Essay on How to Achieve Happiness

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The Pursuit to Happiness

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you” is what Nathaniel Hawthorne once said. (Palha) Unfortunately there is no handbook that one may purchase to achieve happiness, because no one is the same. Therefore, it is nearly impossible for one to obtain happiness through someone else’s viewpoints and research, but there are in my opinion, basic needs that will jumpstart the road to happiness. In contemplation and also through research I have come to the conclusion that people in our lives, experiences, privileges, and attitudes are the key components to achieve happiness.

First and foremost, family plays an important role in happiness. One needs to know and trust their “roots”, and also have a good relationship with family. A study produced by the Associated Press and MTV concluded that the top answer to the question “what makes you happy” was “spending time with family.” Also, the same study concluded that 75% of the people that were questioned said that the relationship with their parents made them happy. (Emerson) Family is like the foundation of a house. Without the foundation there is no stability. Without stability in one’s family life would ultimately affect everything else around oneself. Families carry our history with them, and they generally share our future as well. Who better than siblings, parents, and other close relatives can reminisce with us about our childhoods, or remember pieces of ourselves that we have forgotten? This connection to fond memories, support in times of need, and near-unconditional love is a unique way that family brings us happiness as well as relief from stress.

Friends are family we choose for ourselves. I am sure it is a saying that everyone has heard at some point. Friends share a different yet equally important bond with us just as our families do. One can confide in a friend about things that they may not feel comfortable expressing to their family. In a friendship one becomes emotionally invested, which explains the closeness just as a family would be. In a Harvard Medical School study they examined nearly 5,000 individuals looking for correlations between happiness and friends. In this study they concluded “…that when an individual becomes happy, the network effect can be measured up to three degrees. One person’s happiness triggers a chain reaction that benefits not only their friends, but their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends. The effect lasts for up to one year.” (Christakis) That means that not only do ones friends make them happy, but happiness is also contagious; which in turn would also benefit other friends. Most of all, our pursuit of happiness through friends includes continuing pleasure and peace of mind. Great friends are really essential in order to maintain our sanity in the fast paced lives in which we lead these days.

Next, in the pursuit to happiness comes experience. Breaking down this broad topic comes 3 factors, traditions, memories, and the little things. Traditions are defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the handing down of information, beliefs, or customs from one generation to another.” This relates closely to history. In Weiner’s search for the happiest places in the world he finds out that Qatar has no real history. He states “ … an important ingredient in the good life, the happy life, is connecting to something larger that ourselves, recognizing that we are not mere blips on the cosmic radar screen but part of something much bigger.”(110) Traditions and history create a sense of belonging, which then create memories. Memories bring back emotions that were felt at the time of occurrence. Also, reminiscing on the good old days can bring a sense of comfort. Researcher Leaf Van Boven stated, “The memories of experiences such as vacations last longer and can contribute more to happiness than can...
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