Study Questions for Happiness Summer 2007

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May 21

Define and distinquish "state happiness" and "life happiness".

This is my answer for this question - Alfino

"State Happiness" can be described as someone's current happiness level on a scale from 1 to 8.

"Life Happiness" can be described as someone's overall happiness level on a scale from 1 to 8 throughout their lifetime. - Broc

When taking a look at “state happiness” from the discussion in class we looked at it on a scale ranging from zero to eight. It refers to the amount of happiness you are feeling at a particular moment in time rather than looking at happiness throughout a longer period of time which is referred to as “life happiness”. “Life happiness deals with long term accomplishments, or amount of or lack of happiness you feel based on your entire experience throughout your life.- Ellen C.

Many philosophers have different theories and ideas in how to achieve happiness. Since this is the case, we basically try to derive our own theory in our subjective meaning of achieving our own happiness in our lives. There are two main theories in which much debate has been held, many of these theories are based on either “state happiness” or “life happiness.” State happiness is when one can base their state of being (or happiness) from their current conditions. These states can be a wide arrangement of times from an exact moment, a day, a week, a month, or even a year. This theory is basically basing ones level of happiness on their “states” of being throughout their life. Most of the time people exert energy and time to achieve these states because they are constantly doing whatever they can in order to be happy in the moment. One question I thought of when looking at this idea is that since one is trying to be happy all of the time or does whatever will make them happy in their state of being, wouldn’t these people be in a sense a selfish only looking out for their own interest? I also thought; Aren’t these people missing out on the meaning of life in that they are not experiencing the things that come along in life that are normal such as going through trials, grieving, etc. I feel that these parts of the normal human life are essential in finding true happiness. In the scheme of things we are all ultimately trying to achieve happiness but sometimes those moments of hardship are beautiful because it shows all the different emotions people go through. “Life happiness” on the other hand, is when one is basing their happiness on a long term basis, not focusing on the now so much, but instead looking over their life so far in saying ‘hey, I have had it pretty good’ or ‘hey, I have had it pretty bad.’ I feel this theory is much more worthy of basing ones happiness on because here one is looking at a bigger picture, allowing for a look outside the box of ‘right now,’ this is much more rich in thinking and allows for a better perspective on the true meaning of your feelings, opinions, happiness, etc. A little example of this in my own life (and in others I presume) is when I say in the moment that I hate something just because something bad happened at the time where it involved that thing, but really when I take a step back and look at my other experiences with that I realize that I really don’t hate this thing. For example, if someone were to trip on the sidewalk, one might say in the moment “I hate sidewalks” but once they remove themselves from the situation at take a look at their life situation with sidewalks they may say “I don’t really hate sidewalks, they have made my life easier many a times before.” This example may be a silly way to look at the whole meaning of happiness in ones life but I feel that taking something simple like this explains how the idea of “life happiness” may be a better tool to use in measuring ones happiness than “state happiness.” -Jessica Joyce

State happiness is the amount of happiness or misery that is felt in a particular moment or condition. We can rank how we are feeling at any time on a scale, or we can give a word to describe how we are feeling at that particular moment. Life happiness is the amount of happiness or misery that we feel after judging our entire life?s experience. Long term accomplishments and life changing events typically alter our life happiness, whereas trivial factors that come into our life affect our state happiness. - Jack H.

I think one thing that is really important to note is that happiness is subjective, whether or not we are talking about state or life happiness. I think the people above me did a really great job of explaining some of the differences between the two types of happiness. Essentially, state happiness is just that--a state in which a person is able to report their emotions and feelings, or how they might "rank" on a happiness scale. Life happiness cannot be measured throughout one's life. Instead, this is something that must be (subjectively) determined at the very end of one's life. Unfortunately, we will never know if our current "techniques" on achieving life happiness have really worked to attain optimal happiness until we are on our deathbed. Also, certain things or events that have worked to make one person's life happiness very high might not work for another. Different things and events make different people happy to greater or lesser degrees (if that makes sense). --Lauren Landon

What are some of the puzzles about the relationship between state and life happiness?

