Achieving Happiness

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Maaz Munir
Professor Serpas
EXP 389
14 May 2013
Happiness
Nowadays we believe that if we are wealthy and have material possessions we would be happy and content with our lives. Is this really the case, how does money and materialistic items help us achieve happiness? If we look at celebrities, athletes, or individuals who possess large sums of wealth and material possessions we believe they are the happiest individuals; that they have everything and buy anything. However, are they really content with their lives? In Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, she explains that to be happy it must come from inside oneself; you must do the things you love, have fun, freedom, be positive, and most important that inner drive to push you on the right track in becoming happy. Rubin realizing she was in danger of wasting her life gave herself a year to conduct a happiness project; to not only become happier, but also to be more satisfied and content with every life. Every month she completed a different set of resolutions to help her along the way. Nonetheless, Rubin was innately motivated to achieve true happiness and had that inner drive to change old habits and create new ones. Moreover, the methods Rubin used to become happy relates to Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive. Pink helps us understand whether or not happiness comes from outside sources or is it within oneself to make the change. His study on extrinsic forces such as money or material possession implies that these only keeps people happy for a short period of time; on the other hand intrinsic forces such as ones inner drive is a greater force than outside influences. Rubin also used intrinsic motivation to commit to her happiness project and commit to her daily habits. Charles Duhigg defines habit as “ Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit explains how we human beings can change addictive habits or create new and healthy ones. Rubin created and changed habits such as, keeping a low temper, and having more fun. Her overwhelming happiness rubbed off on others and ultimately changed the atmosphere around her house and friends. This emotional contagion relates to Lauren Slater’s text book Opening Skinners Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century where she explains two scientists John Darley and Bibb Latane’s who conducted an experiment to test the reaction of a naïve subject; and if that naïve subject attempted to aid themselves or others when something disastrous or out of the ordinary occurred. Rubin’s intrinsic motivation based on Drive, her creation of her habit loop and changing of habits explained by Duhigg, and social imitation based on Darley and Latane’s smoke experiment motivated her to change her habits, and become happier and content with her life. Gretchen Rubin was a mother of two young beautiful daughters, seven-year old Eliza and one-year old Eleanor. She was married to a handsome man named Jamie who loved her as much as she did. Rubin lived in New York City and was a full time writer. However, one April morning Rubin was sitting on a bus looking through rain spattered windows when realized she was in danger of wasting her life. She did not feel happy; she had everything: a loving husband, a loving family, two beautiful kids, friends, wealth, but she did not feel happy. Rubin describes “I wasn’t depressed and I wasn’t having a midlife crisis, but I was suffering from midlife malaise” (2). This midlife malaise was a sense of discontent and feeling of disbelief that she could not do and accomplish anything. As a result of being frustrated and unhappy, Rubin started her own happiness project; every month she set out 4 to 5 resolutions she wished to accomplish by the end of the month for one whole year. These goals led her to intrinsically motivate herself to start a long and dedicated track towards happiness. During the month of January she was dedicated to boost her energy and vitality; she had five resolutions to accomplish during...
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