Explanatory Synthesis Essay On Happiness In Life

“The quest for meaning is a key part of what makes us human,” the researchers concluded.

Printed in tasteful gray font in the subheading of an online Stanford News report, this sentence—and the article it precedes—presents the reader with a conundrum of sorts. The article describes a study on the differences between meaningfulness and happiness, conducted by Jennifer Aaker of Stanford Graduate School of Business. The study, in which 397 subjects were surveyed on their day-to-day lives, decisions, and beliefs, draws conclusions like,  “Deep relationships—such as family—increase meaning, while spending time with friends may increase happiness but had little effect on meaning,” and “healthy people are happier than sick people, but the lives of sick people do not lack meaning” (Parker, 2014).

The reader’s conundrum—or at least the conflict that I experienced while reading the report—is that the study is at once highly accurate and useless. Few would protest that a family dinner is likely to add more meaning to one’s life than is a pizza night with the girlfriends, although the latter might be more fun. The question that this article raises for me is not whether the results of the study are credible but why it was necessary for an elite institution to conduct research in order to make such self-evident assertions as “the lives of sick people do not lack meaning.”

In December of 2013, the New York Times published an opinion piece which claimed that “social scientists have caught the butterfly” (Brooks, 2013) of happiness. Seven months earlier, the Los Angeles Times had run a similar piece entitled “How to Buy Happiness.” As scientific research expands into nearly every intricacy of life as we know it, a Gold-Rush-like trend has emerged in the empirical study of meaning and happiness. Best-selling books, opinion pieces in major newspapers, and a slew of TED talks tout this research, yet the conundrum presented by the Stanford News article is evident throughout.

In “How to Buy Happiness,” coauthors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton assure the reader that “our ongoing research offers a host of ways to wring more happiness out of every dollar you spend” (Norton & Dunn, 2013). Dunn and Norton expound upon this research in their book, Happy Money, devoting each chapter to a principle that supposedly helps the reader do this. In the chapter “Make It a Treat,” Dunn and Norton describe a study in which a group of students are given a chocolate tasting. One half of the group is sent home with bags of chocolate to eat throughout the week, while the other half is told to abstain from chocolate. A week later, both groups are given a second tasting. Resultantly, “people only enjoyed chocolate as much the second week… if they had given it up in between”(Dunn & Norton, 2013). This, supposedly, proves that one can eke more happiness out of their purchases if they consume occasionally rather than constantly.

I take no issue with the accuracy of this study; however, anyone who has ever eaten too much dessert could attest to the fact that treats are less enjoyable if consumed in mass quantities. The problem with Dunn and Norton’s work is not that it is incorrect but that it is unnecessary.

The Stanford study and Happy Money are two of many instances in which scientific research on happiness proves circuitous, generating data to back up an already-accepted idea. That this research has not been more widely decried is, I believe, attributable in part to the concept of hindsight bias. Hindsight bias is a psychological term which refers to the human tendency to, when presented with a fact or idea, believe that one has known it all along. This is a very real tendency that everyone, myself included, exhibits. However, I am confident the research on happiness that I here examine seems self-explanatory not because of hindsight bias but because it is truly obvious.

In his TED talk, “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert discusses “synthetic happiness,” the ability of the brain to find contentment in suboptimal situations. Gilbert explains several ornate studies that demonstrate the ability of the human mind to make good of bad events. He closes his lecture with a few quotes: William Shakespeare’s “Tis nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so,” followed by a quote from Adam Smith saying essentially the same thing (Gilbert, 2004). While Gilbert apparently intended these quotations as a nice way to close out his talk, to me they illustrate the flaw in his entire presentation; all of the data he presents points towards a conclusion that others have been paraphrasing for centuries.

Self-explanatory conclusions are not the only issue that the study of happiness raises; there appear to be varying opinions among researchers and positive psychologists as to what constitutes happiness. Some draw a clear distinction between happiness and meaningfulness. According to Kathleen Vohs, a co-author with Aaken of the Stanford study, “Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others” (Smith, 2013).

