Study Questions for Happiness Summer 2007b

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June 4

How does Layard distinguish social comparison from habituation?

Social comparison is when we assess our well being in relation to others instead of completely subjectively (and often, realistically). This point is evidenced in the results from the survey question in which most people would choose to make less money overall but more than the majority of people as opposed to making more money overall but less than the majority of people. One problem that arises with social comparison is the idea of a reference point. As discussed in class, we should admire people who are the best but only "compare" ourselves to those in our own group (whatever group that might be for the topic at hand). Ideally, we shouldn't compare ourselves to anyone, but this is highly difficult and unlikely in our society today. Conversely, habituation is how you assess your well being in terms of how you are used to doing. For example, becoming accustomed to a certain level of pay and then receiving a large paycut would be quite devastating because this new pay might be very far from our baseline, or what we are used to. --Lauren Landon

Describe some fo the evidence of the power of social comparison

Social Comparison is something in which you rate your well being based on a comparison to others within your "reference group" or people in which you identify with. People face high anxiety due to social comparison, in which do not make these individuals happy. Katie O'Callaghan

Just to further define "reference group", this would be the group of people who are like you. They are people you can relate to and compare yourself with. For example, we would not compare ourselves with Johnny Deep, Mia Hamm, Bill Gates, etc. Instead we compare ourselves with other college students, maybe of the same gender, same major, same interests, etc. -Meghan Flaherty

Also to describe some of the evidence of social comparison take the example of eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia are evidence of self-esteem issues often caused by social comparison. Often times people compare their body weight and size to those around them. Many people feel pressure to be skinny, or fit, or muscular, or pretty because of social comparison. This is also the same reason that often times close groups of friends tend to dress similar and often are about the same physical size. You tend to feel most comfortable around people who are similar to you. This pressure to look like those around you is evidence that social comparison can have very negative effects, such as eating disorders. -Meghan Flaherty

How do researchers attempt to quantify the effect of habituation on salary and wage increases?

What are some of the things that habituate and do not habituate?

Things that habituate include: salary, material possessions,etc. Things that do not habituate are: sex, friends, and long term intimate relationships. Katie O'Callaghan

Even more extreme examples of things that habituate: becoming permanently handicapped, winning the lottery. More things that do not habituate: the death of a child or spouse. - Broc

How does Veenhoven's research on Northern European coutnries shed light on social comparison at the societal level?

Countries which eliminate a lower class and increase the size of the middle class, find a decrease the social comparison between class levels decreasing social anxiety between classes.Ryan Carr, Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach klos

June 5

What claims does Easterbrook make about depression, trust, and loneliness in contemporary U.S. society and what explanations does he offer for this? Do you agree with his analysis? Why or why not?

Easterbrook claims with regards to depression that it is caused by excessive consumerism, increased individualism, the self esteem craze, and victomology. The recent depletion of trust is caused by our increased indivualism and our belief that we are independent in our search for happiness and success. Easterbrook encourages us to realize prosperity and personal freedom do not make us happy. Ryan Carr, Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach klos

He also attributes, maybe to a lesser scale, the effects of worrying. Mainly in the case of worrying about the future. Many people do actually brood over what there immediate or even semi-distant future might entail. His point is that we should not let worrying about the future get in the way of the present. There literally is not much we can do about our future. We can do our best on an upcoming test, game, or interview, but other than that it is usually left up to others on whether or not we succeed. -Conor Baranski

Identify and assess practical responses that could be made to the problems discussed by Layard, Easterbrook, Hecht and Schwartz?

You can defeat consumerism by rotating pleasures with things that do not habituate, you can combat social isolation by taking a chance on other people by putting your trust in someone, to combat Schwartz (maximizer vs. satisfising) attempt to be a satisfiser more often, to combat easterbrook you must be aware.

How does Hecht think that Enlightenment culture of the U.S. founders changes the relationship between social life and happiness?

the american founders were interested in destroying tradition such as the church and state relationship, there was a reaction to this by establishing civic and community associations which encouraged individualism and consumerism as a means to pursue happiness. Ryan Carr, Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach klos

To what extent do we face conditions of social isolation today as a result of our Enlightenment strategy?

Our social isolation is due to our constant drive towards individualism and we denied forced community (commitments and responsibility) and believed voluntary community was our answer which slowly fell apart. we are now left with isolation which we attempt to substitute with consumerism. Ryan Carr, Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach klos

To what extent can shopping help?

Hecht believes shopping can provide the social interactions we depend on for healthy relationships and provide new material for our conversations. We disagree with Hecht mainly becuase of the current craze of internet shopping once again increasing individualism and decreasing interpersonal interaction.Ryan Carr, Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach klos

Not to be sexist, but I really don’t think Hecht's theory of shopping applies to most men. When a group of guys want to hang out, they don’t go shopping…they watch sports and play video games. These are activities that provide the things that shopping provides for Hecht: social interactions are unavoidable when watching sports or playing video games with one another, and watching sports and playing video games both provide new material for our conversations with one another, which often last long after the activities have ended. - Broc

What is the difference between maximizing and satisficing?

