Happiness is more than a good time

Emily Reise

[media-credit id=6 align=”alignleft” width=”212″]Happy Cartoon1[/media-credit]

Happiness may be the most sought after and elusive state of consciousness throughout history. The framers of our nation have made the pursuit of happiness a personal right. Some of the greatest philosophers in history have declared happiness the purpose of a human life. Scientists have found the concoction of chemicals released in the brain that leads to being happy. Even after these incredible realizations, there is still no concise way to find happiness. However, there are some steps students can take to increase their levels of happiness and improve their lives. A global survey on happiness is done by the Gallup-Healthways Index annually. The Gallup-Healthways Index pin points five categories that define human well-being. The five categories are: a sense of purpose, social relationships, financial situations, community involvement and physical health. The index then attempts to measure the well-being and happiness of a country. “The United States saw a drop in its ranking, falling from the No. 12 spot in 2013 to the No. 23 spot in 2014,” The interpreters of the data had said. “However, there was only a small absolute change in the country’s well-being score—it dropped from having 33 percent of its residents thriving in three or more aspects of well-being in 2013 to 30 percent in 2014.” Many students think happiness is an action. They may interpret being happy as lying on a beach or eating popcorn and binge watching Netflix. Aristotle however defines happiness as an end goal and even the entire purpose of an ideal human life. “He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life.” Aristotle states in his work “Nicomachean Ethics.” Aristotle’s theory claims that a temporary form of happiness will not make a person happy. Instead, having lifelong relationships, helping others, doing what a person is passionate about and gaining knowledge is instead more worthy to invest time in if a person is trying to yield happiness. Glennon Doyle Melton, author of “Carry on Warrior,” poses an interesting view on happiness. She acknowledges that life is a beautiful mess. Most college students can agree with this. They often find themselves in stressful environments especially around finals week. Students who are crunched for time may look for a temporary release from their stress. Some may turn to alcohol or drugs after a long week because they are a short-term escape from their busy mind and worrying problems. Melton confronts this issue in her book. Melton theorizes that everyone has the thirst for something that is not innately distilled within themselves, describing this unfulfillment as having holes. When the holes are filled, the person is happy, and when they are empty, it provokes sadness or loneliness. Some fill these holes up with temporary things such as alcohol. She filled hers for twenty years with alcohol. Melton explains that some of these temporary things fill the holes for a short while, but after substances fade one feels even worse. She urges people to find what lights a fire within them and replace fear and doubt with a driving passion. Happiness does not only depend on what a person values and spends time on. Changing views on life,and attitude can also lead to a happier life. Author of “Eat Pray Love,” Elizabeth Gilbert has a great insight on this notion. “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day,” Gilbert says. “This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.” It is hard for most to break old habits or change their outlook on life and attitude. However, making little changes to everyday life can make a drastic change on someone’s quality of life. People worldwide have been participating in happiness projects. A happiness project is an approach to changing one’s life. Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” recorded her project for over a year. “Look for happiness under your own roof,” Rubin says. She did not take a trip around the world like most of the happiness project participants do. She demonstrated that students can change their life solely by changing their outlooks and values. First, she wrote about what gave her joy and what gave her resentment. From there she came up with 12 areas of her life she wanted to improve. Some of her goals were to make time for friends, aim higher, remember love, lighten up and pursue a passion. Each month she dedicated the entire month to improving one of these areas. “It’s about living in the moment and appreciating the smallest things,” Rubin said. “Surrounding yourself with the things that inspire you and letting go of the obsessions that want to take over your mind. It is a daily struggle sometimes and hard work but happiness begins with your own attitude and how you look at the world.” Rubin stresses in her book that happiness projects and life changes can assist people in improving their happiness. However, it should also be stressed that it is okay to reach out for other resources. Fortunately for the students of UW Oshkosh, they are equipped with counselors and a therapy dog at the Student Success Center. Here, students can enhance abilities to grow and succeed in both their personal and academic life. Students are capable of bettering their quality of life by enhancing their attitude, values, and perspective of the world. Making a happiness project does not have to be complicated. Students should pick a few things they want to change about their life and focus on accomplishing that. Achieving this will make an incredible impact on a person’s life. Striving towards happiness has the potential to make one a better friend, student, family member and co-worker.