The Existence of Happiness Happiness, the intangible emotion that we all desire. Is there proof that this emotion even exists? Eduardo Porter has written an essay titled “What Happiness Is”. In this essay Mr. Porter took the time to study the emotion of happiness that we all experience in life. He makes an attempt to question not only his reasons as to why he is happy, but to have the reader question their own sense of happiness as well. What is it that makes us feel joyful emotions, and how can vastly different experiences cause us to feel the same emotion that we call happiness?
While searching for the proof of this feeling Eduardo Porter reflects upon his own personal experiences, professional studies and ultimately decides that his questions may never be answered. Porter states that, “most psychologists and economists who study happiness agree that what they prefer to call “subjective well-being” comprises three parts: satisfaction, meant to capture how people judge their lives measured up against their aspirations; positive feelings like joy; and the absence of negative feelings like anger. ” This is an important analysis of how we form the idea of how joyful we actually are.
Something in life that one person might be ashamed of could improve the level of cheerfulness for another person. For example, the thought of getting a tattoo might cause one individual to feel guilt while another individual might feel pleasure at the same thought. Because there is no definitive formula that provides a calculated experience of happiness for everyone, it is interesting to question what actions or lack thereof in our lives cause us to be cheerful or to lose some of the happiness that we have already gained.
The organization of this essay was well thought out and effective. The author opens with the statement, “Happiness is a slippery concept, a bundle of meaning with no precise, stable definition. ” This opening statement provokes the reader to question their own beliefs in what brings them joy and provides further interest in the topic due to the lack of confidence Porter portrays in finding answers. He then proceeds to share a few studies about happiness and his own idea of what makes him feel these emotions.
He incorporates theories from well-known and educated thinkers about what makes humans happy. Sigmund Freud argued that humans, “strive after happiness; they want to become happy and to remain so. ” Gandhi proposed that, “happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ” These analyses provide the reader with a starting point for questioning and answering those questions based on a professional thought process and breakdown of happiness. With these theories in mind the reader can look at their own life to help decide what actually makes them happy.
Based on his professional study of this subject Porter also interjects his own reasoning for experiencing glee in life. Eduardo states that “Happiness relates directly to objective measures of people’s quality of life. ” Porter believed that the more joy someone experienced in their life the better their life would be. Porter simplifies his writing so that the reader is able to assess their level of happiness from a loosely defined point of view, so that the average person has a means of tackling a difficult question.
This is an important concept. The way Porter addresses happiness allows the reader to feel like they have the ability to ask the same questions about their own life and in doing so gain their own perspective into what it means for them to be happy. Throughout this essay Porter’s tone is of a pondering mindset regarding happiness, backed by personal experiences as well as professional study. This demonstrates that his interest level in what makes people feel positive emotion was strong enough to spend time to search for these answers.
This had a positive influence on his readers; a large majority of individuals can relate to this topic and explore it for themselves. Most people strive for more happiness in their life, but fail to question what is actually making them or not making them happy in the first place. The essay makes you question if you have attempted to search for these answers in your own life. And if you are not happy – then why have you not questioned and searched for these answers?
If you have asked these questions, why are you still feeling the same emotions that you wish to change, what changes have you not made? Porter also uses multiple economic reasons as a means of translating how much or how little happiness individuals can achieve. Along with many economists, Porter believes that in our modern time our search for more happiness co-exists with our desire and search for more money. We believe achieving a greater status in society, and receiving more money along with that level of status will make us truly happy.
Our attempt in reaching these goals can have a negative effect, because the majority of people do not actually know what it is they want from life when this status is reached. Therefore, we as individuals may never achieve the level of joy we are searching for. After reading this essay you question what it is that you actually want out of life. If you do know, are you taking the right steps to achieve your goals? After reading Eduardo Porter’s take on why and what makes humans happy, many questions are left unanswered.
Porter achieved his goal of interjecting multiple professional studies of what happiness is, as well as introducing his beliefs about this emotion as it relates to his life. This in turn makes his readers question their own emotional situations. What makes them happy? Most individuals would agree that the topic of this essay is, and has been, a pertinent question for as far back as we can remember. Porter knew that everyone at one point in time felt some form of happiness, and the actions that cause people to feel happy are completely different from one person to the next.
Porter’s search for the definition and reason behind happiness are still unanswered questions, and most likely will remain this way, because it’s impossible to be universally define happiness. It’s also impossible to give just one reason as to why someone is happy or not. Joy is intangible; it is not measurable by a bank account or a status in society. Still we strive to feel it and achieve more of it, but we will never have a universal definition as to what this emotion actually is. We can only hope to increase its experience in our own lives.
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