Maximizing occurs when a person wants to make the absolute best out of their choice (or "maximize" their choice). Often, this included "hunting" for the best possibility as compared with other options. People who call themselves maximizers tend to wonder if there is something better constantly waiting around the corner for them. Satisficing occurs when a person settles for something that works. In other words, this object or relationship (or anything) might not be the "best" choice possible, but it gets the job done. Satisficers look for an object that will suffice for the job they need it to perform. --Lauren Landon

After reflecting on the reading, I have decided that Barry Schwartz's concepts of maximizing and satisficing can relate to almost everything we make a decision on in life. Maximizing is the idea that we are always trying to choose the best and we will research and spend as much time shopping for the best item available, no matter how long it takes. Satisficing is the idea that we make a comfortable choice on any brand that works for us. We are satisficing if the brand fits are qualifications or standards and we show no regret that there could possibly be a better product or brand out there. Maximizing has been shown to increase a person's regret. A maximizer is always thinking about the possibility that they could have gotten something better, or that something better than what they have will be introduced in the near future. It is impossible to know if there is anything in the world that might be better, and this could cause an extreme maximizer to go crazy. Maximizers often experience buyer's remorse, and they even have a higher chance of suffering from depression. Satisficers on the other hand, are happy with buying any brand that fits their specifications. Jack H.

From class discussion and the reading entitled The Paradox of Choice I have learned that maximizing is when you compare everything until you find the best and satisficing is when you just settled for something that works instead of putting effort into looking for something that might make you happier, your needs would be met and no more. When looking back at class discussion we talked about how an mp3 player is an mp3 player to a satisficer, whereas a maximizer would not just settle for any mp3 player, they would look for the newest, highest quality, getting the most for their money, that holds the most songs, looks the best, and has the best warranty. --Ellen Caletti

When reflecting on the reading of Barry Schwartz and class discussion, I have come to realize that I am a satisficer in many ways but also a maximizer in many ways. I feel that most people fit in this gray area in the spectrum because if you think of all the possibilities of where/when someone could have the chance of being either a satisficer or a maximizer, the probability of always being a satisficer or maximizer is very slim. I feel it is almost impossible to be either one or the other in all situations. This may be because of my own personal way of thinking of things, but even when reflecting together as a group in class I found that most people think the same way I do in that they are satisficers in some respects and maximizers in other respects. A maximizer is one who wants to optimize every aspect of their choices, they have an attitude of “only the best will do.” Satisficers on the other hand have the attitude of this will do, it is sufficient for what I need done. Going back to the gray spectrum, I feel that my buying patterns are pretty even between the two. For example, I am a maxmizer when it comes to clothing, haircuts, and food, but when it comes to electronics, and movies I am a satisficer. Although we primarily talked about purchasing decisions and relationships as being either maximizer or satisficer, I feel that this theory can be applied in any aspect of life. For example, someone can be a maximizer or satisficer in their studying, a maximizer may take an assignment and go above and beyond what the requirements are to fully understand and/or get their moneys worth whereas a satisficer may only do what the assignment asks or skim by on what they know the professor will give them credit for. This is just one example of how people can apply the maximizer/satisficer theory to any life situation. Another thing that Barry Schwartz talked about was how maximizers tend to be less happy and feel a lot more of regret with their decisions because they always feel that they do not have the best of the best as they were trying to accomplish. I feel that this is especially true with our society’s dramatic increase in advancements in products, specifically our technological field. A maximizer will buy the highest quality for their money and a week or month later a brand new model with better features comes out. I would imagine this to be extremely difficult for a maximizer because they now know that their product is not the best they can afford. The last topic on maximizing and satisficing that was brought up was that of American society having too many choices within our products. Barry Schwartz thought this to be a bad thing and unnecessary. I pondered this idea for a while and asked myself if it was unnecessary. I have come to the conclusion that it is an extrodinary pleasure/luxury that Americans have. At first I thought maybe he is right, do we really need 15 brands of peanut butter to chose from? But then I thought well by having 15 brands of peanut butter most everyone will be happy because they have the freedom to try and pick the one they like best, never will someone who loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have to eat peanut butter they think tastes kind of funky. I also think that the issue of people having buyers remorse or having a hard time choosing one because of its options may be a bit of a problem, but I feel that if everyone knew themselves and did not stress over such little contingencies there would be no problem. -----Jessica Joyce

Why does Schwartz think that maximizing might not be such a good strategy?

