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Blueprint to Happiness

What Is Happiness?

By Natalia Wong
On October 3, 2013
The definition of happiness is: a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. That is the Google definition of the word, but my real question is: what is happiness? What if none of these words in the definition existed or, in simpler terms, what would happiness be without words? If one couldn't express with his/her words how happy they were, does that mean that it is false happiness? If one could not physically show how happy they were does that also mean they are not happy? Maybe, just maybe, one who has never learned about happiness could never be happy. Below are exact quotes from the three pioneers of the science of happiness and what they believed happiness to be:
 
Abraham Maslow
 
"Human life will never be understood unless its highest aspirations are taken into account. Growth, self-actualization, the striving toward health, the quest for identity and autonomy, the yearning for excellence (and other ways of phrasing the striving "upward") must by now be accepted beyond question as a widespread and perhaps universal human tendency..." according to www.pursuit-of-happiness.org.
 
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 
 
"The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times... The best moments usually occur if a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile," according to www.pursuit-of-happiness.org. 
 
Martin Seligman
 
"The very good news is there is quite a number of internal circumstances [...] under your voluntary control. If you decide to change them (and be warned that none of these changes come without real effort), your level of happiness is likely to increase lastingly," according to www.pursuit-of-happiness.org.
 
Now, compare what our three pioneers of the science of happiness had to say about the topic of happiness to that of the thoughts of the students from the University of Bridgeport on the same topic. At first, when the students from The University of Bridgeport were asked the question, "What is happiness," there was a long silence, almost as though it was an extremely difficult question. Some responded with "I'm not sure" and needed to take another second to think, and some knew right away and responded immediately. These are the exact quotes given by the students:
 
"Being more than satisfied with what you are doing and getting a sense of joy and having gratification in the things you love" said Jovan Reyes, senior and Criminal Justice major. 
 
"Loving yourself and finding true love" said Sabreen Abdullah, senior and Biology major. 
 
"Happiness is like air, you need it to breed" said Karen Rincon, senior and English major. 
 
"Happiness is being able to wake up to another day of struggle with a smile on your face and love in your heart" said Danny Torres, senior and Business major. 
 
The students spoken to would smile when they spoke on the subject of happiness, almost as though they were remembering happy moments at the same time that they were coming up with an answer to "What is happiness?" However, the fact is that these students understand exactly what the three pioneers of the science of happiness were trying to accomplish based on their answers; that is, understanding human potential and its great heights as well as its great depressions.

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