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In philosophy, happiness translates the Greek concept ofeudaimonia, and refers to the good life, or flourishing, rather than simply an

In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant
emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.[1] Happy mental states may reflect judgements by a person about their overall

Since the 1960s, happiness research has been conducted in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including gerontology, social
psychology, clinical and medical research andhappiness economics.

1 Definition
2 Link to physical health
3 Philosophy
4 Religion
4.1 Eastern religions
4.1.1 Buddhism
4.1.2 Hinduism
4.1.3 Confucianism
4.2 Abrahamic religions
4.2.1 Judaism
4.2.2 Roman Catholicism
4.3 Islam
5 Psychology
5.1 Theories
5.1.1 Maslow's hierarchy of needs
5.1.2 Self-determination theory
5.1.3 Positive psychology
5.2 Measurement of happiness
6 Economic and political views
7 Contributing factors and research outcomes
8 See also
9 References
10 Further reading
11 External links

Happiness is a fuzzy concept. Some related concepts includewell-being, quality of life, flourishing, and contentment.[3]

In philosophy and (western) religion, happiness may be defined in terms of living a good life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an
emotion. Happiness in this sense was used to translate the Greek eudaimonia, and is still used in virtue ethics. There has been a
transition over time from emphasis on the happiness of virtue to the virtue of happiness.
In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant
emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.[5] Since the turn of the millennium, the human flourishing approach has attracted
increasing interest in psychological, especially prominent in the work of Martin Seligman, Ed Diener and Ruut Veenhoven, and
international development and medical research in the work of Paul Anand.

Link to physical health

Even though no evidence of a link between happiness and physical health has been found, the topic is being researched by Laura
Kubzansky, a professor at the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,
Harvard University.[6]

In the Nicomachean Ethics, written in 350 BCE, Aristotle stated that happiness (also
being well and doing well) is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake,
unlike riches, honour, health or friendship. He observed that men sought riches, or
honour, or health not only for their own sake but also in order to be happy. Note that
eudaimonia, the term we translate as "happiness", is for Aristotle an activity rather
than an emotion or a state.[7] Thus understood, the happy life is the good life, that is,
a life in which a person fulfills human nature in an excellent way. Specifically,
Aristotle argues that the good life is the life of excellent rational activity. He arrives
at this claim with the Function Argument. Basically, if it's right, every living thing
A smiling 95-year-old man from
has a function, that which it uniquely does. For humans, Aristotle contends, our
Pichilemu, Chile.
function is to reason, since it is that alone that we uniquely do. And performing one's
function well, or excellently, is one's good. Thus, the life of excellent rational
activity is the happy life. Aristotle does not leave it at that, however. For he argues that there is a second best life for those incapable
of excellent rational activity. This second best life is the life of moral virtue.

Many ethicists make arguments for how humans should behave, either individually or collectively, based on the resulting happiness
of such behavior. Utilitarians, such as John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, advocated the greatest happiness principleas a guide for
ethical behavior.

Friedrich Nietzsche savagely critiqued the English Utilitarians' focus on attaining the greatest happiness, stating "Man does not strive
for happiness, only the Englishman does." Nietzsche meant that making happiness one's ultimate goal, the aim of one's existence,
"makes one contemptible;" Nietzsche instead yearned for a culture that would set higher, more difficult goals than "mere happiness."
Thus Nietzsche introduces the quasi-dystopic figure of the "last man" as a kind of thought experiment against the utilitarians and
happiness-seekers; these small, "last men" who seek after only their own pleasure and health, avoiding all danger, exertion, difficulty,
challenge, struggle are meant to seem contemptible to Nietzsche's reader. Nietzsche instead wants us to consider the value of what is
difficult, what can only be earned through struggle, difficulty, pain and thus to come to see the affirmative value suffering and
unhappiness truly play in creating everything of great worth in life, including all the highest achievements of human culture, not least
of all philosophy.[8][9]