Some people theorize that Life Happiness is the same as the sum, or average, of all of the State Happiness' in someone's life, but contemporary thought dictates that this is not necessarily the case; someone could have a high average of State Happiness throughout their life but have a lower Life Happiness and vice versa. - Broc

One possible way of looking at a person’s “state happiness” would be to total up every moment that happiness has been felt and then divide by the number of moments to get the “life happiness”. To me this is not a true accounting of a person’s “life happiness” because one might have a couple of horrible things take place in their life and still have a “life happiness” that exceeds that of a person who has had a large number of “state happiness” events take place. Another way of looking at “life happiness” is to look at a person’s life and judge whether it had a high “life happiness” or a low one, but the judgment is passed after the person’s death. - Ellen C.

There are many puzzles that philosophers have tried to answer about the relationship of state happiness and life happiness. The idea of whether or not the sum of all our state happiness is our life happiness, has been a highly discussable topic. I would have to say that our life happiness is not a sum of all our state happiness, because there are many experiences that stand out and alter our lives, and many experiences that are forgotten about the next day. Some people may have had many bad experiences in their life and worked through them to achieve great life happiness, whereas others may have had many joyful experiences and lived a crummy life. - Jack H.

The relationship between "state happiness" and "life happiness" can be puzzling because some believe that the sum of our moments of "state happiness" result in our overall "life happiness." I do not agree with this, because some individuals may go through extremely hard periods in their life, yet if they have a positive outlook on life by looking at the positive results of an incident rather than the negative, then they can continue to lead happy lives. If you do not allow hard times to control your life happiness, then you can continue lead a happy life without using your moments of state happiness to measure your life happiness. Even if an individual appears to have numerous moments of "state happiness", they may still lead an unhappy life. A positive outlook on life allows individuals to conquer the difficult obstacles they may encounter and continue to pursue a happy life. -Lauren Thayer

I think that it is also important to ask whether or not life happiness is a sum of our happy states, or if it is just a satisfaction of our accomplishments and relational satisfactions (comparing and contrasting our pains to our pleasures). In figuring out what a person's life happiness is I think that it is in fact hard to think of what a happy life may be without happy states, but it is not neccesarily the sum of all our happy states. This is because of how we mentioned in class that negative experinces (ie. Cancer patients success stories) can ultimately result in an increase in life happiness, which if were only summed up would decline a person's life happiness. Like Lauren Landon mentioned in the previous question, life satisfaction seems to be essential when talking about life happiness and that can really only occur when looking back on life on our deathbed. --Meghan Benegar

May 22

How do the various literatures of economics, psychology, and philosophy contribute to the contemporary interest in happiness?

Philosophy Part: When looking at the philosophical literature in regards to Buddhism we learned that we are living in a state of suffering and misery trying to find contentment and happiness within our day to day life. This opposes the outlook on happiness that we see in Christianity because we are trying to reach happiness while we are still living instead of in the afterlife. When looking at Daoism we see that we have fortune and misfortune within our lives and we must realize there is a balance and relationship between the two states. Once we experience fortune we experience misfortune through a cyclical process. Confucianism is the fact that we have an understanding of our role within a social hierachy. It acknowledges our abilities allows us to succeed in certain areas but also fail in others. Some find this idea difficult to take in because it creates limitations for our aspirations. - Ellen C.

