Pursuit of Happiness
Definition of happiness has eluded many scholars, but in simple termshappiness is a state of joy, contentment and ability to find comfortin oneself (Gore 4). Positive psychology has enabled many people toreflect about their lives and come up with ways of increasinghappiness in their lives. Life is full of challenges, mountains andvalleys to climb every day (Rubin 26). There are times of depressionand times of euphoria. Gambling with hard jobs, working two jobs tomake ends meet, struggling with raising a family, struggling to keepup with the soaring house and health bills and persevering theweather of unemployment are some of the things that can make ourlives miserable. The power of positive thinking helps us get throughthese life challenges.
Various researchers and authors have categorized in thispsychological school of thought and many have wielded the sameresults. Finding ways to make life better and capitalizing on onesstrengths encompass the positive psychology (Seligman and Mihaly 6).Women happiness is of particular interest because they are emotionalbeings and the home makers (Gore 24). They literally raise theirfamilies irrespective of their life situations. They struggle withpleasing their loved ones at the expense of their own happiness. So,how can people achieve happiness? This paper will look into detailthe studies made by various authors in their pursuit of happiness andways in which people can improve their lives and achieve thehappiness they deserve.
The Happiness Project
In the Happiness project, Gretchen Rubin takes us through a rollercoaster ride of her annual life plan in pursuit of happiness (Rubin3). After one rainy afternoon of contemplating on how to improve herlife to be happier than before, she decides to make a year-long planof change. She decides to change much of her life into a positive onefull of happiness, a project she calls the “happiness project”(Rubin 2). This project is filled with monthly goals that she needsto fulfill. These goals are branded the twelve commandments which shedecides to honor to completion. Some of her thoughts are impracticalbut there are some which are worth noting.
One of her commandments that I feel is worth noting is the first one,“Be Gretchen” (Rubin 4). Many times, people tend to struggleliving other people’s lives and end up getting more frustrated thanbefore. The notion of knowing who you are is very important inachieving happiness in life. Desisting from impressions of peopleliving better lives or being better than you makes life worth living(Rubin 23). Many people are always worried about their lives andquestion the meaning of their existence. They fail to see any worthin them just because there are people superior to them in terms ofwealth, charisma, family, education among other things. They end upinto depression and self-hatred with suicidal tendencies.
Realizing the power of self-love and self-appreciation is the firststep to achieving happiness. Refusing to care about what other peoplethink about you and forging ahead with one’s life is veryimportant. Gretchen’s first commandment is dedicated to knowing andbeing her own self (Rubin 10). She advocates being true to herselfand knowing who she is and who she is not. She want to stand her ownground knowing what she loves and what she hates, what makes herhappy and what frustrates her. After becoming conversant withherself, she manages to become peaceful and engage in a fruitful lifecapitalizing on things that matter to her and bring her happiness.
Happiness involves finding time from a busy schedule to take care ofoneself. Forgetting all other people and deviating all the attentionto one’s life. This means engaging in activities that make youachieve the inner peace. Maintaining the health of the body, mind andsoul is very important (Rubin 87). Body health is achieved through ahealthy lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise. Taking time toengage in leisure activities help relax the body and promote thenecessary immune responses. The happy hormones and pheromonesreleased keep the body calm and emotionally connected.
Health of the mind can be achieved through frequent reading oninspirational and other materials that enrich the mind. Meditationand self-reflection brings the peace of mind that is desired. Ahealthy soul entails adoption of activities that are in line withones beliefs and schools of thought (Rubin 90). Spiritual nourishmentcan help people get the internal peace they need and promote thehappiness they desire. Gretchen takes time to explain the power ofleisure activities and other activities that enrich her life inchapter five. She engages in morning singing, reading, spiritualityand physical exercises among other things to push her life into theright direction (Rubin 110).