Eastern religions

Happiness forms a central theme of Buddhist teachings.[10] For ultimate freedom from
suffering, the Noble Eightfold Path leads its practitioner to Nirvana, a state of everlasting
peace. Ultimate happiness is only achieved by overcoming craving in all forms. More
mundane forms of happiness, such as acquiring wealth and maintaining good friendships, are
also recognized as worthy goals for lay people (see sukha). Buddhism also encourages the
generation of loving kindness and compassion, the desire for the happiness and welfare of all

In Advaita Vedanta, the ultimate goal of life is happiness, in the sense that duality between
Atman and Brahman is transcended and one realizes oneself to be the Self in all.

Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, wrote quite exhaustively on the psychological and
Tibetan Buddhist monk
ontological roots of bliss.[13]

The Chinese Confucian thinker Mencius, who 2300 years ago sought to give advice to the ruthless political leaders of the warring
states period, was convinced that the mind played a mediating role between the "lesser self" (the physiological self) and the "greater
self" (the moral self) and that getting the priorities right between these two would lead to sage-hood. He argued that if we did not feel
satisfaction or pleasure in nourishing one's "vital force" with "righteous deeds", that force would shrivel up (Mencius, 6A:15 2A:2).
More specifically, he mentions the experience of intoxicating joy if one celebrates the practice of the great virtues, especially through

Abrahamic religions

Happiness or simcha (Hebrew: ‫ )שמחה‬in Judaism is considered an important element in the service of God.[15] The biblical verse
"worship The Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs," (Psalm 100:2) stresses joy in the service of God. A popular
teaching by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a 19th-century Chassidic Rabbi, is "Mitzvah Gedolah Le'hiyot Besimcha Tamid," it is a great
mitzvah (commandment) to always be in a state of happiness. When a person is happy they are much more capable of serving God
and going about their daily activities than when depressed or upset.

Roman Catholicism
The primary meaning of "happiness" in various European languages involves good fortune, chance or happening. The meaning in
Greek philosophy, however, refers primarily to ethics.

In Catholicism, the ultimate end of human existence consists in felicity, Latin equivalent to the Greek eudaimonia, or "blessed
happiness", described by the 13th-century philosopher-theologian Thomas Aquinas as a Beatific Vision of God's essence in the next

According to St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, man's last end is happiness: "all men agree in desiring the last end, which is
happiness."[18] However, where utilitarians focused on reasoning about consequences as the primary tool for reaching happiness,
Aquinas agreed with Aristotle that happiness cannot be reached solely through reasoning about consequences of acts, but also
requires a pursuit of good causes for acts, such as habits according to virtue.[19] In turn, which habits and acts that normally lead to
happiness is according to Aquinas caused by laws:natural law and divine law. These laws, in turn, were according to Aquinas caused
by a first cause, or God.
According to Aquinas, happiness consists in an "operation of the speculative intellect": "Consequently happiness consists principally
in such an operation, viz. in the contemplation of Divine things." And, "the last end cannot consist in the active life, which pertains to
the practical intellect." So: "Therefore the last and perfect happiness, which we await in the life to come, consists entirely in
contemplation. But imperfect happiness, such as can be had here, consists first and principally in contemplation, but secondarily, in
an operation of the practical intellect directing human actions and passions."

Human complexities, like reason and cognition, can produce well-being or happiness, but such form is limited and transitory. In
temporal life, the contemplation of God, the infinitely Beautiful, is the supreme delight of the will. Beatitudo, or perfect happiness, as
complete well-being, is to be attained not in this life, but the next.

Al-Ghazali (1058–1111) the Muslim Sufi thinker wrote the Alchemy of Happiness, a manual of spiritual instruction throughout the
Muslim world and widely practiced today.

