiness. Happiness and health

  • Richard Davidson's 2012 bestseller The Emotional Life of Your Brain argues that positive emotion

  • and happiness benefit your long-term health. From a study conducted in 2005 by Andrew Steptow

  • and Michael Marmot, findings have found that happiness is clearly related to biological

  • markers that play an important role in health. At University College London, Steptow and

  • Marmot collected health and well-being data from 116 men and 100 women. All 216 participants

  • were middle-aged, British civil servants between the ages of 45 and 59. The researchers aimed

  • to analyze whether there was any association between well-being and three biological markers:

  • heart rate, cortisol levels, and plasma fibrinogen levels. Interestingly, the participants who

  • rated themselves the least happy had cortisol levels that were 48% higher than those who

  • rated themselves as the most happy. The least happy subjects also had a large plasma fibrinogen

  • response to two stress-inducing tasks: the Stroop test, and tracing a star seen in a

  • mirror image. In Happy People Live Longer, Frey reports

  • that happy people live 14% longer, increasing longevity 7.5 to 10 years.

  • Steptow and Marmot furthered their studies by using their participants three years later

  • to repeat the physiological measurements. They found that participants who scored high

  • in positive emotion continued to have lower levels of cortisol and fibrinogen, as well

  • as a lower heart rate.

Happiness Happiness is a mental or emotional state of

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Happiness

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    christine posted on 2015/01/07
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