The introduction. The semantic meaning of happiness
While discussing the psychology of happiness, some basic issues concerning the meaning of the term must be considered. First of all, it should be pointed out that the issue of happiness is regarded quite ambiguously. For instance, for most of people happiness is recognized to be a subjective phenomenon.
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For some individuals the semantic meaning of the term is mostly associated with well-being or flourishing. Other people determine happiness as a person’s emotional state, which has nothing in common with material welfare. In other words, the second category of people defines happiness as a feeling of harmony and internal quiet.
The psychology of happiness is closely related to philosophy, as the science of happiness is based on three major theories, namely “the emotional state theory, the life satisfaction theory, and hedonism” (Haybron, 2011, para. 1).
Some fundamentals on happiness
According to philosophical point of view, happiness can be regarded as a state of mind or, as a certain kind of pleasure a person’s mode of life is based on.
As far as, we are to speak about the psychological importance of happiness, we are to reveal certain mental states happiness is determined by. Thus, it should be noted that to be happy it is necessary to gain pleasure, life satisfaction, etc. On the other hand, a positive emotional condition can be also regarded as happiness.
Generally, one is to keep in mind that there are a lot of misconceptions concerning the issues, which make us happy.
Special investigations show that “our enduring level of happiness (H) is determined by our happiness set point (S), life circumstances (C) (influenced by aspects of temperament and character such as depression and sleep quality) and intentional or voluntary activities (V)” (“The Psychology of Happiness,” 2010, p. 2).
Sonja Lyubomirsky is of the opinion that the variable S is equal to 50% of happiness, material welfare is equal to 10%, and 40% of happiness depend upon a person’s actions and intentional activities.
Depression as an opposite state
In our days, depression is considered to be one of the most widespread psychological states, when a person cannot enjoy anything because of some unpleasant and difficult situations. It must be pointed out that in the UAE depression is prevalent, but the reasons of the mental state differ from ones, which other countries face.
Generally, in most case, depression in the UAE is caused by work-related problems, including stressful conditions of work for expatriates. Of course, the financial crisis cannot be neglected too.
Those, who are separated from family, cannot find a social support; so, a lack of functional relations causes stress and, therefore, depression. In other words, one can make a conclusion that it is the loss of control, which influences people’s mental state.
Loss of concentration and apathy are recognized to be the most common signs of depression. The situation can be aggravated, if persons start to reconsider their whole life. Thus, they may suddenly realize that did not start a family in time, did not make money in time, etc.
Some variables happiness depends upon
People cannot be happy, if all the time they think how to survive in the modern world. On the contrary, constant attempts to resolve certain conflicts, earn more money, etc. cause the feeling of dissatisfaction and tiredness. Moreover, if people have no social support, the stress can cause more serious mental disorders than depression only.
The feeling of happiness also depends upon a person’s free choice. “Some studies have shown that economic development, democratization, and rising social tolerance have increased the extent to which people perceive that they have free choice” (“The Psychology of Happiness,” 2010, p. 4).
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In other words, to help people feel good, it is necessary to think about the policy the government relies on. Unfortunately, people cannot live alone; they need constant support and interaction. Moreover, their internal state depends upon numerous factors, and social medium they live in impacts on their worldview and confidence.
Still, when speaking about a person’s emotional state, one is to keep in mind that human beings cannot feel happy the same way. Their understanding of happiness will be always different. For instance, the above-mentioned free choice can be also regarded as a negative component.
Thus, some individuals can satisfy their needs and feel good; others cannot feel good while satisfying their needs, because they try to find the best possible choice and cannot decide what they want.
In other words, the feeling of happiness is a subjective issue. Some people may have certain problems with health; so, for them, happiness means the absence of health problems. Others do not need any treatment, but they are economically disadvantaged; so, such individuals think that if they earn more money – they will be happy.
An analysis of people’s common values or expectations
However, in spite of the fact that happiness is a subjective issue, for certain groups of people some things can be regarded as common values or expectations. Of course, the simplest example is related to persons’ well-being. Thus, while people have different incomes, they can be divided into three major categories: poor people, middle-class people and people, who are in easy circumstances.
Correspondingly, one can probably determine one common aim for each group. So, it seems that the representatives of the first category can be happy, if their incomes are equal to the incomes of middle-class people.
The demands of the representatives of the second category are more complicated, due to the so-called hierarchy of persons’ needs. So, middle-class people want to be richer than they are. People, who are in easy circumstances, can suffer from the so-called interpersonal conflict. Of course, the above-mentioned assumptions should not be regarded as totally reliable; they are based on the general concepts concerning the modern society.
Hierarchy of persons’ needs must probably be considered in details. Thus, there is a need to point out that when some aims are achieved, new objectives appear. So, to feel happy, human beings are to set certain aims and every new aim is to be more complex and, therefore, more valuable. However, constant struggle for happiness or gaining aims can cause utter exhaustion, which can lead to depression.
“Experts in the burgeoning field of positive psychology hold that people usually guess wrong about what will bring them happiness. Money, for example (beyond enough to cover life’s basic needs) doesn’t predict happiness” (Allison, 2011, para. 3).
As far as happiness is recognized to be a subjective variable, one can determine the common conception of the issue. So, developing self compassion, achieving flow experience, expressing gratitude, and using character strengths are the most widespread paths to happiness.
Allison, K. (2011). The Power of Positive Psychology: Finding Happiness In A Cold Ocean Swim. Harvard Health Publications. Web.
Haybron, D. (2011). Happiness. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/happiness/
The Psychology of Happiness. (2010). Stanford Graduate School of Business. Web.