Happiness in its broad sense is the label for a family of pleasant emotional states, such as joy,
amusement, satisfaction, gratification, euphoria, and triumph.[22] For example, happiness
comes from "encountering unexpected positive events",[23] "seeing a significant other",[24]
and "basking in the acceptance and praise of others".[25] More narrowly, it refers to
experiential and evaluative well-being. Experiential well-being, or "objective happiness", is
happiness measured in the moment via questions such as "How good or bad is your
experience now?". In contrast, evaluative well-being asks questions such as "How good was
your vacation?" and measures one's subjective thoughts and feelings about happiness in the
past. Experiential well-being is less prone to errors in reconstructive memory, but the majority
of literature on happiness refers to evaluative well-being. The two measures of happiness can
be related by heuristics such as thepeak-end rule.[26]
A smiling Rebecca L. Felton
Happiness is not solely derived from external, momentary pleasures.[27] Indeed, despite the
popular conception that happiness is fleeting, studies suggest that happiness is actually rather
stable over time.[28][29]

Some commentators focus on the difference between the hedonistic tradition of seeking pleasant and avoiding unpleasant
experiences, and the eudaimonic tradition of living life in a full and deeply satisfying way


Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a pyramid depicting the levels of human needs, psychological, and physical. When a human being
ascends the steps of the pyramid, he reaches self-actualization. Beyond the routine of needs fulfillment, Maslow envisioned moments
of extraordinary experience, known as peak experiences, profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture, during
which a person feels more whole, alive, self-sufficient, and yet a part of the world. This is similar to the flow concept of Mihály

Self-determination theory
Self-determination theoryrelates intrinsic motivation to three needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
Positive psychology
During the past two decades, the field of positive psychology has expanded
drastically in terms of scientific publications, and has produced many dif
ferent views
on causes of happiness, and on factors that correlate with happiness.[31] Numerous
short-term self-help interventions have been developed and demonstrated to improve

Seligman's acronym PERMA summarizes five factors correlated with well-

being:[33] Smiling woman from Vietnam

1. Pleasure (tasty food, warm baths, etc.),

2. Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity),
3. Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness),
4. Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
5. Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).

Measurement of happiness
Several scales have been developed to measure happiness:

The Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) is a four-item scale, measuring global subjective happiness. The scale
requires participants to use absolute ratings to characterize themselves as happy or unhappy individuals, as well as
it asks to what extent they identify themselves with descriptions of happy and unhappy individuals. [34][35]

The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) is used to detect the relation between personality traits and
positive or negative affects at this moment, today, the past few days, the past week, the past few weeks, the past
year, and generally (on average). PANAS is a 20-item questionnaire, which uses a five-po int Likert scale (1 = very
slightly or not at all, 5 = extremely).[36][37] A longer version with additional affect scales is available in a manual.[38]
The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) is a global cognitive assessment of life satisfaction developed by Ed Diener.
The SWLS requires a person to use a seven-item scale to state their agreement or disagreement (1 = strongly
disagree, 4 = neither agree nor disagree, 7 = strongly agree) with five statements about their life. [39][40]

[41] following Bhutan, which already measuredgross national happiness.

The UK began to measure national well being in 2012,

The 2012 World Happiness Report stated that in subjective well-being measures, the primary distinction is between cognitive life
evaluations and emotional reports.[42] Happiness is used in both life evaluation, as in “How happy are you with your life as a
whole?”, and in emotional reports, as in “How happy are you now?,” and people seem able to use happiness as appropriate in these
verbal contexts. Using these measures, theWorld Happiness Reportidentifies the countries with the highest levels of happiness.

