Posts Tagged ‘Pursuit of Happiness’

They Teach Happiness at Harvard

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

An entire industry has been built up around the pursuit of happiness. A stroll past any bookstore window demonstrates the explosive popularity of the feel-good, self-help movements of recent years. And whether these products are genuine paths to ultimate happiness or just pleasure-peddling scams, the trend seems likely to hold.

Now, even the Ivy League is getting in on the act, layering serious academic research onto the pop-psychology phenomenon to develop a “science of happiness.” Known as “positive psychology,” the field was pioneered at the University of Pennsylvania and came to Harvard a decade ago when an elective course on the topic was first taught.

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Woo hoo!  Tal Ben-Shahar made it into BusinessWeek!  You do know that Butter Bee Happy’s “write 5 happy thoughts a day” idea came from Ben-Shahar’s book Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, right?  Well, if you didn’t, you do now.  We BBHers LOVE Ben-Shahar!

I think it’s very interesting that Ben-Shahar’s class became so popular at Harvard.  I wonder if it would have had as much or more success at another university that was less academically stressful?   I don’t know anyone currently enrolled at Harvard, but I have had friends who attended Yale, Princeton, and MIT, and they often mentioned how much stress their classes caused them.  I know they were learning a lot and being very productive, but they didn’t seem as happy as some of my other friends who attended more relaxed, less competitive universities.  Maybe students at Harvard needed a class on happiness more than students at other universities needed one.  What do you think?

-MJ

Free time outranks wealth in happiness survey

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Wealth may be playing less of a role in Americans’ pursuit of happiness, according to results from a Pew Research Center survey.

Thirteen percent of 2,413 respondents in a survey earlier this year said being wealthy was “very important” to them, according to a survey posted Wednesday on the Pew Research Center’s Web site. Other opinion choices were “somewhat important” or “not very important.” It ranked last among seven statements of priority such as living a religious life, doing volunteer work, donating to charity or being married.

Nearly 70% of respondents said “hav[ing] enough free time to do things you want to do” was very important, the Web site said. This received the largest amount of very important votes. Having children and being successful in a career ranked second with 61% of respondents saying these were very important to them.

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Pursuit of happiness

Friday, April 25th, 2008

[...]Imagine you are a president or prime minister. It is imperative to keep your people happy because you hope to be re-elected in order to make your citizens happier and to run your country efficiently. You also know that people care about personal factors like health, income, education and development in general. You have an intuitive idea that they care also about external factors like inflation and security. But how do you work out the relative importance of all these things that constitute well-being which in turn translate to happiness? We are talking about happiness economics.

Historically, economists have said that well-being is a simple function of income. By their argument, happiness ought to be the preserve of the super rich— the Bill Gates and the Roman Abramovichs of this world. But the million dollar question is: Are the rich always happy?[...]

Rooted in this postulation is the thinking of happiness economics, which is the study of a country’s well-being by combining economists’ and psychologists’ techniques. The goal of happiness economics is to determine where people derive their well-being. Happiness economists hope to change the way governments view well-being and how to most effectively govern and allocate resources given this paradox.

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Don’t Worry, Be Moderately Happy, Research Suggests

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Could the pursuit of happiness go too far?  Most self-help books on the subject offer tips on how to maximize one’s bliss, but a new study suggests that moderate happiness may be preferable to full-fledged elation.

The researchers, from the University of Virginia, the University of Illinois and Michigan State University, looked at data from the World Values Survey, a large-scale analysis of economic, social, political and religious influences around the world. They also analyzed the behaviors and attitudes of 193 undergraduate students at Illinois.

Their findings challenge the common assumption that all measures of well-being go up as happiness increases. While many indicators of success and well-being do correspond to higher levels of happiness, the researchers report, those at the uppermost end of the happiness scale (people who report that they are 10s on a 10-point life satisfaction score) are in some measures worse off than their slightly less elated counterparts.

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Your financial life and happiness

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

You know the old saying — money can’t buy you happiness. It makes some sense. After all, lots of very wealthy people are unhappy, while many poor people are happy. Still, just about all of us would welcome being happier — it’s even a part of our Declaration of Independence: the pursuit of happiness.

Fortunately, we needn’t flounder alone. There’s a growing body of research on the topic — and much of it can be applied to our financial lives.

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Federal Bureau of Happiness a good idea?

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

 

A wise man once noted that there are two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes. Our forefathers tried to assure us of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but the government does not pursue my happiness with the same vigor that the Internal Revenue Service pursues my taxes.

I think there should be federal agencies that promote happiness. Here are some of the new agencies I have come up with:
The Internal Dating Service: Statistically, who knows more about where all the right women (or men) are than the federal government? There must be places in the U.S. where the ratio of women to men is 2:1. Why is this a secret? If I was not happily married, I would want to know where these women are. Using government statistics, I could type in a few key words, and there would pop up 10 or 20 places in the U.S. where my ideal mate would be.

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