Schwartz thinks that maximizing might not be such a good strategy because it will make everyone depressed if they are constantly comparing what they have to the person next to them.---Ellen Caletti

It is also interesting to think that a maximizer is constantly attempting to be as happy as they can be. This usually involves worrying whether or not they are getting the best out of everything they do, and therefore are not as happy as they should/can be. With this in mind, a satisficer is, in general, a better maximizer than an actual maximizer. A satisficer does not worry about past purchases, or as little as who has the best seat to watch TV. If the goal is to maximize happiness, satisficers clearly have the advantage. -Conor Baranski

How does contemporary culture promote maximizing as a strategy?

American culture is constantly focused on who has what, who's getting what, how fast they got it, and how you measure up to others. Many people could not honestly say they are happy with what they have. We compare ourselves to others and their possessions. We are constantly trying to "keep up with the Joneses." Our culture is fast and incredibly focused on how we look to one another. We all want to "get the best bang for our buck" possible, and sometimes people are willing to risk health, money, relationships, and many other things to get ahead. However, one important thing to remember is that this way of life is a constant competition. It never ends. While I don't always think this competition is negative, it definitely can be when it's all people are concerned about. The second we acquire a new possession, something better tends to come along. These objects can never make a person happy. Sure, they might contribute to a high degree of state happiness, but is maximization of every decision really the best way to achieve life happiness? Our culture does not answer this question--instead, we focus on constant acquisition and how we measure up to others. --Lauren Landon

Is maximizing a threat to happiness? If so, why? If not, why not?

In my opinion maximizing is not a threat to happiness because it is just a person’s point of view. It is what you do with that other person’s view point or comparison that will cause threat to your happiness. If I were to buy bananas and then my roommate came home with bananas but she had gotten them cheaper then me, and we compared prices, this could be a threat to my happiness. If I hadn’t compared my bananas to her’s, then I would have been very happy with my choice to buy them. Since I did compare my purchase to her’s that in turn could cause upset to one of us (whoever had the worse end of the deal) and then in turn it would cause me to think that my purchase was not good enough because I wasn’t getting the most “bang for my buck.” It really depends on what is being maximized, and how much. ---Ellen Caletti

As I said above, maximizing is a threat to happiness. It involves worrying over things that a satisficer would not worry about. To use Ellen's example, if a maximizer and satisficer compared their respective buying of bananas, one would interpret differently than the other. The maximizer WOULD compare the two prices and make a judgment on who had gotten the better deal. The satisficer would hear, that say they had paid more, and would not care. The thought process would be that they had seen the bananas in the store and so bought them. It is not a big deal that they paid more, and they will not worry about that fact. A maximizer would compare and want them to be the one who had paid less, and if the satisficer had been the one to pay less, the maximizer would be upset. -Conor Baranski

June 6

Idnetify and assess the paradox of work.

The paradox of work is that we think work is a positive quality experience, but often times we want to do less of it. Many people report that they like working, but while at work they would rather be somewhere else. If it is such a posivite experience, than why would we want to be elsewhere? Three hyspothesises to explain this paradox of work are as follows:

1.) First, we might look to work for "life happiness". It may give us a sense of purpose in life. Although in the moment we might not like working, we know that it will give us happiness later in life.

2.) Second, we have trouble imagining a sense of purpose to replace work. Often times the idea of filling our time with only leisure activities seems impossible without boredom.

3.) Third, is that maybe work is not so great after all. Our culture and society has taught us that work is a good thing, but we could be wrong in believe this. Maybe we are overinvested in the idea that work is good. -Meghan Flaherty

What does the history of cultural attitudes toward work tell us about the place of work in our theories of happiness?

Romans- the Romans had an emphasis on leisure leading to happiness this is becuase their leisure was structured toward mental development and personal enlightenment. Calvinist-believed work was the road to happiness they believed getting to heaven was due to being the best at their vocation. Modern-We want to work as little as possible in order to increase our leisure time but our leisure time is not spent well causing depression. Ryan Carr, Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach klos

Is the overextimate of the availability of high pay & high status work by teeagers a symptom of a problem in our expectations or a sign of youthful optimism?

The overestimate of the availability of high status and paying jobs by teenagers is a sign of youthful optimism, but that does not mean we should ignore the fact the our society is a brewery for dissatisfaction and depression. I say this because I don't think the problem exists in teenagers having too high of expectations. Expectations are good! The problem is that society is not meeting the conditions that are necessary for all teenagers to realistically strive for high status jobs. Without expectations we would not be disappointed about not reaching a certain goal, but more importantly we wouldn't experience the great satisfaction in acheiving a goal. We must acknowledge to a point that we are part of a society that seeks to sustain this disastrous status quo and to even take pride in the idea of opportunity and prosperity although it is somewhat unrealistic in many cases. If you disagree I encourage you to voice your defense to the African American Male with a single Mother living in south side Chicago. Or a young girl living in East St.Louis school district that hasn't met staffing needs for basic subject areas for seven years in the last two decades. If we are to promote the slogan of " if you work hard, you will be successful in America" or something to that effect we must be able to back it up with social reform in order to allow children to pursue happiness to the fullest. We are not displaying one of the most important founding principles in our democracy.- Mark Ludeking