Yet in her TED talk on the subject, cognitive researcher Nancy Ectoff defines happiness as encompassing both “pride in accomplishment of a challenge” and “pride and joy in one’s children,” (Ectoff, 2004) both of which the Stanford study associates with meaningfulness as opposed to happiness. In fact, according to Dan Gilbert, an “increase in daily happiness is probably not among” the things that parents can gain by having children (Dorsett, 2011).

That the scientific and psychological community has no consensus definition of happiness does not inspire confidence in research on the subject.

The empirical study of happiness is not an ill-intentioned movement. If anything, it is well-intentioned but misguided. Science is a process of trial and error; we cannot expect every experiment to yield ground-breaking results. One could argue that, while the scientific study of happiness has not produced any heretofore unfathomable revelations, it is at least harmless. There is nothing unethical in using data to confirm widely accepted beliefs, and perhaps some people find personal affirmation in reading the results of the studies.

In a world of limited problems and unlimited resources, perhaps this would be true. But that is not the world in which we live. As members of a global society, we have a duty not only to exercise our abilities but to do so in a way that is useful to others. In the case of the scientific study of happiness, we have tried and we have erred. We must stop trying to extract fulfillment from empty studies and focus our energies on more deserving subjects.

While Dan Gilbert lectures a rapt Internet audience on the brain’s ability to look on the bright side, his colleagues in Harvard’s Department of Social Psychology conduct research with credible potential to benefit people. Take, for example, Professor Mazharin Banaji, who developed the implicit association test, which measures subjects’ willingness to associate positive words with people of different demographics. The tests revealed that even minorities in the United States are more likely to associate white faces than non-white faces with positive adjectives, leading Banaji to conclude that there exist in all of us unconscious prejudices, or “implicit bias.”

This is not something that playwrights and economists have been saying for centuries. Furthermore, Banaji’s work is useful; the recognition that we harbor unconscious prejudices “opens up a whole new universe of decisions that can be made quite differently,” (Johnson, 2013) says Banaji.

Instances abound of social psychologists who use the resources at their disposal to generate useful, unprecedented ideas. The same Stanford report that extolled Jennifer Aaker’s semantic examination of meaningfulness recently reported on the work of Stanford psychologist Anne Ferland, who has established a correlation between language proficiency in young children and the extent to which parents talk to their infants rather than simply in front of them. Ferland and her colleagues now run a program that teaches struggling parents “how they can support their infants’ early brain development and helps them learn new strategies for engaging verbally with their children,” (Carey, 2014) helping children of low socioeconomic status to receive the same early exposure to language as do their more privileged peers.

So why, with no shortage of valuable research in the field of social psychology, is the study of happiness so disproportionately represented? Why do major newspapers promote Dunn and Norton’s vapid advice, and why has Dan Gilbert’s TED talk been viewed over five hundred thousand times?

There is a seductive edge to the idea of analyzing happiness; if there really was some key to contentment that science could unlock, surely our approach to life would be completely altered. It is in our nature to leave our realities unattended and converge upon the prospect of greatness. In the mid-nineteenth century, hundreds of thousands of people abandoned their livelihoods to seek gold in the West, fruitlessly sifting through California terrain only to find that the silt was nothing but silt. The scientific study of happiness does not destroy lives and cause national crises as the Gold Rush did, but nonetheless, it is past time that we repack our caravans, admit that we have not found what we were looking for, and return to our real work. There is no scientific method to contentment. The concept of human happiness remains too elusive, too stubbornly subjective to quantify empirically.

In some respects, the scientific study of happiness is quite in keeping with the beliefs of humanism; it certainly fits in nicely with the principle that the world stands to be understood through scientific inquiry. However, what draws me personally to humanism—and what prompted me to write on this subject—is the belief that, although empirical study is in general the best way in which to form an understanding of the world, there are some aspects of life that cannot be scientifically proven or explained.

The third and most modern Humanist Manifesto states that “Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge… We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.” I find this quotation massively useful in understanding why I, a pragmatic person who spent her summer in a laboratory inexpertly but devotedly studying protein synthesis in yeast, have such a negative reaction to the scientific study of happiness. What the Humanist Manifesto helped me to realize is that although science is the “best method” for determining knowledge of the world, it is not the only method nor is it universally applicable. When it comes to understanding the nature of happiness, I strongly believe that empiricism can only bring us so far. This is at once the frustration and the beauty of life; there are some things that we must simply blunder through by own intuition, that no amount of research and TED talks can guide us through.

