Friday, February 26, 2010

On Happiness

Much can be said, and has been said so far on happiness. To some, it is the goal of all existence. For others, the end of existence may be self-perfection, but that's beyond the point. Or is it?

Psychologists seem to have a very narrow-minded definition of happiness. Most of the time, they equate happiness with joy.
To probe the effect of happiness on selfishness, Forgas and his colleague Hui Bing Tan put 45 students into good or bad moods by giving them positive or negative feedback on a "cognitive test" that they had taken.
When students received positive feedback, what they actually felt is contentment, or even joy, but not happiness. Happiness is much deeper than either contentment or joy. It is a lasting moment when one feels at peace with the rest of the world, where desires have finally shut up for just a moment and what really matters is the present. It is first and foremost a deep, lasting emotion as well as mental state which doesn't either come or go in a predictable way. As an example, imagine the what the wise grandfather at the family Christmas table would feel to see his offspring all grown up.

My own theory, which is obviously inspired from what I've read, is that happiness most often than not comes from a steady increase in power over oneself, a form of self-control.

1 comment:

Ana said...

First of all psychologists don't have a narrow definition of happiness per see it's just that happiness is such a broad term it's hard to define and it varies from person to person and no one has "The Answer" to what it really is entirely but we can speculate. Some psychologists have defined happiness as the experience of flow such as Doctor Seligman, flow is experienced when a person is doing something that they first of all enjoy, then they are so concentrated on it they forget about things around them and lose track of time.

Happiness according to me may vary through time (years, months, minutes, hours) and situations (death of somebody, financial circumstances). I don't think happiness lasts a long time, when a person experiences it but it surely is a great feeling and one can experience it a little bit daily. One reason why happiness cannot be experienced at every moment according to me is due to something called habituation, once a person is habituated to being in this new state of happiness, it becomes boring, and like every good drug that exists out there, more doses are needed and the after effects are ugly so better happiness small and random doses than all the time and that one can control (addiction).

Another thing I have to say is what is the motivation towards wanting happiness? isn't it desires what first initiated seeking happiness (can be desire to be rich but can also be desire to cease the pain of a disease)? One choses what might be his/ her happiness (time, situation). Another thing, happiness is something that one creates because of one's interpretation of a particular situation. HOw one is interpreting is important and not only how one internally interprets the situation but also situational factors. For instance if a grandfather had a fight with somebody, it's very hard to be happy around a dinner table at Christmas no matter how proud he is of grandsons, or if that particular grandfather is sick and in pain. But he might experience moments of happiness regardless of all these things but they might not last years and might not be felt regardless of situations.
On the other hand I understand that happiness is not only contentment or joy but that is the end result, that is what you feel no matter what you do to accomplish happiness. For instance, you can self-perfect yourself but the end result is pride contentment and joy about yourself. So therefore, I conclude that there are many steps toward happiness and it's not about the end results but it's about the means to get there, it's the process that should be considered as most important.