A reference point; a relative state of mind to which we compare other emotions. Being happy is one of our ultimate goals.
June 18, 2006 1:03 PM   Subscribe

I would be happer if your 3rd link was valid and the 6th wasn't the same as the first.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 1:19 PM on June 18, 2006

yeah, doubling the first and last was a mistake, but all should be valid links.
posted by jne1813 at 1:24 PM on June 18, 2006

happiness is the symptom of being on the right path to achieving your goals. happiness is not a goal in-of-itself.
posted by philosophistry at 1:27 PM on June 18, 2006

thank you aristotle
posted by jne1813 at 1:29 PM on June 18, 2006

Quirks & Quarks recently dedicated a show on the science of happiness, you can download the entire 22mb MP3.
posted by furtive at 1:35 PM on June 18, 2006

Over their lifetime, (most) older people have managed to rewire their initially unbalanced happiness brain-networks. It's part of becoming wise.
posted by vertriebskonzept at 1:54 PM on June 18, 2006

happiness is not a goal in-of-itself.

Unless, of course, it is.
posted by Balisong at 2:10 PM on June 18, 2006

Your happiness ends where my curmudgeoness begins!
posted by storybored at 2:16 PM on June 18, 2006


How many of you philosopher types would throw away that winning lottery ticket? hmm?
posted by stirfry at 2:20 PM on June 18, 2006

Also, Todd's best film to date.
posted by Busithoth at 2:32 PM on June 18, 2006

the meaning of happiness, or as they say in french: A pines
posted by growabrain at 2:54 PM on June 18, 2006

Bang bang shoot shoot.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:21 PM on June 18, 2006

I hated that film so much.
posted by cavalier at 3:51 PM on June 18, 2006

Happiness is more of a fleeting thing. It's contentment that matters.
posted by bim at 4:57 PM on June 18, 2006

Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is.
posted by Fofer at 5:05 PM on June 18, 2006

The report mentioned in the timesonline article was discussed previously
posted by jba at 5:17 PM on June 18, 2006

jn1813, Excellent post. Your post truly made my day. Thank you. I think Tal Ben-Shahar's tips make a great deal of sense. Definitely a [+fave].

I would add to his list that loving intimacy, the healthy exchange of authenticity and caring, healthy strokes, are important aspects of happiness.

Interesting in a present day culture of so many people taking anti-depressants or self-medicating for depression, there is so much ridicule and active disinterest in discussing happiness.

The subject of happiness interests me a lot, especially the psychological complexities of it. Thanks to your post and the responses with great links by furtive, vertriebskonzept and jba in this thread, I Googled the psychology of happiness and am delighted there is good reading on the subject.

The very word, happiness, seems to have become denigrated and flattened by the cynical or by commercial use. When heroin chic came into the fashion biz, it was and still is to a large degree, trendy to look like death-is-cool. Like all smiling is for idiots. Not. These days I find politically savvy friends seem to believe that being happy or being interested in happiness means one is oblivious of the suffering in the world, uncaring or blind, as if being depressed or outraged-the-entire-day-every-day is the only politically correct hip demeanor.

I never liked the grotesque materialism of the 1950's or 1980's. That's not happiness to me, nor is the two-dimensional sullen pose, supposedly representing intelligent concern.

The word joy sounds has been devalued into something that is supposed to feel vaguely religious, in a Hallmark card or that only kids feel. People sneer at the concept of contentment, as if it meant only complacent. Happiness has gotten a bum rap. I'm so glad to see professors, thinkers, writers, psychologists taking the subject seriously.


Central to Seligman's positive psychology is "eudaemonia, the good life, which is what Thomas Jefferson and Aristotle meant by the pursuit of happiness. They did not mean smiling a lot and giggling. Aristotle talks about the pleasures of contemplation and the pleasures of good conversation.

Six Tips for Happiness
Advice from Tal Ben-Shahar.

1. Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions -- such as fear, sadness, or anxiety -- as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.

3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?

4. Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

5. Remember the mind-body connection. What we do -- or don't do -- with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.

6. Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.
posted by nickyskye at 6:22 PM on June 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Related AskMe thread: "what is happiness?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:29 PM on June 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Chasing wealth can make you ill and earning over £25,000 a year won’t make you any happier

Man, he is so right. I have a briefcase full of $100 notes right here in front of me, and I'm still not happy. I was going to use that money to buy a penthouse over on the west side, in the vein hope that it would make me happy. Boy, was I mistaken! Instead, I'm going to do the smart thing and burn it all. I considered giving you some of it, but decided that would be a mean thing to do. I wouldn't want to make you neurotic or anything.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:24 PM on June 18, 2006

nickyskye: 2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning.

Funny, I always thought it was at Wabash and Lake.

"In fact, [humans are] the only animals
that think they're supposed to be happy.
All of the other animals can just be."
(youtube) - Ernest Cline
posted by pierrepressure at 10:28 PM on June 18, 2006

the happiest man in the world
posted by huckhound at 7:36 AM on June 19, 2006

I liked the Swedish proverb, “If you buy what you don’t need, you steal from yourself.”
posted by jeffburdges at 7:49 AM on June 19, 2006

Over their lifetime, (most) older people have managed to rewire their initially unbalanced happiness brain-networks. It's part of becoming wise.

"As life gets longer, awful feels softer..."
posted by gd779 at 4:27 PM on June 19, 2006

From the Economist's review of Darrin McMahon's Happiness: A History:
His central argument is that the modern idea of happiness was an invention of the Enlightenment. ...

Historically speaking, this was a radical change. For the ancient Greeks, happiness was largely bound up with notions of luck and fortune. Any man, however high and mighty, could be brought down by a twist of fate. The important thing, therefore, was not to seek happiness for its own sake but to live virtuously. Being good, as Mr McMahon nicely puts it, was more important than feeling good. For Herodotus and his contemporaries, happiness was not a “subjective state” but a “characterisation of an entire life that can be reckoned only at death.”
posted by russilwvong at 11:09 AM on June 27, 2006

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