The importance of the quest for true happiness and well-being is a commonality most individuals on this vast earth share. However, the problem with such a task lie in the ambiguous nature of the words, every person has their own definition of what happiness and well-being are as well as how to achieve it. Social Psychologists have come to believe that well-being and happiness are purely states of mind which heavily depend upon the individual.
In David Myers book, The Pursuit of Happiness, he addresses the question of just how happy do people believe themselves to be? If judging from a national survey, Myers sites, it seems that most people believe themselves to be “pretty happy” with their current state in life. However, Myer has explained these individuals answers by stating that such beliefs may be a product of individuals holding two biases. The first of which is the tendency to put on an act portraying themselves as incredibly happy for others to see; this bias has been dubbed as the “Pollyanna Syndrome” by social psychologists.
The second bias most have is that their view on how happy they believe themselves to be, is directly correlated with their mood at that time. While in a happy and content mood, people tend to see their lives as well as the world as a happy place. However for individuals who are depressed, the world and their lives are both perceived to be unhappy.
According to psychologist Paul Costa, a member of the National Institute on Aging, “Well-being is strongly influenced by enduring characteristics of the individual (Myers 106).” Or rather, a person’s characteristics are a greater predictor of their happiness over their job, marital status, income level, race, or sex. In addition, there have been found to be four inner traits that predetermine positive mental attitudes: self-esteem, sense of personal control, optimism, and extraversion have been linked to well-being countless times (Myers 108).
The feeling of others accepting and liking you as well as having a support group of friends who are there in times of need also have been shown to produce happiness and well-being. According to statistics given by Myers, those who experience close relationships with others are better able to deal with the stresses of life; relationships with high levels of self-disclosure, or rather high intimacy, lead us to believe that we truly are loved and accepted.
A majority of people believe that love and marriage is the key to happiness in life; such a ideology may not be all that untrue. It seems that people who are involved in close loving relationships do experience greater well-being. However, the happiness a marriage can produce depends solely on the happiness of the marriage. When involved in a loving union, men and women report to having great happiness, however an unhappy marriage can be worse on a person’s well-being than no marriage at all (Myers 158).
David Myers did an excellent job of disproving many prior beliefs on how to achieve happiness; for example, he proved to his reader that wealth cannot buy your well-being. In addition, Myer took the steps to enlighten the reader on better ways to enable them to live happy lives. Positive self-esteem, supportive friendships, optimism, a healthy body, and a warm marriage, are a select few he recites to the reader (Myers 206). It can be interpreted that maybe Aristotle’s quote really does ring true; happiness does depend on the individual and what they make of it, more than what a person can buy or tokens they possess.
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