“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ” In America, and all throughout the world, happiness is essential in order to live an enjoyable life. Many citizens find that material possessions make them most happy. Today happiness is viewed in many different ways. Everyone defines happiness according to their personal perspectives. What might make one person happy, may have little to no effect on another.
But is life really about money, who has the designer clothes, or who drives the or most expensive or fastest car? “Dictionary. Com” defines happiness as “good fortune; pleasure; contentment; Joy. ” However, there are many different, personal definitions of happiness, and different denominations of what allows for happiness in one’s life. Although, there are many misconceptions on what makes one happy, three main attributes that allow for happiness are gratitude, engagement in personal activities, and colonization.
Since happiness is defined in many personal ways, individuals eave different things that make them happy. Many things that one may believe makes him or her happy actually have little to no effect on them. A common example of this is the strong belief that money makes a person happier. They’re Willis was raised with parent’s who owned the Georgia-Pacific Timber company. The family was wealthy, and had the opportunity to live their life with an abundance of material things, which they believed would make them happy. However, Willis realized that the wealth that herself and her family had did not increase her happiness.
Willis says hat by “Having a fulfilling, [and] meaningful life and being happy doesn’t have to do with what we have” (CTD. In Costello and Weir 2). Although she grew up in a family where she could have pretty much anything she wanted, Willis realized that she really wasn’t happy, and that money doesn’t buy happiness. In addition to They’re Willie’s findings of the cause and effect between money and happiness, Edward Dinner, a psychologist at The University of Illinois, also encountered interesting facts about what does not affect one’s happiness.
According to recent research performed y Dinner, “once your basic needs are met, additional income does little to raise your sense of satisfaction with life” (Wallis 2). These findings, in addition to They’re Willie’s discovery, further support the idea that money does not buy happiness. Furthermore, there are many other misconceptions of what makes a person happy; for example, the idea of being young. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control conducted a survey to prove that youth has little to no impact on one’s happiness.
The findings are as follows: people ages 20 to 24 are sad for an average of 3. 4 days a month, [compared o only] 2. 3 days for people ages 65 to 74″ (Wallis 2). Some may say the reason for this difference is because young people have more to deal with or undergo, compared to older folks whom do not have much on their minds, either way the research clearly points out that youth does not have a large impact on one’s level of happiness. David Liken, a researcher from the University of Minnesota, further explains some misconceptions that some people may have.
Through his research, Liken finds that many virtues in a person’s elite that are thought to make them nappy like, wealth, avian a spouse, and education, only account for 8% of one’s happiness (Wallis 5). As a result, one is able to undoubtedly be aware of what either has a very insignificant role, or no role in ones happiness, and attempt to limit their focus on these aspects. There are many things in life that make people happy. Gratitude, or being grateful, is one aspect that has a positive effect on a person’s happiness.
Many psychologists find that the little things in life that someone is grateful for allows for happiness, and when they reflect on those things, they become even happier. Christopher Peterson, a Psychologist at the University of Michigan, has found that speaking of and composing a list of what someone is grateful for, increases that person’s happiness (Alias). Virtually, by contemplating about things that one is thankful for, one can possibly impact the general set point of happiness that that person’s body encompasses (Alias 1).
In addition, Songs Laboriously, a psychologist at the University of California at Riverside, has begun a number of different studies to test what boosts happiness. One experiment, known as the “gratitude Journal,” is designed for a group of people o thoroughly examine the things in their life for which they are extremely grateful for one week, and another group of people to Just continually live their life normally, not reflecting on things they are thankful for. After the experiment was finished, a follow-up test was performed.
Results showed that, “Participants who counted their blessings once a week expressed more gratitude and thankfulness and rated themselves significantly happier than before” (Stardom 1). Robert Moons, a psychologist from the University of California at Davis, notes, that he also found these irritated activities raised “energy levels” (Wallis 6). Therefore, not only did the exercises increase the level of happiness in the experimental group, they strengthened other aspects of the subjects lives. Many other scientists have also studied the way gratitude exercises affect happiness levels.
