Happiness Is…

So for those of you not in the know, I’ve been taking a lot of online courses recently. Last year I did a couple of English courses and The Science of Everyday Thinking. I also took Spanish but dropped it because I found it incredibly difficult – I’ll probably pick it up again one day.

Anyway, this year I’ve enrolled for a bunch of new courses as well – another English writing course, Python and one which I started today, The Science of Happiness. I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for it. The course description intrigued me so I just clicked sign up. I had nothing to lose anyway. I’m the kind of guy who believes that it’s better to spread joy than misery (though my song lyrics don’t seem to reflect that kek) so I was very interested to find out more about happiness.

Today, I went through a bit of the first week materials and it turns out there’s quite a lot more to happiness than I thought. At least that’s what I’m led to believe. I’ll find out more as the weeks go by – and I’ll try to blog about what I learn.

The first thing I was presented with was a short quiz about my happiness. And then a few introductory videos and some writings I had to read about the subject. Here’s what I learnt so far:

There’s no standard definition for happiness but most people use the term interchangeably with subjective well-being. There are many different viewpoints and opinions about what happiness is. But one thing for sure is that happiness is something we know when we feel it. There are many different ways to achieve happiness – helping people, indulging in what pleases you, getting what we want, being healthy and so on.

We can measure happiness by how much positive and negative emotions we feel. People used to believe that happiness was something we couldn’t control and it was left to the gods, fate and the stars. This is true in some way – we can’t control the cards dealt to us in life sometimes. But most of the time, we can choose how we play those cards.

There is a difference between a happy and a meaningful life. Happiness is more focused on the present, while meaningfulness is more focused on the past, present and future – happiness can be seen as fleeting while meaningfulness seems to last longer. Meaningfulness is derived from giving to other people; happiness comes from what they give to you. Meaningfulness also involves stress and challenges while happiness usually does not. Being a parent is also said to increase the happiness level of people.

Then there are opinions that “eudaimonic happiness,” – the happiness that comes from meaningful pursuits, and “hedonic happiness” – the happiness that comes from pleasure or goal fulfillment, aren’t so different from one another.

Too much happiness is also a thing: it can make you less creative and less safe. Happiness isn’t suitable for all situations. Not all types of happiness is good for you and it can hinder your ability to connect to other people (have I discovered why I’m so apathetic?). The pursuit of happiness can also make you unhappy. Like everything else that can be good for you, happiness is required in moderation. It has its time and place, and you need a balance of it in your life.

That’s all I’ve covered today – and I haven’t even finished this week’s materials. I think I’m in for a wild ride. Have a great weekend people. Be sure to keep your happiness in check!

Side note: my posting schedule will be irregular or halted from January 19th till February 4th due to the Double Trouble sale. I’ll try to write during those days, but I can’t promise anything. Blogging will resume normally after the 4th.

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