12
Jan
10

On air: How do you measure happiness?

Florida updates: videos here / photos here and tweets here. Afghans are happier than they were a year ago according to the latest poll released yesterday.

One of the main reasons for this rise is an improvement in living conditions, with over half being happier as a result of more electricity. And the troop surge has also proved popular. Do these results surprise you?

The results have clearly made governments and NATO more positive, but not all Afghans share the optimism

This got us thinking. How do you define  and measure happiness?

This blogger is making his way through a new book, the Happiness Project and keeping his own happiness diary. He’s only on chapter one but has discovered he’s not sure what makes him happy or how to measure it.

This US citizen thinks his government is trying to buy his happiness. That’s exactly what one city in China is trying to move away from.

In 2007 The city of Jiangyin in Jiangsu Province launched a “happiness index-based government performance evaluation system” to move away with the governments excessive pursuit of GDP. The pilot model is being evaluated now.

This article feels that an obsession with with GDP as a measure of happiness is losing its grip against concerns for welfare.

Is life that simple? How do you reflect a country’s happiness level?


100 Responses to “On air: How do you measure happiness?”


  1. 1 ryan (SA)
    January 12, 2010 at 12:02

    tricky this, you would have to agree, like with all forms of measurements what it actual is, then set a standard. Religion has one better on science here because you find God or Allah or Buddha or who ever its is that people believe most high has some sort of ideal for the people, either by naming what brings unhappiness or and setting out what one needs to achieve it. that said its still up to the individual to use whatever base they have as a moral, social and comfort benchmark to say they are happy.

    is it just feeling good, i for one think not. i think joy is a bubble, its carries you on a high, and bursts, but the in-between, the flat and low, are part of happiness too, its finding the harmony of ones whole life i think. When you accept the present without shutting hope and desire out the door and not being bitter.

    having said all that im scratching my head a bit

  2. 2 Vijay Pillai
    January 12, 2010 at 12:07

    happiness is very relative.A poor in a developing world might be happier than a rich in an advanced world since their criteria for happiness are completely different. Again happiness vary from people to people and situation to situation in wide variety of ways.
    I dare say that a poor man in developing world might show more parts of his brain connected by nuerons than a rich man when they say they were really happy.

    say a poor man set a criteria for his happiest moment, which again vary from situation to situation, say wedding of his daugher or son, may be diffent from happiness derived from having a nice meal or a having a trip to an ancient place of worship of his life time. happiness index for al these situaions are different and i would say a envolope of happiness rather than a fixed happiest moment.sexual satisfaction has diferent happiness from one derived form having a excellent meal.These set of happiness may be different for some one in rich world.his happines may be earning lot of money from risky investment or a holiday of a life time.
    i would say to be really happy people have to be free from oppression and the best possible opportunites are there to do their best in in life, that means being poor should not a reason to be held back in competition for any thing form racial or religious differences and must enjoy peaceful life.
    i would say a man might be happier in his home country than end up as a refugee doing mundane job in the adopted country however much he says he is happier than before in his life.

  3. 3 dan
    January 12, 2010 at 12:53

    I agree with Vijay that happiness is realtive. The measure of happiness for me is our ability, absent of Governmental intrusion, to pursue our personal vision/version of Happiness and that evolves as we evolve.

  4. 4 scmehta
    January 12, 2010 at 13:48

    In Afghanistan, the people now are much more happy and confident; it is evident on the faces of young children and women–and this precisely is the measure of freedom & happiness.

  5. 5 patti in cape coral
    January 12, 2010 at 14:10

    Happiness is an internal thing, I think. I have been to some very poor places where people seemed much happier than where there was more wealth. I think maybe the more you have and the more you earn, the more you have to work to maintain it, and after a while you become a slave to it, then you start to become a slave to what other people think about you and how much you have. The people I have met, some of who lived in dire poverty, were only concerned with the moment and didn’t live so much in the future. Oddly, they were more willing to share what they had. I know I am generalizing, but that was my experience. I don’t know how you measure happiness, but I think for people who are truly happy, it is an internal part of their character, so what happens externally to them cannot take their contentment away.

  6. 6 @guykaks
    January 12, 2010 at 14:11

    To me happines is relative.when we are free from conflict and have yuor own means..peaceful environment,serene where all basic needs can be met

  7. 7 Nigel
    January 12, 2010 at 14:26

    Any current Afghan measure of hapiness is not valid. The very fact that they can be happy with what they have is a major measure of failure in this war torn and occupied land. Any comparative measure over a previous time has no meaning until the absolute value of the hapiness in infinitely higher than it presently is and is based on the value of peace not the acceptance of war as normal. This is a poor attempt to sanitize the horrible mistakes made by both the US and UK governments.

  8. January 12, 2010 at 14:30

    Salaam gang,
    To me you’re happy when you’re able to decide what’s best for you, you’re happy when your destiny is in your own hands not in the hands of someone else… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  9. 9 Roberto
    January 12, 2010 at 14:58

    RE “” according to the latest poll “”
    —————————————————————-

    ————- Another “Where were you when?” historical moment to hear that some fluffy political scientists have feathered their nests in this global depression with yet another daffy bubblegum pie in the sky poll.