Martin Salesman, also a psychologist, comments on the exercises, “people who do this Just once are measurably happier and less depressed a month later” (CTD. In Wallis 6). Reflecting on aspects in ones life that they are grateful for generally establish a stronger level of peppiness, and can also positively affect other things in their life. A large amount of people have personal hobbies or activities they enjoy doing. When one performs or engages in this activity, they may feel as though nothing else matters, and solely concentrate on that activity.
This state of mind is known as “Flow. ” Psychologist Mildly Sentimentally, the creator of the term “flow,” explains that when experiencing flow, ones life will be “of great satisfaction” (Alias 2). For example, if one loves to sing, has a talent for it, or Just loves music in general, every time the person engages in singing or musical activities, they will have a feeling of bliss. After being raised in a high income family, They’re Willis found that the amount of income one receives does not increase one’s happiness.
She explains that the material things do not matter in life, and that how one lives their life is much more important. Thus, by doing activities that makes one happy, one increases the happiness they experience in their life. Not only does one feel happier when taking part in activities they enjoy but as David Liken, from the University of Minnesota points out, that “[by] becoming ore engaged in what you do and finding ways of making your life feel more meaningful” (Wallis 5).
When one puts effort into doing something they love, they feel as though they nave a purpose, and they attempt to tulle that purpose. In the words of Ray Bradbury, “Love what you do and do what you love. ” Lastly, in addition to gratitude and engaging in personal activities, colonization with others also creates and sustains happiness. Often times, when one engages in conversation, or has any interaction with another person, friend or family member, hey feel as though they have someone to “vent” to, and let out their feelings.
In 2002 a study that was ordained by Edward Dinner and Martin Salesman, found that the students at the University of Illinois with the highest levels of happiness all shared the the attribute of having good relationships with family and friends compared to the students that did not have a strong social bond with family and friends (Wallis 2). Many people work in an environment where they socialize with others. Paul Hinterlands is a cab driver in New York City. During his 12 hour shift, he explains hat he takes initiative and attempts to “brighten the day of everyone he meets” (Costello and Weir 2).
By brightening someone else’s day, Hinterlands also improves his own day, and his happiness, Costello and Weir further explain that “the most satisfying endeavors are those that benefit others” (Costello and Weir 3). An example of true happiness derived from colonization comes from the life of a family in Denmark. Anne Beachheads, and her family, live in a choosing community with nineteen other families. Anne Beachheads is a single mother of two kids that lives in a choosing located in Denmark. After her divorce, Anne explained that she needed to find somewhere to live so that she wouldn’t feel isolated.
When she found the choosing community, all her dreams came true. In the choosing community she lives in, Ms. Beachheads has regular household duties to attend to. However, the duties are slightly different from the household duties one might perform living in a single family home. Opposed to a normal single family home, in the choosing community, Beachheads is only required to cook dinner, and clean up twice a month. The two days that she performs these Jobs, she cooks for the entire choosing immunity, 19 families, and her own family. On these days, her family also helps her prepare for the meal.
The families in the choosing home agree that the set up they have makes things easier, and lightens the workload. Which in turn, can help positively affect the level of one’s happiness. Over all, engaging in social interaction improves happiness not only for oneself, but for the people in ones life, and in some cases, even strangers. Happiness is an astonishing emotion and feeling. The number of studies being performed on the subject will hopefully create a more clear understanding of the factors that do and do not create the feeling of happiness.
Each individual has different aspects that both hinder and strengthen their level of happiness. Although many false representations are made in regards to what makes a person happy, the most common characteristics that promote happiness are the feeling of gratitude, the engagement of personal activities, and colonization with others. With knowledge of what hinders one’s happiness, and the aspects that contribute positively to happiness, the right to the “pursuit of happiness” is “self- evident,” and can easily be obtained.