The various literatures of economics, psychology, and philosophy contribute to the contemporary interest in happiness. In the economics reading we learned that money does not always buy us happiness. There is no such thing as linear happiness, especially with money, because we always return to a normal state of happiness. We learned that after a certain income, everybody is equally happy and money is no longer a staple part of our feelings, but really an illusion of something that will make us happier. In the psychology reading positive psychology meant that we need to enhance our psychological well being starting from a normal state up. If we cut out depression and misery we can focus on the real idea of a happy state. Cognitive psychology is the idea that human beings have a cognitive bias, meaning that we think against what a rational being would do. We remember feeling the way we predicted we would feel, not the way we felt at that time. We have a biased view of the past. This means that we think that we know what will make us happy, but our prediction of the future is very unreliable. An event that appears to be terrible at first, could change our lives for the better. An event that we are really regretting to attend, could turn out alright, but we will always remember the stress that built up before that moment, because of our cognitive bias. In the philosophical readings about Buddhism, we learned that life is suffering and we must liberate ourselves from this suffering and attempt to reach of state of nirvana while we are still living. Christianity on the other hand, is the view that we are suffering while we are living, but we can not reach a state of happiness until we reach the afterlife. Life is just preparation for afterlife. Daoism is the idea that there is a balance between fortune and misfortune. This describes these states through the cycle of fu and huo. Since these two feelings are balanced, we are never in a perpetual state. When something appears to be bad, we do not really know the outcome of the situation. There is no way of knowing, because things will balance out, according to this theory. This theory mirrors the way reality works, in an ebb and flow of pleasure and pain. The philosophy of Confucianism is the understanding that we have a role in a social hierarchy. We must understand our place before we try to reach our aspirations. We have to understand that our abilities will only get us so far, and that we will eventually reach our limitations. If we recognize our limitations, then we are no longer setting ourselves up for disappointment. I do not particularly like the concept of Confucianism, because I like to believe that I can always make myself better, but I understand the poit that Confucious is trying to make. - Jack H.

How does money and happiness correlate in 20th century US society? Why does the relationship between money and happiness pose a challenge to standard economic theory?

When looking at the relationship between money and happiness during the 20th century in society in the United States we see that as money within a family or person’s life increases happiness increases, but once it hits a certain point within the increase money stops causing happiness within that person’s life and happiness ends up leveling out. After that point when happiness levels out, it seems that within society it does not matter how much more money that person or family has, the money does not make happiness within their life increase. The money that once made them happy or content does not have the same effect within their lives and they have to find another source of happiness within their life before their levels of happiness will increase again. Based on economists’ views, happiness and money should continue along the scale increasing at the same rate from start to finish, but instead they “decouple” or separate and everyone retains the same happiness. - Ellen C.

Throughout my economic classes thus far, it has been assumed as fact that people (consumers), achieve more happiness with the more they have, showing a linear relationship. Throughout our class discussion it has been shown otherwise in that once someone reaches a certain level of economic growth or income, their happiness level moderates and does not keep a linear relationship with the amount of money they have and their state of happiness, thus disproving the underlying economic theory in which most economists base their work off of. I have mixed feelings about this idea. I feel that money cannot buy you ultimate happiness but it certainly helps. I would have to agree with the findings of people not being happier with the more money they have past a certain point. I feel this way because so many bad things come along with having lots of wealth. Some things that could quite possibly result in unhappiness for someone could be the issue of power. Money in this world means power and people always are wanting power. It also may spur jealousy making others resent you, or one may live a life full of mistrust or true/deep meaning of relationships. These are only a few ways in which money cannot buy you happiness past a certain level. -Jessica Joyce


Just as both Ellen and Jessica mentioned already, the more money a person has does not necessarily mean they are happy. Money does not equal happiness (as long as you are above a certain poverty level). We only have to look to the example in "Finding Flow" (the book) to see that a woman working multiple jobs and being satisfied in providing for and keeping a roof over her child's head might be more happy (or at least, content) with her life than someone in a more privileged situation. I think happiness has a lot to do with one's outlook on life, even if money isn't considered in the equation at all. While it might be extremely idealistic to say, one's attitude and what they make out of their situation is what determines their happiness (in my opinion). I think this relationship poses a problem to traditional economic theory because (just as Jessica says), it is assumed that the more money someone has has, the more money they spend (or are able to spend). However, spending money and having more things does not result in a greater degree of happiness. In this way, it might be possible to argue that as long as a person is above the poverty level, if they do not consider their own life to be a happy one, it's their own fault. --Lauren Landon

How do various global philosophical traditions provide strategies of separation and union for achieving happiness?

Historical Traditions say that Happiness is a combination betweent the two strategies: separation and union. Separtation infers separation from the world, as well as separation from our own mistaken thinking. Union is more similar to Christian beliefs being: a union with God or Nirvana. For Christians, only imperfect happiness is attainable because there is constant suffering. For Materialists, union can not include a transcendent reality, it's a union of your mind with the correct ideals. Katie O'Callaghan

May 23

Is the alleviation of suffering as central to the contemporary pursuit of happiness as it was to the ancients? Consider the contemporary forms of suffering as well as the kinds of suffering that have been virtually eliminated in the wealthy countries of the world.