    Next poll to show that Afghans need more flush toilets to properly flush international fund$ down the drain.

    Brilliant work when you can get it…….

  10. 10 steve
    January 12, 2010 at 15:12

    It’s surely not related to wealth and material items, becuase the richest US states have the lowest happiness levels. If found that the more materialistic a person is, the more miserable of a person they are.

    http://www.livescience.com/culture/091217-happy-state-list.html

  11. 11 Roy, Washington DC
    January 12, 2010 at 15:48

    Haha, a “happiness index-based government performance evaluation system”? Happiness can’t be measured like that, even at the population level. There are far too many factors involved.

    Even if it could be measured, it’s not a very good indicator of how a government is doing. The government could be trying its best, but the people could be in a desperate situation. Or, you could have a place like North Korea, where you had better be “happy” with the government or else.

    • 12 Mohsin
      January 12, 2010 at 18:13

      I asked the same question to a visiting HR expert.

      She answered in office/factory context (not in Country context).

      I guess it is a relative measure. We are to ask employees the following question:

      “Do you feel more happy to come to office/factory or to stay at home?”

      If most people reply in favour of office, we say office is happy place.

      I made an additional question: Why a person might not feel happy at home when he is happily married?

      I was ridiculed that I am not aware of hardships at home with pressures from spouse and demands of home.

  12. 13 T
    January 12, 2010 at 16:01

    What Afghan study is this? Everything that I’ve heard and read says the complete opposite for Afghans.

    Happiness is a combination of things. Inner peace, financial security, and relationhips. But also, setting boundaries where necessary.

  13. January 12, 2010 at 16:05

    Happiness is a frame of mind.Mine is having enough of the basics of life,family and friends who I can trust with anything.A distant goal to aim for and a peaceful environment.

  14. 15 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    January 12, 2010 at 16:17

    A mountainous, natural resource poor, landlocked country with a harsh climate, little arable land, surrounded by larger, more powerful neighbors, blessed or cursed with important trade routes between those countries, populated by many different linquistic and cultural groups.

    That description applies to Afghanistan, but it also applies to Switzerland. Afghanistan is a worn-torn, impoverished failed state. Switzerland is one of the most prosperpous countries in the world and, I think, one of the happiest.

    We have been a democracy since 1291. Except for a hiccup over 200 years ago, we have been at peace since that time. I think the reason that Switzerland is prosperous and happy is because we Swiss feel that we are in charge of our lives and our fate, and that counts for a lot.

  15. January 12, 2010 at 16:20

    Happiness is surely measured by quality of life. Quality of life would be connected to being a free and unrestricted individual. Is that not why there are so many people suffering from depression across the planet? The Human race itself needs to reassess how it exists on a daily basis.

    The Oracle

  16. 18 Ibrahim in UK
    January 12, 2010 at 16:20

    How close you are to that which you love.

  17. 19 Kelly from Chicago
    January 12, 2010 at 16:30

    Happiness is internal, and personal. You can’t really measure it beyond what people report. But if Afghans say they’re happier, great!

    Happiness, I think, is a positive baseline of contentment, with swings into both very good moods and bad moods. Experiencing the whole range of emotion, but returning fairly quickly to that content baseline, without sinking into deep depression or very high mania for extended periods.

  18. January 12, 2010 at 16:33

    Happiness (or being content) is relative to the expectations of the individual concerned and their own perception of how well they measure up against these expectations. This is complicated by external events, for example, the death of a loved one.

    I prescribe to Ryan (SA)’s bubble theory; whereby there are periods of elation (triggered by positive events, that exceed the individual’s expectations) interspersed with a more constant level of “being content” and low points (triggered by negative events).

    Experiencing these peaks / troughs is also an important factor in regulating an individual’s outlook; or to put it another way, you have to experience the lows to really appreciate the highs. Going through a low point (e.g. war, cancer) would effectively reset the individual’s level of expectation to a much lower point, such that simply surviving could be above their expectations and would therefore equate to happiness.

    • 21 Roger Willmore
      January 12, 2010 at 17:08

      I believe happiness is tied very closesly to the fulfillment of life’s purpose. Individual happiness is not necessarily determined by outward circumstances. Materialism does not produce happiness. Intellectualism does not produce happiness. Fame does not produce happiness. Happy people are those who live life for purposes greater than themselves. As a Christian I beleive happiness comes to the person who lives within God’s intended purposes.

      Roger Willmore
      Trussville, Al usa

  19. 22 steve/oregon
    January 12, 2010 at 16:50

    Happiness is relative to each person because like humor what will make one person smile will make another frown therefore happiness is unmeasurable

  20. January 12, 2010 at 17:01

    Refer to this link in wikipedia – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs
    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology, proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation.[2]
    Certainly, I agree happiness is a state of mind or “mind over matter”. As someone humourously stated “If you don’t mind..it don’t matter!”. However, having “basic needs met” is essential and if you’re not fed or housed or safe, then acheiving these needs will certainly create a sense of happiness. However, as Maslow predicts, once needs are met (and taken for granted) then more and more is needed to keep us satisfied and “happy”. Therefore, I’m guessing that happiness comes from striving to improve one’s position in life (and acheiving some of your goals).

