The Secret to Happiness
Quality of life (QoL) is an ill-defined term. The World Health Organization (WHO, 1948) has declared health to be a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease . Many other definitions of both health and quality of life have been attempted, often linking the two and, for QoL, frequently emphasising components of happiness and satisfaction with life. In the absence of any universally accepted definition, some investigators argue that most people, in the western world at least, are familiar with the expression quality of life and have an intuitive understanding of what it comprises.
One of the earliest references that impinges upon a definition of QoL appears in the Nichomachean Ethics, when Aristotle (384-322BC) noted that Both the multitude and persons of refinement . . . conceive 'the good life' or 'doing well' to be the same thing as 'being happy'. But what constitutes happiness is a matter of dispute . . . some say one thing and some another, indeed very often the same man says different things at different times when he falls sick he thinks health is happiness, when he is poor, wealth. The Greek cvdxiftoviy. is commonly translated as happiness although Harris Rackham, the translator that we cite, noted in 1926 that a more accurate rendering would embrace well-being , with Aristotle denoting by svdoii xovioi both a state of feeling and a kind of activity. In modern parlance, this is assuredly quality of life. Although the term quality of life did not exist in the Greek language of 2000 years ago, Aristotle clearly appreciated that QoL not only means...
Typically, social scientists prefer the concept of behavioral altruism, which refers to the costly act of conferring benefits (economic, psychological, etc.) to other individuals (Fehr & Fischbacher, 2003). It is not clear what governs this kind of behavior. However, the social value of cooperative behavior in economic and political contexts is without doubt (see Wichardt, 2005). Behavioral altruism, as does any exchange, involves social interaction. It is widely acknowledged that utility in terms of individual life satisfaction or happiness is at least in part derived through favorable social interpersonal or intergroup comparisons. In other words, ego utility is derived through status (see Frank, 1985 Frey & Stutzer, 2002 Layard, 2005). Prominent theories of altruism provide a purely selfish motivation for human altruism (Wichardt, 2005), which is based on personal status seeking. Indeed, prosocial behavior seems typically driven by concerns for...
Fromm studied the effects of political, economic, and religious institutions on human personality. Fromm's work provides powerful insight into the causes of human unhap-piness and psychopathology as well as ideas about how individuals and social institutions could change to maximize mental health and happiness.
Additionally, Fromm was very much influenced by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, by existential philosophy, and by the economic and social psychological ideas of Karl Marx. Fromm's use of adaptation in the service of survival to define personality is derived from basic evolutionary theory. His analysis of the sources of human anxiety, especially the awareness of death and perception of isolation and aloneness, is extracted from existential philosophy. The notion that human happiness requires productive love and work and that capitalism is antithetical to mental health was originally proposed by Marx. Fromm's work has never received the attention that it deserves in America because of his open affinity for some of Marx's ideas and his insistence that economic change is utterly necessary to ameliorate the unhappiness and mental illness that pervade American society. Nevertheless, his ideas are vitally important from both a theoretical and practical perspective.
Generic instruments were the first to be developed. In the first phase of health-related quality of life research in the 1970s and early 1980s, already available psychological well-being scales were used or new ones were specifically developed for this purpose. This was in accordance with the main theoretical orientation of equating quality of life with subjective well-being. Examples are the Affect Balance Scale (ABS) by Bradburn 50 , the Quality of Well-Being Scale (QWBS) by Kaplan et al. 51 and the Psychological General Well-Being Index (PGWB) by DuPuy 52 . This particular development has connections to the happiness research'' tradition within psychology, where well-being is discussed not only in terms of the absence of negative factors (like depressed mood), but as a positive concept 31, 53 see also 30,46 . The use of these instruments in psychiatric patients is highly problematic, as will be discussed below.
On Lok SeniorHealth, which is located in San Francisco, provides a program of all-inclusive care for the elderly that is intended to optimize each patient's quality of life, sense of independence, and physical and cognitive function and to maintain the patients in their communities and homes. (On lok means place of peace and happiness in Cantonese.) A standard assessment of physical and mental health and social functioning is completed on enrollment to determine the services best suited to meet patient and family needs. All patient information is entered into a computer system, where it can be accessed by interdisciplinary staff. The information system is used to document care, transmit medication orders to local pharmacies, and ensure feedback of performance measures to staff members.
