Understanding Happiness

Understanding Happiness

I don’t always agree 100% with his thoughts on happiness but the article below, by Prof Bob Cummins is well worth reading for anyone interested in happiness and associated issues.

Understanding happiness

By Bob Cummins

It is fashionable for writers and media commentators to discuss happiness. It was not always so.

When happiness was considered a mysterious, ephemeral state of mind, it was not worthy of serious consideration. But over the last few decades, science has begun to lift the veil of mystery, revealing happiness as an ordinary state of mind that can be studied and understood.

Perhaps the place to start this description is with the word itself. Happiness, like so many English words, is bothersome in having more than one meaning. To most people it means a fleeting emotion attached to a nice experience. Like a cup of tea on a hot day, or resting after a job well done. But most current research concerns something different.

The form of happiness I will describe is a mood, rather than an emotion. Whereas emotions are fleeting, moods are more stable. They represent a deep feeling state which is constantly present even if we lose contact with it sometimes. And this mood-happiness is what researchers commonly refer to as Subjective Wellbeing, but which I will continue to call happiness.

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