What most people wish for in life is how to remain happy. However, being happy and remaining satisfied with one’s life is a great challenge. Today, people associate happiness with having money and the ability to afford world pleasures. Many studies have shown that happiness is affected by different factors and money may not be among the top factors. For example, a study by Lingnan University’s Centre for Public Studies (2015) showed that there was an increase in the happiness index for people with a monthly household salary ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 by 7% while those with a monthly income less than $10,000 rose by 3%. Interestingly, those with high-income brackets of between $20,000 and $30,000 had their happiness index drop by 4.7%. These figures denote that happiness is not solely dependent on one’s wealth. Being surrounded by people especially friends and family is the key to happiness because they provide moral and social support, directs an individual in doing what pleases him, and provides real and lasting contentment with life.
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Happiness has been mainly associated with moral and social support. Citing the sentiments of St. Aquinas and Aristotle, Mills (2014) pointed out that belonging to a tight-knit society enhances the feeling of being wanted which is a key factor in being happy. Even though the arguments by Aquinas and Aristotle were mainly based on the sense of belonging to a religious community and trusting in a Supreme being, their sentiments depict the importance of moral and social support. In modern society, such support can be realized if people have supportive families and friends. The social bonds between an individual and the family or friends provide a system where one feels protected and comfortable (Shannon, 2016). This is based on the understanding that compassion and the feeling of closeness between two or more people lead to a genuine and happy union in general life (Wu, 2014). It is in this regard that Mills (2014) states, “New friends expand your world by providing an entrance to new interests, opportunities, and activities and can be an invaluable source of support and information – and, just as happiness-inducing, you can play the same role for them” (p. 10).
Family members can guide individuals in the carrying out of the activities that please them. According to Shannon (2016), living well and happily is mainly dependent on one’s relationship with a spouse, other family members, and friends. For example, in the documentary ‘Happiness,’ the hunters and gatherers of Namibia in Africa were found to be having a high happiness index (Belic, 2013). This is despite their poor living conditions in the forest. Their happiness can be attributed to the family ties and support system that they use in the course of hunting and gathering. In the documentary, Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at the University of California, advises that people should have the intention to be happy irrespective of the prevailing situation. For instance, the hunters have the intention to stay happy because they do not worry about material things. Their meaning and purpose in life are tied to getting daily food.
In conclusion, happiness is not defined by having material things. From the examples provided in the documentary “Happiness” and the assertions by Aristotle and Aquinas, the aspect of compassion that emanates from belonging to a social network, such as the family, leads to the feeling of satisfaction. Thus, friends and a supportive family are invaluable sources of happiness.
Belic, R. (2013). Happy: Happiness & its causes [Video file]. Web.
Lingnan University’s Centre for Public Studies. (2015). Happiness index for Hong Kong. Web.
Mills, R. (2014). A study of happiness. Journal of Undergraduate Research, 13(1), 5-7.
Shannon, V. (2016). The keys to happiness. The New York Times. Web.
Wu, Z. (2014). Family is the most influential factor on happiness in high school students. Health, 5(1), 336-341.