Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Evidence based happiness advice: a special issue of the Journal of Happiness Studies

01.03.2007
In our increasingly complex society happiness is not the simple product of favorable circumstances. Well-being is dependent on making the right individual choices. Handling freedom is not always easy and that has created a demand for happiness advice.

Philosophers, psychologists and spiritual thinkers offer happiness counsel, but their widely differing views have never been empirically scrutinized. The special issue on Happiness Advice of the Journal of Happiness Studies that is published online Thursday the 1st of March, fills this gap, by comparing the advice given with what is known about the conditions of happiness observed in empirical research. With Maarten Berg and Ad Bergsma of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The idea to give happiness advice proper attention and scrutiny is not unusual in medical professions. For example, if a specific diet becomes popular, than several institutions are available for the public and for the press to check whether it offers a healthy alternative. The same could be done to help the audience to judge the quality of happiness advice. This is necessary, because there is a lot of advice on the market that would lower well-being for the average person if it is taken to hearth.

The special issue of the Journal of Happiness Studies shows that ancient Buddhist advice is not applicable in modern society. Taoism and especially Confucianism offer better changes on happiness. The great German pessimist Schopenhauer did not succeed in helping his readers to come to terms with the harsh realities of life. Avoiding pain was one of the central goals in life according to the Greek philosopher Epicurus, but this led him to a too passive conception of human life. The lifestyle advice of New Age thinkers often is conducive to happiness. Psychological self-help books choose subjects that are relevant for well-being and can be as influential as good psychotherapy, but sadly a lot of self-help authors come up with advice that is clearly outdated and that harms people if they follow it.

Some highlights:

• Support for New age Advice. Maarten Berg of the Erasmus University Rotterdam has identified common themes in the writings of new age thinkers and presents data that suggest that seven recommendations have the potential to enhance happiness: become spiritual, be authentic, know yourself, connect with others, think positively, take control and life healthy. For two recommendations – meditate and follow your gut feelings or intuition – Berg was not able to find evidence whether the advice was beneficial for happiness or harmful. The advice to live a simple live justly warns against too much materialism, but robs people needlessly of many pleasures.

• Better not follow Epicurus advice to forego marriage. The Greek philosopher Epicurus recommends a risk avoidant attitude to life. Do not become too attached to things or people, because the pain of missing them later on exceeds the pleasure of indulgence in the moment. This philosophy may seem apt for modern marriage that often ends in a painful divorce or bereavement. Ad Bergsma of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and two colleagues calculated the number of ‘happy life years’ that comes with the choice for marriage in the Dutch population. Happy life years are calculated by multiplying the number of years a person will live by a weight factor for happiness for each of these years. The results clearly favour marriage. Married people that stay married can count on a surplus of almost five happy life years compared with people who stay single, and even if marriage ends in divorce the number of happy life years still exceeds the happy life expectancy of the chronic single.

Yvette Nelen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.eur.nl/english/pressroom/releases/2007/february/happinessadvice

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>