A Common Sense Formula for Happiness: A Babble

This article had been intended to be a poem but it ended up being a prescriptive, hard to read, babble.

Although everyone desires happiness only a few are able to be happy. Attempts to study happiness have gained the interest of only a handful of researchers. The seemingly lack of enough research on the subject can be attributed to the nature of happiness, which lacks a universally applicable criterion to be used as a measure. The best way to look at happiness lies in putting a context to it. This is because of the relative nature of happiness. There are a number of fluid and contextual issues that will help us to understand happiness. We look at four of them.

The first contextual issue is social context. People are social beings that are in constant interaction for one reason or the other. The most basic social setting is the family. Outside of the family, we have friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We also have larger social contexts like the groups and organizations we identify with or communities we reside in. Happiness will be achieved if these interactions proceed without hiccups such as conflicts or some sort of misunderstandings. Being a member of a conflicting social setting increases anxiety and reduces the chances of obtaining happiness.

The second contextual issue is your state of mind. The human mind is continuously being bombarded by numerous stimuli. Happiness will be achieved when the ability to select and process incoming stimuli is not hampered in any way. This is easier said but not always easy to achieve. The demands of life may mean that a lot of incoming stimuli may be meaningless, missed or improperly decoded. Also, people have different thresholds for handling stimuli. People with lower thresholds of dealing with incoming stimuli are likely to find it difficult in achieving happiness.

The third contextual issue in understanding happiness is the physical context. Abstract and concrete objects that surround you affect your happiness. Visiting new places and seeing new objects may create memories that may influence happiness. Working in an air-conditioned office, listening to music, reading books and consuming various media will influence your moods which in turn will influence your productivity, and consequently, of your wellbeing. This may lead to happiness.

The fourth contextual issue in understanding happiness is the economic context. This has to do with the ability to obtain what you desire when you desire. In cases where the economic environment is dysfunctional conflicts are likely to occur as people scramble for survival.

Therefore happiness is not an event but a process that involves understanding the environment within which happiness is being looked at. Happiness, consequently, cannot be looked at as an episodic occurrence but as a long term trend. Visiting a sick person, condoling the bereaved, buying lunch to the homeless, taking your partner out for dinner, and all manner of episodic events, may make them happy for a day but may not sustain the happiness. The understanding of this will help families, groups, and organizations to be able to create conducive environments where people can truly be happy.                                                                                                            

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