  21. 24 John Henry - Trinidad and Tobago
    January 12, 2010 at 17:15

    This is a tricky one!

    The lead-in to the question suggests that happiness may be a collective thing.

    If there are more happy persons in village A than in village B does this mean that village A is happier than village B?

    Can a common yardstick be used to measure individual and collective happiness? Are the ingredients for happiness the same on Wall St. as in a family home in Otahite?

    Happiness is abstract, emotional, subjective and collective (the latter two, at one and the same time). It can be experienced on a continual basis only if everyone follows the Golden Rule i.e. “do unto others as you would they do unto you.”

  22. 25 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    January 12, 2010 at 17:16

    There is true and fake happines. True happiness will not require me to pay for it with what I cannot afford to part with – dignity comes to mind. I will feel happy too if that happiness is not propped by someone who may let me down. Fake happiness is not genuine and may turn to bitternes and feeling low. When your trully happy, you can exude that feeling to others.
    It is easy for youths in Afghanistan to feel happy because they have no historical perspective to draw from. Currently, Afgan lives are being propped by other peoples taxes because in a long long time in a story break, such opportunities do appear – in this case the horrors of war that surely are oppening vistas of joys to the innocent. Not so for the aged and experienced who realize that seasons do change in a definite period. If the support goes as it must, will they be able to support themselves through personal initiative without requiring a lifeline? Still, they must be happy because it is a rare opportunity and it must be taken. Sulking won’t do and life is not permanent.

  23. 26 gary
    January 12, 2010 at 17:17

    Security of self, family and friends, freedom of life, faith and vocation, and a world were most folks peacefully die of old age define happiness for me. These are pretty much the same for everyone I’d suspect.
    g

  24. 27 Billy Wachakana
    January 12, 2010 at 17:34

    Afghans have a reason to smile since they have a democratic government in place plus the support they are gaining from the US soldiers. with the presence of troops, Afghans have nothing to worry because terrorists won’t take over. happiness can only be achieved if people get satisfied by what they do, but i have no idea how it could be measured.

  25. 28 Anthony
    January 12, 2010 at 17:46

    I measure my happiness in smiley faces🙂🙂🙂

    Actually, I think I measure my happiness by the amount of “bad” feelings I DON’T have on average, “bad” meaning sad, mad, upset, anxious, angry, depressed, etc…

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  26. 29 Denise in Chicago
    January 12, 2010 at 17:51

    Happiness means different things at different times so the measurement of it changes throughout your life. I believe you need to experience periods of sadness in order to appreciate happiness. I’ve had my share of sadness so I am very grateful for the happy moments.

  27. 30 Archibald in Oregon
    January 12, 2010 at 18:00

    Shelter, food, useful work, community, the freedom to choose ones path in life and the presence of love. Not necessarily in that order.

  28. 31 Andrew in Australia
    January 12, 2010 at 18:02

    Sooooo subjective. For some it is not being shot at while walking to the local market, while for some it is having the lastest pointless gadget that everyone else has no need for. For a basis you would have to think, that having a full belly, a warm bed and a comfortable and safe place to live would fill the criteria for being happy. Anything over and above this is just a bonus.

    For me though, there were just two moments that made me truly feel happy. One was standing on a cliff top overlooking the Andaman Sea to witness the most glorious of sunsets. The other was looking into the eyes of those who loved me the most and seeing true happiness in their eyes. Nothing can ever top that nor should it.

  29. January 12, 2010 at 18:04

    I think happiness is room in your heart for others. It is measured by how much peace you have. It is a feeling of satisfaction with one’s self and with others. Being joyful over the achievements or progress of others.

  30. 34 Gary Paudler
    January 12, 2010 at 18:15

    I won’t be happy until I get hundred-spoke gold 23″ rims for my BMW then I won’t be happy for some other reason. We, in the US at least, have been bought-off with cheap shiny wampum; as long as we can borrow enough money to buy superfluous crap, we won’t demand effective leadership, affordable health care, healthful food, social equality, peace or love. Don’t look to government institutions to provide the components of happiness, examine your own needs and expectations. As other posters have written, people with far less than we have still manage to be happy; the constant striving for more is a proven recipe for unhappiness.

  31. 35 stephen/portland
    January 12, 2010 at 18:32

    I watched a documentary about these seven-foot tall blue people living in a place called Pandora, that looked like a great place to live, I am quite tall I wonder if they would let me in the tribe,

  32. 36 Elias
    January 12, 2010 at 18:42

    When all around you is good, pleasant and uplifting and you find contentment.

  33. 37 rob z.
    January 12, 2010 at 18:43

    Happiness is based on the social structure of where you are from and how you are raised.
    Most people in the US are not happy because we base happiness on what we can buy, and how much money we have.
    In other societies,you base your happiness on how much you enjoy the ones around you; in such places money is not as important as compared to how much fun you have playing soccer or telling stories to friends around a fire.

