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The Proposition That Happiness Is Something Which Can Be, and Ought to Be, Taught

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  • April 2008
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Critically assess the proposition that happiness is something which can be, and ought to be, taught.

There is no one definition of happiness, however philosophy and psychology have long been interested in this phenomenon as well as how to enhance it. Sometimes these two disciplines came up with propositions how to be happy. As an example Epicurus (342–270 BCE) begun hedonistic approach referring to maximization of pleasure (Seligman, 2002). Later on Aristotle said that “happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life…” where eudaimonic route to happiness is observed (Seligman, 2002). Nowadays, methexic approach was introduced, also known as meaningful life (Seligman, 2002), where one is stepping out from the box and focuses on another person. One of the goals of positive psychology is to understand happiness and enhance its level in individuals by using psychological interventions. Several studies presented in here indicate that happiness can and should be taught.

In order to answer whether happiness is something which can be taught, effectiveness of psychological interventions is assessed in the following paragraph. First of all, it is important to mention that Seligman proposed “happiness formula” which is: H = S + C + V (Seligman, 2002, p. 45), where “H” is “enduring level of happiness”, “S” is ones set point meaning ones general level of happiness presumably biologically determined, “C” is the circumstances of ones life and finally “V” is things individuals have voluntary control on. The last factor is the most important one for positive psychology in context of increasing control that people have. The following issues have been argued in the literature: only genetics can determine happiness, existing weak association between circumstances factors and well-being or whether person is able to pursue his/her happiness. Lyubomirsky et al. (2005) compared the past research and presented all these factors affecting happiness in form of percentage of...