Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Science of Happiness: What Is Happiness?

9/9/15: What Is Happiness?
English: Emotions associated with happiness
English: Emotions associated with happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So this section starts with an introduction to Weekly Check-Ins. I'll rate how I've been feeling over the past few days, and the system will track my mood over the ten weeks of the course.  There's a video to watch about how the check-in works, and then a sort of survey to serve as the check-in itself.

The survey involves cartoon faces that appear to depict things like sadness, laughing, anger, and happiness. I guess some of them are open to interpretation.

Next, there's a video -- and a prompt for discussion -- about some historical views of happiness. We're asked:
How do you define happiness? On what do you base that definition? Does it stem from your first-hand experience of what makes you happy, or from your general observations about what you think constitutes happiness for most people?
Defining happiness is tough.  It's kind of like porn.

...No, not like that. If I meant it like that, I would have said "Defining happiness is hard." Give me some credit.

Heh. Anyway, what I mean is: I don't know what it is, precisely, but I know it when I encounter it.

When I think about the things I mention in my What Makes You Happy posts, though, the two common threads appear to be achievement and contentment. Which is great, since cultivating either seems to preclude the other.  But maybe I'm wrong.  That's why I'm taking this course.

Next, there's a video about how science defines happiness, and the challenges it has in doing so. Scientists tend to define happiness as "subjective well-being", and that sounds good to me.

We've still got a bit to cover in this section, but next up is a reading, so I figure we'll discuss that next time.

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