The Pursuit of Happiness

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The Pursuit of Happiness

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The Pursuit of Happiness

Emotions have always formed a fundamental part of psychology. In the initial stages of its growth, psychology mainly concentrated on negative emotions such as anxiety, depression and anger, as compared to positive emotions that as joy, satisfaction and happiness. In fact, the literature available today examines suffering at a greater magnitude than joy. Nevertheless, the tide is flowing on the other direction with considerable attention being given to positive emotions, and especially happiness. This does not undermine the fact that the term happiness is yet to have a definite definition, rather its definitions remain abstract and subjective.

While there are numerous definitions of happiness, it may be defined as a life experience that is characterized by the predominance of positive emotions and composed of subjective wellbeing and satisfaction with life (Nettle, 2006).

There are varied measures that are used to assess or evaluate the levels of happiness of individuals. The questions asked mainly aim at giving levels of happiness such as extremely happy, moderately happy and others. In addition, they may employ multiple items of measuring happiness where they tap into the affective and cognitive components of happiness (Nettle, 2006). The cognitive components underline the fact judgment pertaining to the high life satisfaction, while the affective component is mainly about the experience of persistent, positive emotions, as well as relatively infrequent negative emotions. Various scales may also be used, for example, The Affect Balance Scale that invites individuals to report the frequency with which they undergo various negative or positive emotions within a definite period. The Experience Sampling Method, on the other hand, uses pagers to sporadically interrupt the waking experience of people and sample their moods. The Day Restructuring Method requires the respondents to evaluate every hour of their previous day, and recall the things that they were doing at a certain time and their feelings on the same. Subjective Happiness Scale asks its respondents to rate the degree with which they see or believe themselves as unhappy or happy.

It is commonly concluded among psychologists especially in positive psychology research that happiness is a result of a combination of voluntary activities, genetics and circumstances. This may be considered sufficiently reasonable, especially considering that the virtual tautology has been found applicable to most human characteristics (Gilbert, 2006). Some positive psychologists even propose a happiness formula, which is a weighted sum of its components or parts, with weights that are founded on research with enormous samples of individuals (Gilbert, 2006). Representative sets of weights are 40% voluntary activities, 10% circumstances and 50% genetics. This, to me appears sufficiently reasonable as it is a reflection of research literature, although the exact weights are usually a function of samples where they are derived (Gilbert, 2006).

While this may be the case, happiness is a choice and a function of decisions that an individual makes. It revolves around devoting time to friends and family, maintaining a hopeful outlook.............


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