Orienting to Happiness
“I believe that people have experience with happiness. I want to turn the volume up on their sophistication around this topic. So that they aren't saying simple things like "money doesn't buy happiness" or "happiness is family." I believe a more nuanced understanding leads to better self-knowledge, better policy, better intervention, and better relationships.” — Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener
My son and I are taking, “The Science of Happiness” with Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener together.
What is happiness?
How have we studied it?
What does the science say?
Happiness is fascinating. It has a mixture of ingredients that varies by individual and culture yet has key components across all people. We need to belong. We need to have our basic needs met. We create our own models to define what happiness means to self. More importantly, happiness has outcomes proven by research to improve society by being open to learning, change, and generating new ideas.
Happy people are better able to access creativity, social networking, and expansive thinking. We want to gain knowledge and learn in a state of well-being. When things seem to go our way, we are more willing to say yes and feel confident about trying new things. It is easier to figure out our own needs in a good mood vs. a bad mood. There are countless cases to illustrate why happiness is a good thing for society.
We all know how to be happy. Dr. Biswas-Diener started class this week asking the 100+ students to shut off their screens and go do something for 4 minutes that made them happy. I danced for 4 minutes and sat down breathless at the screen to find scores of beaming faces. Dr. Robert said, “We all know how to be happy.” Yes.
What do we want to do about it? How can we advocate for better policy, intervention, and relationships?
I believe it happens by asking good questions:
How can we benefit by well-being?
How is this decision a cost to well-being?
How can we support the process of well-being in our family, community, culture?
More to come about happiness in a future post.