Sonni's departure also signaled the end of financial support for both she and Karen. It is at least arguable that in addition to fears of being left on the shelf, Sonni had married Berndt Danielsen for his money. It is clear that at least at the end of her marriage, she had no financial resources of her own. To make ends meet after Sonni left her husband, she began to take in boarders and Karen began to tutor. Her parent's separation made Karen increasingly conscious that the mother she had defended all of her life might not be a model of perfection after all. Earlier, Karen had made cutting remarks about her father, saying that mother is our greatest happiness and we are so unspeakably happy when you are not here. Karen now began to describe Sonni as depressed, irritable, and domineering. Karen quickly became involved with one of her mother's boarders, a man only referred to as Ernst. With equal speed, Sonni made it known to her daughter that she did not approve. This led to even...
Barge-Schaapveld et al. 30 have traced these three components back to three main research traditions. Well-being and satisfaction are rooted in psychology, more specifically in happiness research , which appeared first in the 1950s 31 . The component of functioning goes back to health status research developed by social medicine and health sociologists in the 1970s, which aimed at assessing the effect of an illness and its consequent therapy upon the patient's functioning in daily life circumstances 32 . The component of environmental resources can be traced back to social indicator research, developed in the 1960s and 1970s by economists and sociologists who were studying inequalities between different groups within a given society and also between different societies 33 .
By the 1920s, the field of psychology had already captured the public's attention. Given Watson's charisma, personal charm, persuasiveness, and message of hope, Americans were enthralled by what one writer called an outbreak of psychology. Much of the public was convinced that psychology provided a path to health, happiness, and prosperity. Psychological advice columns sprouted up in the pages of the daily newspapers. Watson's behaviorism was the first stage in the evolution of the behavioral school of thought. The second stage, sometimes referred to as neobehav-iorism, can be dated from about 1930 to about 1960 and includes the work of Edward Tolman, Clark Hull, and B. F. Skinner.
The limbic system is the label that applies to regions of the diencephalon such as the thalamus and hypothalamus that are associated with behaviors such as emotions, learning, and sexual behavior. Stimulation of various areas within the limbic system during surgery has resulted in the patient feeling a variety of conflicting emotions, such as happiness and pleasure or fear and depression, depending upon the area being tested.
A student came to Nisargadatta Maharaj and said, I want to be happy. Maharaj replied, That's nonsense happiness is where the I isn't. He was saying that happiness exists at the implicate level where there is no consciousness just emptiness which knows no distinctions or a separate I separation.
In a subsequent study, Damasio 16 hypothesized that emotions precede feelings in that the former appear earlier in the course of evolution. Damasio suggests that the mental processes are based on maps of the body present in the brain in the form of neural configurations that represent the responses to events that elicit emotions and feelings. He distinguishes primary or fundamental emotions, which include fear, anger, happiness and sadness, from social emotions, which include embarrassment, guilt, jeal
Of course, not all of Terman's Termites achieved happiness and success as adults. For example, the study included two half-sisters raised by the same mother, both of whom went to college at Stanford University. One became well-known as a freelance writer. The other died of alcoholism. Terman's study showed that high IQ was helpful in adulthood, but, by itself, it was clearly no guarantee of the good life. Among the personal traits that seemed to be associated with adult success were the ability to set goals and the perseverance to achieve them. In addition, a stable marriage and a satisfying job also were related to happiness as an adult. If nothing else, then, the study underscored the fact that people with high IQs have basically the same needs and desires as everyone else. At best, they may just have a running start at fulfilling those needs.
Research by Judith Rodin and others has shown that interventions designed to increase the predictability of and perceived control over a stressful event can have dramatic effects on stress and health. In one control-enhancing intervention study, nursing home residents were told by the hospital administrator to take responsibility for themselves, were asked to decide what activities in which to participate, and were told what decisions for which they were responsible. Patients who received the control-enhancing intervention reported being happier in the nursing home, and the death rate was half of that among nursing home residents who were told that it was the staff's responsibility to care for them. Rodin's research has been replicated by other researchers. More intensive stress reduction interventions have even been shown to increase survival rates among patients with breast cancer.
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