17 February 2011

the psychology of happy

First, I would like to say that this is my 50th post so far! 50 days of happiness down, and a lot more to go.
A while back, I did a blog about different views of happiness. I talked about Bhutan and the Scandinavian countries, and our own country. But today I'll talk about science's view of happiness.
One of my friends in my AP lang class is taking AP Psychology. She said that today, in addition to learning about ways to spot people who are lying (she thinks her teacher gave it to her so they could become better at lying), they learned general characteristics of happy people. I was really interested because happiness is not something you can measure in an objective way, like, "let me analyze your blood, and we'll find out if you're happy". There were a few main ideas. The sheet said that happy people usually: (1) have good self esteem and/or have confidence in themselves, (2) have a strong religious faith, (3) have hobbies and/or engage in activities that exercise their skills, (4) have a satisfying marriage and/or good relationships with friends and family, and (5) get regular sleep and regular exercise.
According to these criteria, I should be the happiest person alive! I'm confident in my abilities, I swim everyday, I have lots of friends and get along with my family, I have hobbies and activities I love, I sleep well (most of the time), and even through we don't go to church often, I feel that I am a pretty spiritual person at heart.
I was curious, so I looked up "the psychology of happiness" on Google. I started reading an article that divided how certain things influence our happiness. Apparently, 10% of our happiness is due to our finances, ethnicity, age, gender, etc. 40% is due to the activities in everyday life that we do. You know, everything we do everyday that can make us happy or sad, like getting back a test grade of a 100. That renders one happy. The other half, of which I am skeptical, is due to genetics. Supposedly certain people are just more apt to be happy than others. I can somewhat agree. Some people will always be chipper and joyful all the time, and some people will be critical, cynical, and pessimistic.
If only 50% is gene-based, and 10% is money, than why do many people say that having a million dollars would make the world go round? Psychologists actually say that money does not bring happiness, in spite of what we think. The article suggests that the reason wealthy people might not be happy is because they may be too foucsed on work. But that does not include the retired wealthy. What does this then bring us to?
In trying to fix a leak I have created a flood. We will always know less than we thought we knew before we talk deeply about something. Because after you think you've placed all your rocks in the sand, an earthquale comes and shakes them up. Then nothing is certain.
I like to get into philosophical debates like this, because it's fun to see how far you can go and in what directions it goes.
Before I started blogging, I thought I knew what happiness was. But now I have no idea. Actually, I have too many ideas of what it could be. But I'm fine not being able to explain happiness. Because happiness is a feeling. And feelings are human. And human can never be explained.

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