Mark, we don't want to hear your rants about the school system, just cause you're an education major. Can we please keep the wiki for 'happiness' related topics, not a site for Mark's opinions. See what I've done here, I've kept it completely on subject to the course. -Conor

Conor, Education is a key to happiness. If it wasn't you wouldn't be commenting on this wiki right now about something as abstract as happiness. Education allowed you to make that comment. Conor has demonstrated a key feature of the wiki which is to pose questions for clarification and I hope I have offered an adequate response. Don't study this or print these last two comments.

How do men and women experience the paradoxes of work differently?

Women experience more happiness and a greater positive response from work than men do. Most women have to come home to take care of kids, cook, and do chores around the house, whereas men are usually able come home and relax. Men look forward to the time they are able to relax after work, which is why they may not experience the paradox of work as positively as women do, because women are able to get away from all their household duties at work, which creates a more positive response towards their working careers. -Lauren Thayer

I was also thinking that women may not feel the paradox (being the fact that they want to be somewhere else while at work) as much as men because they are characterized as doing the cooking, cleaning and caring for children while at home; therefore, they are doing work whether they are at work or at home. Men on the other hand generally see going home as a relaxing experience. So when they are at work, they are wishing that they were home, not doing anything related to work. -Conor Baranski

How does Csik. explain the paradox of work?

Csiksentmihalyi explains the paradox of work as people view work as positive, but, at work, people would rather be somewhere else. He forms three hypotheses as an explanation to this paradox: 1. What we look for in work is part of our Life Happiness, it gives us a sense of purpose 2. We have trouble imagining a sense of purpose to replace work 3. Work isn't as great as we talk it up to be--we are overinvested in the belief that work is a source of happiness. Katie O'Callaghan

June 7

Give a general characterization of Stoicism / Stoic beliefs.

Stoics truly believe that we can radically alter our emotional responses by making different judgments about reality. When looking back at the readings and the class discussion and evaluating the responses of fellow classmates, I realized that it can be the difference of getting rid of emotion from our experiences versus removing suffering from our emotions. In my opinion, it is okay to have emotions toward something, but I don’t think that it is healthy to hold onto those emotions for an extended period of time, if they are negative emotions. Stoics believe that if we can alter the judgments that we have connected with reality then this will alter our emotions. For example, look at death. We all see death as coming later in life, probably between 60 and 80 years of age. If we really think about it, we could die tomorrow in some freak accident. Many people incorrectly judge the permanence of things such as the length of life and when life ends up not being as long as we expect (if we were to die tomorrow) this could and most likely would cause a person to be very angry, sad, or emotionally effected in a negative way.---Ellen Caletti

Stoicism is a belief that was introduced around 300 BC and lasted until around 200 AD. Stoicism is the idea that we should and can radically alter our emotions to the world by making different judgments about reality. If we can learn more about how to make correct judgments about the world, then we can attempt to eliminate suffering all together. There are correct and incorrect judgments that we can make and most people make incorrect judgments about the permanence of things. We lose things all the time, and the stoic approach is to maintain tranquility when terrible things happen to you, such as when we lose things that may be dear to us. The goal of stoicism is to stop experiencing suffering, by eliminating emotions all together. The stoics ask their believers to ?live in agreement?, meaning that we should try to understand how reality works, know that things do not last forever, and avoid suffering by showing no emotions. - Jack H.

Are emotions related to judgement as stoics think they are? How much control do we have of our emotions?

I believe that emotions are a natural response to any decision we make regardless of how much knowledge we have of the world. I think that the judgments that we make cause an emotional response within us and this either occurs as suffering or happiness. Distinguishing our positive emotions from our negative emotions is the beginning to having control. Some things are up to us as humans and others are beyond our control. Take for example Epictetus’ approach: there are some things that we think we are in control of when really we are not in control of such as drugs, alcohol (potions), others reactions to you, body type, health, mortality, permanence of possessions (wealth). All of these are out of our control, so how can we possibly think that we have control over the judgments of these things? Stoics think that we can control more than we actually can.---Ellen Caletti

Citing examples from passages of the Enchiridion, identify key claims that you can affirm or criticize. In cases in which you are critical be sure to offer the most sympathetic defense of Epictetus' views.

June 11

Why does Csiksentmihalyi think we have trouble enjoying leisure?