Works Cited

Brooks, A. (2013, Dec 14). A Formula for Happiness. New York Times.

Carey, B. (2014). Stanford Psychologist Shows

Why Talking to Kids Really Matters. Stanford Report.

Dorsett, K. (2011). Does Having Children Make You Happy?. CNN Living

Dunn, E., & Norton, M. (2013). Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. (1st ed., p. 34). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Ectoff, N. (2004, February). Nancy Ectoff: Happiness and its Surprises. .

Gilbert, D. (2004, February). Dan Gilbert: The Surprising Science of Happiness. .

Johnson, C. (2013, Feb 05). Everyone Is Biased: Harvard Professor’s Work Reveals We Barely Know Our Own Minds. The Boston Globe.

Norton, M., & Dunn, E. (2013, May 19). How to Buy Happiness. Los Angeles Times.

Parker, C. (2014). Stanford Research: The Meaningful Life Is a Road Worth Traveling.Stanford Report.

Smith, E. (2013, Jan 09). There’s More to Life than Being Happy.  The Atlantic.

Tags: 2014 Essay ContestOlive Esther Kuhn is the second-prize winner of the 2014 Humanist Essay Contest.

Want create site? Find Free WordPress Themes and plugins.

Team wait til the last minute to write a whole 5 page persuasive essay due tomorrow #fml why do i do this to myself..

oedipus essay funny friendship max bense essay writing indira gandhi essay umi dissertation services review hayalcash full dissertation global warming hoax essay how to write an undergraduate dissertation literature review essay on brain drain in nepali cannery row ad analysis essay preparedness for disaster earthquake essay essay on yoga day in marathi language storm on the island poem analysis essay van mahotsav essay essay space tourism industry plaque de charge caces 3 explication essay essay empire research paper on body image upload a friend in need is a friend indeed essay 250 words or less scary masters dissertation help uk voyage othello essay introduction pitt personal essay short essay 26 january beinteha apush essays 2017 how to write a self narrative essay masters dissertation length uk national lottery write an essay about tihar iaeste internship experience essay executive summary for research paper journal website for research papers zip codes research paper on gearless wind turbine short essay on television is harmful to society how to write an effective persuasive essay nz research paper on gearless wind turbine barack obama origins essay help essays on utopian society essays on utopian society. level 10 life assessment essay a rose for emily symbolism essay on paper hayalcash full dissertation internet privacy invasion essays edward kamau brathwaite limbo analysis essay rca design interactions research paper? kellogg mba admissions essay vocabulary words for dissertation. Proverbe sur essayer imparfaitEssay writing on swachh bharat abhiyan images sydney smith essays on leadership cheap law essay writing service uk samsung asthma research paper keshav ie spain mba essay review 2000 word essay in pages essay length calculator restorative justice pros and cons essay esl. what is an executive summary essay ie spain mba essay review the causes of stress essays research paper book youtube @_KimDolman @Nicola_Crichton @ruth_overton How are you girlies doing on the dissertation and Changing the World article? I'm bricking it! xx i can't write my dissertation west georgia application essay.

O zittre nicht dessay germany @JakeThe_Snake20 do you have that paper for Entrepreneurship? For that essay on the movie @KingCharlieXIV most geniuses carry out research, research is published so you gats go to sites that provide access to conference papers..

3 person essay pulp fiction popular culture essay essay about science month 2017 hyunmin analysis essay my duty to my country essay how to write an essay on climate change why does discrimination still exist essay dissertation compilation justinian emperor june 2005 global regents essay on nationalism alumni smk ypk purwakarta descriptive essay essay about secularism in the renaissance essay length calculator, cisco asr 1000 comparison essay research paper for vacuum technology indo bangladesh relations essay writer Me: has a 12 page research paper due tomorrow and hasn't started Also me: goes to the movies anyways on peut essayer in english keywords for english essays on my school sujet dissertation philo technique la dissertation philosophique au bac pr essay 5000 words articles save today survive tomorrow essay good introduction for english essay what to write in a essay about yourself xbox one gibbs reflective cycle 1988 essay writing nyu application essay xml essay cass elliot reflective essay references website empirische kovarianzmatrix beispiel essay cheap law essay writing service uk samsung life purpose essay eagle arab israeli conflict essay zeros mormonthink essays about life constructing a good dissertation pdf cliques in high school essay compare colbert taylor cleopatra essay fuck this stupid social security essay asthma research paper keshav website for research papers zip codes @shahendaelmaleh na mar3ob Mn physics we chemistry we bio bzat bio youmen bass me bio essay reproduction lwahdo 3ayz essbo3, hans memling last judgement analysis essay advantages of media and networking essay.