I want to address the idea that to fully experience pleasure, we must be aware of the feeling of pain. Personally, I feel this is true. I think I am more able to rejoice in happy or enjoyable moments because I know (to a certain extent) how quickly things can get bad, or how much worse they could actually be. There are have been some really tough events throughout my life that I have had to endure, and I think enduring those have made me a stronger person. Furthermore, I try to full appreciate the happy moments. At the end of my life, even if there have been more sad or painful events, I hope that the pleasure gained from the happy moments is able to outweigh that memory of pain. --Lauren Landon

How do Daoists encourage us to look at happiness?

The first thing that came to mind when I thought of Daoists and how they approach happiness is the balance between fu and huo, or fortune and misfortune. They said that life (or certain events) are very sesitive to the balance between these two characteristics. In other words, there is no particular path that our lives will take. I think the short vignette from class did a great job of helping to illustrate this point (the one in which something good happened to the man and he worried it would be a misfortune and something bad happened and he hoped it would be a blessing). Daoists also believe thath happiness is NOT the arrival at a point in our future--instead, it is this balance. This balance is true reality. Just as Chang Tzu said, for everything in nature, there is an appropriate action. Happiness will come (through this balance) to those who know what is appropriate for their actions. --Lauren Landon

What is asceticism and how does it become part of the strategy for achieving happiness? Illustrate with examples from one or two of the ascetic traditions we have briefly studied.

Ascetic traditions see the problem people have with achieving happiness as being tied to their obsession with fulfilling desires. Desires keep us from achieving happiness because we're constantly being distracted by the need to eat and have sex. If we let go of desires such as these, we will find happiness much easier to attain, according to ascetics. -Conor Baranski

May 24

Does a happy life involve periodic bouts of robust hedonism? What would Epicurus say?

No, I do not think that a happy life must involve periodic bouts of robust hedonism. I think it is possible to live a happy life without the "big nights". I think that big nights are very taxing on your body and your mind as well. I believe that on occasion they are fun, but they are in no means necessary for living a happy life. It is very possible to be happy without bouts of robust hedonism. If happiness is the avoidance of pain, to me big nights are not happiness. In the moment they may seem happy, but the next morning and day is usually not happiness. You may feel hungover or even regret decision you made. You ask yourself was it really worth it? At the same time I believe that if a big night occurs every once in a while it is also okay. Sometimes I have the mentality of "I am young, I will do what I want while I can", but often times what I want to do is not a bout of robust hedonism. I usually have no desire to go get trashed and have a big night.

It seems to me that the definition of "robust hedonism" is rather subjective. According to the way robust hedonism was described in class, I am not sure that I have ever even experienced a "big night". A big night for me, could be a small night in the mind of someone else. Because of the subjectiveness of the definition, it somewhat devalues my opinion on living a happy life without bouts of robust hedonism. If I have not experienced a big night, than who am I to say it is possible to live a happy life without them? Maybe I do not know what I am missing out on.

Epicurus would say that is is possible to live a happy life without bouts of rusbust hedonism. He feels that pleasure is good. Pleasure is happiness. Epicurus believes in things that are alive. He would say that if you cultivate a real pleasure you do not have to go out for big nights. He feels that the best pleasures are the simple pleasures. I would agree with Epicurus to a certain extent. I feel that if you cannot find pleasure in simple things in life, then life would be rather depressing. Simple pleasures are what get me through the day. If we lived only for the big nights, we could not enjoy all the little day trips along the way between those nights. -Meghan Flaherty