Csikentmihalyi thinks we have trouble enjoying leisure because he thinks it takes a lot more work than people think. He explains that we as human beings are not really designed for leisure. Instead he thinks we are designed to do work. We are bulit to be able to hunt and work for our food, fight for our health, and to reproduce. Csikentmihlyi explains that it is easy for people to mess up leisure. Many leisure activities involve some planning and budgeting. For some people these can be challenging things. Other people simply struggle with the lack of structure involved in leisure time. When there is not structured activity many people have a hard enjoying themselves. For example, when on vacation one can easily feel overwhelmed with the new environment. There is planning which has to go into the trip. They may feel stressed out and ask themselves questions such as "what should I be doing right now?" or "how am I going to budget so that I see all the sights and still eat well?". Also people can be in a beautiful place and be bored because they have no structured activities.

Csikentmihalyi explains that boredom is often associated with feelings of apathy as a result from passive leisure activities. On the other hand, active leisure leads to happiness and flow. Active leisure includes things such as reading and sports. It seems that we should partake in active leisure because it will keep us away from boredom. And bored people tend to do unhealthy things such as overdrink. We should reflect on the way we feel when spending leisure time. Maybe if we become more aware of our feelings then we wont have as much trouble enjoying our leisure time. -Meghan Flaherty

Csiksentmihalyi thinks we have trouble enjoying leisure because leisure requires a great deal of skill. If you don’t know how to handle leisure time or you do not know how to handle it then it could affect your happiness negatively, according to Csiksentmihalyi. Many people struggle with what to do during their leisure time, or how to handle themselves when they have a great deal of leisure. --Ellen Caletti

What does ESM research suggest about the psychological states that various forms of leisure can provide? What lessons might one infer from this research?

Active leisure leads to an increase of flow which correlates to an increase of happiness, but also a higher level of anxiety. Leisure that is higher in flow experiences tend to have decreased level of apathy and relaxation. Leisure activities which lack high levels of skill are found to posses more apathy, but also equal levels of relaxation. It is shown that apathy and relaxation. Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach klos,Ryan Carr,

Leisure activities can produce four psychological states according to ESM research, which include flow, apathy, anxiety, and relaxation. Most of the time people are in between the two states of relaxation and apathy by doing such leisure activities like watching TV. Passive leisure activities like this, always produce apathy due to the fact that most passive leisure activities produce boredom. Games and sports help to produce flow (about half the time by doing these leisure activities is a person in flow) due to the challenge, the structure, and engagement; but like mentioned above this also produces more anxiety. --Meghan Benegar

What might the research from Pont Trentaz suggest about generational trends in work/leisure satisfaction?

The way work and leisure are viewed differs from generation to generation. Results from this study indicated that different generations found opportunities for flow in opposing activities (ie, work and leisure). For example, the older generation seemed to experience more flow states when engaging in activities they would consider work. Conversely, the youngest generation experienced more flow states during activities they would consider as leisure. The "in between" generation seemed to experience about the same amount of flow states during both work and leisure. Essentially, the world (I think it might be hasty to say "our culture" when this research is from Pont Trentaz) is moving toward a state in which we seem to get more out of our leisure activities than we do our work activities. This could be due to changing ways of viewing both work and leisure (maybe work is seen as more negative today than it used to be in the past). --Lauren Landon

Does leisure require disciple?

Yes, leisure requires extreme discipline. Leisure is difficult, especially if done correctly. In this day and age, it is far too easy to use the little few time we receive to do absolutely nothing productive. Csikzsentmihalyi would consider this a waste of leisure time. He describes two types of leisure: active and passive. Active leisure is doing something productive (this can vary from person to person) that provides a genuine opportunity for flow. Passive leisure is essentially being lazy, sitting back, and doing nothing during free time. These leisure activities do not provide an opportunity for flow and might consist of excessive napping or television watching. --Lauren Landon

June 12

Why is Hecht skeptical about the connection between disciplines of the body and happiness?

Hecht is skeptical because, historically, we have pretty much covered the spectrum in terms of the different bodily disciplines that have faded in and out of popularity, and there hasn't really been one that contributed more to happiness much more than any other. She thinks that different approaches to bodily discipline (from chewing our food once for every tooth we have to the contemporary fad of working out frequently) are just fads, and that no single one of them has made anybody happier than another one. --- Chris Hoyd

In each area Hecht discusses (diet, exercise, sex, and treatments), identify some of Hecht's primary evidence for her thesis that we should be skeptical about the connection between disciplines of the body and happiness? Evaluate her thesis.

Hecht claims, as Chris said, that we should be skeptical of the correlation between disciplines and happiness. For exercise she claims that maybe it is not AS necessary as the current idea says. She says to do it if it makes you feel good, but if it doesn't, then don't exercise. She also says that sex is over-represented in our culture. Her general thesis is the fact that we should probably just free ourselves of these ideas that come and go constantly through time. To evaluate, I think it would be healthy to acknowledge the fads of the time, if they interest you, then you should try it. If it doesn't lead to you being happier, then stop it and try something else. Just don't be hooked to one that you are convinced should work. Be flexible, because if you're looking to be happier, there is probably some philosophy of diets, exercising, sex and treatments that is right for anyone. -Conor Baranski

June 13

In what ways does the Protestant Reformation change European thought about happiness?

the Protestant reformation changes European thought towards imperfect happiness which can be found on earth straying from the Catholic belief that only suffering can be found on earth and we are waiting for perfect happiness in heaven, God wants us to be happy now not to suffer. "taking delight in creation"- Ryan Carr, Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach Klos

How does the political and religious atmosphere of the British Civil War of 1642 create conditions for rethinking happiness?