    Which is more fun? The newest flat tv,or laughing whith your friends while holding a beer or tea,or what ever you drink?

    Rob in Florida

  34. 38 Donna
    January 12, 2010 at 18:58

    I would agree with most that happiness is very individual. To me the measurement of happiness is how well I keep a balance of all aspects of my life – family – worship – work- charitable acts. Keeping in mind that sometimes the balance may be up or down without extremes in either direction. For myself being guided solely by money is not happiness. The more material things I have the more I want the more I want the more out of balance I become and less happy. It is surprising how those who are truly happy have very little materialistic. A lesson learned?

    Donna in Indianna

  35. 39 D in Indiana
    January 12, 2010 at 19:03

    I’d be happy too if there were billions and billions of dollars pouring into my county from American tax dollars.

  36. 40 John in Salem
    January 12, 2010 at 19:15

    How do you reflect a country’s happiness level?

    By the amount of positive creative expression produced in spite of the negatives that are present.

  37. 41 Shari
    January 12, 2010 at 19:17

    As an American who’s suffered from depression the past decade from the direction both the U.S. administration has taken as well as the direction the world situation has taken politically, economically, and ecologically, I’ve given up worrying about all those things I can do nothing about and have come to realize I can obtain a great deal of happiness and pleasure from doing the simple things today that make me happy – writing, drawing, creating, rather than waiting for the “right” time to arrive to do those things.

    I think it’s ironic that we Americans, myself included, often have much more difficulty being grateful than do people in other parts of the world who have nothing.

  38. January 12, 2010 at 19:19

    I am not happy because as a young man my future is been toyed with by incompetent leaders in Nigeria especially in the last two years.

    Rikwende in Abuja-Nigeria

  39. 43 steve
    January 12, 2010 at 19:23

    Glad to hear the students saying what they are about materialism, but like Ros said, when I was young, high school age, all I could think about was wanting stuff, like cars, etc. You learn with age, that materialistic people will never ever be happy because nothing is ever enough. Once they get something they want, they want something else, and so on and so forth. The secret to happiness in life, is wanting what you have, rather than having what you want, and in actuality in poorer countries, where people take less for granted what they have, they are more likely to want what they have.

  40. 44 Alan in Arizona
    January 12, 2010 at 19:25

    At the age of 50, I’ve come to realize that when the little things work out, they lead to other aspects of my life falling into place to make it just a little better.

    As for what makes me happy. It’s the little things that bring meaning to life. A peaceful moment without worries of strife and drama. Hugs from my kids and grand kids. Doing something to help another get over a rough spot in their lives. Giving accurate directions to a tourist, so that good Karma comes back to me on my next trip and knowing they will be safe for the effort. A nice book, a bottle of Port and a bowl of Lavender from the Katsu in Amsterdam.

    Every moment in life should lead us to happiness, no matter how small the moment.

  41. 45 Mr. Kawakubo {PORTLAND}
    January 12, 2010 at 19:27

    Happiness isn’t much of anything, it is the word we use to the label the times when we we aren’t feeling bad. If we could be said, to feel ‘happy,’ this experience is nothing but an illusion. The people who feel the happiest, are the people who are out-of-touch with the world and themselves.

    Measuring happiness is like riding unicorns—it cannot be done.

  42. 46 stephen/portland
    January 12, 2010 at 19:29

    Do your show from an inner city school and I think you would get a different opinion.

    Rich spoiled kids with every opportunity would have that attitude of “Money is not that important” bet it’s important to there parents!

    Give me a break!

  43. 47 Ronald Almeida
    January 12, 2010 at 19:30

    Happiness?

    Before we know whether we are happy, we must be able to define that state. For the word is only a symbol or a sound depicting that word. Is being happy a state of euphoria, joy or pleasure? Can it last for as long as we want it to? Or is it just momentary in a world that we know to be forever in flux? Or is it just a state of being content with what is, from moment to moment?

    May be it is easier to understand happiness by defining the negative aspect of it. I.e. what causes unhappiness? Is it Pain? Fear? Boredom? Or just plain dissatisfaction caused by desire without a means or possibility of satisfying it. If it is any one of these, we ought to be happy in their absence.

    Therefore happiness is being so occupied that one forgets oneself and one’s fears, hopes and desires. And its intensity depends on how much one enjoys that particular activity. A simple minimalist life gives one an untroubled peaceful life, which can also be considered happiness but that requires a certain maturity that comes with age and experience and is not everybody’s cup of tea.

  44. January 12, 2010 at 19:30

    Not all Americans, are priveledged kids in an upscale California High School with scores of BMWs and Escalades in the parking lot. There are plenty of Americans who face hardships everyday. I think happiness is ultimately measured by a sense of stability, true oppurtunity, and upward mobility within a given society.

  45. 49 Jitan C (NYC)
    January 12, 2010 at 19:34

    Happiness is a state of mind… and not a feeling of touch. The lack of happiness in the first world is not just because of excessiveness of materialistic goods and services but because of the lack of understanding of the effort that goes into facilitating them.
    The oldest human ambition is the want of things they cant get and taking for granted what they already have. If the wealth changes hands from the 1st world to the 3rd world in the next 100 years, you will start seeing the same behavior from them.
    Its not lack of happiness that we suffer from but a the lack of satisfaction and being at peace with ourselves.

  46. 50 Tom D Ford
    January 12, 2010 at 19:35

    One student said that Public Schools are free.

    But Public schools are not free, we American adult taxpayers have chosen to work hard and tax ourselves in order to build Public Schools, train and hire Public School teachers, and provide kids the opportunities of education because we believe that a good Liberal Education is essential to being a good and contributing citizen in a Democracy.

    We want you kids to work your butts off studying and learning to play in helpful and healthy ways, so please take full advantage of what we have worked so hard to provide you.

    Education, education, education, whether you want to be a carpenter, a NASA Astronaut, or anything else, lifelong learning is one big key to happiness.

  47. 51 Agomo in ghana
    January 12, 2010 at 19:36

    What are u guys saying, money is not everything wait a minute.you dont live in a neighbourhood with the worlds poorest where what to eat isnt availble so u dont get it.try the life of poor then u will know money is all that matters.

  48. 52 Robert
    January 12, 2010 at 19:37

    I belive my happiness is based on the amount of choices I feel I have in my life as I live In North Carolina I am very priviliaged however with the changes in the economey many choices have been reduced choices of things to do with jobs or purchases. As other countries have more options to choose things important in there life happiness increases. Robert North Carolina

  49. 53 chinaski in LA
    January 12, 2010 at 19:37

    Why are Americans unhappy even though we’re the richest counry in the world?

    Just like the Notorious BIG said-

    ‘More money, more problems.’

  50. 55 Oliver
    January 12, 2010 at 19:38

    The dichotomy isn’t happy or sad in today’s fast paced culture – It’s being happy or stressed.

    For me, happiness comes from giving my all to that which I’m good at.

  51. 56 modernjan
    January 12, 2010 at 19:38

    First of all I’d like to clear one misunderstanding out of the way: a growing GDP does not require population growth or an increase in the use of resources, all it requires is someone making a profit. So there’s nothing wrong with it.

    Secondly measuring welfare by different means than the GDP and purchasing power is completely subjective on personal level (different people have different needs and desires) and on a cultural level (Japanese are less likely to complain about something than Americans, even though they may feel the same.)
    This leads me to conclude that a “happiness” based index is mostly a trick used by poorer countries to hide the fact that they are failing to increasing the living standards of their citizens.
    Especially in China, where complaining about the wrong things can cause you to disappear I don’t expect this new index to have any value.

  52. 57 Livefish
    January 12, 2010 at 19:38

    I think any discussion of happiness must distinguish between momentary happiness and more lasting happiness — contentment and satisfaction with one’s life.

    I grew up in America but have been living in Italy for a decade. In both places I find many more unhappy people than happy, but the common denominator for the happy people seems most often to be SIMPLICITY. People who understand the value of simplifying their lives to be able to enjoy whatever is truly most important to them and who have learned to not stress over all of the unimportant and material things that society tries to convince us are important.

    Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

  53. January 12, 2010 at 19:39

    There is emerging evidence that happiness is an internal thing and will equalize no matter what your circumstances, baring permanent disability or trauma. Personally, I have been blessed with a happy nature and am grateful for that. My circumstances have had little effect on my happiness except in the short term. Maybe the Afghans are a happy, optimistic people. I wish Americans were.

    Kate from Portland, OR

  54. January 12, 2010 at 19:39

    I think one reason that american’s claim to be less happy is

    because we have become complacent due to what we feel we are entitled to, which seems to include material things that advertizer’s remind us that we need..

    it seems that when people have to undergo hardship, the result can be gratitude and appreciation for what we have.

    when things are too easy, people create problems often.. because REAL problems (of basic survival) do not exist

    americans are not exposed enough to misery to appreciate what we really have

    Arlene Burns

  55. 60 Tom D Ford
    January 12, 2010 at 19:42

    “How do you measure happiness?”

    Another way to look at it is to sort of back into it, ask what makes people “unhappy”. Circle around happiness and strip away everything that makes you unhappy and then look at what is left, some neutral stuff and some happy-making stuff.

  56. 61 A.J.
    January 12, 2010 at 19:44

    Happiness is a relative term. Some people can have all that is necessary for survival and every THING they’ve ever wanted and will still say they are unhappy. Sometimes it’s purely chemical or psychological. To some happiness is as simple as having a plate of food to sustain them just one more day. Others are unhappy if the internet doesn’t connect in two seconds instead of ten. For me happiness is not having to struggle just to get my next meal, having the opportunity to do the things that give me pleasure and knowing that I have people in my life that will love me unconditionally. But, even with all of that I still have bad days and can find myself to be unhappy. No one can be convinced that they should be happy if they are able to find a reason not to be.

  57. 62 Vikram
    January 12, 2010 at 19:44

    Happiness is a state of Mind. No person, place or thing can bring you happiness. You either live happy or in constant pursuit of happiness. A slight change in attitude is required to live life to its fullest.

  58. 63 Jay
    January 12, 2010 at 19:44

    I am from Africa living Portland Oregon. When I came to US I was sure that I reach my happiness. But to be honnest after few months dealing with bills and life stress, I still didn’t find my hapiness. I realized that happiness is not being in Healthy country but is to live your dream.

  59. 64 Manoj(India/US)
    January 12, 2010 at 19:44

    Hello Ross ..and beautiful people in Golden gate HSchl….My friends call me Man-Of-Joy(manoj) and i believe I have the secret to happiness …….It comes with a simple smile and a selfless desire to help for your fellow human beings… If we … don’t have either of them together we can never be happy..wherever we live..rich or poor nation..happiness resides at the bottom of our heart…..our desires might never finish but our desire for happiness should surely never finish..:)…

  60. 65 Adam from Portland, OR
    January 12, 2010 at 19:45

    Individual Americans only seem to care about family, education, and companionship. But watch Americans in their daily lives, and the situation seems completely different. We overspend on ‘things’ while refusing to pay more taxes for education or other needs. We work long hours away from our families. We drive huge cars, guzzling gas all the way, instead of stopping and realizing the impact we are having on our fellow man.

    Americans don’t know what makes them happy. We aren’t willing to stop and think about how we can align the way we live with the things that we claim make us happy.

  61. 66 Anthony
    January 12, 2010 at 19:46

    I’m an American in Tampa, Fl.

    I don’t want to be always happy. Not being happy leads to desire and ambition. These are often thought of as negative virtures but that is a result of how these feelings are applied. Desire and ambition can lead to working harder to get what and where you want. In other countries often a complaint is that Americans consume too much but remember that we consume goods mostly produced in other countries.
    Americans not being happy moves the global economy.
    I never want to be happy. I want to always be working towards something better.

  62. 67 mers in oregon
    January 12, 2010 at 19:47

    What makes me really depressed on a daily basis is the selfishness of humanity. People are generally more interested in pursuing their own agenda for personal benefit rather than acting as informed, responsible stewards for our fragile planet.

  63. January 12, 2010 at 19:48

    Just a comment on the cars and materialism. Americans treasure their possessions. Possessions make people happy, but that happiness doesn’t last. Happiness is when you can think about something weeks, months, or even years later and the happiness returns. The things you think about most often and that bring the most happiness aren’t the material things.

    When I feel sad I play the Glad Game. I learned about this by reading the book Pollyanna. You play the Glad Game by thinking of one thing to be glad for everyday. It could be a computer that works or that there is someone in your life how loves you. Then you think of two things and gradually increase that number as time goes by. In moments when you think you can’t be happy, like when a loved one dies, you play the glad game. Then the sadness isn’t so heavy.

    Elizabeth C.
    Ohio, USA

  64. January 12, 2010 at 19:49

    @ scotty from zambia

    I think happiness is a perfect blend of what good a feeling we as humans can come to experience as a result of good humor.that isnt something the afghans could attain if the wars keep taking their loved ones. What makes me happy is that i’m alive and kicking.

    Dana

  65. 70 JR
    January 12, 2010 at 19:51

    happiness is an individual condition relative to causes and effects we create all by ourselves. our desire to not suffer is mishandled at the expense of others to displace our own selfishness. if everyone could develop great compassion and concern for others more so than oneself, the world would be a much better place in terms of human relations. fear drives much of the displaced human emotions we place onto others. only the individual is responsible for their happiness. namaste

  66. 71 Neetha
    January 12, 2010 at 19:51

    The key to happiness is from within. The Hindu culture has debated this issue for centuries… It is not sufficient to characterize a country as happy or not, but it is worth mentioning that nothing external can make one individual happy. Many callers have said that their loved ones make them happy, but the truth is, no person or thing can make someone happy because the happiness you feel is temporary. Everything is temporary.

    Humans often forget their temporariness, we are literally a drop in the bucket of the universe, yet we continue to fight each other over identity, possessions, and land. Nothing belongs to us because we do not live long enough to make claims on anything.

  67. 72 steve
    January 12, 2010 at 19:52

    Or worse, the phone gets updated. If you have an Iphone 3G, and the 3GS comes out, you want the new one. Then there will be a replacement for the 3GS. Google has a new phone out now, meaning Apple will probably respond. There will always be improved phones, and your will constantly be made obsolete, so if you live for the “feel good” of having a new phone, it won’t last very long, and you get addicted to it and spend lots of money to keep that temporary high, until it becomes obsolete in a few months.

  68. January 12, 2010 at 19:52

    I believe the sense of happiness felt by a person is related to how much he feels his life situation is improving. In the US things are at a standstill, relatively speaking, whereas the situation is improving in Afghanistan and relates to the improved sense of happiness.

    Adam
    Indianapolis, Indiana

  69. 74 Brando
    January 12, 2010 at 19:53

    I Think the Majority of Americans are not Happy cause they always want more even when they have enough ,if u walk into a majority of Homes in America they have cluster and they love buying stuff!Most of it they dont need and the agressive advertising Market in Amercia keeps Americans unhappy and always wanting more and they are never satisfied thats why they are not Happy when really they Should be its a highly Materlistic country thats why china sells most of its Goods in America but none the less its the most fascinating place in the world .