I agree with parts of what Meghan said about robust heathenism. Mainly, I think the thought of a big night is subjective, just as is happiness. I don't necessarily think a big night must include copious amounts of alcohol and events you don't remember the next day. While I feel like a good majority of the class has experienced these nights (and I'll be the first to admit how much fun they can be), I don't think these nights are necessary to a full and happy life. Personally, I think everyone should experiment a little and determine what they enjoy and don't enjoy. In this way, I think you experience many things and truly determine what you might label a big night. What I really wanted to address was how Epicurus would feel about big nights as necessary for a healthy life. Epicurus would say that pleasure is good and necessary in life...after all, he was quite the materialist. However, he would say that big nights are not necessary for a happy life. Essentially, he believed that the best pleasures in life are the simplest--this isn't exactly what I would have expected from a heathenist like Epicurus. --Lauren Landon

I also agree with meghan and lauren. It is not necessary to have periodic bouts of robust hedonism in order to live a happy life. It is important to have fun and enjoy life, but with moderation. Doing things in excess, such as going out and getting extremely drunk every night may result in short term happiness, but living this type of lifestyle will cause more harm than good in the long run. By doing things in moderation, i do not think the individual will have as big of an urge to engage in these bouts of robust hedonism. Epicurus would also agree that these periodic bouts of robust hedonism are not vital for a happy life. And as lauren and meghan stated, Epicurus believed that pleasure is important and essential, yet not to be taken over the top, which can result in harming the individual rather than causing long term happiness. -Lauren Thayer

The term big night is almost surely describing a night in which you throw inhibitions to the wind, do things you would not ordinarily do, and meet people you wouldn't ordinarily meet. This may, and usually does mean that one is drinking excessively. However, I experience a 'big night,' or any occasion that i experience as out of the ordinary and awesome as one that i want to repeat. So if it was getting drunk the night before, the feeling the next day is not that i am hungover, but the fact that i want to do it all again. So my argument to the first post would be that if there are any regrets about the previous night, then it wasn't that big. That's fine, you can have other big nights in a different way, a way that suits you. But i think a robust hedonist would back up the opinion that you have to let things go sometimes and go a little crazy. because big nights can be energizing and important to your happiness. I won't go into Epicurean thought, cause the ladies above me have said anything i would have said. -Conor Baranski

How does ancient greek culture conceive of the ability of the individual to control his or her happiness? By contrast, how to people in Enlightenment culture think of this? Consider and evaluate evidence that we may overlook aspects of our happiness that are not, if fact, under our control.

Critically evaluate Epicurus' theory of pleasure.

According to McMahon, what was Plato's view of the role of pleasure in the pursuit of happiness?

First, McMahon says that Plato felt we couldn't achieve or maintain TRUE happiness by attaching ourselves to this world. --Lauren Landon

Like Lauren said, McMahon states that Plato believes that this world can't deliver happiness, or true happiness. He also adds that this is why Plato stresses the idea of a pursuit for knowledge, rather than feeling the need to pursue happiness. --Meghan Benegar

May 28

What is ESM research?

ESM Research is Experience Sampling Method. It is a method developed in order to track one's emotions and consciousness throughout the day. When Csikszentmihalyi first developed ESM he used a programmable pager or watch to signal people to fill out two pages in a booklet. In this booklet the person is supposed to write what they are doing, who they are with, where they are, and what they are thinking about. Also numerical values are used to rate their state of consciousness at the moment, how happy they are, how much they are concentrating, how strongly they are motivated, how high their self-esteem is, etc. At the end of the week the person can look back at what they have recorded in their booklet.

I think this would be something very interesting to do. It seems that you may notice patterns in your emotions which otherwise might not have been notice without wrting them down. For example, being around a certain person could bring about a reoccuring happiness or feeling which you recorded in your booklet. Sometimes simply writting down your feelings helps you to process how you are actually feeling. Looking back at your booklet, and reflecting on how you felt around certain people may shine light on your deeper feelings about those people. You might realize who makes you feel good and who is bringing you down. Also reflecting on what you are doing at times you feel most happy may help you to realize activites which interest you.

ESM research also allows for comparisons between different groups of people. Large quantities of responses helps to point out similarities and differences between the adult, and teenage mind. ESM shows differences between cultures as well.

