Jose Drost-Lopez

Happiness Explained in 5 Minutes

In Cognitive Sciences on January 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm

My recent Associated Content piece titled The Happiness Explosion reveals how a new “science of well-being” emerging in psychology and economics is making meaningful discoveries about human flourishing. It’s a gentle read backed up with plenty of research (check the links and references). If for some ungodly reason you’re not interested in happiness, here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

The philosopher Baruch Spinoza said: “What everyone wants from life is continuous and genuine happiness.” It’s hard to disagree: don’t we measure what’s worthwhile by what makes us feel well, content and satisfied? It’s no surprise, then, that we’re culturally consumed by the pursuit of happiness. The problem is that we stubbornly look in the wrong places based on the wrong assumptions about how our happiness works.

There’s hope. Wisdom that for centuries has only flowed from religious and philosophical thought is gaining clarity and getting fine-tuned in a new wave of research. In turn, this research can and will change our self-understanding and our society. But this transformation won’t necessarily be all good.

The article is speculative at points, but it makes sense of a huge amount of data in an accessible way. As a final note, here are two thinkers who should have been mentioned in the piece:

Barbara Fredrickson, one of the first psychologists to examine the origins and roles of positive thoughts.

Daniel Gilbert, who has highlighted the staggering extent to which we misjudge how our feelings will be affected by events in the future.

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