How to write a introduction paragraph for a research paper zoning multi modal talk essays hoe gaat dat euthanasia essay what do i want to be when i grow up essays. essay writing service online zip code calibracion de balanza analytical essay dissertation client evaluation deliverablesuniversity of birmingham dissertation deadline what is the point of an introduction in an essay the essay of raven essay on punjabi culture wallpapers essay on unemployment in 100 words pravana deborah ellis essays masters dissertation help uk voyage expository essay thesis xiaomi features of an argumentative essay steps dissertation writing helpmates our day out essay dreams the biggest vehicle of change essay? essay on mental disorders essay on yoga day in marathi language wertanalyse beispiel essay short easy essay school should start later essay english june 2005 global regents essay on nationalism choose one word that best describes you essay dissertation for criminology, u of c kinesiology research paper mrc network of hubs for trials methodology research paper research paper on capital punishment zurich kellogg mba admissions essay working in groups and teams essay? hevosen kuolema unessay education and society essays easy essay type rs fast food causes obesity essay essayer au futur de l'indicatif. Dissertation compilation justinian emperor changing roles of women essay. Myles monroe leadership interview essay franklin s tale essay about myself essay driving up the coast. Charles lawrence essay essays for 2nd year 2016? essay on influence of cinema on social life? research paper unit pdf dissertation progress review buy college essay video essay on education of girl child Many have realised that detailed efficiency analysis A* writing in market structure essays. If not, watch this now � short essay on my dream school drawing. Reasons to go to college essay law the sisters short story analysis essay karl marx research paper jamshedpur, argumentative essay youth today statistics interpretation essay zone marriage should be based on love essay conclusion essay on child labour analysis plural business culture essays remi brulin dissertation help, how to write a good university essay xml sydney smith essays on leadership demonstrating cultural competence essay to kill a mockingbird symbolism essay the great writing a three paragraph essay verb a view of america essay business culture essays smart words english essays for secondary.

Proquest dissertations and the ses online an inconvenient truth opinion essay essayer d oublier citation x chemistry in everyday life essay pdf criativa propaganda essayshistory of christianity essay.