  70. 75 Ahmed abdikadir , nairobi.
    January 12, 2010 at 19:55

    Oh what makes me happy is reading the KORAN especially when you understand the meaning because this are GOD’s words.

  71. 76 Alva
    January 12, 2010 at 19:55

    what makes me unhappy is when all my family are together becouse i have seen my dad for 11years.

    some people say money make u happy! i disagree with that becouse even though u have money sometimes doesnt make u happy.

  72. January 12, 2010 at 19:55

    Happiness is a concept and is really internal no doubt about that !

  73. January 12, 2010 at 19:55

    I am an American living in Spain and what makes me happy is that I am contended with what I have, and I am happy when others achive.

    I am happy living in Spain because the country´s government makes sure that everyone has health care, everyone receives an excellent free education (from age three through university!), those who are out of work have many programs to help them, there is a law that those with people in the home that need assistance (old people, people with health or development problems, etc.) get help from the government.
    Spain is a country that values the family and the community – not so individualistic as Americans and a happier country.

    The quality of a government is how it cares for the weakest, for the people who can´t help themselves – Spain is much better than the U. S.

    Martha

  74. 79 Tom D Ford
    January 12, 2010 at 19:55

    You can also look at what makes people “unhappy”, what prevents “happiness”.

    Niccolo Machiavelli wrote “The Prince” about how to make people live in fear and so easily manipulated and compliant to wrongful government. Studying people like Goebbels and Karl Rove also provides insight into how to fear-monger people into unhappiness.

    And King Salomon instructed parents that if they “spare the rod they will spoil the child”, Salomon turned parents against their own children to beat them into fearful and subservient submission to the King.

    Measure the absence of fear-mongering and you provide a measure of the opportunity for joyful happiness!

  75. 80 Mesi
    January 12, 2010 at 19:56

    For me happiness means that I am fully conscious of my place and role in the world, to know that I am always heading towards the right direction, that I am comfortable most of the time with my life.

    I donot think at all that materialism, material goods are the basis of happiness. Satisfaction is not the same as happiness.

    I am happy if I can see those loved happy, to see good and right things progressing, like the debate and actions regarding eradicating extreme poverty, I am happy if I managed to consciously and constructevely evolve.

    Happiness is being in complete harmony first of all with yourself, secondly with the surrounding environment. Hungarians say that when you are happy, you are “ONFELEDT”, which literally translated to English means forgetting about yourself, you are in a state in which you donot realise that everything is just as it is supposed to be.

  76. 81 modernjan
    January 12, 2010 at 19:56

    @Elizabeth C

    Materialism is not something specifically American. It’s universal, it’s in our genes (if expensive cars and houses weren’t chick magnets no man would buy them, but they are, so evolution made men want to accumulate expensive things.)
    Other cultures exhibit it as well (such as the Afghan farmers who could live off growing grains, but choose to make more money with opium.)
    It’s just not as obvious in non-Western countries because they don’t have the West’s sophisticated advertising and financial system.

    The fact that Westerners complain about materialism is in itself caused by the fact that their material needs are usually tended to and there isn’t much else to complain about any more.

  77. January 12, 2010 at 19:57

    Absolute and all out happiness, I think, is something quite unattainable. Happiness is when most of the sets of things, goals and what you had in mind for yourself – may it be health, monetary, relationshipwise or fame – that you have set yourself for now seem to have been achieved and the next level of goals n things that you have in mind seems very achievable. Absolute happiness is when you feel that then is nothing more that you want. Now this is rarely the case. The human race got here because we’re very unhappy. All the inventions and progress are here solely cuz we wanted more. Happiness simply is the absence of a lot of things to be miserable about. Now the real happiness is temporary. Like I just got myself some gadget, or had good food, or someone I liked reciprocated. Or some stranger I looked at across the room looked back. Or even when I hear what I’ve typed in the WHYS blog gets aired. But that’s gonna go soon. Now if there are a lot of those small things fulfilled than i can be described as happy. I think you’re also mixing happiness and a general sense of optimism here. They’re very separate things, which DO affect each other, but still should be discussed separately. Optimism may be that you see a good future and opportunity. Happiness is getting that.

  78. 83 Derek
    January 12, 2010 at 19:58

    Hello All.

    I’d like to add the results of my years of experience. I am old – 82. I am convinced that happinesss is omething built in to a personality, and has very little due with circumstances. Some people are happy and some are unhappy, it is almost chemical, a part of their personality. I have laughed the afternoon away with a dying man, who had only three weeks to live.

  79. 84 Faith
    January 12, 2010 at 19:59

    This truth is as old as this world – amassing material things will ultimately not bring happiness but contributing towards happiness of others will.

  80. 85 Leo in London
    January 12, 2010 at 20:01

    In wealthier societies, I find that people are generally not happy because they are constantly trying to keep up with everyone else. Western culture is so consumer-driven and the general perception seems to be that the more have and the more you buy–the happier you’ll become.

