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Main Idea of the Text
Contrary to the expectations of many impoverished people that affluence might be a source of happiness, the following document provides a gleam light on the reality of contradictory matters about happiness. According to the earliest reports by different authors and particularly the author of Ecclesiastes in the Bible confirms that he had pursued the innumerable avenues in search of happiness, but without success. He pinpoints some of the areas he tried including wine, learning and hard work, but all failed to satisfy his want. Other significant figures are Buddha and the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. They teach that craving for external things and trying to make things conform to someone’s wishes would be comparable to someone trying to chase wind.
Happiness can be found by breaking the attachments to the material things and try to cultivate an attitude of acceptance. The argument is that even though people might have jobs, possessions and relationships, they should avoid being emotionally attached to them so that they do not get hurt or rather upset upon losing them. The author had an assertion that life is what one deems it which is determined by the mental state. This is, however, contradictory to current psychology research, which shows that struggling for some material things is a source of happiness.
The Progress Principle
In addition to the author of Ecclesiastes battling the fear of worthlessness, he was also fighting for the disappointment of success. It is normally pleasant for one to get what he or she wants, say for instance being admitted to a good school, securing a good position in the job, or accomplishing a preset project. One works unwearyingly thinking how he or she will be happy after attaining the goal. It is, however, typical that mostly one does not get long excitement after achieving what he or she wanted. It is though worth to note that when success appears more probable, there is a feeling of relief.
Unlike with animals where pleasure only comes from sex and feeding, in humans the game is more complex. People find pleasure by attaining good reputation, finding best mates, friendships, affluence and bringing up children successfully. Though one might think that happiness can be pursued by attaining these elements at once, the truth about reinforcements is that they function best when they come after a behavior. The pre-goal attainment positive affect as explained by the psychologist Richard Davidson results in pleasurable feeling as one treads towards a goal while post-goal attainment positive affect arises when something has been achieved.
The Adaptation Principle
Human beings tend to associate positive changes with happiness while the negative ones are associated with sadness and ugliness. Nevertheless, it is ridiculous because once the change sets in, people are able to adapt and get used to it and no longer see the ugliness or the beauty associated with it. It is for example that a person will think that losing his or her legs would lead to more limitations in life and hence deny them a chance to enjoy in life. On the other hand, winning a handsome amount of cash would be associated with jubilance and the aspirant can already fantasize the queens-kind of life that he or she can live. This does not, however, always happen as money does not always give solutions to daily common problems and indeed, it could be a source of misfortunes, loss of friends and engagement in bad company.
An Early Hypothesis Formula
Buddha, Epictetus and many other sages formulated the proposition that happiness comes from within and it cannot be founded by making the world conform to your desires. This is the happiness hypothesis that, if embraced, can lead to eternal happiness as well as prosperity. Buddhism asserts that attachment to material possessions leads to suffering and it proposes tools to break these attachments. Philosophers of the ancient Greek also taught that people should fully focus on only what they can themselves have control over and this meant their thoughts and reactions.
The Happiness Formula
The standard of happiness (H) that one has is determined by one’s biological set point (S) plus the conditions of one’s life (C) plus the voluntary activities (V) that one does. In summery, H=S+C+V. If just to explain briefly, conditions refer to the facts about one’s life that are unchangeable such as race, sex, age, disability and others as well as those that can be changed such as affluence, residence or marital status. On the other hand, voluntary entails all the activities that one decides to do for example learning, exercising, resting or meditating. This follows the notion that such activities can be chosen and they require a lot of attention from the doer.
One can increase his or her happiness by using his power in strengthening relationships, for example, helping friends or expressing gratitude to benefactors. Although performing acts of kindness could be tedious, one can introduce happiness to his or her life by preparing a list of five activities that he or she will be performing for the benefit of his or her friends. The implication here is that one can add gratifications and pleasures to life by making petty sacrifices for the sake of the others.
Misguided pursuits involve efforts that people make in search of happiness but end up failing in their aspirations. Some people for instance believe that conspicuous spending of cash would add them happiness. Others have the conviction that constant travelling, living in big mansions and living a classy life would be a viable source of happiness in their lives. However, contrary to this misguided belief, happiness comes from within and it is only a person, who can decide whether to live happily or unhappily irrespective of whether he or she is rich or poor.