Another study demonstrated the surprising impact a simple act of kindness can have on one’s overall well-being. And married parents are relatively happier, as are older parents, who tend to have more resources. This Content is made possible by our Sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Slate's editorial staff. Pleasure was good. This energy tended to peak early, allowing employees to be more productive while working fewer hours. “Parents with the most resources also have the highest opportunity costs,” explains Lyubomirsky. And why should we not work to multiply our wealth, and with it our ability to procure more pleasant feelings? Many others agreed. But the truth is not so simple. For many of us, experiencing these two components simultaneously is rare, but according to Lyubomirsky, “there are certain strategies we can all use to maximize our happiness.”, To uncover these strategies, Lyubomirsky and her team designed a series of experiments called  “happiness interventions.”. Gene that predicts happiness in women discovered Date: August 28, 2012 Source: University of South Florida (USF Health) Summary: Sorry guys, this happiness gene is for women. It gives an overview of the history of happiness research; the various philosophies of happiness, starting with Aristippus of Cyrene (435 – 354 B.C. SHARE. There is no possession in the world that could make you happy forever. The education that these traditions provide in disciplining our desires and steeling our souls against suffering can also be extremely effective in fostering mindfulness and resilience in the face of misfortune. Pain was bad. SHARE ARTICLE. It drove Americans to endlessly multiply their needs, while encouraging their desires to continually outrun their capacity to fulfill them. Confucians and Daoists, for their part, taught their followers to live in accordance with the Way. Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, has devoted her career to the study of happiness: what it is, what it does and why it exists. Whereas happiness had once been seen as a rare and special achievement in a world of suffering and pain, now there was a growing consensus that many stood a good chance of outwitting suffering, once and for all. Surely the possibilities for feeling good are multiplied when one faces fewer financial constraints. Once thought of as the summon bonum, the highest good of a virtuous life, happiness was increasingly conceived in hedonic terms as subjective emotion—good feeling registered by a smile. It is easy to understand why. In short, as the noted psychologist John Haidt observes, there is a good deal of “modern truth in ancient wisdom.”. But something unusual happened in the 18th century: The way people talked about happiness started to shift. By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy. Alexis de Tocqueville, for one, said as much in his celebrated Democracy in America, noting that although no one worked harder to be happy, Americans were haunted by a “strange melancholy.”. You won’t believe it, but I did ride a jet ski once and was not very happy. Contemporary psychologists who study happiness refer to this self-defeating pursuit of pleasure as a “hedonic treadmill.” The best you can hope for is to stay in place and not fall off. Other workplace-based “happiness interventions” yielded equally encouraging results. Feelings aren’t everything. The title of the book is Happiness Discovered and as the title suggests it’s the discovery of happiness. Yet one might suggest that at least part of the problem lies in the way we have pursued happiness since the revolution in human expectations of the 18th century. Our emails are made to shine in your inbox, with something fresh every morning, afternoon, and weekend. One moment there’s grief, the next there’s joy. During the late 6th and early 5th centuries BCE, Siddhartha Gautama of Shakya, who later became known as the Buddha, was born in modern-day Nepal near the Indian border. The ranks of the content, as Aristotle observed, would ever be the “happy few.” But for those rare people who would commit themselves to the discipline of the regime, the promise of a flourishing life was great. Philosophers and thinkers have long predicted this result. Finally, new religious and philosophical views associated with the Enlightenments in Europe and America downplayed sin and damnation, while praising the human capacity for enjoyment. “They feel their time is more valuable, and they fill a lot of different roles. “The mere search for higher happiness,” Cicero observed, “not merely its actual attainment, is a prize beyond all human wealth or honor or physical pleasure.” True happiness, in short, had to be earned. “It seemed to me that a cloud habitually hung on their brow, and they seemed serious and almost sad even in their pleasures,” he wrote. Our home for bold arguments and big thinkers. Famine and epidemic disease were in decline, which meant that people could worry less about surviving, and more about living well. Of course, transformations on this scale don’t happen overnight—change was always slow and imperfect. Their work would seem to validate older wisdom about human flourishing. “Even the observers began to act more generously toward others. A parent in the presence of his child, for instance, is happier than a parent whose child is absent. As the coaches like to say, no pain, no gain. “Happiness is the aim of life, but virtue is the source of happiness,” Thomas Jefferson maintained. June 4, 2015 June 9, 2015 Umair Iqbal. Many others agreed. In fact, much of Lyubomirsky’s work explodes common myths and misunderstandings about happiness.