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Darlene Gomez

Professor Beadle

ESW 113A

22 June 2019

The Pursuit of Happiness

Today everyone is obsessed with the notion of “The Pursuit of Happiness”,

regardless everyone has a different way they perceive and acquire their own happiness. In

the articles “What Suffering Does” by David Brooks, “Living with Less. A Lot Less.” by

Graham Hill, and “How Happy Are You and Why?” by Sonja Lyumomirsky, each author

writes about how happiness comes from within, but they all have different strategies on

how to obtain happiness.

The three authors write their argument about their own representation of

happiness. David Brooks a journalist and the author of the article opinion piece “What

Suffering Does”, argues that most people feel defined by their traumatic experiences and

feel as if they are undeserving of happiness. Individuals who suffer come out

traumatized, nevertheless he argues that some people can’t distinguish their suffering as it

is perceived by them as happiness. Graham Hills is a wealthy entreprepreneur, designer,

and journalist . In his article “Living with Less. A Lot Less.”,he argues that the less

consumption of materialistic items and a decluttered space the happier one will be. Sonja

Lyumbomirsky the author of “How Happy You Are and Why?”, is a Social Psychologist
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and undertakes many experiments on happiness. Lyubomirsky argues that happiness isn’t

obtained by trying to “find it” or by changing our circumstances, it is purely a state of

mind and the way you perceive the world, your intention activity and genetic material.

The authors have their own representations of happiness in their arguments,

however all three arguments have a common theme and that is how happiness comes

from within. David Brooks argues that suffering to a certain extent is self-inflicted, he

argues that suffering exposes one to a part of their human psyche they were never aware

of prior to the trauma he says “The theologian Paul Tillich wrote that people who endure

suffering are taken beneath the routines of life and find they are not who they believed

themselves to be.”(Brooks 285), the trauma is internalized and causes a sense of

depersonalization and the individual ends up feeling undeserving of happiness. But, our

subconscious mind will make this reality and the person will truly be unhappy. They are

used to the suffering and will keep coming back to it as suffering becomes their

perception of happiness. Happiness and suffering are both self-inflicted, they’re inflicted

by an individual's unconscious and conscious thinking patterns. Like Brooks, Sonja

Lyubomirsky argues that happiness comes from within, it is a self-infliction. Lyubmirsky

would agree with Brooks that you are the only one sabotaging yourself from the happiest

you can possibly be. Lyubomirsky says “In a nutshell, the fountain of happiness can be

found in how you behave, what you think, and what goals you set everyday of your

life.”(Lyubomirsky 196).You can be happy as long as your intention activity on the daily

is set on goals for you to become happy by changing your negative thinking and
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behavioral patterns. Graham Hill and Lyubomirsky both argue that no external

commodity can truly make you happy ultimately happiness resides within. In the article

Sonja Lyubomirsky says “If you’re not happy today, then you won’t be happy tomorrow

unless you take things into your own hands and take action.”(Lyubomirsky 185) no

external commodities or a change in your circumstances will make you happy, if you are

unhappy with your present circumstances, you then will still be unhappy even if you get

everything you’ve ever wanted. Graham Hill also agrees with this notion, he says that his

life was redundantly complex because he associated his excessive consumption of

materialistic items with his own personal happiness. Consequently, Hill began to feel

numb after a while. Graham Hill says “Often, material objects take up mental as well as

physical space.”(Hill 312). The reality is that external commodities and they will not

bring you eternal happiness, but what they will bring you is stress as they are still a

responsibility. Eternal happiness resides within you, you just need to be more aware of

your thinking patterns and toxic habitual behavior.

Even though they argue that happiness comes from within, they don’t have

different game plans on how to be happy. In Sonja Lyubomirsky argument she has

different tactics on how to be happy. Lyubomirsky brings up a fascinating point that

influence of your genetic material is responsible for your happiness set point which

accounts for 50% of your overall happiness. The other 50% are divided into your

intentional activity which is 40%, and the remaining 10% is your circumstances.

However, the good thing is that 40% of the intentional activity is free for us to form so
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we are not doomed by our genetic predisposition. David Brooks is the only author from

all the articles to write about the impact of traumas and suffering and how it correlates to

happiness. Some feel defined by their traumas and unworthy of happiness. Brooks

believes that people who find happiness in their suffering will keep throwing themselves

into situations/relationships that make them suffer as this is the happiness they believe

that they deserve. Brooks argues the suffering aspect of happiness as opposed to Sonja

Lyubomirsky and Graham Hill. Graham Hill’s argument is that you will not be

authentically happy in finding happiness within purchasing material items. Graham Hill

is the only one out of all the authors who writes about his own experience. Hill

understands that happiness doesn’t come from commodities, but he also doesn’t view the

suffering or impact of traumas like Brooks does or view the holistic approach like

Lyubomirsky’s approach to happiness

Although Brooks, Hills, and Lyubomirsky have the similar theme that happiness

resides and comes from within, they have very contrasting views on happiness and how

to obtain this happiness. They all agree that happiness comes from within whether you be

happy by being inspired by a goal of some sort, whether you choose to live a minimalist

lifestyle.It is important do your everyday tasks with appreciation and it is important to

understand the power of your mind and be very careful of any harmful cogitation.

Happiness has to come from within, so learning to understand and control negative

thinking or negative behavioral patterns is extremely important. The differences of the

arguments in the authors articles is that Sonja Lyubomirsky argue the more holistic side
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of happiness, while Graham Hill’s only argues that external commodities won’t bring

happiness to one’s life, and David Brooks only sees the suffering and the impact that it

has on one’s happiness.

Works Cited

Brooks, David. “What Suffering Does.” Pursuing Happiness, edited by Matthew

Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford St. Martin’s, 2016, pp.284-287.

Hill, Graham. “Living with Less. A Lot Less.” Pursuing Happiness, edited by

Matthew Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford St. Martin’s, 2016, pp.308-313.

Lyubomirsky, Sonja. “How Happy Are You and Why?” Pursuing Happiness, edited by

Matthew Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford St. Martin’s, 2016, pp. 179-197.