They believed teh monarchy was holding the people back from happiness, the religious atmosphere had a reaction against religion becuase of its extreme nature (ex predestination) and there was a general move towards an inclusive idea of happiness encouraging happiness here and now and an increasing political movement towards the governments participation in the happiness of their people. Ryan Carr, Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach Klos

How does Locke's epistemology and political theory reorient discussions of happiness?

Locke's concept of human nature suggests that a person begins as a "tabula rasa" and that through life we color that tablet with experience. this was revolutionary because it defacto erased the concept of original sin and left the individual with a version of religion that was bound by reason. his political theory focused on the role of government in the life of the individual person. he suggested that government is created to create and maintain the conditions for the individual to seek out their own happiness. Ryan Carr, Peter Janicki, Mark Ludeking, Zach Klos

What, specifically, does Csiksentmihalyi think we get from relationships?

Csiksentmihalyi thiks that positive relationships produce order in consciousness when: we share common goals and invest energy in each other's goals. Katie O'Callaghan

I think that it is also important to add that we have Csiksentmihalyi says that although it is hard to say why, relationships are crucial to our happiness, especially when, like Katie said, common goals are shared and energy is invested towards that goal. -- Meghan Benegar

What are some of the cultural variables that might affect happiness in relationship, according to Csiksentmihalyi?

The Cultural Variables that may affect happiness in relationships are: the amount of time spent alone, how much difference we have to deal with, and how much dislocation we experience. Katie O'Callaghan

What point is Csiksentmihalyi making with the exemplary figures he concludes the chapter with?

June 14

Summarize and evaluate Csiksentmihalyi's basic view of the role and function of relationships in consciousness.

"There is not doubt that well-being is deeply attuned to relationships, and that consciousness resonates to the feedback we receive from other people."

"Socialization not only shapes behavior, it also molds consciousness to the expectations and aspirations of the culture, so that we feel shame when others observe our failings, and guilt when we feel that we have let others down."

"Because interactions are so important for keeping consciousness in balance, it is important to understand how they affect us, and to learn how to turn them into positive rather than negative experiences."

In order to be in a relationship of consciousness one must follow at least to conditions: find some compatibility between our goals and that of the other person as well as willingly invest attention in the other's goals. This is the optimal interaction, and in this relationship people find it easy to find flow within it. One cannot enter into this kind of friendship if they are self-interested in their relationships. I think this is a good view of the optimal interaction, the people you can have the best time interacting with are the ones that have a type of give and take. There might be times where you need to think about the other's needs first, and sometimes it will be the opposite...Sorry I'm getting tired :( -Holly Romjue

What cultural variables in relationship does Cisksentmihalyi call attention to. Should we be concerned about these?

Cultural variables he calls attention to are: Amount of time spent alone, how much difference we have to deal with, and how much dislocation we experience. -Holly Romjue

What is it about family life that makes it such a unique relationship, according to Csiksentmihalyi?

"Families act as a flywheel from the emotional ups and downs of the day. Moods at home are rarely as elated as with friends, and rarely as low as when one is alone. At the same time, it is home that one can release pent-up emotions with relative safety, as shown by unfortunate abuse and violence that are a feature of dysfunctional families."

"There are more arguments in families that are emotionally close,when the family is in real trouble, parents and children avoid each other instead of arguing."

"The moods of the father affect the rest of the family, and the chilren's moods affect the mother, but the mothers' modds have little discernible affect on the rest of the family."

45% of mothers say that the teenagers being in a good mood improves their own, versus 20% with fathers.

"They combine rules with freedom, high expectations with unstinging love."

Although families often argue a lot, it isn't a bad thing, the line of communication is more open, and being passive isn't even considered. Families allow you to be more open, because you know that if you guys argue, family is family. Friendships can be broken up by an argument, but the bond of family is too strong to let that happen very easily. Just as long as you don't take your anger out on your family in an abusive way. -Holly Romjue

What new practices and ideas mark the Enlightenment conception of happiness?