Gretchen is also constantly blaming herself for not living life tothe fullest. She hates that she hasn’t lived to her ultimatepotentials (Rubin 123). Maybe she could have stretched her wings andtravelled more. Maybe she could have met a better husband with thesame goals as hers. Maybe she could have achieved more. All theseregrets are sources of unhappiness. It is therefore, prudent to livelife wholesomely. To achieve the deeper potentials, we have tostretch out and challenge ourselves by undertaking harder andchallenging activities or jobs (Rubin 127). This will help achievethe best one can ever be the best in educational milestones, careerpath and family life.
In the work of Arie Gore, an acclaimed journalist and writer, pursuitof happiness is taken into account in a more intellectual way ascompared to Gretchen’s take. Arie Gore in her book “Bluebird”,brings out theories that define happiness and takes a deeper courseto relate with the Americans’ history on happiness (Gore 3). She isa supporter of positive psychology and advocates ways of achievinghappiness especially for the American women. Her recommendation ofachieving happiness is tackling daily experiences through good humor.She advocates use of positive emotional experiences to get over dailystress fests that can bring our lives down (Gore 6). She alsoreflects on the power of self-focus through creation of time andattention on one’s life. Gore wants women to take time from theirdaily busy lives, relax and find positive meaning in the crappy daysthey encounter (Gore 7).
Just like Rubin, Gore believes in the power of positive psychologythrough positive thinking. Before her book, Gore noted that much ofthe work regarding women happiness was authored by men who left outsome key people especially mothers (Gore 12). Through her happinessjournal, many women described their personal thoughts on things theywanted to do to find happiness. Some wished to move to new towns,owning land and others moving to the city (Gore 17). These resultsshow that many women weren’t happy at the moment but there may beother barriers to achieving this happiness.
Gore explores the things that make people happy and concludes thathappiness comes unexpectedly and is not necessarily the opposite ofsadness (Gore 25). She believes happiness comes from things that wehardly get enough of. For instance, sunshine in Portland is enough tomake the residents happy. Gore also explores the impacts of socialclass on happiness. She disputes the notion that happiness is for therich and privileged while the oppressed remain unhappy (Gore 36).Gore argues that happiness is the perception people have on theirdaily lives and the practice of focusing on the happiness itselfrather than the other things surrounding it. She believes happinessgrows as you continue to pay attention to it. Unlike Gretchen whothinks money can buy happiness if used wisely, Gore disapprovesthrough such thought processes.
In the work of psychologist Martin Seligman, happiness in women wasmasked by their perceptions of what happiness were (Seligman andMihaly 134). After a research on American mothers, He noted that manywomen ascribed their happiness to their children but in realityparentage brought annoyance and stress to their lives. They actuallyfound comfort in other things like watching TV, reading and chattingwith friends. In this research, happiness can be depicted in twodifferent realities (Seligman and Mihaly 134). The annoyance ofparentage brings with it the necessary experience and a sense ofdirection and purpose that promote contentment of being a mother(Gore 57). Despite the sacrifices foregone raising children, mothersstill feel proud about their children and their parentage skills.This notion agrees with Core’s school of thought that focusing onhappiness itself is the remedy of the stressful lives that womenhave.
Concluding this topic, the source of happiness is in the hands of thepeople. Life is full of challenges and it is upon the people to forgea way that brings happiness to them. Striking a balance betweenvarious forms of happiness enables one to live a fulfilled life (Gore89). Focusing on oneself, finding things that foster happiness andstretching out to achieve the best is the excellent way of achievinghappiness in life. Positive psychology promotes positive thinking inthe lives of people and more research should be directed in thisfield to elucidate better recommendations on the issue of happiness(Seligman and Mihaly 270).
Gore, Ariel. Bluebird: Women and the new psychology of happiness.Macmillan, 2010.
Rubin’s, Gretchen. "The happiness project" (2009)
Seligman, Martin EP, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Positivepsychology: An introduction. Springer Netherlands, 2014.279-298