Economic and political views

In politics, happiness as a guiding ideal is expressed in the United States Declaration of Independence of 1776, written by Thomas
Jefferson, as the universal right to "the pursuit of happiness."[43] This seems to suggest a subjective interpretation but one that
nonetheless goes beyond emotions alone. In fact, this discussion is often based on the naive assumption that the word happiness
. In fact, happiness meant "prosperity, thriving, wellbeing" in the 18th century.[44]
meant the same thing in 1776 as it does today

Common market health measures such asGDP and GNP have been used as a measure of successful policy. On average richer nations
tend to be happier than poorer nations, but this effect seems to diminish with wealth.[45][46] This has been explained by the fact that
the dependency is not linear but logarithmic, i.e., the same percentual increase in the GNP produces the same increase in happiness
for wealthy countries as for poor countries.[47][48][49][50] Increasingly, academic economists and international economic
organisations are arguing for and developing multi-dimensional dashboards which combine subjective and objective indicators to
provide a more direct and explicit assessment of human wellbeing. Work by Paul Anand and colleagues helps to highlight the fact
that there many different contributors to adult wellbeing, that happiness judgement reflect, in part, the presence of salient constraints,
and that fairness, autonomy, community and engagement are key aspects of happiness and wellbeing throughout the life course.
Libertarian think tank Cato Institute claims that economic freedom correlates
strongly with happiness[51] preferably within the context of a western mixed
economy, with free press and a democracy. According to certain standards, East
European countries (ruled by Communist parties) were less happy than Western
ones, even less happy than other equally poor countries.

However, much empirical research in the field of happiness economics, such as that
by Benjamin Radcliff, professor of Political Science at the University of Notre
Dame, supports the contention that (at least in democratic countries) life satisfaction
Newly commissioned officers
is strongly and positively related to the social democratic model of a generous social
celebrate their new positions by
safety net, pro-worker labor market regulations, and strong labor unions.[53] throwing their midshipmen covers
Similarly, there is evidence that public policies that reduce poverty and support a into the air as part of the U.S. Naval
strong middle class, such as a higher minimum wage, strongly affects average levels Academy class of 2011 graduation
of well-being.[54] and commissioning ceremony.

It has been argued that happiness measures could be used not as a replacement for
more traditional measures, but as a supplement.[55] According to professor Edward Glaeser, people constantly make choices that
decrease their happiness, because they have also more important aims. Therefore, the government should not decrease the alternatives
available for the citizen by patronizing them but let the citizen keep a maximal freedom of choice.

Good mental health and good relationships contribute more than income to happiness and governments should take these into

Contributing factors and research outcomes

Research on positive psychology, well-being, eudaimonia and happiness, and the theories of Diener, Ryff, Keyes, and Seligmann
covers a broad range of levels and topics, including "the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions
of life."[58]

See also
Aversion to happiness Philosophy of happiness
Biopsychosocial model Pleasure
Extraversion, introversion and happiness Psychological well-being
Hedonic treadmill Serotonin
Mania Subjective well-being
Paradox of hedonism