With the birth of the social sciences the Enlightenment brought new ideas in forming a conception of happiness including the principle of utility which we know today as the greatest good for the greatest number. In many respects that is still reflected in American society today. The Enlightenment had great progress in the areas of science, math, and agriculture but was not limited to those in fact those fields will spill over into the search for happiness. Francis Hutechenson even put together a complicated mathematical formula for determining someone's abilty to spread happiness to others. Enlightenment thought held that things like slavery, war, religous fanaticism were huge road blocks on the way to acheiving happiness and the proposed solution to these problems were to become enlightened. An attitude best summed up in German philosopher Baron d'Holbach observation that "Persons are only unhappy because they are ignorant." - Mark Ludeking

Describe the hedonism of La Mettrie. What was radical about his views? What does he represent about the Enlightenment project of happiness, according to McMahon?

La Mettrie was bold enough in his time to claim that humans are made up of matter, and only matter. This meaning that perhaps humans had no soul. This was obviously a new concept to just about everyone. But he did claim to be a child of the enlightenment, and was working towards the goal of complete human happiness. This is what McMahon points out at least. La Mettrie also was a proponent, since there was no soul and maybe no God, of maximizing state happiness. Since there was really nothing to strive for in the way of an afterlife, everyone should just attempt to get the most out of every situation. -Conor Baranski

How is Rousseau and Enlightenment sceptic?

Rousseau believed that society corrupted the 'noble savage,' and therefore made happiness impossible in a society. He saw the achievement of the Enlightenment, in regards to sciences and arts, as having had no effect on human happiness. Enlightenment thought had taken away such virtues as communal love, courage, inherent decency, and morality. -Conor Baranski

June 18

How do philosophers challenges the general intuition that the better life is, the worse death is? Is the philosopher's reversal of this intuition successful?

People may think that the better their life is/the more they enjoy life, the worse death is, because they do not want to end the happy life they have on earth. The philospher's reversal of this is: to live well, is to not fear death and life and death taken together are positive. In order to truly achieve happiness, it is necessary to conquer death. I do not think that the philosopher's reversal of this intuition is easy to achieve, yet their reversal makes complete sense. If we are not living our lives fearing death, then we will lead happier lives because we can focus on other aspects of life. By not viewing death as a horrible thing, our minds will be at ease concerning death during our life on earth, which can in turn allow us to "live well." Conquering any fear, can allow the individual to gain a peace of mind and by conquering death which is one of the biggest fears people have (other than public speaking), should help us appreciate our lives/lead happier lives than those who fear death on a day to day basis. -Lauren Thayer

What is a "momento mori" and why might someone regard it as useful to have one in their view every day?

Momento Mori means to "Remember you will die." Often it is an object or a symbol that is indicative of death. Found in churches (the Crucifix), Still life paintings, etc. It is a reminder that whatever you are focused on during the day, you must keep in mind the perspective of death based on that item. It has advantages in view of everyday life because if something trivial is upsetting you, if you see a momento mori, you might understand that in the grand scheme of things it is not a big deal. However, a momento mori can cause anxiety as opposed to promoting happiness as well. --Katie O'Callaghan

To add to what Katie had to say, a momento mori can help remind a person to truly LIVE every day. Some people might say it can serve as a reminder of "carpe diem." Just like that little dead bird Alfino used to see every morning on the roof by his office (GROSS), it reminds us that death is real and can come at any moment. It is said that this saying started when generals (or other military men) would be riding through a city celebrating a victory and a slave/servant walking behind them would repeat "momento mori" (remember you are mortal) to remind them that the glory can end at any moment. Death comes to everyone eventually. --Lauren Landon

Describe and evaluate some of Montaigne's strategies for conquering death.

- "Philosophy teaches us not to fear death." This is a bit of a circular argument, but he believes that through philosophy, we can learn to not fear death and therefore further enjoy life.

- "A contempt of death is a pleasure of virtue." He's saying that it's natural to dislike death because of our will to live.

- "Beware of denials of death." Denial of death leads to fear of death.

- "Fight death by denying it the advantage of surprise." If we live a longer life, we will be more accepting of death, as it would be our time to go.

- "Ask yourself if you haven't already died a little." I still don't understand this one completely, but I think that if our lives are miserable, we should not fear death because death would partially be a relief.

- "Religions teach the contempt of death." I think he is trying to encourage us to avoid religions, which frighten us with the idea of damnation. - Broc

Summarize and explain the point of the story of Ceasar's soldier in Montaigne's essay.

The soldier isn't living life fully. If you worry too much the lose of physical life, your losing vitality. By losing his vitality, hes dying inside a little already. -Holly Romjue

June 19

Does a belief in an after-life affect the possibility of using a reflection on death to enhance one's happiness? Explain.

