Happiness Essay: What Is Happiness and What Is Not

Students are frequently asked to write essays in a psychology course and a happiness essay is a great choice to write about. Every human has though about what the happiness is and how to reach it. Many scientists have worked on this question and received a great amount of observations and conclusions. Our writers have analyzed literature on this topic and have written an essay about happiness that you can read below.

essay about happiness


What is happiness? It is a topical issue for any person. But what can be considered as happiness? Many say that happiness has unique features for each person, but still there are millions of people that consider themselves unhappy. The answer is obvious – most people do not understand what happiness is, and did not even try to understand this issue properly.

What do scientists think about this? How do they define the term of happiness? In fact, the feeling of happiness is a whole complex of different emotions, experiences, and sensations. The feeling of happiness is subjective for every person. However, there are some common features. For example, American scientists treat happiness as an experience of pleasure and meaning, and add a third component – a sense of belonging and participation in public activities. In other words, we are happy when we are in a good mood, and we are enjoying ourselves, we are aware of our belonging to something or someone (the world, a group of people), and also feel that “we are living a good life.” Modern studies in personality psychology often use the term “subjective well-being” as a synonym for happiness. Subjective well-being is a positive assessment of one’s own life, a balance of emotions with a preponderance of positive ones.

According to Gestalt psychology, it is believed that a sense of happiness comes when a person has the ability to live “here and now,” which means to live all the emotions and feelings that arise at a given moment. At these moments a person acquires a feeling of fullness, a sense of meaningfulness, and the joy of realizing himself and the world around him.

Happiness is a complicated art and is more difficult than making big money or becoming a popular specialist in any complex profession. It is about the soul of a person and his inner world.

1. Subjective view on happiness.

Happiness is more about the subjective view. Sociologists have already conducted a wide range of studies devoted to studying happiness among people from the most disadvantaged social groups. This category included people with severe incurable diseases, “as well as the disabled, homeless, unemployed, and representatives of the underclass. Scientists interviewed people who live in extremely unfavorable natural conditions: Greenland Eskimos, Masai in the jungles of Kenya, and street prostitutes in India. It was expected that they and have low ratings of their satisfaction with life. But it turned out that the overwhelming majority had a positive balance and people who felt unhappy were a minority even in these groups.

German psychologist Ursula Staudinger said about the “paradox of subjective well-being”: people can be happy regardless of obvious reasons for this (Staudinger, 2015, p. 187) American psychologists Sonja Lubomirsky and Ken Sheldon summarized the results of various studies and formulated a model known as the “pie chart.” The chart is divided into three unequal parts, representing three groups of factors that determine individual differences in the assessment of people’s own subjective well-being or happiness (Lyubomirsky et al, 2005, p. 111).

The first group consists of external factors (circumstances) that do not depend on us, and conditions by which we were fortunate or unlucky to be born and live and they have 10% of overall factors.

The second group consists of the factors associated with a stable personality (intentional activity). There are people who are happy because of their character. Nothing can take them out of a positive state. But there are unhappy people, like the donkey Eeyore. Nothing can make them happy. This factor have 40% in chart.

The third group consists of set points that we are able to change. These are our goals, which we set and achieve, and relationships that we build with other people. This group has the majority – 50% from the overall factors.

It turned out that this research breaks stereotypes and the dominating factor is not what was usually suggested. External factors associated with geography, social conditions, security, and education take only 10-12% of individual differences in the happiness level. It depends less on them than it may seem.

happiness essay

2. Experimental studies of happiness.

There is another approach, according to which a happy person is one who feels to be so. In this case, happiness is understood as a certain emotional state, which is sometimes described as an optimal experience. In the last 30-40 years, experimental psychological studies of happiness have considered mass surveys around the world. Researchers state that over the past 30 years we have learned about happiness more than in the previous 2000 years after Aristotle.