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Further reading

Van der Merwe, Paul, Lucky Go Happy : Make Happiness Happen!, Reach Publishers, 2016.ISBN 9781496941640
Anand Paul "Happiness Explained: What Human Flourishing Is and What W e Can Do to Promote It", Oxford, Oxford
University Press 2016.ISBN 0198735456
Michael Argyle "The psychology of happiness", 1987
Boehm, J K.; Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). "Does Happiness Promote Career Success?".Journal of Career Assessment.
16 (1): 101–16. doi:10.1177/1069072707308140.
Norman M. Bradburn "The structure of psychological well-being", 1969
C. Robert Cloninger, Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being, Oxford, 2004.
Gregg Easterbrook "The progress paradox – how life gets better while people feel worse", 2003
Michael W. Eysenck "Happiness – facts andmyths", 1990
Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness, Knopf, 2006.
Carol Graham "Happiness Around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires", OUP
Oxford, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-954905-4
W. Doyle Gentry "Happiness for dummies", 2008
James Hadley, Happiness: A New Perspective, 2013, ISBN 978-1493545261
Joop Hartog & Hessel Oosterbeek "Health, wealth and happiness", 1997
Hills P., Argyle M. (2002). "The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire: a compact scale for the measurement of
psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Dif
ferences". Psychological Wellbeing. 33 (7): 1073–82.
Robert Holden "Happiness now!", 1998
Barbara Ann Kipfer, 14,000 Things to Be Happy About, Workman, 1990/2007, ISBN 978-0-7611-4721-3.
Neil Kaufman "Happiness is a choice", 1991
Stefan Klein, The Science of Happiness, Marlowe, 2006, ISBN 1-56924-328-X.
Koenig HG, McCullough M, & Larson DB.Handbook of religion and health: a century of research reviewed(see
article). New York: Oxford University Press; 2001.
McMahon, Darrin M., Happiness: A History, Atlantic Monthly Press, November 28, 2005.ISBN 0-87113-886-7
McMahon, Darrin M., The History of Happiness: 400 B.C. – A.D. 1780 , Daedalus journal, Spring 2004.
Richard Layard, Happiness: Lessons From A New Science, Penguin, 2005, ISBN 978-0-14-101690-0.
Luskin, Frederic, Kenneth R. Pelletier, Dr. Andrew Weil (Foreword). "Stress Free for Good: 10 Scientifically Proven
Life Skills for Health and Happiness." 2005
James Mackaye "Economy of happiness", 1906
Desmond Morris "The nature of happiness", 2004
David G. Myers, Ph. D.,The Pursuit of Happiness: Who is Happy – and Why , William Morrow and Co., 1992,
ISBN 0-688-10550-5.
Niek Persoon "Happiness doesn't just happen", 2006
Benjamin Radcliff The Political Economy of Human Happiness(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Ben Renshaw "The secrets of happiness", 2003
Fiona Robards, "What makes you happy?" Exisle Publishing, 2014,ISBN 978-1-921966-31-6
Bertrand Russell "The conquest of happiness", orig. 1930 (many reprints)
Martin E.P. Seligman, Authentic Happiness, Free Press, 2002, ISBN 0-7432-2298-9.
Alexandra Stoddard "Choosing happiness – keys to a joyful life", 2002
Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Analysis of Happiness, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1976
Elizabeth Telfer "Happiness : an examinationof a hedonistic and a eudaemonistic concept of happiness and of the
relations between them...", 1980
Ruut Veenhoven "Bibliography of happiness– world database of happiness : 2472 studies on subjective
appreciation of life", 1993
Ruut Veenhoven "Conditions of happiness", 1984
Joachim Weimann, Andreas Knabe, and Ronnie Schob, eds. Measuring Happiness: The Economics of Well-Being
(MIT Press; 2015) 206 pages
Eric G. Wilson "Against Happiness", 2008

Articles and videos

Journal of happiness studies: an interdisciplinary forum on subjective well-being

, International Society for Quality-of-
Life Studies (ISQOLS), quarterly since 2000, also online
A Point of View: The pursuit of happiness(January 2015), BBC News Magazine
Srikumar Rao: Plug into your hard-wired happiness– Video of a short lecture on how to be happy
Dan Gilbert: Why are we happy?– Video of a short lecture on how our "psychological immune system" lets us feel
happy even when things don’t go as planned.
TED Radio Hour: Simply Happy– various guest speakers, with some research results

External links
History of Happiness – concise survey of influential theories
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry "Pleasure"– ancient and modern philosophers' and neuroscientists'
approaches to happiness
The World Happiness Forum promotes dialogue on tools and techniques for human happiness and wellbeing.
Action For Happiness is a UK movement committed to building a happier society
Improving happiness through humanistic leadership - University of Bath, U.K.
The World Database of Happiness– a register of scientific research on the subjective appreciation of life.
Oxford Happiness Questionnaire– Online psychological test to measure your happiness.
Track Your Happiness – research project with downloadable app that surveys users periodically and determines
personal factors
Pharrell Williams – Happy (Official Music Video) added to YouTube by P. Williams: i Am Other – Retrieved 2015-11-

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