Sunday, May 07, 2006

In pursuit of happiness

The joy of delusion

At some point in our lives, most of us have talked about it, or we've heard our friends talk about it: what would make us happy. What prompts humans to predict what would bring us joy? Are we setting up ourselves to be unhappy?

Recent research by Harvard University professor Daniel Gilbert (pictured above) suggests that we're equipped with a kind of emotional thermostat that keeps our level of happiness steady. Find out more by reading a New York Times review of Gibert's book, Stumbling on Happiness. Click here to read the book's first chapter.

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16 comments:

Shirazi said...

Happiness? What are you talking?

Deb S. said...

Shi: The best person to answer that question is the author. The first chapter of the book, which is online, provides some clues.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Alot of research is pointing to the belief that happiness can be learned, and that thinking postively can also be learned.

Georganna Hancock said...

Always interested in anything any psychologist writes (because I are one, too), I clicked there to read the first chapter. Unfortunately the havoc wreaked on the English language so put me off (how do you like them cliches?) that I, uh, forgot what I was going to rant about... oh, yes! The human brain is made for "nexting"?!?!!! When did "next" become a verb. I could read no farther or further, even if more were available.

Sheesh!

Jaimie said...

Kids make me happy.

But would that be considered my happiness, if its provided by others?

Deb S. said...

Dr. Deb: Ah, an expert speaks! Thanks!

Georganna: Ummm...I'll let you have the last word on the writing style. :-)
It's always good to hear from somone who works in the publishing industry.

Jaimie: A lot of my joy can be attributed to my children. So can a few gray hairs. LOL

Seriously, it's my humble opinion that people can decide to be happy.
Life is full of storms and challenges - people may come and go - but ultimately we decide whether we are going to be content in all circumstances. The Apostle Paul writes about that in his epistles.

Again, this is how I approach MY life. Everyone has to decide for himself how to achieve happiness.

I think Paul gives us a lot of guidance in this area from a spiritual standpoint. Dr. Deb's expertise lends more insight from the world of psychology.

Deb S. said...

BTW, I'm really enjoying the comments on this topic! Thanks, guys!

Ian Lidster said...

I think Gilbert's point about happiness and our thermostat is largely true, and consequently we can go throughout our days feeling a sort of general stasis. However, sometimes externals and internals throw it all askew and depressions, either clinical or transient throw everything askew. But, I agree with Dr. Deb when she asserts that happiness can be learned. I know that from personal experience.

Deb S. said...

Ian: You bring up some great points. I, too, have personal experience in learning to be happy. It's good to hear from you and Dr. Deb on this. It's also good to hear from another journalist.

Attaining happiness can be a challenge for those of us who make our living in journalism, medicine and many other occupations where strict deadlines, stress, unreasonable expectations from others and unconventional work schedules are the norm. But I'm sure you've experienced none of that! :-)

Thanks for stopping by, Ian.

Shirazi said...

I miss the updates here, whatever the reason.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Sorry, I haven't been visiting. This is a good blog. I wrote about happiness a few months ago; maybe you commented--don't remember. I see happiness as fleeting moments of pure joy, like looking at the beauty of a waterfall or just saying, right now I feel good. It always passes. Most people settle for contentment. I can't even do that.

Deb S. said...

Enemy! I'm thrilled that you stopped by. I owe you a visit.

As for happiness - I'm one of those people who believes in contentment - being content no matter what circumstances we face. Is that a challenge? Yes. Do I always rise to the challenge? No. But I certainly try. Again, so good to hear from you.

Deb S. said...

BTW, readers who want to check out Enemy's post on happiness may click here.

Rose said...

I am with you Dcs: I think people can choose to do something about not being happy, even if it is to go to counseling and pray or whatever. But don't just lay around and give up.

Shirazi said...

[Kia Howa]

Deb S. said...

Rose: Thanks for weighing in on this topic.

Shi: Warm greetings to you, my friend. :-)