If you were to try ESM, do you think you would be shocked by some of your results? I think that I would learn a lot about myself. I am sure that I would see patterns of behavior which directly corelated with my happiness. I would probably find things which make me happy or unhappy, which I am not aware of now without ESM. Often times people believe that something is going to make them happy and later learn it did not bring them happiness at all. I also believe that writing is a process which slows your train of thought and allows you to better understand your own brain. This is why I feel ESM could be helpful for many people. If we all participated in ESM do you think we would become more concsious of our feelings? Would this concsiousness help us to lead happier lives? Or would it allow people to focus on the negative feelings and events in one's day? -Meghan Flaherty

What are the characteristics of flow?

First of all, Csikszentmihalyi defines the flow metaphor as "one that many people have used to describe the sense of effortless action they feel in moments that stand out as the best in their lives." Flow activities allow a person to fucs on goals that are clear and compatible. They also provide immediate feedback. These activities usually occur when a person's skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable (p.30). Furthermore, there is no place in one's consciousness for distractions or irrelevant feelings during these activities. Instead, self-consciousness is GONE, but a person still feels strong, able, and adept. Time is distorted--when I think of my own flow activities, these are activities in which I lose all sense of time and am able to get lost in an activity or thought. --Lauren Landon

Taking from both class discussion and the book ?Finding Flow? some of the characteristics of flow include: loss of awareness of time, the feeling of being in the zone, absorption, harmony with your environment, a lack of self awareness, being challenged, requiring a skill, and doing what you want to do. When thinking about these characteritics in respect to my life one activity that I have previously found flow while doing was soccer. Soccer for me includes the same continuous motions over and over again with kicking, throwing, and blocking as my main motions. Although during soccer it is not always easy for me to lose track of time this does not mean that I am not taking part in my flow. When playing soccer I am being very challenged and it requires a great deal of skill as well as my lack of self awareness taking place while the game is going on. I forget all the worries I have to deal with as soon as the game is over and I am there to play soccer and that is all. I zone into what I am doing and zone everything else out (especially my mom yelling supportive and encouraging words from the side line). Soccer is a way in which I find flow in my life and it is easy to take part in. ---Ellen Caletti

How does Csiksentmihalyi relate flow to happiness?

Csikszentmihalyi (wow that's hard to type!) says that achieving a state of flow does not mean that a person is necessarily happy. Essentially, the more flow in our life does not mean that we have a happy life. He says, "when we are in flow, we are not happy, because to experience happiness we must focus on our inner states, and that would take away attention from the task at hand." To be in a state of flow means getting "lost" in a moment or activity (with high challenge and high skill, of course), and happiness is fully experienced--meaning a person "feels" or experiences every emotion and feeling associated with happiness. --Lauren Landon


I think like most people i found the reading from Finding Flow fairly easy to read. It wasn't full of complicated philosophical terminology or dense explanations. It also was interesting since it is a topic that all people can relate to. 

I do have a few questions though, one of which was raised in class. How does flow relate to happiness? Moreover, how does flow even lead to a more full life experience? Personally, when i am most engaged in a lecture, sport, or conversation i am fully aware of my surroundings. Losing track of time can be a characteristic of such events, but that alone does not fully define finding flow or a meaningful experience. Also, flow is too closely linked to "zoning out" for me to believe that it leads to a meaningful life.

Also, the argument that an accumulation of such "flow" experiences leads to a more meaningful life which in turn will most likely lead to happiness seems flawed. Doesn't that statement go against what we said in the first lecture?: Life Happiness is not simply a sum of State Happiness. Finding flow seems like a state of being at a given time in one's day. So, to link that with happiness seems contradictory to our earlier statements about Life Happiness. - Sean Haffey

My argument for the positive relationship between Flow and Happiness is this: We say Flow occurs when the mind is engaged in a concept that is challenging for us, and we are able to meet that challenge with high skills. When one is experiencing Flow, they are completely absorbed in the activity. So much so that they can and usually do lose track of time, but more importantly lose track of emotions that may be troubling them. So Flowing is a way to get away from things since you are absorbed in ONLY your task at hand. Also, if you are in a state of high challenge that you can meet with high skill, then you are accomplishing something that is fairly significant. So the correlation to happiness is maybe the pride one feels for accomplishing the difficult task. Because whereas one has the skill to meet the task, it was still difficult. This brings pride as I said, and its the good kind of pride i would argue. This kind of pride makes one feel good about their self. -Conor Baranski

Give an example of how you might alter your daily routine to take advantage of the varieties of affect possible in various activities?

