Paradox of Happiness

Paradox of Happiness

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28th Oct, 2021

“In his 1851 work American Notebooks, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained.”

This is basically a restatement of the Stoic philosophers’ “Paradox of Happiness – To attain happiness, we must not try to attain it.”

But what exactly is happiness?

Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. The balance of emotions – Everyone experiences both positive and negative emotions, feelings, and moods. Happiness is generally linked to experiencing more positive feelings than negative.

So, happiness is good. But, how do we get it?

Edward Diener, founding editors of the Journal of Happiness Studies,  identifies five factors that contribute to happiness: social relationships, temperament/adaptation, money, society and culture, and positive thinking styles.

In a 2005 issue of the Review of General Psychology, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon Sheldon and David Schkade looked at years of research to figure out what contributes to “Chronic Happiness” as opposed to temporary happiness.

Based on their survey, they came up with a three-part model:

About half of your happiness is biological. Each person seems to have a happiness “set point”, which accounts for roughly 50% of your sense of well-being. Because this set point is genetic, it’s hard to change.

Another 10% of happiness is based on circumstances—external factors beyond your control. These include biological traits like age, race, nationality and gender, as well as things like marital status, occupational status, job security and income. Your financial situation is part of this 10%—but only a part—which means it accounts for just a fraction of your total happiness.

The final 40% of happiness comes from intentional activity—the things you choose to do. While circumstances happen to you, intentional activity happens when you act by doing things like exercising, pursuing meaningful goals, or keeping a gratitude journal.

According to the authors, because circumstances—including your financial situation—play such a small role in your general contentment, it makes more sense to boost your bliss through intentional activity, by controlling the things you can and ignoring those you can’t. Although your financial situation plays only a small role in your overall happiness,

most people believe it’s more important than that. Because of this, many people spend their lives striving for more money and possessions—but find that this materialism makes them less happy.

The biggest contemporary disease is, ‘I’ll be Happy when, my problems go away, when my worries end, when I get the money, when I get this job.’ Well, the reality is, you never get to

‘when’. The only way to find happiness is to understand that happiness is not out there. It’s always within. Being miserable is a habit; Being happy is also a habit; Amount of work is the same and the choice is yours. Make the right choice.

Happy people have strong social relationships. Scientific evidence suggests that being happy may have major benefits for your health. For starters, being happy promotes a healthy lifestyle. It may also help combat stress, boost your immune system, protect your heart and reduce pain. What’s more, it may even increase your life expectancy.

As Dale Carnegie said, ‘Happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think. Happiness is not in things; it is in us.

Happy is the man who can laugh at himself, for he will never cease to be amused. Happy is you in a natural state, and serious is something you have to do until you can get happy again.

Be happy, make others happy & stay blessed forever.