Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sorting Through the Literature

Smith, Timothy B., Cultural values and happiness. American Psychologist, Vol. 55(10). From PsycARTICLES
refers to Csikszentmihalyi's research correlating happiness, not with money or wealth, but with the experience of FLOW. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). If we are so rich, why aren't we happy? American Psychologist, 54, 821–827. Thinks M. C. made a mistake in claiming it is causation. Hypothesizes that losing oneself is the basis for happiness, as other cultures emphasize this (and connecting with others) and find happiness. "If losing oneself in a project, relationship, or dream is followed by a very positive condition, it does not mean that the experience itself caused happiness. It is equally likely that losing oneself is the causative factor... research supports the tenet that the less people focus on themselves, the happier they are (e.g., Nolen-Hoeksema & Davis, 1999). Moreover, the quality of a person's connection with others is often the best predictor of therapy outcome and mental health (Hubble, Duncan, & Miller, 1999). "

Lyubomirsky, Sonja.
Why are some people happier than others? The role of cognitive and motivational processes in well-being. American Psychologist, Vol. 56(3). From PsycARTICLES.

Why and how is happiness important??
One of the most salient and significant dimensions of human experience and emotional life is happines. Aristotle's (trans. 1974) two millennia-old argument that happiness is the whole aim and end of human existence. Why some people are happier than others is important for both theoretical and practical reasons, and the pursuit of its answer should be a central goal of a positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). people rank the pursuit of happiness as one of their most cherished goals in life (Diener & Oishi, 2000; Diener, Suh, Smith, & Shao, 1995; Freedman, 1978; Triandis, Bontempo, Leung, & Hui, 1990; for an exception, see Lyubomirsky, 2000). Furthermore, happiness appears to have a number of positive by-products, which may benefit not only individuals, but families, communities, and societies (see Myers, 1992; Veenhoven, 1988, for reviews). a great deal of research has addressed this question. the general conclusion from almost a century of research on the determinants of well-being is that objective circumstances, demographic variables, and life events are correlated with happiness less strongly than intuition and everyday experience tell us they ought to be (cf. Diener et al., 1999; Lyubomirsky & Ross, 1999). By several estimates, all of these variables put together account for no more than 8% to 15% of the variance in happiness (e.g., Andrews & Withey, 1976; Argyle, 1999; Diener, 1984;Diener et al., 1999).

Not wealth
remarkably small associations between happiness and wealth, such as Myers's (2000) observation that as Americans' personal income has nearly tripled in the last half century, their happiness levels have remained the same, and Diener and colleagues' finding that the wealthiest Americans—those earning more than $10 million annually—report levels of personal happiness only trivially greater than their less affluent peers (Diener, Horwitz, & Emmons, 1985).

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