May 29

Why do ascetics like Diogenes want to "debunk" our social conventions about the body?

Diogenes felt people made their lives too complicated and both bodily functions and lives needed to be more open and simple. This is why he slept in a bottle and was not afraid to urinate in public. ryan carr

Is status anxiety the sort of problem de Botton thinks it is (describe his view)?

Status anxiety is an idea brought forth by De Botton, that we worry that our status is in question. This status can be a legal status, a certain class that you feel you are placed in, or even just how you compare yourself to others. De Botton proposes two main theories that he uses to describe his idea of status anxiety. The fact that status anxiety can make us profoundly sad and the fact that status anxiety can be motivating. It can make us sad because we feel like we cannot live up to our expectations. We constantly want to achieve a higher status and we are always comparing ourselves to others. With this idea of life, we can feel tremendous sorrow, because we cannot live up to our neighbors all the time. Status anxiety can motivate us because of peer pressure. We overcome adversity to get to our goals and to achieve our status, and this can sometimes make us happy in the end. Jack H.

De Botton belives that status anxiety, becomes an obsession for many individuals concerning their social, economic, etc. standing in society. People become so focused on moving up the latter that de Botton worries they may never be satisfied with their status in society. It becomes a "keeping up with the Jones'" type of lifestyle. Unless individuals are able to accept their role/place in society, they will never be able to enjoy life and be happy. Having goals and leading a successful life is important, however it can be taken to the extreme, so that the individual never fully appreciates their accomplishments because they only keep thinking about doing more and doing better than everyone around them. -Lauren Thayer

Describe and assess Montaigne's characterization of and solution to the problem of status anxiety about sexual adequacy using both the reading and your own experience.

Montaigne's characterization of status anxiety is we fail to accept the fact that our bodies may not perform the way we have invisioned and occasionally there are problems or bodily functions that occur during intimacy. Montaigne suggests we accept the fact that these things are going to happen and talk about them to overcome our anxiety. ryan carr

Montaigne's characterization about sexual anxiety is that humans fear sexual embarassment along with a fear of impetence, not being able to perform, and ultimately not being desireable. He furthers this by stating that this anxiety makes us feel vulenrable and may embarass us due to any dissatisfaction that may occur. In order to get over this anxiety he suggests that we need to be more candid and open about our bodies due to the fact that our bodies are sometimes unreliable. The best solution he provides is the 'talking solution' where we awknowledge our inadequcies and irregualrites by either joking about the situation or through conversation between two people. --Meghan Benegar

May 30

Why did Schopenhauer come to the conclusion that our nature (and the nature of reality) conspired to defeat our happiness, at least in the area of love?

He believes its impossible to find love because people have such a romantic view of love. Nature causes us to find someone that makes us miserable, products of will to live, like the drive to reproduction, etc. -Holly Romjue

He also claims that people are too obsessed with the image they have of themselves and others for anyone to actually get to know someone else past that image. people are too caught up in their own pretenses to portray their true self. -Conor Baranski

What is "will to live"?

If I remember correctly, Schopenhauer describes this will to live as a blind physical force that is pushing us toward someone who will make us absolutely miserable. It is a fundamental UNhappiness. In our urge to find a mate or be in love, we must fight reason and common sense. --Lauren Landon

What is the point of the de Botton story about the contemporary lovers who meet on the train?

