Dec 3, 2009

Happiness, does it matter ???

This entry is brought to you courtesy of my Illinois Alumni magazine, featuring an article titled "Five Propositions About Happiness" based on a book by Professor of Psychology Ed Diener of the University of Illinois.

Professor Diener has studied happiness for the past 30 years and has developed the following five propositions.

1:  Maybe money can buy happiness.  Global data aggregated over almost 30 years shows that self-reported life satisfaction levels do rise with income.  It has become scientific fact taht there is a relationship between prosperity and happiness.

2: Maybe money can't by happiness.  In those lucky nations endowed with a decent standard of living, happiness is, for sure, related to income - but strongly related only to a point.  In the U.S., the point is around $40,000.  Once basic economic needs are met, there are different drivers of satisfaction and fullfillment.  Once the $40,000 threshold is reached, the rising happiness curve flattens.

3: Happiness is not a goal.  Happiness is a matter more of wealth than of money, wealth meaning those things that make life better both materially and emotionally. 

4: Some are born happy, and some achieve happiness.  There are people who just seem happier than other people.  They're high on energy, low on anxiety.  They tend to be more successful in their careers, have better marriages, earn more money, and even enjoy better health.  It is possible to ratchet up one's happiness - it means attitude adjustment, working on relationships, finding "spiritual emotions" that connect one to a relaity beyond individual need and struggle.  So what are these spiritual emotions? Love, Gratitude, Awe, Transcendence, Forgiveness.

5: Happiness is seeking fulfillment.  Happiness is chased rather than captured.  Do what you are good at, you owe it to yourself and those around you.

I found this article very enlightening, at a very deep level.  I have always said that attitude is everything, that we chose how to react to events in our life.  Do you see the glass as half empty or half full?  I know that I have always been an optimist, seeing and seeking the good in others.  I am happy, are you???


  1. I enjoyed this post. There are so many things that go under the title of "Happiness".

    Hugs, Rose

  2. I would put myself in the '#5' category. And I feel that it is the pursuit of it that keeps me going!

  3. Hi Ken,
    I think happiness is everything ... but it all sounds like a chicken and egg kind of question. Are people happy because they achieve success or do they achieve success because they're happy. Or is it a little of both. Very interesting post. I've always felt that you get back what you put out: If you are happy and project a positive attitude, you'll get that back in return from others.

  4. I am a frim believer that happiness is a goal, and an attainable one at that. As for the money issue, well, I have a simple motto that I learned from the Dalai Lama: Want the things you have, don't have the things you want.

  5. I think attitude is very important. If nothing else, people respond more favorably to a positive attitude and are more likely to do your bidding...errr, go along with your ideas.


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