Experimental studies began with the fact that psychologists gathered all the indirect data, as well as the stereotypes about happiness and developed evaluation methods. Studies have shown that only half of the data that was considered obvious is true. For example, it was believed that young people are happier than the elderly. It turned out that happiness is not related to age. Young people have more intense positive emotions, but also more intense negative emotions. And the total balance of positive and negative emotions is not related to age. Approximately the same situation existed with the sexes. Women are both happier and more unhappy. They have more positive emotions than men, and more negative emotions. But in general everything is balanced.

The level of happiness depends on the general qualities of a person – the temperament and character. Some scientists wrote that happiness depends upon genetic factors by 50%, that is, the psychological characteristics of our biological parents. But the data shows that this is not quite true. Epigenetic studies say that studies on the relationship of genetic factors and causes with environmental factors suggest that the effect of these factors can vary from 10 to 40%. However, there is no one or two major genes that affect subjective well-being.

3. Evaluation of happiness.

It can be said that happiness is something that can’t be measured. Despite this dilemma, scientists work hard to find the key points that can indicate the level of a person’s happiness.

One of the easiest ways to assess a person’s level of happiness was offered by psychologist Ed Diener. Using the scale from 1 to 7, the person should express the degree of agreement with each of the five statements below. To receive more accurate results, one should answer honestly and frankly.

  1. In many respects, my life is close to my ideal.
  2. The circumstances of my life are beautiful.
  3. I am satisfied with my life.
  4. I have something in my life that I really need.
  5.  If I could live my life anew, I would change almost nothing.

To get the overall result, sum all points: it should be between 5 and 35 points. This test shows how a person is satisfied with his or her life. The score of 15 to 25 is considered average and a result with less than 14 means that person’s satisfaction with life is below average. The result between 26 and 35 indicates that person is most likely to be very happy with life.

The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire was originally created for internal use at the Department of Experimental Psychology of Oxford University, then tested on people from different cultures, and improved. Also this method is effective for self-examination as it gives a precise representation of how much a person feels good or bad. In scientific research it has been established that happiness is a single factor of human experience, however, it consists of at least three, partly independent factors: satisfaction with life, positive emotions, and absence of negative emotions.
A person needs to express an attitude to the following statements, giving 1 point (absolutely disagree) to 5 points (completely agree).

  1. I’m incredibly happy.
  2. I think the future is full of hopes and prospects.
  3. I am completely satisfied with everything in my life.
  4. I think I completely control all aspects of my life.
  5. I feel that life is overflowing with gifts.
  6. I am delighted with my life.
  7. I always influence life in the direction that is right for me.
  8. I love life.
  9. I am extremely interested in other people.
  10. I easily accept any decisions.
  11. I am able to take on any business.
  12. I always wake up rested.
  13. The whole world seems to me beautiful.
  14. I think that my liveliness is peculiar.
  15. I feel absolutely healthy.
  16. I like people.
  17. All that happened to me in the past seems to me happy.
  18.  I am in high spirits all the time.
  19. I get everything I ever wanted.
  20. I manage to do everything I want to do.
  21. I’m always having fun when I’m surrounded by people.
  22. I always encourage others.
  23. My life is full of meaning.
  24. I always feel involved in everything that is happening around.
  25. In my opinion, the world is a beautiful place.

To receive a result, sum up the points from 1 to 5 that from each statement. The total number of points is divided by 125 (the maximum number of points in case of full agreement with each statement). The resulting number, for example, 0.67, must be multiplied by ten. The result means (as a percentage of the hypothetical maximum) how happy you are.


1. Staudinger, U.M. (2015). Images of aging: Outside and inside perspectives. Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 35(1), 187-210.
2. Lyubomirsky S., Kennon M. S., & Schkade D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology 9(2): 111-31.

N.B. Please consider the fact that this piece of writing was created to show how an essay about happiness should be written. Any piece of text that you will copy to your own essay may be considered as plagiarism by your tutor, so use this text as a source of inspiration and information.
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