After reading this short story, I came away with a few thoughts. First, I think de Botton was trying to show us how idealized some of our perceptions about love can be. Before even meeting the woman on the train, the man is daydreaming about who she is, what she does, how happy they could be together, etc. He makes up possibilities about this woman's background that fit with his ideal...I think some of his descriptions may have even described his perfect woman, or what we would have loved to find in a woman. In this way, he literally sets himself up for disappointment. Even after their first encounter, he doesn't see how idealized his way of thinking is. I liked that de Botton talked about the views of both the man and woman...it was interesting to read why the woman didn't call him back and how his emotions played out afterward. The truth is that situations like this occur every day. I think most of us may have seen or met someone and came up with a perfectly ideal background of where this person came from or even a possible future together. Unfortunately, those fantasies are rarely true, and de Botton's story illustrates this point perfectly. --Lauren Landon

And so to continue with Lauren's point, de Botton is getting to the point that it is nearly impossible to find anyone when everyone's heads are filled with predispositions. So once another potential mate's true person is exposed, its hard to get past the ideological view. -Conor Baranski

May 31

What is attachment theory? Critically evaluate this theory.

Attachment theory is that people can be described in three ways when in a relationship with another person. The three types of attachment are secure, avoidant, and anxious.

First is the secure attachment. A secure person is usually someone who is relatively easy to get into a relationship with. To me, it seems a person must be secure with themselves before they can have a healthy relationship with anyone else. A secure attachment would mean having trust in the other person, so that jealousy and possesiveness do not interfer with the relationship. I think open comunication and honesty are also very key components because they help a person to trust the other person. If a person knows who they are and what they stand for a secure attachment is achieved much easier.

The next type of attachment is avoidant. A person with an avoidant attachment is someone who is too scared or nervous when someone becomes too close. They have a hard time letting anyone close to their heart, so they back away shutting that person out of their life. It seems that an aviodant attachment would never be able to get into a deep relationship. If a person is constantly putting up walls around their heart, how do they expect to ever let anyone in? An avoidant person may be building these walls because of past relationships. They may have let someone close to them in the past, which resulted in heartache, and therefore fear letting anyone else get close to them. Another possiblity is experiencing a divorce of their parents. Parents are often idolized, and are constantly setting examples for their children. If a child sees the pain their parents have gone through in a divorce, the child may live in fear that they will experience this pain in relationships as well.

The last type of attachment is anxious. An anxious person oftentimes comes on too strong. They have the fear of abandonment and being lonely. Anxious people have a tendency to feel jealousy. Oftentimes they are also very possesive as a result of their jealousy. Anxious attachments also make a unhealthy relationship. When there is an anxious attachment oftentimes the other person feel smothered. The anxious person may want to spend every minutue of everyday with a person, or may need to know what the other person is doing all the time. This type of attachment does not allow for two people to live separate lives. Many times this anxious attachment can be flattering at first, but then it reaches a point where it becomes a burn out because you do not have your own life.

Ideally, two people with secure attachments would make for the best relationship. It seems that things might be able to work out if there is at least one secure person. I think it would be impossible for a realtionship to blossom between an avoidant and anxious. At least one secure person is needed for a healthy realtionship. The good news is that people can change their type of attachment. I think being aware of the type of attachment you are is the most important part. Also I believe that your type of attachment can vary from realtionship to realtionship. A person can live and learn if they are aware what a secure attachment might look or feel like. -Meghan Flaherty

Is it plausible to think that the happiness we get from love relationships can be enhanced by "skills" such as those recommended by Seligman in his chapter on love?

Yes, I do think that Seligmans skills are helpful in getting happiness from love. Seligman talks about having positive illusions about your partner because your partner will try to live up to them and you will have a better more idealized relationship. On the other hand, this could lead to stress of trying to be something that youre not. Seligman also talks about responsive and attentive listening which will make your partner feel more valued and lead to more relationships success. Optimism as well is a skill he suggests and if you always are thinking that things will eventually work out, youd probably be less frustrated with relationship and more willing to try for resolutions to conflicts. Overall, I think Seligman had the right idea.-Christine Talamantes

What are the main features of the cultural view of happiness as we move from ancient Greek, to pre-Christian Roman, to Christian Roman culture?

Ancient Greeks-Happiness was not completely under their control, its up to fate. To be happy is to be "blessed"-which were those who were considered to have a great spirit over them.

Romans(Epicurism, Stoism)

      -Plentiful-enough food, simple
      -Carpe Diem

Christianity-Appeals to the poor,You have to suffer in this world to be able to happy in the next, Suffering is their blessedness

-Holly Romjue