I recently started reading a book called The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want  by Sonja Lyubomirsky. I have to admit that I enjoy reading these kinds of books for their practical knowledge and I find them useful recommendations for my clients. It got me thinking about what it means to be happy… Happiness seems to be a phenomena not easily defined and subjectively experienced. I find that a majority of people on the earth really want to be happy and to experience a sense of well being irrespective of their current circumstance. 

For many, at least in this country, happiness seems to be an illusive quality not easily achieved. Often out necessity, we find ourselves doing things we really do not enjoy.  The more we do it, the less we enjoy until we begin to feel disheartened and a sense of hopelessness that our situation will change. Despite the current economic recession in this country, according to a recent poll conducted by the UN Human Development Index 2011 which “measures happiness in different countries based on factors such as income, education, health, life expectancy, economy, gender equality and sustainability.” The United States ranked 4th happiest country in the world, Norway ranked 1st. If this be true, that out of 187 countries that were polled, the US ranked 4th, why do so many people in this country appear to be so unhappy? Particular as we witness with Occupy Wall Street movement, which that claims that 99% of the population suffers while 1% of the rich continue to financially gain through the exploitation of the 99%, can now be seen in every state of the Union and across party lines. How does one experience happiness as defined by the UN? Maybe the UN was wrong?

Walk into any bookstore on any given day and you will find stacks of books on Positive Psychology and the ideal of “The Pursuit of Happiness”. As positive psychology states that it is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The position taking is that “There is an alternative to thinking about people and the world as needing to be fixed. You can see possibilities an opportunities for growth, evolution, rebirth wellness, strength…”http://www.positivepsychology.net. There has been lots of research in support of the happiness gene, born happy. According to Martin Seligman, considered the father of Positive Psychology, http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org, ” we can experience three kinds of happiness: 1) pleasure and gratification, 2) embodiment of strengths and virtues and 3) meaning and purpose. Each kind of happiness is linked to positive emotion but from his quote, you can see that in his mind there is a progression from the first type of happiness of pleasure/gratification to strengths/virtues and finally meaning/purpose.”

Then there are those whose research against the idea of happiness summing it up as a “Pollyanna gloss”.According to evolutionary psychologist, Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, “What can evolutionary psychology tell us about what we as a society can do so as not to repeat the Swedish mistake and make our citizens happy?  The best thing to do is to kill all the feminists and hippies and liberals.  Destroy political correctness completely once and for all.  Teach boys and girls that they are different, not the same, and that it’s okay (nay, wonderful) to be different.  One is not right and the other is not wrong.  Stop telling girls that they are inferior versions of boys, as feminists have done for the last half century, or, as has more recently been the case, stop telling boys that they are inferior versions of girls. Live as you feel like, not as you think you should live like.” Who is right? Who can really say? Does it all depends on your view of the world and your place in it? Is is genetics? Is it about intentions?

As a friend of mine states, “Hi my name is #### and I am an addict.. I am addicting to being happy and living life to the fullest… although it isn’t always easy and things don’t always go the way you want them… I gotta be patient..everyday may not be a good one but there is good in every day!!” What do you think? How can you find your happy?