Pursuing Happiness Presentation

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Slide 1 Notes

According to current research (Bolt, 2004) a number of recommendations can be implemented in our lives in order to bring about increased happiness. Well-being vs. Well-off addresses the divide between economic gain and emotional gain. Next, Discovering Flow explains that happiness can be increased through mindful challenge rather than mindless achievement. Lastly, the section titled Find a Hobby  explains occupying free time with an activity that is both engaging and interesting can enhance happiness.  

In my life I have used all three to increase happiness in my life. I have found the pursuit of happiness to be a tricky ordeal, namely because it is difficult to know how happy an activity will make you until you perform it. I have always understood that money does not equal happiness. I have also felt flow several times in my life but never in relation to my occupation. Additionally I have always had hobbies. Some of which were very satisfying and some of which seem to only consume time. However I have benefited greatly from the strategies described in our text over the course of my life, as it pertains to the pursuit of happiness. 

Slide 2 Notes

It is possible to be wealthy and still not obtain happiness. Apparently the old maxim “You can’t buy happiness” is true. Stuff does not automatically equal psychological well-being. In fact, according to some research (Bolt, 2004) increased income actually leads to less self-actualization and lower vitality; whereas, emphasis on the pursuit of affiliation and physical fitness brought with it physical and psychological well-bring. As it turns out non-material activities such as hiking or just spending time with family help increase happiness much more than income related activities such as power boating or shopping. We have all seen the Priceless commercials by Mastercard. They help to illustrate one resounding central theme, namely that the point of money is not to bring about happiness but rather to take care of the expenses of life so that we have the opportunity to bring about happiness. 

When I was growing up my best friend was Robert Don Collins. We hung out all of the time, sleepovers and all. We talked about religion, philosophy, science, the big band theory; really whatever came to mind at the time. During those years growing up we frequently talked about income and how it would affect our lives. We both decided very young that we wanted to be poor, at least for part of our lives. We had both witnessed, although certainly not in our families, how money could affect people and their perspectives. We both understood the intrinsic evil in having money without having to work for it, without earning it doing something worthwhile. It was clear to us that true wealth had a lot more to do with our perception of money than the money itself. I fear we have both gotten our wish. He is now a preacher and works for free. He picks up minimum wage jobs on the side so that he can minister for free at churches. Imagine that, he has a master in divinity and he works for free. He apparently took our discussion quite literally. As for me, I have enjoyed my life below the poverty line up until this point. It has taught me to save, to spend money on necessities before wants, to tithe, to put my money where my mouth is. I fear I would have never learned these things without first being “poor”. To put it a different way, it is much easier to learn to save a dollar when a dollar is all you have.      

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Slide 4 Notes

This one truth has been explained through many different mediums, from City Slicker the movie to the Bible. The truth that I am referring to is this: to find that thing or set of things that make you happy and don’t worry about anything else. It seems like we Americans get caught as adults doing only things that we do not enjoy, things that must be done. We forget the wisdom of our forefathers, our religion, and our consciences. That is where flow comes into play. TV is rarely ever engaging and takes literally no concentration. Likewise, activities involving money such as shopping only last as long as income steadily increases due to the adaptive nature of humans. As our income grows so does our desire for additional and more expensive objects. As a result, finding those things which we can become fully engaged in, which require all of ourselves, is the only way to achieve flow in our daily activities. We must does those things which make us truly fulfilled to the exclusion of financial gain.

I have felt flow many times in my life. When I was young it was when I was playing outside. I remember that I could get lost for hours building sand castles or playing on the playground. When I entered adolescents it was reading. I loved to read. I could read a book so intently that literally the world would vanish. It is like when you wake up from a long sleep and it takes a second to remember where you are and why you are there. I would read straight through the night sometimes and only realize it when I had finished the whole book. I made it a point to take off my watch when I read. I didn’t want to know what time it was because it was time to read. When I entered young adulthood I lost the luxury of entering into flow. Right now I mostly do things that I have to. I have tried to enjoy my daily work. It is not the same though. I just wish I could have a job where all I did for a living was read. I guess that is why I want to be a teacher, eventually a college professor. There is a lot of reading involved in those jobs. A lot of applying what you have read into a lesson or a paper. Those are the types of activities I enjoy. So even though I do not enjoy much flow at the moment, except maybe my college work, I am working to get into a situation where I can.

Slide 5 Notes

Hobbies are sort of the culmination of both the first two slides. It would be nice if we could all make a living doing our favorite hobby, but alas we cannot. Therefore the only logical alternative in order to promote well-being and increase flow is to take up a hobby that satisfies our pursuit of happiness. Ideally hobbies should involve less monetary necessity and more involvement. It is not necessary that the hobby be cheap only that the hobby be engaging. In other words, don’t base the decision to pursue a hobby on financial concerns but rather on the level that it increases flow and well-being.

I have had many hobbies over my lifetime. When I was young it was baseball cards. I had albums full of them. It brought me such pride and enjoyment to show my parents the cards that I had. I can remember going to the store to get a becket in order to price my cards. Then when I entered adolescents it was reading. Particularly I used to love reading speculative physics. (i.e. superstring theory, theory of everything, how the universe began, etc…). It intrigued me to conceptualize how the universe began and the laws that govern it still today. As a young adult for a short time it turned to computer games. I have found it difficult to find games that fit my personality though. I have only found two: Homeworld and Stronghold. I have returned to reading as of late in a limited capacity. Mostly fiction because it is easy to pick up and put down. Hopefully some time in the future I will have time to revisit some of my most cherished hobbies.  

Slide 6 Notes

When I was reading this week’s text on happiness this film above all stuck out in my mind. In the film Will Smith is not trying to get a good job in order to have luxury. Quite the contrary, he only wishes to provide for him and his son in a way that will allow them to be happy. I think that is why the film is so moving. It is understood from the beginning that the goal is not monetary gain but the pursuit of true happiness.

Throughout my life I have used these three principles to moderate stress and bring peace and happiness into my life. At times my hobbies were all that got me through hard days. I knew that when I got off work I could come home and enjoy hours of unabated reading. It is that experience of flow through the mechanism of reading that I seek above all to rekindle. Furthermore, even when my income increases I will still exercise the principles I have acquired through the hard times in order to maintain perspective. In conclusion, the pursuit of happiness is the one true means by which no end is necessary.   

Slide 7 Notes

Bolt, M. (2004). Pursuing human strengths: A positive psychology guide. New York, NY: Worth.

Muccino, G. (Director). (2006). The Pursuit of Happiness [Motion Picture]. United States: Columbia Pictures. 


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