    I’ve spent the last few months with only the bare essentials of what I need, and I’m happier than I have been in a long time. I found that all of the unnecessary things I owned were more a burden than anything (especially when moving).

    “The things we own end up owning us.”

    Possessions bring temporary thrills and enjoyment but long-lasting happiness comes from being a free human being, love for your family, your friends, complete strangers, those who are considered enemies…

  81. 86 Leo in London
    January 12, 2010 at 20:02

    My favourite ever quote is from “The Gulag Archipelago”, by Nobel prize-winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

    “What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? I’ll spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusory—property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life—don’t be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn after happiness; it is, after all, the same: the bitter doesn’t last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. It is enough if you don’t freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don’t claw at your insides. If your back isn’t broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes see, and if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart—and prize above all else in the world those who love you and wish you well. Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know: it might be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted in their memory.”

    Funnily enough, I first heard this quote on the BBC WS — thanks!

    I think it’s more relevant today than ever.

  82. January 12, 2010 at 20:24

    To the young woman who spoke about people who have enough to eat but aren’t happy: In some countries, meeting basic needs is a preoccupation that brings contentment, and there may be less distraction that gets in the way of human relationships. In the western world, many people easily satisfy their physical needs (at least for food, not necessarily for what’s considered standard housing or healthcare). But they spend much of their time working to fill their lives with material things and electronic entertainment instead of fulfilling activities and relationships. If Afghanistan joins the world of incessant “more is always better” consumerism, they might see something similar.

  83. January 12, 2010 at 22:33

    Happiness as a function of culture and other variables has been studied at length. A “World Database of Happiness” is maintained by Dutch scientist Ruut Veenhoven who edits the Journal of Happiness Studies, and it is a course of graduate study at the Claremont Graduate School in California which awards Masters and Ph.D. degrees in the subject. A good, readable summary of the culture variable is The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. Happiness is generally related to safety, security, permissiveness, interpersonal connectedness, proximity to nature, and a trust in one’s social and political system to provide basic needs.

  84. 90 Josiah Soap
    January 13, 2010 at 00:28

    I have found it easier to measure happiness after experiencing loneliness and depression. For me happiness is not having the latest gadget, or lots of money, or being successful (all of which I’ve had). Its been having good friends around who you can rely upon, joke with, laugh and be yourself with. These type of people make even the darkness of days seem bearable and worthwhile.

  85. January 13, 2010 at 05:29

    By removal of obsticals that could exist but are held at bay unto nothingness.. That is what joy is about.. When all is engulfed with choices of our own need, that is joy knowing what is escaped never really was.

  86. January 13, 2010 at 06:06

    I think this is a very interesting blog … I like that there are a ton of links that allow me to look into things further. I have read through everyones comments and find it amazing how many different ways happiness can be perceived.

  87. January 13, 2010 at 06:09

    HI Sheetal

    One cannot measure happiness as it is state of mind, a feeling that you get, a behavior that comes upon you after some event or occasion.

    Happiness cannot be measured on any scale.

    So I feel that this question has to meaning as happiness in unquantifiable.

    Philip

  88. January 13, 2010 at 09:43

    it should be by how much less i worry about my life…..but only being assured through believing in a faith that actually is aware that someone died for me and that through that,i will improve spiritually in particular on a daily basis.

    THE LAST DAD
    TV(tambua village/jebrock),HAMISI,VIHIGA,KENYA.

  89. 95 Nigel
    January 13, 2010 at 11:56

    First time that I have been in the car while WHYS was on the radio and switched channels to another station.

  90. 96 Ronald Almeida
    January 13, 2010 at 15:13

    Happiness is a state of mind and can not be achieved from the world outside onself. The practice of meditation can help to empty the mind and find peace within and recognise the causes of dissatisfaction and resulting misery. occupation with creative endevours can help one forget them too. Prayer on the other hand does not help for it is based on desire itself.

  91. 97 jens
    January 13, 2010 at 15:48

    Donnamarie in Swizterland,

    I am Swiss and I am not so sure we had democracy since 1291. Maybe you should go back over your history boooks and you will find that the minor hickup 200 years ago was the begining of democracy more or less impossed by Napoleon.

    the reason why switzerland is prosperus is that it is in the center of europe and not somewhere sourrounded by “whateverstan”, all of which countries struggling to survive themselves.

  92. 98 audre
    January 13, 2010 at 16:18

    I tend to agree with Derek… happiness is built into the personality. You either have the happiness gene or you don’t, so to speak.

    Having said that, it seems everyone can find a measure of peace if they are able to rearrange the cards they have been dealt.

  93. 99 Ronald Almeida
    January 14, 2010 at 09:02

    IGNORANCE IS BLISS !

  94. 100 Faiza Ameen
    January 14, 2010 at 19:10

    TO me happiness is very cool word.its mind relaxation
    word.for me lots of things give me happiness.
    when my parents happy i feel happiness!
    when my broher ans sisters give me gifts hahaa
    i feel happiness!
    when my teacherz happy fron me i feel happiness!
    and i m waiting for that day when my ALLAH happy from me.it will biggest happiness of my whole life.
    take care


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