I don't think that it is possible to be fully prepared for death, however there are probably rare circumstances when the person is, but a belief in an after-life seems as though it would lessen an individuals fear to die. Christianity, which teaches that there is life after death (heaven and hell, and Catholics believe in the possibility of purgatory) can give its followers a sense of peace that they know what will happen after they die. If an individual believes that they will go to heaven by living a morally good life and remaining in a close relationship with God, then they have something to look forward to after they die. I believe that it is possible to reflect on death in a way that would enhance one's happiness, because if you look forward to life after death (i.e. heaven), then you have somehing to anticipate after this life. This should allow the individual to life a happier life, because they are not consumed with the fear of death and are able to focus on enjoying the time they have on earth as well as the eternal life they will have after death. -Lauren Thayer

What is the movie '21 Grams' about and what is the director trying to say about tragic loss through the movie?

It offers the journey to the acceptance of death. It pains us more when we try to fight death, try to prevent something that is inevitable. Giving the example of his son, the director is asked by his son whether he would be able to smile again if he died. Athough it would be hard immediately after it happens, he would realize that life goes on, and it is important to continue to live life with vitality. It is important to keep living despite death of loved ones, we must realize the inevitablity of death, accept that it is going to happen. -Holly Romjue

Describe and evaluate the practice, recommended by Lorne Ladner, of visualizing your own death. What is the goal of the meditation?

Ladner believes that if you invision your own death through mediation, psychologically experiencing near death, you'll have compassion for it. I think this is a good way of helping you accept death and no longer fear it. We are able to live life with vitality when you realize that any day could be your last, and we can't do anything to stop it from happening. -Holly Romjue

Compare and contrast Christian and Tibetan Buddhist models of preparation for death.

June 20

What does it mean to love fate (amor fati)?

First of all, we defined fate in class as "the way things turn out in light of chance, determination, and free will." This definition can often be different than what most people (in modern day society) think about when defining fate because many assume that free will plays a huge part in our fate. It's nice to think that our choices determine our life events. However, to love fate (amor fati) is to love the way that things turn out (the combination of circumstances that shapes our life). This includes owning the moment you're in, the past, and the future (what is destined--this is the most difficult because we fear the future and the unknown). Obviously, it's easy to love/own your fate when things are going well or life has dealt you better cards than other people. However, I think it's important to remember not to compare yourself to people outside of your reference group. In this way, we can try to appreciate our own life circumstances. --Lauren Landon

What is compatibilism and how does one's position on free will affect your view of fate?

Compatibilism is the idea that determinism and free will are both compatible and working together. Important to remember within this definition is that free will is the idea that humans are able to EXPERIENCE choice. In other words, when a choice presents itself, we are able to weigh the options, think about the consequences, and make our own choice. It is not pre-determined for us. --Lauren Landon

Should we try to love fate as a means of improving our happiness?

In general, the idea of loving fate (or amor fati) is a useful approach to life that can help improve our happiness. For example, Dr. Alfino's 'bad' haircut: it might not have been exactly what he wanted, but he took the approach of embracing the experience and simply loving fate because it made him happier, and made the haircut less traumatic. However, as we discussed in class, there are certain pitfalls to this philosophy. First, it is not necessarily applicable to everyone in every situation. It can be a coping mechanism for certain things that go wrong, but in a situation like losing a loved one, 'loving fate' just doesn't apply. The second major drawback of the philosophy is that it can lead to passiveness. If loving every bad haircut becomes a habit, you might never get another good haircut, which is actually what you want. --- Chris Hoyd

June 21

There are no study questions from today. We discussed the "My Philosophy of Happiness" paper today.

June 25

What are the main characteristics of Greek and Medieval celebrations?

Thesmorphia lasted 3-10 days and was only for married women. Women acted out scenes from Demeter's story. It is not a big drunken festival, but they slaughtered and ate pigs.

Dyonisius is all about wine, sex, dancing, and madness. Women tore animals to pieces and ate their raw flesh.

Carnival was a medieval celebration. There were inversions of authority, suspensions of many laws, and eating and drinking a lot. - Broc

What forms do celebrations take in US society today?

While the celebrations in US society aren't nearly as radical as those in Greek and Medieval societies, they are still all about doing things that we normally wouldn't do. For example, on Independence Day and New Years' Eve, we launch fireworks, which are illegal every other day of the year. Mardi Gras is a lot like the Medieval Carnival, with inversions of authority and general chaos everywhere. - Broc

We also discussed that in modern societies celebrations usuall come after bad news, death (to celebrate the deceased's life and your own life), and more commonly accomplishments, holidays, and birthday parties. -- Meghan Benegar

Why is celebration important for happiness?

Hecht says that celebration is necessary because "happiness requires some public processing of grief and fear" and "communities that suffer together party together." This makes sense to me. If a group of people share their emotions they recieve support and encouragement which both lead to happiness. No matter the type of festival you are honoring someone or something in a world where things often seem meaningless. They allow people a catharsis and a time where being foolhardy and letting loose isnt judged or condemned but encouraged. A little celebration can bring us back to our youth and let us once again live in the days when life was about play, which is not a negative experience for most people and would lead to happiness for most.

June 26

No class today.

June 27

Review Day