Science of Happiness

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  • #1
wolram
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How would you define happiness,
 

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  • #2
phinds
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How would you define happiness,
Having enough chocolate.

Uh ... your thread title is "SCIENCE" of happiness. That's just silly.
 
  • #4
donpacino
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well, determine what external stimulus produces endorphin, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine for your particular body. Then ensure you get enough of that stimulus.
 
  • #5
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How would you define happiness,
IMO, "science of happiness" is oxymoronic. The concept of happiness is too subjective to be considered on a scientific basis. For example, a friend of mine and I frequently go for long hikes in the wilderness of Olympic National Park in Washington State. We joke that our idea of a fun vacation would be many others' idea of hellish torment.
 
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IMO, "science of happiness" is oxymoronic. The concept of happiness is too subjective to be considered on a scientific basis. For example, a friend of mine and I frequently go for long hikes in the wilderness of Olympic National Park in Washington State. We joke that our idea of a fun vacation would be many others' idea of hellish torment.
But specific examples shouldn’t be part of a concept anyway. Basically explore different things in life and do what makes you feel good. :D
 
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But specific examples shouldn’t be part of a concept anyway.
My example shows why a scientific definition of happiness is problematic. Specific examples are used all the time in mathematics and other disciplines, to provide counterexamples to overly broad statements.

If you're trying to prove that some statement is true, no amount of specific examples can do this, but takes only a single well-chosen counterexample to prove that some statement isn't true in general.

I don't think the term "science of happiness" is meaningful, as two different people can have wildly different views on what makes them happy -- at least in terms of external stimuli. Possibly it makes more sense if you look at things on the glandular or hormonal level, as @donpacino suggests.
 
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  • #8
wolram
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I was thinking more of this.
https://my.happify.com/hd/what-is-happiness-anyway/

Skeptics have often asked whether a person who uses cocaine every day is “happy.” If feeling good all the time were our only requirement, then the answer would be “yes.” However, recent research suggests that an even-keeled mood is more psychologically healthy than a mood in which you achieve great heights of happiness regularly—after all, what goes up must come down. Furthermore, when you ask people what makes their lives worth living, they rarely say anything about their mood. They are more likely to cite things that they find meaningful, such as their work or relationships. Recent research even suggests that if you focus too much on trying to feel good all the time, you’ll actually undermine your ability to feel good at all—in other words, no amount of feeling good will be satisfying to you, since what you expect (all the time) isn’t physically possible for most people.
 
  • #9
strangerep
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Hmm. No amateur psychologists here? OK...

I hesititate to call psychology a "science" (see below for reasons), but perhaps that's just because so-called "positive psychology" is a science still in its infancy.

I certainly wouldn't call "science of happiness" silly or oxymoronic -- there's a large amount of research about happiness, its definition(s), and its contributing/correlative factors. Indeed, I've recently been reading a 4th-yr psych student's honours thesis which is essentially a study on the correlations between "gratitude" and "happiness" as part of a larger team project, and to what extent the correlation is direct, or mediated through social relationships.

There's a distinction between hedonic happiness (associated with pleasure attainment and pain avoidance), and eudaimonic happiness which involves having an engaged, meaningful and fulfilling life of self-realization (though these terms still seem too imperfectly defined for me to call it "science").

See also: eudaimonic well-being.

Otoh, it can be argued (by people with a strong background in formal philosophy, not just psychology) that some of the propositions underpinning this "science" are in fact knowable a-priori, and hence studies that purport to prove the propositions are not empirical, but merely illustrative of a correlation that could have been deduced by logical reasoning within the propositions. (I hesitate to post a link to that here, since it's very philosophical.)
 
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epenguin
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Wolram's post and the thread called to mind that I have heard and cannot vouch for it on basis of own reading that, for instance, Aristotle had no concept of happiness and would not have known what you mean by it.

Nor by the look of it does it have much place in many oriental philosophies or life aims. Nirvana is not the same in as happiness. Purpose of life is execution of your duties it seems in many cultures. Serving your Lord, your cause, your group, tribe, family, God,... Whereas we have also this duty to be happy and then are often unhappy because we fail, we might be more happy if we didn't have to be, though then we wouldn't know it. In fact we often don't know it - happiness you realise more afterwards and looking back.

Another quality of happiness was surely well captured in the Declaration of Independence - the pursuit of happiness. The author (?) is not guaranteeing nor sounding optimistic about your chances of catching it, but saying you should be free to pursue it. In somewhat the same spirit wealth does not bring happiness, but another sage, Spike Milligan, quipped that all he asked was a chance to prove it.

Just after having entertained these impressionistic conjectures and not having executed my minor duty of communicating them, I came across as I often do when I start thinking of anything, the revelation that it is a well worn theme, and Wolram and others might find interesting a book reviewed in today's Economist. https://www.economist.com/news/book...stfulness-midlife-will-make-readers-think-and.

Ah, I often think, so little time, so many book reviews to read! But it seems the book tries to deal with similar thoughts too.
 
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  • #11
Buzz Bloom
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I remember a maxim from somewhere I don't remember.
Happiness is not a destination, but a road traveled.​
 

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