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can be as influential as good psychotherapy, but sadly a lot of self-help authors come up with advice that is clearly outdated and that harms people if they follow it.
• 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
New measure for the wellbeing of populations could replace Human Development Index
07.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Because not only arguments count
30.10.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.
Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
12.11.2018 | Life Sciences
12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy