Pursuit of Happiness: What Makes a Person Happy - and Why

Overview

Who is happy--and why? With this seemingly simple question, social psychologist David G. Myers launches on a revealing exploration of happiness, a mission that goes beyond defining this elusive emotion to reveal just what we can do to achieve it. Along the way he discovers that happy people have a lot going for them: They are energetic, decisive, creative, social, trusting, loving, and responsive. They tolerate frustration well and are willing to help others. Even their immune systems function better than those ...
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Overview

Who is happy--and why? With this seemingly simple question, social psychologist David G. Myers launches on a revealing exploration of happiness, a mission that goes beyond defining this elusive emotion to reveal just what we can do to achieve it. Along the way he discovers that happy people have a lot going for them: They are energetic, decisive, creative, social, trusting, loving, and responsive. They tolerate frustration well and are willing to help others. Even their immune systems function better than those of unhappy people. Myers, who reviewed thousands of recent studies conducted worldwide in the course of researching The Pursuit of Happiness, asks (and answers) the important questions about the nature and value of happiness. Is happiness rare? Not as rare as you might think, although the percentage of happy people varies widely from one country to the next. Can money buy happiness? On the contrary, accumulation of wealth and self-focused individualism rarely produce well-being. Happiness depends more on our attitude toward the things we have than on having things. Does age affect happiness? Not necessarily; teens and elderly people report the same levels of happiness as people in the "prime" of their lives. But happy children do make happy adults. Are men happier than women? No; although women are more likely to be depressed than men, they are just as likely to be happy. When it comes to well-being, the sexes are equal. In short, Myers has found that objective life circumstances have little effect on well-being, and that recent discoveries continue to explode some of the popular myths about happiness and its more frequently studied counterpart, the avoidance of misery. He also identifies the four key inner traits that do bring about happiness and tells us how to trigger these traits and measure our own levels of satisfaction. With wit, kindness, and wisdom, Myers shows how we can promote our own happiness: What makes a happy marriage, the value of activ
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If there were a textbook on the subject of happiness, this would be it. Myers ( Social Psychology ) delves headlong into this little-documented topic, backing up his assertions with reference to wide-ranging research. His findings suggest that wealth, sex, age and race have little to do with overall life satisfaction. So, who is happy? According to Myers, people who are community-oriented, religious or spiritual, involved in work they enjoy (regardless of financial compensation) and rooted in long-term, stable relationships. How happy one is also depends on such character traits as optimism and extraversion and on conditions that foster the feeling that one has some control over life's circumstances. There is also much to be said, Myers contends, for ``putting on a happy face,'' because acting as though one were happy can lead to feeling so. Not a simplistic, formula-ridden ``positive thinking'' guide, the book bursts with thought-provoking, innovative material for the general reader and for students of social psychology as well. Illustrations not seen by PW . Author tour. (May)
School Library Journal
YA-- Meyer's book will be useful to serious scholars as well as students and other interested parties. It's well written, informative, and captures readers' interest by providing insight and provoking thought about this most-human topic. The author challenges readers to examine the nature of happiness and individuals' responsibility for their own well-being. This is a title that supports the curriculum for sociology, psychology, and peer counseling. Government students will also find the discussion of the correlation between national well-being and personal happiness to be of value. In terms of social-science materials, this title is a bonus.-- Nancy K. Craig, Robert E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688105501
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 331

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 13
About This Book 15
1 What is Well-being? 23
2 Wealth and Well-being 31
3 A Satisfied Mind 47
4 The Demography of Happiness 68
5 Reprogramming the Mind 87
6 The Traits of Happy People 105
7 "F]ow" in Work and Play 127
8 The Friendship Factor 142
9 Love and Marriage 155
10 Faith, Hope, and Joy 177
Epilogue 205
Notes 209
Bibliography 269
Index 313
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