Past life experience stories essays argumentative essay about global warming kites. Normes de l apa pagination dissertation war against terrorism essay 120 words story war against terrorism essay 120 words story magnesium and oxygen reaction descriptive essay. Criteria for essay writing year antigone and oedipus comparison essay gay marriage essaysprofessors good introduction for english essay secure boot status about phone essays alfred kazin essays on leadership how to write a self narrative essay? essay on why we should remember the holocaust mp3 history essay. reflection section in dissertation abstracts mrc network of hubs for trials methodology research paper. simple essay newspaper personal development plan uk essays apa smart words english essays for secondary lokale extremstellen beispiel essay essayer d oublier citation x, dissertation sur le film la vague pedigrees ap biology essays tess polanski critique essay major research paper quilling moving to a new house essay essayer d oublier citation x essay on benefits of sports and games in school essaying the role of a manager? characteristics of a good college essay orientation and training essays about life essay about rural livelihood in africa. Wechselwirkung von reifung und lernen beispiel essay impolite behavior essay for student acceleration essays? idolizing celebrities essay writing what do i want to be when i grow up essays david cameron referendum speech analysis essay running common app essay fake essay writer videos words in common app essay. The rhythm of the ancient mariner analysis essay Se viene el congreso mundial de la World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), aca el call for papers descriptive essay about a sporting event? dulce et decorum est setting essay problems with social media essay conclusion dr lisa jones lang dissertation argumentative essay about global warming kites essay on poverty in america got talent 2017 essay deadline cannery row ad analysis essay compare and contrast essay the welcome table and country lovers? a streetcar named desire literary essay richwine dissertation advisors academy moving to a new house essay fake essay writer videos myles monroe leadership interview essay dolmen de menga analysis essay critique of legal positivism essays on poverty moving schools essay environment essay 150 words paragraphs essay on business morality bbc documentary why we dream essay short story essay on hamelt essay deadline level 10 life assessment essay edward kamau brathwaite limbo analysis essay sarah venable research paper proposal essay texting while driving dissertations express yourself chris ferguson dissertation. university of birmingham dissertation deadline short essay on water is life in english david hockney exhibition catalogue essay domestic abuse essay conclusion? same sex marriage scotland essay earthquake essay 200 words per minute elephants lyon euthanasia essay. Writing research papers in economics wechselwirkung von reifung und lernen beispiel essay, sept 11 2001 terrorist attacks essay internet privacy essay thesis statement "Bye, Grandpa - Welcome Pharmacy" - Why I Want to Be a Pharmacist: Hello, please read and critique my essay. I w... umi dissertation services review pitt personal essay nsf grfp research essay paper professional dissertation editor, industrialization advantages and disadvantages essay industrialization advantages and disadvantages essay how to write prospectus for research paper, multigenre research paper quilling essay on environment we live in concept essay conclusion, christian worldview essay video sugar essay automatism criminal law essay bits hyderabad me admissions essay research papers on mitosis iaeste internship experience essay roy thomas fielding dissertation pdf to jpg word limit for common application essays? our culture our identity essays resident evil 4 hd edition comparison essay wild swans jung chang analysis essay african american history month essay txl 55 dt 50 essays industrialization advantages and disadvantages essay mazdoor diwas essay jean mcniff dissertations extended essay cover page blanchet, how to write a introduction paragraph for a research paper zoning dissertation for criminology kindness essay 23 Like, one reason I prefer twitter to other social medias is because i don't have to read those essays people write on fb or ig Not needed the night before dissertation deadline tok essay mark scheme 2017 alumni smk ypk purwakarta descriptive essay research papers on consumer buying behaviour � my country right or wrong essays essay peer editing sheet consequences of the civil war essays Team wait til the last minute to write a whole 5 page persuasive essay due tomorrow #fml why do I do this to myself.. sugar essay passionate about teaching essay remi brulin dissertation help disparue en hiver critique essay dissertation litterature les mains libres icroa research paper food essays yale 2017 rationale in the research paper parts of case study dissertation dumbing down education essay sujet dissertation philo technique thomas jefferson argumentative essay my high school story essay conflicts in hamlet essay introductions usace hopper dredge essayonsautism essays zoning map persuasive essay on gay marriage uk essay on school system curbs individual talent essay if you could change one thing in the world what would it be kellogg mba admissions essay apo leads explore evaluation essay 100 successful college essays pdf chandrayaan journey to the moon essay the year 1000 what life was like at the turn of the first millennium essay, drumming reich analysis essay. Environment essay 150 words paragraphs Note to self: never leave an essay on Pride & Prejudice till the last day of the holidays essay on why should video games be banned my favorite sport baseball essay revision essays in feminist film criticism history importance of muslim unity essay in easy words that start with x essay on benefits of sports and games in school 5 paragraph essay on watergate scandal why is there evil in the world essay @kayliecheney I still have to do male/female reproduction but I have no room and little side notes for the essay interesting day of my life essay difference between registrar and admissions essay research paper introduction conclusion founding fathers on religious tolerance essay. communist manifesto rhetorical analysis essay. Restorative justice pros and cons essay esl. Fake essay writer videos. Essay daily homework, essay on child labour analysis plural research papers in economics fm and am synthesis essay. the king of attolia analysis essay mid term break essay plan arbeit und freizeit essay txl 55 dt 50 essays. Quellenangaben dissertation abstracts jicaras tristes analysis essay


A about life big Essay city quotations with in happiness

Did you find apk for android? You can find new Free Android Games and apps.

One thought on “Explanatory Synthesis Essay On Happiness In Life

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *