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Lydia Blaisdell

Happiness Project
Section 1

Happiness - Redefined
Many people contribute their entire lives to either seeking the meaning of happiness or
achieving happiness. Darrin McMahon, the author of the book Happiness: A History states The
idea of happiness as our natural state is a peculiarly modern condition that puts a tremendous
onus on people. We blame ourselves and feel guilty and deficient when were not happy. This
quote speaks to one of the most relevant issues found in society related to happiness. If youre
unhappy or depressed, society in constantly telling you that its your fault that youre unhappy,
that you need to just be happy, but none of us really know what happiness is, and how genuine
happiness can be achieved. The lifestyle our society is currently living has turned into a
damaging cycle, a succession of buying and selling, that is altering values and creating a culture
of consumerism. Society is constantly sending the message that to be happy, you need to have
possessions, you need to be living a material lifestyle. Happiness can be found when you lead a
meaningful lifestyle, yet genuine happiness doesnt occur unless there is a reason to be happy, we
think that happiness will be achieved through consumerism, but society needs to change those
values and hold community at a higher standard.
The pursuit of meaning creates a basis for individuals to live a more passionate and
purposeful lifestyle that leads to happiness. The definition of meaning is to intend something to
happen, to have the motivation to do something. The article The Pursuit of Meaning in Our Lives
written by Imtiaz Manji states Everybody wants to be happy, but there is a significant difference
between a happy life and a meaningful one. Happiness is often about getting what you want.
Meaningfulness comes from giving of yourself. Happiness can be fleeting. Meaningfulness is
everlasting. There are two sides to this quote, you can be purely happy without meaning, and
not be particularly selfish, but meaning provides a specific reason to be happy. Meaning doesnt
necessarily lead to happiness, it may make someone feel like theyre doing a good thing, but it
cant guarantee happiness. Happiness and meaning are directly connected, but you dont need
one to have the other in your life. To find passion, which can lead to happiness, meaning is
generally part of what creates that passion, and may improve your chances of achieving
happiness, but as I said, nothing can just create happiness. Emily Esfahani Smith, the author of
Theres More to Life Than Being Happy states Partly what we do as human beings is to take
care of others and contribute to others. This makes life meaningful but it does not necessarily
make us happy. Society is changing what it means to be human, currently we hold money at a
higher standard than taking care of others, and as we act more like machines, more meaning is
lost in lives. Human nature is being altered by societys pursuit of happiness, people are ignoring
each other to find the perfect lifestyle everyone thinks they need. Living a material life is
considered to be on a higher standard than living a meaningful life, which needs to change.
Society will eventually run out of materials, and the lifestyles that we have created for ourselves
will fall apart, leaving us to re-create the values that we take as a way of life.
Happiness cannot be seeked, genuine happiness develops when there is a reason to be
happy. Everyday people throw away their lives to find happiness. Theyre obsessed with the idea
of the perfect life that society tells everyone they need. Emily Esfahani Smith states Happiness

cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to be happy. Happiness doesnt
materialize, you cant decide that youre going to be happy. As I said above, the pursuit of
happiness ruins people's lives. Changing your lifestyle, or seeking happiness for a period of time
is a fine way to achieve happiness, but society makes it nearly impossible to do this without
getting obsessed. The obsession with finding happiness in out of control in this country, and its
not making people any happier. The average person is addicted to buying and selling, constantly
searching for ways to make money, so they can buy more. Carolyn Gregoire the author of the
article The Psychology Of Materialism, And Why It's Making You Unhappy states Those who
pursue wealth and material possessions tend to be less satisfied and experience fewer positive
emotions each day. On the other hand, research has found that life satisfaction -- surprise,
surprise -- is correlated with having less materialistic values. This proves that against popular
belief, searching for happiness through possessions and consumerism wont create happiness, it
will cause the opposite. No one in this country can ever have enough, the need for more useless
items is overpowering. The constant idea that you need money to be happy never stops,
everywhere you see wealthy people with everything they could ever want, but that doesnt mean
theyre happy. They may have a smile on their face, but thats just because society is telling them
that theyre happy. They have followed societys pursuit of happiness, and reached the end.
There's nothing wrong with seeking happiness, but when you dedicate your life to the search,
your values can become clouded, and you can forget what genuine happiness really is.
As a nation, we need to live a more meaningful life that values social connections and
community over consumerism and possessions. The United States ranks 15th in the polls for the
world's happiest country, only a little over 50% of men and women said that they were happy in
a survey, meaning half of our countrys population is unhappy. The Problem With Consumerism
states Consumerism is one of the strongest forces affecting our lives in the modern world. The
term consumerism does not simply refer to immediate factors in our daily lives such as the
omnipresence of advertising, but anything connected to the overarching idea in our modern
society that in order to be happier, better and more successful people we have to have more
stuff. America isnt getting any happier, this country is leaving humanity behind and beginning
to value electronics and the ever changing consumerist demands. Social connections and
emotions dont seem to be recognized as important compared to the new computer that just came
out, or the huge sale at the mall. In Theres More to Life Than Being Happy Emily Esfahani
Smith states The more one forgets himself -- by giving himself to a cause to serve or another
person to love -- the more human he is. As a country, weve started to live selfish lives that
focus on the search for a fake material happiness. When asked the question What is happiness,
I doubt very many people would be able to answer, I know that I couldnt. We all have an idea of
what happiness should look like, but what we actually think happiness means will differ
drastically, but chances are, well all say the same thing, well say what society tell us to say.
Society wont be able to survive this harmful cycle that we have been stuck in for very much
Changing our culture and values is imperative if we want to achieve higher levels of
happiness. Creating a society that values authentic happiness would require changing many
important values that we take as a way of life. The consumerism aspect of everyones lives
would have to change, which would force people to recreate their lives into something that didnt
value materials and possessions over everything and everyone. Happiness is thought to be the
most valued emotion, but honestly, money seems to be more important. The economy is valued

more than the the people in this country. Society needs to adopt a different culture that seeks to
understand genuine, real happiness and how it can be achieved. The material lifestyle were
living needs to end, allowing emotions and the well-being of people to be raised to a higher
standard. The documentary I Am states We are made of mechanics, acting like machines. As a
nation, were obsessed with making robots, re-creating human intelligence, but weve done the
opposite. Weve turned humans into robots. Robots that dont know what happiness is. Currently,
I believe that no one really knows what will make them happy, they just know what society
thinks will make them happy. Happiness is losing meaning in current society, values are being
shifted to fit into the purely materialistic lifestyles of the people in this country. Society is
destroying happiness with each new consumeristic idea, we need to break out of this cycle, and
understand happiness for what is really is.